Arts / Galleries

Houston’s Famed Project Row Houses Celebrate a Major Milestone

Humble Beginnings Grow Into an International Art Force

BY Matthew Ramirez and Catherine D. Anspon // 11.26.18
photography Anthony Rathbun

What: Project Row Houses’ 25th Anniversary Gala

Where: Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion and Celebration Gardens at Hermann Park

PC Moments: Commemorating a quarter-century mixing community development and showcasing cutting-edge and/or emerging talent, Project Row Houses toasted to its 25th anniversary with more than 270 supporters and devotees in attendance. PRH’s innovative concept — co-founded by Rick Lowe  who has been recognized with a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for birthing Row Houses — has seen the nonprofit climb from humble beginnings in the Third Ward to the front of Houston’s art scene, while garnering respect nationally and across the pond. (For more about PRH’s 25-year ascent, read PaperCity‘s exclusive profiles with three women who steer it now, here.)

Co-chairs Roslyn Bazzelle and Derrick Mitchell set the stage for a memorable gala, featuring live music from Texas Southern University’s jazz quartet, who soundtracked a silent auction at the evening’s start. PRH executive director Eureka Gilkey welcomed guests before a seated dinner — catered by Third Ward culinary master chef Shakti Baum of Etta’s Kitchen renown. The co-chairs made their remarks following dinner before a video screened, highlighting the progress of PRH over the course of a quarter century.

Mayor Sylvester Turner also contributed his own thoughtful words, and amped up the energy of this al fresco fête set under a tented canopy amidst one of the city’s iconic green spaces.

Turner told the crowd, “Project Row Houses is not just about these shotgun houses, but the culture and history of our city. My ancestors were in those row houses. Now I stand before you, as the mayor of our great city.”

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At close, board chair Devaron Yates thanked all for their support of Project Row Houses through the course of three decades. The evening concluded with a flourish, as partygoers cut a rug on the dance floor to the sounds of DJ duo Soul Control. Before the night’s end, final auction winners were announced.

In celebrating this milestone for the Third Ward-based nonprofit, each guest received an advance copy of PRH’s anniversary tome, Collective Creative Action: Project Row Houses at 25, edited by Row Houses’ curator and programs director Ryan N. Dennis.

All told, the bash raised more than $200,000 towards the continued support of a place that is known as social sculpture —  for its efforts at molding and mentoring developing and mid-career artists and the surrounding community of Houston’s historic Third Ward.

PC Seen: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; president of the University of Houston Renu Khator and husband, Suresh Khator; Judges Vanessa Gilmore and Fredericka Phillips; City of Houston Council Members Jerry Davis and Amanda K. Edwards; acclaimed artists including Row Houses’ co-founders Jesse Lott, Bert Samples, George Smith, and Floyd Newsum; Sixto Wagan, director of UH’s Center for Art and Social Engagement (which collaborates with PRH), who was high bidder on Julie DeVries’s still-life canvas Orchid from the silent auction; gallerist Kerry Inman, another lucky auction winner, who acquired George Smith’s minimalist lithograph; collectors Anita and Gerald SmithYvonne and Rufus Cromier; UH Mitchell Center executive director Karen Farber; Cheryl and Percy Creuzot; artist Regina Agu, UH CASE + PRH Fellow, contributing a collage to the auction cause; Andrew Speckhard; artist and board member Bert Bertonaschi, who donated a text work to the auction; Erin and Adrian Patterson; Emily Todd; Betty and John Pecore; Jo and Jim Furr; Herbert W. Green; affordable housing advocate John Hoffer with The NHP Foundation, in from Washington, D.C.; Ray Miller with the City of Houston Housing Department; Marta and Alan Galicki; Theater District CEO Kathryn McNiel; and Sheila Heimbinder.

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