Fresh Arts' Blog is undergoing a change. Find out more.
Posted on: Oct 2, 2014







Dear Website User,  


Good Evening! Fresh Arts is just a few days away from our brand new and improved website! In order to make this transition smoothly over the next few days, you will not be able to login, edit your profiles, submit an event or make purchases through the website beginning tomorrow afternoon as we are moving all  information and web content into the new, fresh face. If you have an upcoming event that you want to promote in the Art on Tap Newsletter please send all information to 

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at or call our offices at (713) 868-1839. Thank you for your patience.

The Fresh Arts Crew
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Posted on: Sep 30, 2014

Anglea and SadieHowdy! My name is Angela Carranza and since I will probably never work at Crayola as a color namer (is that even a real job??), I am excited to announce that I am the new Administration and Operations Assistant at Fresh Arts. While I’m no stranger to the Houston arts scene (or the Fresh Arts office for that matter… you might recognize my handiwork via the weekly Art on Tap newsletter), this is my first full-time foray in the non-profit arts sector. Exciting, I know!

I thrive in creative environments, and I feel as though life has been constantly testing my resourcefulness for as long as I can remember. I’m a lover of all things crafty, and my favorite color is aqua. My first car was a VW Beetle named Sherbie. And I eat a lot of hot dogs. I also save puppies in my free time--check out Barrio Dogs’ community education and rescue dog programs!

Wanna know more? Check out my staff bio or feel free to Internet-stalk me from a safe distance. Or email me at angela (at) if you have Fresh Arts specific questions. 


*Let it be known, Angela came up with the title of this blog post. She is, in fact, kind of tiny.

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Posted on: Sep 11, 2014

UPDATE: We've filled this position. We appreciate the outpouring of interest and are always impressed by the incredible talent in our hometown. Thank you to everyone who applied and spread the word.


Fresh Arts has some big news!


We're only a few weeks away from unveiling our new "look"-- website, brochures, and a refreshed menu of programs and services. It's an exciting time for our organization for sure!


And so, it is with great pleasure that we announce we're hirin'! Our beloved Caroline Barba, Fresh Arts' current-but-soon-to-be-former Administration and Operations Assistant is headed west to pursue a life in the city of her dreams: San Francisco. We're sending all our love and good wishes with her... and she's leaving some big shoes to fill!


We're looking for candidates who are passionate about Houston's art scene... and even better, folks who are passionate about Fresh Arts' dedication to strengthening the sustainability, viability, and vibrancy of Houston’s arts sector by building the professional capacity of artists and arts organizations, as well as increasing the opportunities for the public to engage in Houston’s art. 


We are hoping to fill the position quickly and will need the selected candidate to hit the ground running-- we have a very busy fall ahead of us! Are you ready to join our team?




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Posted on: Aug 12, 2014



Out of the Woodwork: Interviews with Emerging Artists




Hey art lovers! My name is Alexander Coco and I have been lucky enough to work as an intern at Fresh Arts for the last year.


I am grateful to be able to start a new arts blog called Out of the Woodwork which gives exposure and a voice for some unknown and "underknown" Houston artists.


There exists a vast sea of hidden creative talent in Houston, just below the surface. Through my work with the creative community and Fresh Arts, I’ve come to realize how many gems are woven in the fabric of our town that, for too many reasons to list, do not get the exposure their work merits. I grew up in Houston and have been lucky enough to know some local artists that simply create, without expecting public recognition or income from their work (though many could really use the income as support.) Success (financially) in the art world requires sophisticated networking and savvy navigation of local politics that many creatives do not care for, or do not know how to pursue.


Many local artists simply make work for their own sanity, just to see something beautiful or for no reason at all.  The format of Out of the Woodwork is to interview those Houston artists about their work and provide an online space to exhibit and provide exposure to these amazing people!




An Interview with Print Artist Jessica Griffin  





I met the talented Jessica Griffin at a fundraiser event at a warehouse I own in Eastwood called The Summit Houston. The event was a fundraiser for the 86-Cannonballers, a local nonprofit made up of scooter enthusiasts that raise money for service industry workers suffering through cancer. As we shouted our conversation over the music, I discovered that she was a print artist. Lately, I have been really interested in print work and want to put together an exhibition of local print artists. She was kind enough to show me photos of her work on her phone and quite frankly I was blown away. Immediately, I found her work to be bold and brutal, natural and beautiful. She’s clearly obsessive with her line work, in the best way possible, clean and pristine!


Jessica fits squarely within the mission for this blog featuring emerging artists. She's a dedicated and talented artist that has not quite broken into Houston’s art scene. Jessica Griffin moved to Houston in October 2012 and has spent a lot of her art career and schooling at North Texas in Denton. I wanted to start this blog for artists just like Jessica. There is so much hidden talent in Houston. I’m happy to have Jessica be the first entry for Out of the Woodwork.


I sat down with Jessica over the course of two interviews, once at her home and once at the Heights oasis, Big Star Bar. She lives in a seventies farm style house replete with wood paneling, cacti, animal skulls, and the occasional crystal. Throughout the interview her fluffy cat named Nefrikitty would threaten to sit on Jessica’s prints and she would have to stop and chase her away. Jessica is gregarious and outgoing, well articulated, and always smiling. She works part-time (as most artists do) at Brasil, a coffee shop in the heart of Montrose.  




What kind of medium do you like working with and why?


I originally went to school for printmaking and that moved me in the direction I am for imagery. It helped a lot with line work and the understanding of how to achieve something black and white, without gradation. I like relief prints the most out of printmaking, just because it's really tactile and the method itself really affects your image. So, in transitioning out of printmaking without a studio, I think moving to pen and ink was just natural. It was really kind of nice because with pen and ink you can get all the meticulous detail that whenever you're carving you don't necessarily get. It's kind of nice to be obsessive with pen and ink. Mostly, that's pretty much what I like to work in. I try to do some pencil work sometimes, but then I just got so focused on shading that I felt like the line work was disappearing. I prefer the quality of the line.  Occasionally, I'll work with color: marker, watercolor, or anything that doesn't take away from the line work too much. I'm kind of muted on color. I'm not really big on it.



Did you start with drawing and digital and then move into printmaking? What was your path?


Yeah, when I was a kid I took a bunch of art classes. When I was thirteen I got a drawing tablet and worked digitally for a really long time until I went to college. In college, you're so focused on traditional media that it made me focus. I started with Art History and appreciation and I began finding artists that really appealed to me. Whenever I was doing that I got really obsessive with more archaic art styles. Then I began to hate drawing digitally. The idea of drawing digitally lost any appeal to me basically, because it's not tactile. I need that response from the paper. Especially going into printmaking you do so much work to get an image. If you were to do it digitally you could get it produced more quickly, but there is something about the process in it.


Tell me more about the process of printmaking.


It depends on which part of printmaking you're looking at, but relief print I like because I find it instantly gratifying to carve into a block, roll it up, and print it. Whereas lithography or etching or other medias are a little more laborious to get the line you want, but with relief it was really instant. You can feel it and you can see it and it changes, even the paper molds to it. Whenever you print digitally you could do a really good print off of a printer, but it doesn't have the same depth. It's not what I want because I want my line quality to be apparent.



In your artist statement you say, "With themes concerning the influences that nature and nurture have on our lives, I pull from my experiences in the world around me to express an intimate existence." Do you think one has more sway than the other, nature or nurture?


Yeah, actually I do. I definitely think nature is really important because it's what's ingrained in you naturally. The idea of animals that are born knowing where they are supposed to migrate. Or being able to assess the situation you're in without prior knowledge. I think that’s all instinct and nature. Obviously they both play off of each other and you can't exist without one or the other, but a lot of my pieces go into the idea of natural instinct. I had kind of a hectic childhood and my brother and I experienced the same childhood, but we were very different and we reacted to it very differently and I do believe that some of it is just naturally inside you. I guess they have been studying that in science with genes and realizing some people have different things going on. A lot can be affected by that. You can be so affected by your environment that your physical abilities and qualities can change as well. It's not that nurture doesn't have a big part of it, but I do believe that a lot of what we have is natural instinct and it's just us trying to pull back on it. We trade instinct for technology all the time, which I find really interesting. So we would lose sometimes what we would naturally be able to do or think through our problem solving. That stuff is all naturally built in us. Animals are born and they know exactly where to go and that's natural instinct that they were born with, ingrained. So I think with nature and nurture, a lot of things boil down to natural concepts. Even in our daily lives, a lot of human interactions or world interactions are things that we do because we are human. If you look at it closely, you could break it down to this animalistic natural reasoning. If it's that way then its nature, you're ingrained with it.



Tell me about the process of making a print.


So the technical side of it is that in order to make a print you have to have a matrix. A matrix is like your block or a piece of metal or stone. It's whatever you're turning into the key image. For screen printing you have the screen as the matrix. Lithography, you have the stone. Relief, you have wood or linoleum and you have metal and wood for engraving or etching. It's just a way of manipulating the surface to get your image and then applying to it in the many ways that you can. Lithography is the relationship between water and oil. For relief, there’s more of a depth than that. In relief, you carve out the negative space with a gouge. It's the same thing with engraving, you are carving out the space. In etching, you are using acid to etch your image into the block. And then there are two different processes: relief and intaglio. Relief is like you're rolling up the surface, so you're carving out the negative space and rolling up the positive. In intaglio, you create wells through carving, engraving, or etching with acid. Then, as you etch your image or your block, you're pushing the ink into the wells and then smoothing out the surface. So, whatever is raised is not printed, and whatever is engraved is printed and you basically use a press for almost all the systems. Which, is what makes it so hard to do on your own. At least, without a studio, or a lot of money, or going to school. And that's why I've gotten so interested in paper and ink and different mediums, because you're just dealing with paper and ink all day long. The quality of the paper is something I really enjoy. I like process based things. I like learning all these different techniques though. You're learning things with acid, that's different, or that it's going to be a mirror image, so there are many things to think about. Also your actions just really manipulate the image. That's why I liked relief so much, I wasn't trying to get a pen drawing with relief, I was trying to get a relief. I would just carve into it and that block would become something entirely different. It's like Michelangelo, that you are releasing these things from the block. That they are already in there and you are just carving the block away from it. So, he was exposing what was within and that's how I feel about relief. You might have an idea of what might happen, but when you get into it, the block becomes it's own and you're just there in third person, trying to make it happen. It's like out of body almost. It's like automatic, automatic drawing, in which, you're just carving away. It's just so physical. Whenever I was in school, I was very interested in large carvings and that's one of the reasons I can't print right now, because I want to work really big again. It's more fun that way. It's so tactile and physical, like sculpture. It's just another medium and I want to learn all of the mediums.



Can you tell me a little about your development as an artist when you were younger?


Yeah sure. I always drew when I was a kid, even a young kid. My mom would tell this story to me when I was a kid that I drew this huge rabbit on the wall with a sharpie or something. I was so excited about it and so excited to show it to her that she couldn't be mad at me. I felt really proud of it. All growing up most of the gifts I asked for were all art supplies, it was just fun to me to sit down and draw. Always, it's just something I've always wanted to do.



Some of the figures in your prints remind me of Egon Schiele's brutal portraits, but then they are framed in this stylized art nouveau symmetry. Have either influenced your work aesthetically? Is the juxtaposition of the brutal and the stylized intentional?


Yeah, I like Egon Scheile, maybe he was a reference, I'm not sure. Art Nouveau has definitely influenced me drastically. When I was 16 I went up to Chicago and looked at a lot of Alfonz Mucha's artwork. I wanted to draw like that, it's full of such beauty and detail. I even have a pretty good book on him lying around here somewhere. The thing I really like about Art Nouveau that influenced me is that it just makes everything so beautiful and fruitful, like plants and women. The organic line quality is really nice and I like drawing women, but there is also a lot of problem solving I do for myself in my pieces. They cannot just be really pretty women and flowers. I want to add this brutal quality to it., but I think that's kind of beautiful. To me, that's my idea of beauty. Alfonz Mucha would draw these beautiful women and flowers and I'm like, ok well I'll just throw a dead animal in there and the result is pretty awesome! I'm trying to tell how I experience things and how I envision things. A lot of that goes back to a lot of influence of more brutal subjects. I really like old religious art and pre-Raphaelite art, definitely in printmaking looking at people like Durer. His details show form through line, but it's also kind of harsh. There's symbology in there too. I try to focus on symbology a lot. I brought down this scrap of paper for you to see that I wrote in college. It has kind of the language of flowers.



Tell me more about what you mean by harsh.


You can make a form beautiful, but I feel like the line work adds… its kinda like wrinkles, like when you get old and your hands look very different, but it just shows your life and how you've experienced it. With pen work whenever I'm drawing a figure, it's kind of like it's beautiful, but its also just on that edge. The beauty of life is like that, it's all good and bad all at once. And the indifference of it. It's beautiful.



Is there a mysticism or shamanism in your work?


Yes and no. Definitely not any sort of doctrine or religion. There's not some religious point I'm trying to get across. However, when you start taking a look at nature and the different ways to represent it, I definitely think of a priestess.  I like drawing a bunch of stones or crystals and bones, that kind of thing. It definitely has a certain connotation. That connotation is also interesting because it reaches back to the barbaric. Since you are going back to the fact that we are born with all of this instinct. We try to overlay it with pretty stucco and buildings and computers and technology and we just act like we are above it all. And we're not at all. It all comes down to the same thing. We all come back to this very primal state and a lot of our actions are very primal. And so that kind of paganism, closeness to nature, definitely comes through because that's where it is anyway. We can be inside, but we are still really controlled by a primal state.



Do you find that primal nature beautiful?


Yeah, but it wouldn't even matter if I found it beautiful because it's always there. You might as well be realistic about it. And if you want to find life beautiful, you have to break it down to that I think.



Let me ask you about your motifs. I noticed you have a lot of snakes, wolves, rope, and rabbits. Tell me about those.


It's definitely about symbolism. I use all these things as actors for people or experiences, and emotions. They act as vessels or characters. I really like to use wolves and foxes as this idea of the pack animal. It's really interesting since a lot of the dynamics are very similar to how humans interact, just in a more primal state. I really like using the rabbit and the wolf or fox and the interplay between them because it's this predator/prey, masculine/feminine. The idea of the rabbit being prey, but also being so agile and adaptable. It's a very good way to draw out a story. Other symbolism like rope or certain plants or bones just adds to the story. The rope is like a problem that needs solving. Different plants represent different things. Whether the symbols are regeneration and death or friendship and loss. It's a way to draw a whole image and give off this feeling that's ingrained, because these are symbols that have been around for a really, really long time. When you see a wolf and a rabbit, you know that relationship without it being explained, it's immediate. Everything I make I'm creating from an experience I've had, people I know, or past situations… I'm just trying to explain how I feel about that. But… The whole thing is that as soon as you put a piece out for someone else to look at, it's no longer yours, it's the viewer's now. The viewer can look at it and they can feel something that's nostalgic or reminds them of a feeling they once had. All these different elements are going on, but at the same time it's their experience and their history they are viewing and not yours. So, somebody could look at my work and say, that's aesthetically pleasing, but also there is something inside them that draws them to it ,because its their experience that they are seeing. Or at least that's my hope. (Laughs) Like the goal. Make it just vague enough that it's not just mine.



Your use of feminine archetypes is very beautiful, but also real in a certain way. Can you talk about that?


I try to use a very real… well, what I find beautiful. It's beautiful AND realistic. Even with different figures I use a very womanly figure most of the time. It goes back to nature or fruitfulness, the fertility goddess type stuff. At the same time, because nature and the world around us is so different, it's not always a way to use different masks. A lot of the times they are very solemn, not joyous I would say, but it's kind of the experiences of life are on them you know. Even if it's fruitful, its also the only thing that happens after, that is the cycle of life and death. I don't want to make it, just a pin up. (laughs) I want to add more to it than that. Not that I wouldn't say that some of it is kind of like a pin up. It's like the beauty of life, but also the hardness of it. So it can't be completely soft.



I like that juxtaposition.


It's beautiful, that knowledge that you can't have one without the other. They just exist together. And that's why life is interesting. That's why we continue on, if it was too easy it would just be empty.



Check out Jessica Griffin's website for more beautiful prints! Give her lot's of love H-town, we need to take care of our own!


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Posted on: Apr 1, 2014

  "... in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." 

-Benjamin Franklin



So true. And unfortunately, taxes are about the last thing artists are thinking about while trying to cobble together a living.


Fortunately, there are resources out there to help you. Last week, Fresh Arts hosted a workshop on tax preparation for individual artists. While the subject sounds about as pleasant as a trip to the dentist, we nevertheless felt it might be useful to share some info and resources from that workshop with you.


One of the first issues you must consider when tackling your taxes is whether you qualify to call yourself a professional artist. (I know, QUESTION-OF-A-LIFETIME!) But we're talking about a professional artist as far as the IRS is concerned. There are some basic rules about turning a profit from your artistic endeavors 3 out of 5 years, as well as whether you are running your artistic practice as a business. I won't get into the nitty gritty of these rules here, but to summarize, the folks at the IRS apparently feel like you need to be making money off your art in order to deduct the related expenses. For more details about this distinction, take a look at this nifty resource for artists created by 1.800.Accountants. In that downloadable guide, there is good information about professional vs. hobby distinctions, as well as different types of business entities and allowable deductions for different types of artists. 


Another resource you might find useful is this list of Tax Tips for Artists, which was compiled a few years ago by Michele M. Stanton, CPA on behalf of Texas Accounts and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA). (Most useful are the FAQs at the end.)


Speaking of TALA, the organization has moved its home-base to Austin, but it is still providing services in Houston and the rest of the state. (Fresh Arts recently hosted TALA for both a legal clinic and a QuickBooks training.) They frequently have good reference materials on their website, so check in occasionally for updates. 


Last, but not least, if you're desperate for some tax help, Neighborhood Centers provides free tax assistance for those who qualify. For details about the program, qualifications, and restrictions, check out this link.  


DISCLAIMER: If you believe you will be incurring a loss, taking a home office deduction, or dealing with depreciation, this might not be the right fit for you. 


DISCLAIMER #2: We can share these resources with you, but we have to add this part about it not counting as financial advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining advice from professional advisors.



So, in summary, it's best to speak to a qualified professional, but it's even better to do so after having done your research. Good luck and Godspeed. 



Jenni Rebecca 

Executive Director (but definitely no tax expert), Fresh Arts


Helpful links:


  1. 1.800.Accountants Guide to Tax Deductions for Artists
  2. The Ultimate Tax Guide for Freelancers (from the Freelancers Union)
  3. Tax Deductions Guide for Freelancers
  4. Tax Tips and FAQs for Artists excerpted from a TALA Resource 
  5. Fresh Arts' Curated Library of Tax-Related Articles
  6. Neighborhood Tax Centers
  7. Sign up for the Fresh Arts' Resource Newsletter to find out about other professional development workshops on subjects like taxes, contracts, fundraising, etc.  


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Posted on: Apr 22, 2011

Hi Culture365 members and Spacetaker visitors, I’m back with another entry in our Culture 365 Q&A series. This week we are featuring Raul Gonzalez, a Culture365 member and visual artist.  Also earlier this year he was in a group exhibition in the ARC entitled Candy Shop. Raul Gonzalez studied Graphic and Fine Art at Washington University in St. Louis for two years. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Houston. All this information and much more can be found at his website and in his Spacetaker profile.

Raul shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in this week’s Culture365 Q & A.



How does your culture infuse your artistic work?


My culture always finds it's way into my artwork, whether intentionally or not.  I am Mexican American, but very American.  I'm kind of upset with myself that Mexican culture wasn't a true part of my upbringing.  I ate Mexican food and my parents spoke Spanish.  That's about it.  As a kid, we didn't go to any cultural events or participate in any Mexican traditions.  As I've gotten older, I'm realizing how important it is to reflect on my roots. 


I know what I know and I translate that into artwork.  Food, music and social problems.  Latin Americans are always in the news - usually in the bad news.  I can definitely relate to that.  Relatives of mine have been victims of gang violence on the Mexican border.  My dad was once an illegal immigrant and at times I've been the victim of racism.  All that effects my artwork.  I don't want that to be my subject, but when it's time to talk about it, I definitely want to be loud about it.


You are one of our regular visitors at Spacetaker. I want to know, how did you originally find out about Spacetaker?


Let's see.  I think I did a search for artist resources in late 2009 or maybe early 2010.  I just know I found the website and then signed up for the newsletter, which has been extremely helpful.  Once I found out I could use the site as a way to promote my work and exhibitions, I totally took advantage of it.  I believe I became more involved after Jenni asked me to be part of ARTernative Festival in Sugar Land.



What do you hope people gain from viewing your work?


This answer could get lengthy, but I'll try to keep it simple.  A lot of my work is of ordinary things - people, music, candy, and culture.  I just want people to see the subject matter I use, differently.  For example, my series of construction workers and road signs; it's something we see and deal with every day. many people take the time to appreciate what these people are doing?  How many people realize that all this "annoying" construction work is providing thousands of people across the country jobs?  I guess that's it.  I just want people to open their eyes a little bit and see the world in a new light.  There are so many things around us that we take for granted.  I'm just putting the things I know on a pedestal and saying..."Hey, look at this."



If you had the chance to exhibit your work in any part of the world, where would that be?


I'm going to be completely honest.  I would love a huge solo show in New York City.  It really is the epi-center of the world.  People go to New York to see what's happening, and I think my art is what's happening.  I'd also like to do some solo shows in Europe and China.  Seriously, I want to go global. 



What are your plans for the future as an artist?


As I stated in the previous question, I want to show my art around the globe.  I think a lot of people would appreciate what I'm doing and the subject matter I'm depicting.  I would also love to have my own gallery here in Houston, that way I can host other artist’s events as well. 


There are a lot of great artists, both here in Houston and around the world.  It would be pretty cool to show artists I like in my gallery.

I would also like to continue to teach and mentor kids.  If I have my own gallery, I would seriously do it for free.  I would invite kids once a week for a whole day of art activities.  It would be awesome.


To learn more about, Raul Gonzalez make sure to check out his Spacetaker profile and his website. I want thank Raul for taking time out of his busy schedule and answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed another informative Culture365 Q & A. Have a wonderful day and I hope to see you next week.


Sandra Vasquez


Spacetaker Intern


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Posted on: Apr 12, 2011


Hi Culture365 members and Spacetaker visitors! This week we are featuring Joshua Smith who, not only is Culture365 member, but also is our next exhibiting artist here at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery! He will be exhibiting a body of work entitled “Memory Pendingfrom this Saturday, April 16th through Saturday, May 14th.  Join us for a free public opening reception this Saturday, April 16th from 5 – 7 p.m. Joshua Smith, a Houston native, is a painter, photographer, and musician. After spending a number of years focusing on writing, recording, and touring with a Houston instrumental band, Smith graduated with a B.F.A. in Painting from Texas State University. He has shown his work throughout Texas and has collaborated with musicians and independent record labels. Smith spent time in Austin and Dallas before returning to Houston, where he currently lives and works. Visit his website and Spacetaker profile for more information. 


Joshua shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in this week’s special edition Q & A.



What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?


Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. I’m constantly listening to music for one thing. There’s nothing that can get me excited to work quite like a good record. When I paint I listen to a lot of Talking Heads, Steve Reich, Flying Lotus, Bob Dylan, things like that. I like singers that have really visual lyrics. It gives me things to think about in terms of themes or titles for paintings. 

I’m also a bit of a movie nerd. Before deciding to study art I came really close to applying for film school. Any time I see a film like City of God I feel the need to make something.



Describe your artistic process?



The process begins with collecting. I work with an ever-growing archive of found and appropriated images. For the paintings, one of the foremost tools I use is a copy machine. Using a copy machine creates a separation between what I can make an image say and what the original intentions of the picture were. Photocopies allow the image to be resized and stripped of all color, forcing various images to be condensed into one family and eventually into one painting. I’m interested in the idea of using a machine of mass-production to help generate handmade art.


The new work has a different approach. It involves taking a rotary cutter to old photography books, basically destroying them, photographing them, and reconstructing them with tape. It’s given me two new avenues to go down. Once I get a handle on this new way of working I’ll start using the results as the source material for larger paintings.



What do you feel is unique about your work that sets it apart?



I place a lot of importance on the narrative in my work. I think what sets my work apart is the place where my thematic interests and the type of imagery I choose to work with meets. There are a lot of very different, very specific elements that go into the work. Once these elements begin to have a successful rhythm together it begins to speak its own language. 


Who or what has been the most influential to your work?



Robert Rauschenberg has always been a hero of mine. When I began working with collage I was definitely trying to emulate his work. It helped me understand the possibilities of the medium. It also appealed to my love for found objects. My parents owned an antique store when I was growing up. We spent every summer traveling the country and would stop in small town antique shops, flea markets, and auction houses. It gave me an eye for the unique. As a kid, I decided I would start collecting things from these places to keep myself entertained. Eventually it led to me collecting photos.



Tell us a little bit about your upcoming show here at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery. What can people expect?



Memory Pending is an exhibition consisting of mixed media paintings, collages, and photography. It is the culmination of five years of work spanning from my undergraduate studies to my most recent work. Having this stretch of time represented shows an interesting development of ideas in terms of both process and narrative. The narrative explores the manipulation of memory and the role that it plays in shaping public and personal histories. 



We understand that you’re also plugged into the music scene as a musician. What band(s) are you in?



I guess the band most people around here would know me from is By the End of Tonight, but it’s been a few years since I played with them. I’ve spent time since recording more than performing. I released a limited edition EP at the end of last year called Still Life Orchestra. Each copy of the EP was completely unique with its own drawings, paintings, prints, and collages. I plan to do similar projects in the future under the name Weather Theft.



Does your music influence your work as a visual artist?



Yes, I think it does. I tend to move back and forth between the two depending on what seems to be clicking in the moment. I spend a lot of time every night in the studio so if I’m having a hard time getting into a rhythm with one I’ll give the other a shot.



So you’re one of those artists who (gasp) lives OUTSIDE the 610 Loop! Tell us, what’s it like?



It’s a bit isolating in a way. It’s funny to me because it’s only 15 or 20 minutes to the heights from my place, but for friends that live inside the loop I might as well live in another state. Maybe there’s a space-time-continuum I don’t know about. I don’t get very many studio visits, that’s for sure. 


To learn more about Joshua, make sure to visit his website and Spacetaker profile. Also don’t forget to come to the opening reception this Saturday, April 16th from 5 -7 p.m. where you can see his work and meet him in person. Have a great day!





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Posted on: Mar 30, 2011



I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring multi-disciplinary artist Vincent Fink. He is a graphic artist, web designer, and singer songwriter. He also has experience in screen-printing. Currently, he is focusing his attention on being a T-shirt artist/designer and singer. All of this information and much more can be found on his website



Vincent Fink shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in this week’s Culture365 Q & A.



What inspired you to be a T-shirt artist?



T-shirts speak to me like no other medium of art for its higher sense of representation. You wear it to death, when you really love it, and everyone sees it wherever you go. It can be a message to the world about who you are. I fell into t-shirt design, but I immediately knew this was something I would never stop doing. I found myself looking at the t-shirt as a whole new medium to explore. Also, around the same time, clothing design in general was becoming more of a fine art with the popularization of the all-over prints and more complex design work.



What do you feel when you see people wearing your designs?



When I see someone who has continuously worn one, wash after wash, and the print is still looking good, and it's still one of their favorites that's probably the one of the best feelings ever.



Do you have any famous designers that you would like to work with?


I find myself in line with a lot of what Austin Pardun is up to lately.



Other than wearable art, what other mediums do you enjoy working with?



I'm big into my acrylic paintings lately, but I am also continuing on the next stage of the Atlas Metamorphosis. It started with an illustration known as “Lord Worm” which came to me in a dream I awoke from in 2010. So I enjoy the dream medium too, you could say. Also I consider my songwriting an extension of my art and will be releasing a CD this year. 






Why do you think art is important in today’s society?


Art is always important and relevant, but as for today's society, people really appreciate it because it is one of the best ways we can freely express our ideas, emotions, and also our reasoning. We're coming to a point in time, the telescoping of time, if you will, where things seem to be speeding up. The world, and our country are changing rapidly. Information is at our fingertips, but misinformation is as well. We're adapting, we're becoming. We smile at death. Mankind as a whole changes his view of the world. We are creating the next paradigm shift. Art reminds us that one person can make a difference in many people through the exchange of energy, and find common ground where divisions once stood. Creativity shapes our world everyday for better or worse.



What do you wish to accomplish in the future as an artist?


As far as t-shirt designs, that's still my #1, as I have recently begun co-owning a design company called .506 to better serve our freelance customers. I used to only offer design work, but now, we can handle the full process of designing, ordering, printing, shipping, everything. We also are hoping to do well with the 1st Point 506 clothing line possibly launching by the end of the year.


With so many ideas, projects and outlets I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I hope to continue growing as a painter and musician as well.


I want to keep pushing my designs and ideas as far out into the cosmos as possible, my mind expands as for the universe will go.




To learn more about, Vincent Fink make sure to check out his Spacetaker profile and his website. I want thank Vincent for taking time out of his busy schedule and answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed another informative Culture365 Q & A. Have a wonderful day and I hope you're enjoying the nice cool weather we’re having today.


Sandra Vasquez


Spacetaker Intern


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Posted on: Mar 22, 2011


Hi Culture 365 members and Spacetaker visitors. Today Spacetaker has the honor of presenting a special edition Q & A with this spring’s Bayou City Art Festival featured artist Dolan Geiman. The Bayou City Art Festival has selected Virginia-based artist Dolan Geiman as the Featured Artist for the 40th Annual Capital One Bank Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park, which takes place March 25 – 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Geiman is a nationally recognized mixed media artist creating original paintings, collages, constructions, and limited-edition reproductions. Produced from salvaged wood, found objects, and other recycled materials, Geiman’s eco-friendly artwork emerges from a folk art tradition infused with a contemporary, urban style. Popular and recurring motifs in Geiman’s artwork include birds, woodland creatures, music, and Americana, creating an artwork that introduces a modern aesthetic while remaining true to its rustic roots. All this information and much more can be found on the Bayou City Art Festival website.


Geiman shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in this week’s special edition Q & A. 



You’ve said before that you aren’t a folk artist, but an “American Ruralist.”  What do you mean by that characterization?




The American Ruralist is a moniker I use when people try to pigeonhole me and slap an art world term on me. I disbelieve the idea of the folk artist, someone who is mentally incapacitated and stuck in a cabin in the woods, removed from society and drunk on moonshine. While this creates a sensationalized vision of an Appalachian mountain man who might make some art, its place is lost in today’s technologically choked society. So, if labels must be used, as descriptors only, I prefer the term ruralist. A ruralist is someone who has roots in rural America, which are strong, and deep and who often tap into those roots for inspiration and guidance, such as one might consult the Bible.  



Approximately 90% of materials used to create your original pieces are recycled and/or obtained from materials destined for a landfill, how did you come across this artistic process?



First it was a necessity and then by choice. When I was growing up the stuff that we were allowed to play with was all the discarded wood, old tractor parts, and yard trash. So I developed an affinity for these objects and came to be familiar with their ways and whereabouts, i.e. if I wanted an old tire to make a rope swing, I knew I could look at the old machine shop. If I wanted a pile of horseshoes for sculpture, I could go out to the barn and dig in the back of the stalls.  I compare this type of collecting to someone shopping with coupons. You prepare yourself with practice and train your eye to look for the deal, or in my case, the discarded.



Have you received professional training for this method?



The best training I received was from my mother. She would point out various forms and colors in nature and make sure I examined them in detail.  It was from her that I learned the true color of shadows. If you want to be a great artist, do not expect to find yourself by attending college. Learn to examine yourself and rely on your own creativity and be aggressive in your creative desires. 




If you have a creative block, what would you say inspires you most?



As the great writer Edward Abbey once said, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”  Any time spent in the wildest of places brings me back to myself and any blocks I have creatively will surely be crushed to sand after a few days away from a cell phone.



You are very involved in the art festival community around the country, why do you prefer to show your work at festivals as opposed to galleries?



Galleries do one thing that I find disagreeable: they alienate a large portion of their audience just by being galleries. I never visited a gallery until I was 21 and even then I thought it was awkward and sterile. Call me old fashioned but I like to talk to real people and shake someone’s hand and actually meet the person who is buying my work. And it’s nice to be outside.



You are the featured artist this weekend at Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park.  What are you looking forward to most?



I am looking forward to being in that beautiful park and knowing I can relax and just do my job, which is selling art to happy people. This show is organized and professional and I know I can just show up and get in my groove and not have to worry about a thing.



What can festivalgoer’s expect from your art at this year’s Bayou City Art Festival?




I’ve been working like a mad scientist for months trying to turn all of these ideas in my head into real art pieces. I have a veritable platter full of fresh artwork that no one else has seen yet this year. Since this is our first show of the season, a lot of these pieces will be debuting at this show. I’ve been working with new themes this year, moving into the realm of nature more deeply, and also trying to have a more diverse range of sizes for folks. So, really, I have a ton of great new stuff just for this show and I think people will just have to come check it out and let me know what they think. 





To learn more about Dolan Geiman, make sure to check out his website. I want to thank Dolan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. And thank you for reading. Don’t forget to go to the upcoming Bayou City Art Festival, which takes place March 25 – 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. See you next week. 





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Posted on: Mar 10, 2011

I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring singer and theater artist Misha Penton and Culture365 artist member. Soprano Misha Penton's diverse performing career includes opera and multidisciplinary performance projects. Most recently, she sang the principal role in Divergence Vocal Theater’s world premier opera, Selkie, a sea tale, composed by Elliot Cole;, and the role of Leah in Ofer Ben-Amots' contemporary multimedia chamber opera, The Dybbuk, presented by the Jewish Community Center Houston's Maurice Adamo Music Foundation Residency. She has also created the roles of Isabelle and Brooklyn in the world premieres of The Masque by Roger Keele for Lone Star Lyric Theater Festival and James Norman’s opera Wake… with Opera Vista; and Marguerite in Norman's Incline, O Maiden, a monodrama for soprano and chamber ensemble, with Audio Inversions, a new music ensemble in Austin, Texas. Misha is the founder, artistic director, and ensemble lead artist of Divergence Vocal Theater, a Houston-based opera and multidisciplinary performing arts company. In 2008-09 she sang Ottavia in Divergence Vocal Theater’s The Ottavia Project, Sapho in The 10th Muse, and was a featured soloist in Autumn Spectre, a multimedia evening of staged arts songs, piano works, and dance. The most recent Divergence Vocal Theater project was the world premier of Selkie, a sea tale, composed by Elliot Cole, a setting of Misha’s libretto. Upcoming projects include Selkie, a sea tale, performances in Austin, Texas in May 2011; and Klytemnestra, with composer Dominick DiOrio, another collaborative musical setting of Misha’s words, premiering in Spring 2011. All this information and much more can be found on Misha Penton's Spacetaker profile.


Misha shares with us some of her experiences and knowledge in this week’s Culture365 Q & A.


Q (Photo by Kerry Beyer)

Who introduced you to opera and at what age? 



I grew up involved in music and dance from a young age and over time I naturally gravitated toward opera. I'm specifically drawn to dramatic expressions in music-theater. 



What is your favorite opera and why?



Mmmm... I'm not sure I have a favorite opera! When I think of opera, I think of music-theater in a very broad sense, and of performance that is operatic in spirit -- this can manifest as very traditional or very experiential work. I'm drawn to the music of some composers over others and drawn to the work of certain opera and theater directors. Opera is very much a multidisciplinary art, so there are many disciplines that converge to create the work. In a glimpse: I love Puccini, French grand opera, baroque opera, the work of Meredith Monk, Phillip Glass, Diamanda Galas, Robert Fripp and Robert Wilson. My very favorite work is collaborating with composers. I've worked directly with James D. Norman, Dominick DiOrio and Elliot Cole, creating settings of my words that I've subsequently performed and brought to fruition as collaborative performance works.


What do you wish to accomplish when performing in front of an audience?



I'm interested in the intersection between the arts and community building.  By inventively presenting classical music, over time I'm seeing the fruits of what is possible: each performance creates the circumstances for an ever-widening group of people to get to know each other.



What is your biggest accomplishment to date?



I'm all about the process of creating work and sharing that experience with others. I'm very excited about where I am as an artist and where Divergence Vocal Theater is, right now. Continuing to collaborate with composers and other music and performing artists on the creation of new work is what is most exciting to me. I'm also thrilled that Divergence Vocal Theater will have a new home for performance at Spring Street Studios: Divergence Music & Arts.


What future projects are you looking forward to?



The Divergence Vocal Theater spring production is a collaborative work with composer Dominick DiOrio. It is based on the Greek heroine, Klytemnestra, and is a setting of my words. I'm singing in the work and the piece is also includes actress Miranda Herbert, dancer and choreographer Meg Brooker, violist Meredith Harris and pianist Kyle Evans. Serret Jensen and Sarah Mosher are creating wigs and costumes, respectively, and Frank Vela is the lighting artist. The work is inspired by Dr. John Harvey's new translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, at the University of Houston Honors College. John asked me to portray Klytemnestra in the play and that was the genesis of the Klytemnestra opera project.


To learn more about Misha Penton, make sure to check out her Spacetaker profile and for more information on Divergence Vocal Theater click here. I want thank Misha for taking time out of her busy schedule and answering my questions. And thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. See you next week for another informative Culture365 Q & A. Best of luck in your life endeavors.




Spacetaker Intern



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Posted on: Mar 3, 2011

I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring artist Y. E. Torres (ms. YET), who is not only a Culture 365 member, but also Spacetaker artist advisory board member. She is a multi-disciplinary artist of the following flavors: visual art, dance, costume design, photography, curation and collaboration on a wide range of projects. Torres received a BFA in Drawing & Painting and a BFA in Fashion Design from the University of North Texas. She has exhibited her work at museums and galleries that include Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, Contemporary Art Association in Chicago, Art House Gallery in Atlanta, and Lawndale Art Center in Houston. Torres has curated performances at Avant Garden in Houston and has worked on arts-related projects as a studio assistant to William Betts and as an artist’s model for Dick Wray, Ben Tecumseh DeSoto, Traci Matlock, Ashley MacLean, and Dr. Sketchy Houston. All this information and much more can be found in Y. E. Torres Spacetaker profile. 


ms. YET shares with us some of her experiences and knowledge in this week’s Culture365 Q & A.



You’re a visual artist, dancer, costume designer, photographer, curator and collaborator on a wide range of projects; what do you enjoy doing the most?  


(ms. YET)


Because I am multi-disciplinary, I typically 'most enjoy' whatever it is I am working on at the moment! Right now that is my belly dance/guitar duo (ms. Sandy & ms. YET), performing to Bluegrass & Gypsy/Carnie fascinations with Hilary Sloan and Jo Bird (the most amazing fiddle players around!) and working through new collages from the eye-candy delectably series. I also favor the film and photography work I've done alongside Chris Nelson (Nelson Creative) and Jonathan Jindra (Binarium Productions). I also REALLY enjoy teaching my weekly belly dance classes at YogaOne Studios and Del Espadin Flamenco & Spanish Dance Academy (Soraya's School of Belly Dance).  


You’re also a Spacetaker artist advisory board member. What are your responsibilities as a Spacetaker artist board member and what has your experience been like so far?

(Image: eye-candy delectably - Y. E. Torres (in collaboration with Raghu Knagala), 2010)



My responsibilities as a ST AAB member are: helping to curate WHAM as well as the Spacetaker ARC, helping to select artists for the SPEAKeasy programming, promoting the Spacetaker Artist Registry, events and overall community. I have also helped to gently mentor two artists in respect to showing their artwork via Spacetaker's events. I have been an AAB member since it's inception, which was over a year ago. The experience has been extremely rewarding and absolutely FUN!



What do you believe the body can communicate through dance? 



I believe the body can communicate emotion as well as physical strength through dance - regardless of the dance being narrative and/or an improvisation. For me, I am constantly investigating creating life out of line so my dance/movement consistently expresses intense emotion, shape and line quality and extended techniques.



What infuses your belly dancing techniques? 


(ms. Sandy & ms. YET at NMASS, 2010)


My bellydance/movement technique is a merging of Oriental dance, Yoga posturing, extended muscle isolations and layering, and improvisation alongside a performance art, sideshow and burlesque aesthetic. I consider myself to be a musician whose body is her instrument.



What does your future as an artist look like? 

slither - Torres/Jindra Frame Grab from honeyEcstacy, 2010 

(slither - Torres/Jindra Frame Grab from honeyEcstacy, 2010) 


My future as an artist looks purple and pink alongside the word honeyECSTACY. Currently my work is influenced by collaborations - be it alongside musicians, filmmakers, photographers or regurgitating old drawings and paintings into new ones. Because I am multi-disciplinary I intend to continue to engage in the opportunities that allow me to investigate and display my unique collaborations.  




To learn more about Y. E. Torres, make sure to check out her Spacetaker profile. I want thank Y. E. Torres for taking time out of her busy schedule and answering my questions. And thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. See you next week for another informative Culture365 Q & A. Best of luck in your life endeavors.




Spacetaker Intern

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Posted on: Mar 1, 2011

There’s a new trend in fund raising and Houston’s jumping on board. It’s called crowd funding. Ever heard of it? If not, it’s about time you learned.


If you missed it last week, Spacetaker’s Executive Director Jenni Rebecca Stephenson updated her Heavy Artillery blog on with an enlightening post about crowd funding and how it is invaluable for the arts. Here’s a snippet:


Why I think crowd funding is invaluable for the arts:
•    Every little bit helps. How often do you think twice about making a $10 donation because you doubt it's useful? Chances are, plenty. But whether one person gives $100 or ten people donate $10, it adds up.
•    It allows artists to take matters into their own hands. They don't have to wait for institutional gate-keepers to anoint them with funding. They can go directly to their friends, fans, patrons, etc. to seek support their projects.
•    Crowd-funding platforms like IndieGoGo work in tandem with other entities like Fractured Atlas to provide fiscal sponsorship of artist-driven projects. What does that mean? Simply put, it means artists don't have to divert their attention away from their art to obtaining official nonprofit status to apply to various funding sources.  Instead, Fractured Atlas provides a nonprofit umbrella for the project with financial oversight... and you get a tax-deduction when you donate. Win, win all the way around, right?
•    Crowd funding provides a forum for democratic support of good work. Interesting work is more likely to get noticed and funded. And this doesn't equate to commercial! Take a test drive around IndieGoGo and you'll notice that the projects run the gamut from the commercially viable to completely bizarre.
•    Less potential for waste: Rocco Landsmen (NEA Chairman) put his foot in his mouth when he suggested the exponential increase of arts nonprofits seems inappropriate given the waning demand. But he's not wrong about this. Fiscal sponsorship and crowd funding address this issue. 
•    It utilizes some of the same practices that are revolutionizing the way art is being consumed these days. Take our friends, Pamplamoose, for instance. The Houston Press wrote a great piece about how they've bucked the system, gone viral, and made a name for themselves. Their videos and covers aren't so different than what you see on some IndieGoGo campaigns. If not selling tracks on iTunes, tying a viral video to a fundraising campaign could generate a great of capital if one gets lucky. Alternately, fiscal sponsorship has funded projects on the scale of the critically acclaimed movie, Boys Don't Cry (care of the New York Foundation for the Arts' fiscal sponsorship program). Moral of the story: these tools work!


Nancy Wozny also wrote a great piece for CultureMap that explores several types of crowd funding platforms and highlights a few folks in Houston that have raised funds through these different platforms. Featured is beloved Houston ensemble Two Star Symphony which is currently on its last few days of its first campaign on IndieGoGo.


We want to highlight two Texas-based campaigns that have done an excellent job in promoting their campaign creatively and raising the funds to accomplish their goals:


Big Boy feature film has four days left in their campaign and they’ve already met their fundraising goal.










Two Star Symphony has 18 days (and counting) left of their campaign to raise funds to pay for a recording of their original score of Titus Andronicus that they performed with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. They are more than halfway to their goal!







And last but not least, Spacetaker is hosting a FREE Info Session on Fiscal Sponsorship & Crowdfunding on Thursday, March 10th at our Artist Resource Center (ARC). We're bringing down Dianne Debicella of Fractured Atlas (NYC) and Danae Ringelmann of IndieGoGo (San Francisco) to Houston to talk to about how Houston’s artists and arts organizations can best utilize the fiscal sponsorship and crowd funding platforms offered by IndieGoGo and Fractured Atlas.


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Posted on: Feb 24, 2011

Hi Culture 365 Members and Spacetaker visitors,


I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring artist J E Theriot who is not only a Culture 365 artist but also will be exhibiting his work in “The Poo-tail Collection” at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery from this Saturday, February 26th through March 19th. The opening reception will be this Saturday, February 26th from 5 – 7 p.m. J E Theriot is not only an artist, but he is also a neurologist, writer, and a lecturer on topics in brain hygiene and mind science.


As a writer, he is interested in the brain, language, art and religion and in the intersection of these overlapping realms; in short, the philosophy of the human experience.


As an artist, he is not bound to any particular medium; rather, he develops thoughts and ideas until they surface in the most appropriate and illuminating manner.


As a physician, he does his best to be genuinely helpful to his patients. He says, “I am also observing them and learning how brains work. Sometimes when I am typing up my patient notes, I forget they are chores. The subject matter is so stimulating.” On Thursdays, he teaches a group called Peaceful Habits to patients and staff, injured and uninjured alike. Using the structure of a Taoist tea ceremony, he serves tea, dialogues and instructs.


Ultimately, he says, there is little separation between the physician, artist, and writer. For him, ennobling the soul, exploring the imagination and communicating the experience of that journey are cut from the same cloth. All of this information and much more can be found in J E Theriot’s Spacetaker profile.


J E Theriot shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in this week’s Culture365 Q & A.

(Photo to the right: J E Theriot in full cowboy getup, photo by Tim Frederick)


How has your knowledge of neurology influenced your artwork? 

I treat people with severe brain injury, people who are only able to count to five, people who can’t remember from one minute to the next, people whose words sound like nonsense when they speak, people who cannot swallow.  I guess I would say that being exposed to such profound disability makes me extremely mindful of how fragile and wonderful life is. My artwork is a way of celebrating and honoring life.

I understand that this the first time you have ever shown the work that will be exhibited in The Poo-tail Collection exhibition. What are you most excited about? 

Last year, I collected some of my photographs together for a portfolio review. I designed this little wooden box to hold some of my smaller prints and when I presented it to the reviewers, they were much more interested in the box than the prints that were in the box. So I took a break from photography and started to explore other media. What I came to discover was that I had been trying to be a photographer when what I really wanted to be was an artist. It was a very freeing experience for me. It felt like a door opening. I began to experiment with sewing and sculpture and street art and video and performance art. I started riding my bike around town with an audio recorder instead of a camera, letting my ears instead of my eyes lead the way. I started painting again. So what I’m most excited about with this collection is the range of materials I work with – wood, yarn, watercolor, limestone, acrylic, and velvet, paper. I even designed a cowboy costume based on an old Butterick pattern I found in my mom’s sewing room.

The Poo-tail Collection exhibition inspiration came from a drawing you did as a child; what is your fondest childhood memory? 

I remember sitting on the foldout seats in the back of our big yellow station wagon as we drove on the levee. There were two big humps in the road we would always wait for. We would scream as we drove over them. During the spring, when the buttercups were in bloom, we would stop the car, get out and run through the buttercups. They go by different names – pink evening primrose and showy primrose, we called them buttercups. They’re basically weeds, but I look forward to them returning each spring. In fact, they should be blooming in two or three weeks. For me they represent the innocence of childhood.

What inspires you as an artist?

Everything is a source of inspiration. I truly believe that the world is a magical place. I particularly love reclaiming discarded things. In January, I found a headless rocking horse at the bottom of a heap of trash, dusted it off and hung it from the ceiling with some origami butterflies. Taking something that has been thrown away and breathing new life into it – for me, that is the highest beauty.

What do your future plans as an artist look like? 

I recently did two large stencil paintings of a pointing finger, one on my dad’s tractor shed in Louisiana, another one on a friend’s garage at the corner of Montrose and Gray in Houston…I have plans to do another one in England this summer. I’m interested in doing some documentary work on brain injury. I’d also like to turn some of the lectures I do into short films. I’m working on a few writing projects. I want to stretch myself in as many directions as possible. 

To learn more about J E Theriot, make sure to check out his Spacetaker profile and his blog. I want thank J E Theriot for taking time out of his busy schedule and answering my questions. And thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. See you next week for another informative Culture365 Q & A. Best of luck in your life endeavors.


Spacetaker Intern

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Posted on: Feb 16, 2011

Hi Culture 365 Members and Spacetaker visitors,


I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring one of Spacetaker’s Culture 365 Non-profit members, the Aurora Picture Show. Associate Director Rachel Blackney Tepper was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.


Aurora Picture Show is a non-profit micro-cinema that presents artist-made, non-commercial film and video. Founded in 1998 by Andrea Grover, the first home for Aurora was in a former church building where Grover and her family both lived and worked in the microcinema. Now the home base for Aurora Picture Show is located near The Menil Collection and houses the Aurora Video Library and Aurora Video Salons. Since 2009, Aurora screenings and events have been nomadic and travel all over the City of Houston in unique settings and alternative art spaces. Aurora has distinguished itself as a home for vanguard work that falls outside of conventional moviemaking and traditionally has fewer exhibition outlets. Their screenings are known for being memorable and not-to-be-missed as they are not often repeated and are difficult to duplicate. All this information and much more can be found at the Aurora Picture Show website.


Rachel shares with us what the Aurora Picture Show is all about in this week’s Culture365 Q & A: 


What is the Aurora Picture Show’s mission?                


Aurora Picture Show is a non-profit micro-cinema that presents artist-made, non-commercial film and video.  Aurora is dedicated to expanding the cinematic experience and promoting the understanding and appreciation of moving image art.


What significant opportunities does the city of Houston bring to Aurora Picture Show?


Being located in Houston, Aurora is able to work in a great community with an exceptional diversity of organizations and audiences that support our organization.  From partnerships with arts organizations, such as DiverseWorks and The Menil Collection, to community organizations such as Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the Houston Humane Society, Aurora collaborates with a great a variety of partners that not only enhance our programming, but also add to the audience that we reach.  Furthermore, Houston is a unique city to host site-specific screenings including along the bayou or at Houston institutions such as Saint Arnold Brewery.  Plus the people of Houston are extremely welcoming and open to our non-traditional ways, from experimental films to laser light graffiti shows; our audiences embrace the creative freedom of our programming.


How can Houston artists (directors, curators, actors, designers, etc.) get involved with Aurora Picture Show?


For filmmakers and media artists, Aurora Picture Show offers a home for exhibition of films that do not traditionally have as many outlets, including short-length films, documentaries and experimental works.  Filmmakers are invited to submit their works to Aurora Picture Show that fit our mission of supporting works with less exhibition outlets (please check the website for guidelines and applications).  Aurora has year-round submissions to be included in themed screening programs and also accept Extremely Shorts Film Festival entries (film and video shorts under three minutes long), as well as have opportunities to be included in our installation space, Flickerlounge, hosted at DiverseWorks Art Space.  Furthermore, Aurora hosts many educational events such as monthly video salons, filmmaker Q&As, and youth filmmaking initiatives for future artists.


Aurora is committed to paying artist fees for screenings to encourage and support these often under-paid media and film artists, and we are committed to keeping submissions and entry fees accessible. Furthermore, we are dedicated to promotion of these artists and assisting them in getting their works shown.


Members of Aurora Picture Show have other opportunities, including reduced submission fees, networking with visiting filmmakers and curators, feedback from industry professionals and other industry-oriented gatherings that help working and aspiring artists further their craft.  We also highlight members in our online Curator's Corner to introduce emerging artists to our patrons.


Additionally, through the Warhol Foundation Initiative, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks and Project Row Houses have come together to support art at its source by providing direct grants to artists through The Idea Fund.  Please visit for details on how to apply.


Can people buy videos shown at Aurora Picture Show screenings?


Aurora has a DVD label which includes several artists that are representative of our mission, including Eileen Maxson and Enid Baxter Blader among others, but we do not have the rights to sell videos of the works we have commissioned for screening events.  It is part of our mission to pay our artists, and we only pay a fee for a one-time screening. However, with the permission of the artist, Aurora sometimes has a copy of the program available in our non-circulating library. The videos can be viewed in our office for educational purposes.


What educational opportunities does Aurora Picture Show offer?   


Aurora offers several community education and outreach activities, including Video Salons, Popcorn Kids screenings, our Video Library and other community events.


The Aurora Video Library is an educational tool for all area schools from elementary to university level. If you have a school that would like to visit, please contact us at 713.868.2101.


Our Popcorn Kids series of programming, which includes our summer filmmaking boot camps, are geared toward youth but are also accessible to all ages. This series encourages Media Literacy from a young age and stimulates parent/child interaction.


Aurora also presents video salons and workshops related to media literacy, filmmaking and grant writing to increase media arts appreciation in the community. These include lunch hour education series and occasional Happy Hour Video Hours. If you are interested in attending, please become a member and get early notification or join our newsletter for general notification.


As a reward for our members, we host Members Meet Maker events, which allow our special members to interact and learn from artists and filmmakers that come to Aurora for screenings.


Our internship program also allows us to interact and engage future arts leaders in the community. The Aurora internship program helps university students and aspiring film/art professionals gain hands-on experience to help foster their future careers.


What does Aurora Picture Show’s future look like?

While we continue to strive to maintain our mission and our unique programs that travel all over the city, Aurora is also researching ways to grow our facilities to be able to have a special homebase for some of our programs, including film screenings and education initiatives.  Aurora also looks forward to taking our programs on the road and introducing video art and artist-made works to communities across Houston, including more under-served and low-income areas.

To learn more about Aurora Picture Show make sure you check out their website and their Spacetaker Profile.  I want to thank Rachel Blackney Tepper for answering my questions. And thank you for reading; see you next week for another informative Culture365 Q & A. Best of luck in your life endeavors.



Spacetaker Intern  


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Posted on: Feb 8, 2011

Hi Culture 365 Members and Spacetaker visitors, 


My name is Sandra, and I’m currently the intern at the Spacetaker headquarters. I’m happy to announce the launch of our new Artist Q & A.  The Q & A, will feature Culture 365 members, which include artists, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Join me in this new adventure. Make sure to check your email--you just might be chosen for the next Artist Q & A.  


This week, meet Felix Sanchez.

Felix Sanchez is an award winning photographer, and won several Art Directors Club and Addy awards dating back to 1996. He most recently received the 2009 Gold Addy for his personal work in Brazil. 

He first took interest in photography in college when his friend loaned him a 35mm camera in the mid 1980s. During this time, music was his passion and he was a songwriter and keyboard player in a Latin Group. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that he began pursuing his photography interests again by taking on photo assignments in the music industry. He began shooting musicians for promotional materials and publications and soon his talents were noticed. Around this time he began assisting advertising and editorial photographers. By 1994, Sanchez was booking his own major clients.brazil beach

He’s a Texas native and world traveler, pressuring his love for photography. His work is very diverse, from boxers in the slums of Brazil to lifestyle assignments for Wal-Mart ads. But regardless of the job’s scale, Sanchez’s approach is always the same: it’s about listening to clients. He turns each unique concept into a customized project plan, exploring everything from subjects and locations to lighting.  All this information and much more can be found at his website.  

Felix shares with us some of his experiences and knowledge in the Artist Q & A. 


beach2What do you like most about photography? 

Photography, has enabled me to make a living at something I’m truly passionate about. Creative freedom and the interesting and talented people I get to meet and work with are all benefits of doing what I do.


What style of photography would you consider your style? 

I don’t really think I have a defined style. I’m influenced by so much and I feel having a defined style can be limiting. I enjoy shooting in natural light off the hip and I find it challenging to conceptualize an image with layers of retouching. I’m constantly exploring new techniques and styles.


What did you learn from your experience in Brazil? 

I learned a lot about the people and the culture. But, I also realized how important it is as a photographer to have personal projects. This was a 14-day shoot in Rio de Janeiro where I arranged a producer, driver, and assistant and created my own shot list based on my interests. It taught me how important it is to take personal work as serious as I do assignments.beach2same


What advantages have you had as a photographer living in Houston?

Living in a city this large has many advantages for photographers. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the nations largest corporations and advertising agencies that are based here. 


What motivated to open your own gallery? 

I was given the idea from someone that is very influential in the art community. Also, my studio layout seems to work very well as a gallery space.

brazil model

What are your future plans as a photographer? 

To be honest, in this economy, my plans are first of all to survive as a business. Creatively, I would like to make the move to fine art with my personal work. 


For more information on Felix, be sure to check his website and Spacetaker Profile.


I want to thank Felix for taking the time out his busy schedule to answer my questions. Also thank you for reading, I hope it was informative yet enjoyable. Until we meet again, best of luck.




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Posted on: Jan 6, 2011

Although a native Houstonian, fine art photographer Stephanie Anne Clark just recently moved back to Texas after spending three years in Rochester, NY where she received her Masters of Fine Arts in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology. While in Rochester, Clark began her series The Specter of Nature, a selection of work comprised of photographs, decorative materials, and digital media to create hybrid images that move beyond the photograph. The whimsical nature of Clark’s images is a result of a playful layering of topics such as visual culture, storytelling, religion, feminism, and psychology. Using light and shadow as symbols of hope and potential, she creates spaces where figures and forms merge and emerge; much like the human experience where the known and the unknown, the real and the unreal, are investigated within the murky depths of the subconscious.


The Specter of Nature series will make its first appearance here in Houston at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery before it moves to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center in late 2011.


ST: What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
SAC: What inspires me the most is really believing that life is a magical experience, the more I embrace this belief, the more I see this construct of ‘magic’ transcribed on the materials produced within our culture.


ST: Describe your artistic process.
SAC: My process is one of manual manipulation, where I begin investigating materials in a physical manner by cutting and placing them in relation to one another with the hope of discovering something new. The other half of my process is the technical side of my imagery. During this aspect of my process, I spend time using light to create unexpected silhouettes and expose characteristics of the materials. Technically, I also focus on creating prints that push and pull at the idea of the photographic image, working on the subtle detailing of the shadows and the vibrant colors of the highlights to create images that reference a sort of theatrical illustration.


ST: Who or what has been the most influential to your work?
SAC: I’d say as a young artist, one of the most influential experiences I had during my artistic development was discovering Louise Nevelson through a documentary presented during class. At the time, I was astonished by her strength of presence and her stubborn attitude. In addition, her work introduced me to the transformative nature of art making. There have been numerous influences since, but that particular moment of discovery is still pivotal.


ST: What’s your favorite part of being an artist in Houston?
SAC: My favorite part about being an artist in Houston has been the great support I’ve received from the artistic community during my time working here. I’ve always felt welcomed and encouraged to continue producing artwork. Driving down Main St., one can easily see how versatile Houston’s art scene is and how the city itself has embraced the full spectrum of creative forms.


Stephanie Anne Clark’s series of work, The Specter of Nature will be on exhibition January 1 – 29 at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery located at Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter St). Opening Reception on Saturday, January 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. Free. For more information about the artist, visit

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Posted on: Jan 5, 2011


BIG NEWS for Houston artists!  Spacetaker has secured a partnership with Fractured Atlas via their Open Arts Network so that all of our Culture 365 members have automatic access to Fractured Atlas Associate Member benefits, which includes low-cost and reliable health insurance!


As far as we know, SWAMP is the only other organization in Houston that is also part of the Open Arts Network.


These benefits pertain to both individual artists and members/artists of arts nonprofit Culture 365 members.


Here's our "official" announcement sent to the press:


Spacetaker is thrilled to announce that it has joined the Open Arts Network, formalizing a partnership with Fractured Atlas, a national arts services organization based in New York City.  The Open Arts Network is an initiative, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, which allows organizations across the country access to a variety of programs and services provided by Fractured Atlas.  With its inclusion in the Open Arts Network, Spacetaker will now be able to offer its Culture 365 Membership the automatic benefit of becoming an Associate Member of Fractured Atlas free of charge.


The benefits of being a Fractured Atlas Associate Member include access to low-cost liability and health insurance, as well as access to Fractured Atlas’s online courses, calendar of events, special offers, and discounts.  Since affordable insurance has long been listed as a top priority for independent artists, this partnership is a critical step forward in addressing this need for Houston’s creative community. 


Fractured Atlas, one of the nation’s fastest growing arts service organizations, helps artists and arts organizations across the country function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more. Similarly, Spacetaker has increasingly become a resource in Houston, which provides artists and non-profits access to economic development, continuing education, and networking opportunities to support their professional growth.


Individual Artist Culture 365 Membership is only $50 annually. Non Profit Culture 365 Membership is $250 annually. To learn more about becoming a Spacetaker Culture 365 Member, visit our Culture 365 web page.




BRING IT ON, HOUSTON ARTISTS!!!  Please leave your comments, questions, or concerns here or shoot us a personal note at info[at]



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Posted on: Jan 4, 2011

Since about midway through 2010, we have been presenting work by Houston artists in an exhibition series in our Artist Resource Center (ARC) Gallery. In November, we launched our first formal exhibition proposal submission process and got a number of outstanding submissions. Our Artist Advisory Board juried the submissions and selected four individual artists to exhibit their work in the first half of 2011.


Our goal with the ARC Gallery is to provide emerging and established visual artists with an alternative space to show their work outside of a commercial gallery setting. In furthering our mission to provide economic and professional development opportunities for artists, we dedicate time and resources to mentor each exhibiting artist along the process of presenting a public exhibition, from marketing, to pricing, presentation skills, cultivating clientele, and more.

***We are excited to announce our Spring 2011 ARC Exhibition Series***

The Specter of Nature by Stephanie Anne Clark
January 1 – 29, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 8, 5 – 7 p.m. (that is THIS SATURDAY!)

In her exhibition The Specter of Nature, fine art photographer Stephanie Anne Clark creates hybrid images in an effort to explore relationships between materiality and ideals within representation – cutting and staging photographs and decorative materials to reframe them through the lens of fantasy and make believe. In a childlike setting where light plays with shadows, figures emerge from cutout foliage like paper dolls trapped in a space that straddles the real and unreal.

The Poo-tail Collection by Jude Theriot
February 19 – March 19, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 26, 5 – 7 p.m.

Spacetaker presents The Poo-tail Collection, a new multi-media exhibition by Jude Theriot that will feature art objects anchored and inspired by the spirit of the unbridled exhilaration of childhood creativity, curiosity and wonder. The works featured will be a collection of objects both large and small scale, highbrow and lowbrow, three-dimensional and two-dimensional, as well as a piece of art-in-action.

Memory Pending by Joshua Smith
April 9 – May 7, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 16, 5 – 7 p.m.

Joshua Smith will exhibit a collection of collage-based work influenced by film, theology, religious art, architecture and history in his exhibition entitled Memory Pending. Smith works with found and collected imagery that can be manipulated into social, political, and historical narrative and iconography. From Dada-influenced collage and photography to found photographs telling tales from the 1950s, his body of work serves as a visual representation of how memory is constructed and the role memory plays in shaping both personal and public histories.

Title TBD by Kerry Adams
May 28 – June 25, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, June 3, 6 – 8 p.m.

Spacetaker presents a new exhibit by Kerry Adams comprised of multi-media sculptures, photographic documentation of installations, and installations that address the idea of the passage of time in our everyday lives, particularly the moments between sleeping, eating, working, and tending to responsibilities that pass without notice.



For all ARC Exhibitions:
Spacetaker ARC Gallery Hours: Wed-Fri 11a.m. – 6 p.m. or by appointment: 713.868.1839
2101 Winter Street, Studio B11, Houston, TX 77007
Free and open to the public


If you're a Houston-based artist who would like to be considered for an ARC Gallery exhibition, our next submission deadline is April 1, 2011.  Visit our ARC Exhibitions web page for info on how to submit.



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Posted on: Nov 23, 2010

We are absolutely THRILLED to announce that this year’s Winter Holiday Art Market completely blew all other WHAMs out of the ballpark! 


WHAM art sales increased this year by 80%!!!  Here’s the big picture view:
30K in art sales in 2008
43K in art sales in 2009
78K in art sales in 2010


Spacetaker takes a small portion of sales at WHAM to cover event expenses but 75% of all sales go directly to the artists.


And that’s not all we’re excited to share with you – here’s the even bigger picture view:
By the end of 2010, we’re estimating that Spacetaker’s programs will have generated over $130,000 for over 150 Houston artists and arts organizations*. That’s a 55% increase from what was generated in 2009.


This is huge growth. We couldn’t have done it, however, without the help of some very special people along the way.  It seems apropos in this season of giving thanks to take a moment to say who and what we’re grateful for:


•    For Houston's immensely diverse and talented artists,

•    For Houston's enthusiastic and generous residents and visitors who understand the importance and benefit of supporting local,

•    For our Board of Directors,

•    For our Artist Advisory Board,

•    For our Volunteers (particularly Michael Crowder, who worked his #@s off for us over WHAM weekend, hauling ice, restocking the bars, and helping artists load out their work when the freight elevator broke.),

•    For our incredible designer and web guru Anthony Thompson Shumate,

•    For our wonderful Sponsors & Supporters,

•    For our Fans,

•    and for the countless others who’ve helped spread the word about what Spacetaker is doing to find and create opportunities for artists.


As you can see, we had a fabulous 5th WHAM-iversary! If you loved it and want more, or if you didn't get to make it this year, we have exciting news for you -- coming very soon is our very first extension of WHAM...Downtown!  WHAM Downtown presented by Amegy Bank takes place during the lunchtime hours of 11am - 2pm December 7th thru 10th at The Shops at Houston Center. Learn more about WHAM Downtown here.


Here's a slideshow of photos from WHAM 2010, taken by Pin Lim of Forest Photography. Check out the entire photo album on our Flickr site.


Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.



Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all!





*Clarification: This stat is only counting the events that have generated sales or artist payment…our overall reach includes benefitting hundreds of other artists through our full scope of programming and services.



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Posted on: Nov 18, 2010

WHAM logoHey friends! We can't wait spend this weekend with some of the best Houston artists, live entertainment, brewskies, chow, and hopefully YOU!


Wake me up before you go go and read this to make sure you know how to "survive" WHAM properly...


1. How to get your pick of the art first before everyone else:


Come to our Friday night Preview Party!
Friday, Nov. 19, 6 – 10 p.m.
$10 admission gets you:



2. If Friday night is out for you, here are your other options:


Saturday, Nov. 20, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 21, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free admission on both of these days
Open Bar
Amazing art



3. Where the heck is Winter Street Studios and how do I get there?


Winter Street Studios is at 2101 Winter Street (77007)
WSS is located ALONG THE TRAIN TRACKS on Winter Street between SAWYER and HENDERSON streets.


It’s a big white warehouse with a Winter Street Studios banner at the top!


From Washington Avenue, turn North onto Sawyer…go over 1 set of railroad tracks and right before the 2nd set of railroad tracks TURN RIGHT onto Winter (the railroad tracks will be on your left and the rice factory on your right)


From I-10, take TAYLOR exit and head South on Taylor (pass the Target). Turn LEFT onto Crockett and then turn RIGHT onto Henderson.


Or you can just CLICK HERE TO SEE A MAP.



4. What is the parking situation like?


Parking is FREE and plentiful! Parking is available surrounding Winter Street Studios, in a parking lot East of the building, along the surrounding streets, and inside the Riviana rice factory parking lot directly across the train tracks from Winter Street Studios.



5. What type of art can I expect to find?


Check out our artists HERE in advance!



6. So what else happens besides shopping for awesome art and unique gifts?


We'll have live entertainment by some awesome local DJs and musicians!


6-10pm: DJ Smooth Operator


1-3pm: petesimple

4-8pm: DJ Ceeplusbadknives


12-3pm: Kris Becker



7. This is a really important question. What should I wear?


We’re casual at WHAM so anything goes. The floor is concrete though so we suggest wearing comfortable shoes as you rack up the miles going back and forth trying to decide what to buy.



8. What if I can’t decide what to buy?


When in doubt, head to one of the two bars at WHAM. A stiff drink usually helps you make the right decision!



9. What should I bring?


Cash, Check, or Visa/MC/AmericanExpress (sorry, no Discover) and your Drivers License to prove you are really you (and you’re old enough to imbibe in alcoholic delights). Oh, and WHAM is fun for kids too!



10. What if I get tired?


Never fear! New this year is our fabulous and lusciously comfortable IKEA LOUNGE!


While resting your legs in the IKEA Lounge, check out the special Student Exhibition showcasing artwork by rising art stars from the CAMH Teen Council.



11. What if I get hungry?


Shopping really works up an appetite, so we’ve asked our friends at Beaver’s and El Patio to provide food at affordable prices on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday night, the food is free with your purchase of a $10 ticket.


Visit the WHAM website for more info and share the link with your friends!






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Posted on: Nov 8, 2010

At Spacetaker, we’re always trying to connect artists with opportunities to further their artistic growth through economic development, professional development, and by offering a network in which they can thrive.
Our Winter Holiday Art Market (WHAM) is the perfect example, as it affords 60-some local artists the chance to showcase and sell their work to the general public, while simultaneously promoting the breadth and artistry of our city’s creative community. Since its launch, WHAM has generated more than $166,000 for more than 200 local artists and continues to grow as an important venue for Houston artists.
We’re looking for local gallerists, interior designers, gift shop buyers, boutique and shop owners, and anyone else who is looking for new artistic talent and wants to Support Local so we can Grow Together (#SLGT). Our friends @WeSLGT understand the importance of investing in our local businesses, artists & community as the way to create “a culture of local self-sufficiency that thrives financially and creatively.” You don’t have to look for artists outside of Houston – there are plenty of amazingly talented ones right here, right under our noses, and our Vendor Breakfast is an opportunity to meet some of them in a market setting….
On Saturday, November 20th, we will host a private Vendor Breakfast at WHAM in the morning before WHAM opens to the public.  The Vendor Breakfast will offer a special opportunity to foster ongoing relationships between participating artists and those entities able to market and sell their work year-round.
If you are interested or know anyone who might like to attend as a store owner, interior designer, gallerist, or buyer, shoot us an email at wham[at] and we’ll send you the secret password to get access to the Vendor Breakfast…in addition to introducing you to our WHAM artists, we’ll have all the coffee and kolaches you can handle.
And for good measure, join the #SLGT community by registering for free as an individual or business on WeSLGT’s site and spread the love on Twitter by using #SLGT when you Support Local, Grow Together.
Learn more about WHAM, taking place Nov. 19-21 at Winter Street Studios in Houston,



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Posted on: Oct 18, 2010

As many of you know, Spacetaker's Artist SPEAKeasy takes place on the third Wednesday of every month. If you've ever been to our SPEAKeasy, then you've probably seen Geoff Smith there, a reserved guy with bright red hair and a great big smile. Geoff is one of our most devoted fans and we look forward to seeing him at the SPEAKeasy nearly every month.


The Artist SPEAKeasy is one of our favorite events, but you know...we may be kinda biased. So we thought we'd ask Geoff why the heck he keeps coming back.


ST:  Geoff, you are a regular at our Artist SPEAKeasy. What keeps you coming back?

GS:  I return to the Speakeasies because I can experience cross-sections of Houston's artistic community that I might otherwise overlook or simply not hear about. The pow wow-style environment is well suited for these relaxed discussions.


ST:  Do you have a particular favorite Speakeasy or moment within a Speakeasy that sets itself apart from the rest?

GS:  I was most intrigued by Pablo Zapiola's approach to motion and photography: he would project type onto the sides of locomotives and take long exposure shots of the passing trains. I'm not so sure if the moment was different from any other Speakeasy, but it was certainly memorable to see the way he works.


ST:  Have you made any valuable connections at a Speakeasy?

GS:  I think the most valuable connection so far has been with the Spacetaker team itself. That said, it was a true pleasure chatting with Ed Schipul last month.


ST:  Geoff, tell us a little about yourself. What are your current goals and dreams?

GS:  I'm in my twenties and I am fascinated with the arts (specifically printmaking), viewing live music, and cooking. Since this is my first year living in Houston, my current objective is to become better acquainted with the city and the local flavor. I'm also looking to begin my career in any sort of arts-facilitating capacity. For more longterm or passive goals, I want to enrich the culture of my environment. I leave that one intentionally broad as a means to guide my later choices.


ST:  If you could meet and collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?

GS:  This is a tough question, but I think it might be a lot of fun to work with the folks from Crown Point Press. They might be the most influential intaglio workshop in the US and certainly command the medium. Much of what I really enjoyed about intaglio I learned from their books.


Join us this Wednesday, Oct. 22 @ Spacetaker’s ARC featuring Jade Simmons of Impulse Artist Series and Michael Kahlil Taylor of “Eco-logic” and the Life is Living: Houston festival. Drinks & nosh start at 6:30pm; presentations begin at 7:00pm.




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Posted on: Oct 6, 2010

photo of<br />
Monica VillarrealWe are excited to announce our next ARC Exhibition: Texas Red Road Project, a photography exhibit by artist Monica Villarreal (pictured to the right). Texas Red Road Project features the culture and traditions of indigenous Native Americans in Texas today through a series of portraits taken at various ceremonial events.


A native Houstonian of Mexican decent, Monica Villarreal has dedicated five years to learning the dance and ceremonies of the indigenous Aztec people. Through photography, she’s driven by her passion to reveal the beautiful splendor of Southern and Northern Native American culture.


Her work has been showcased at various events and places throughout Houston, most notably NASA, Houston Institute for Culture, FotoFest Houston, The East End Gallery, and Last Organic Outpost. Villarreal is also a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award, funded by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.


Recently, Monica answered a few of our questions about herself and her work, giving us an inside look into the artist’s perspective.


What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?

The thought of making a positive impact in peoples lives.


You’re a multi-faceted artist (dance, photography, etc). Describe your artistic process.

I’m motivated by my spirituality and love to express it through dance and other forms of art. When people see my art I want them to be able to see my spirit.


When did your passion for connecting with and showcasing indigenous cultures begin?

I’ve always been connected to my indigenous roots but was not motivated to act on it till my first visit to Mexico City in 2005. That was the first time I heard the drum and saw la Danza Azteca in person. It moved something inside of me that is unexplainable and from that moment on, my spirit was awoken.


"Untitled" by Monica Villarreal

What can people expect to see at your Texas Red Road Project exhibit?

They will be able to see the beautiful culture of Texas indigenous people. I’ve been fortunate enough to capture a Lepan Apache Coming of Age ceremony, a few Danza Azteca ceremonies and Powwows, as well as a Mexica wedding (Amare de Tilma). I also have portraits of the teachers that have spearheaded Danza Azteca in Texas.


What’s your favorite part of being an artist in Houston?

The opportunity for creating something new… This city is behind on many things compared to other big metropolitan cities. This gives artists and business people the ability to create something that the majority of the Houston population hasn’t seen before. I also enjoy the diversity this city has to offer and the ability to collaborate with such a diverse group of artists.


Besides making art, what are some of your favorite things to do?

I love to travel! I enjoy learning and being exposure to different cultures. I also enjoy learning about world wide ancient indigenous traditions. On my time off from everything I like to relax by reading a book, watching a movie, or having brunch/dinner with friends.


“Texas Red Road Project” will be on exhibition October 22 through November 13 at Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery located at Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter St, Houston, TX 77007). Please join us at the Opening Reception on Friday, October 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.


[photo above: "Untitled" by Monica Villarreal]

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Posted on: Sep 29, 2010
posted by our fearless leader, Jenni Rebecca Stephenson, this morning on her blog on

Thinking outside the loop

Posted 9/29/2010 7:29 AM CDT


I grew up in Sugar Land.  There, I grew up with a handful of talented dancers, musicians, writers, visual artists, and performers.  I have friends and acquaintances playing in popular rock bands, producing and editing films, starring in movies, starring in Broadway musical tours, and dancing with international dance companies.  And that's just from my high school, not to mention the larger Sugar Land area.  The fact is that incredibly talented kids grow up in Houston's burbs.  And a lot of them think they have to leave Houston to have a career in the arts.  It took my finishing grad school and starting a rag-tag theatre company for even me to realize it.  But why is that?


Ask the average person in the suburbs about performing arts groups.  They will likely know the Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and all the big boys downtown.  But do they know about Dominic Walsh Dance Theater or Main Street Theater or Opera Vista?  Probably not.  Ask the average person in the suburbs about visual art.  They will most assuredly know the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and perhaps the Contemporary Arts Museum... but would they know Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, or even the Menil?  There's a good chance they won't.  So why is THAT?


Well, two things: geography and finances.  It's certainly easier for those of us in close proximity to these things to hear the buzz they generate.  And secondly, it's the bigger institutions who have the marketing budgets to reach their audiences in the suburbs.  Some inner-loop snobs suggest that people out in the burbs aren't as interested in the arts, but I cry foul― it's a question of what people are exposed to.  That's like saying a kid doesn't like green beans before he or she has even tasted it.  That said, I'm not suggesting there aren't artistic outlets and organizations out in the suburbs- not at all- just that it's difficult to get a comprehensive view of our thriving art scene when living outside the loop.


How did I become acquainted with Houston's underground art scene? Fresh Arts Coalition and Spacetaker.  It sounds like nepotism, since I now work for Spacetaker, but the reality is that once I was introduced to these two organizations, the Houston art scene opened up to me in a way I couldn't quite imagine.  And I was by no means sheltered― my mother exposed me to a lot of interesting organizations, like the Orange Show, as a kid.  Furthermore, I was a former member of the Houston Dance Coalition, so I was familiar with some of the fantastic dance companies around town... but even that didn't give me the full picture.  I was vaguely familiar with the theatre scene, but I had no idea there were theatre companies in town writing rock operas or organizations showcasing performance art.  I read both Fresh Arts and Spacetaker newsletters like a menu and was constantly dragging around my friends for "tastings."  Admittedly, whenever you're trying something new, you're not always going to love it.  But with every taste, like it or not, my confidence in Houston as an arts community grew.  Whatever you may say about Houston, we've got a smorgasbord to try.  But I wish I had known about it earlier... when I had lived in Sugar Land.


Not so long ago, I asked the marketing director of a very prestigious art organization in town when they last targeted the suburbs for any kind of marketing effort.  He said he couldn't remember.  And that makes me sad.  Sounds like a missed opportunity to me!   


The big question a lot of arts groups have when they consider reaching out to the suburbs is the ROI.  Will they really drive in to see our performances or exhibitions?  The answer is YES!  When I worked at Theatre Under The Stars, we had a healthy number of subscribers that lived outside the loop.  Granted, it's musical theatre and very accessible... but I'd bet if you looked at the MFAH membership, you'd see a similar picture.  There will certainly be those who aren't up to the drive, but I imagine there's plenty that would be.  Case in point, I just sat down with a group of artists and musicians in Sugar Land called Amplify.  Turns out they regularly drive in to see exhibitions.  And I think it's funny that we don't think twice about the cultured people in New York, who ride trains to New Jersey or Connecticut where they live.  They can make up a good portion of the subscriber base for the arts organizations in NYC, but that can't possibly ring true in a place like Houston.  Really?


Half of the greater metropolitan area lives in the burbs and commutes into town every day.  They already DO make the drive... so why aren't more arts groups start trying to capture suburbanites before they leave?  The New York Philharmonic figured this out with a series of commuter concerts.  And this is just one idea!  I imagine the programming innovator at River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Alecia Lawyer, has probably thought about this... if she hasn't done it already.  So that's my challenge to my arts colleagues: find ways to make it easier for those who prefer cheaper real estate and manicured lawns to consume our indie art scene.         


Here's the biggest reason I think arts groups need to think outside the loop: the suburbs are our biggest untapped audience and embracing the Houston-area in its entirety may be the first step for Houston's art scene to receive the recognition and support it deserves.  We all gripe about Houston being a cultural underdog, but perhaps we play into that stereotype all too well.  We need to find our cultural allies in the burbs and work together to spread the good word.


This has all been the wind-up for the pitch: Fresh Arts and Spacetaker have decided to try to do something about it.  We are hosting the ARTernative Festival out in Sugar Land's Town Square this Saturday.  We are bringing a handful of Houston's most innovative arts groups to Sugar Land's doorstep.  There will be children's activities (like live screen-printing and painting), performances by some of my favorite performing groups (lots of dance!), workshops on everything from mural painting to creative writing, an arts exhibition... and lots more.  It's been a labor of love that's been made possible by a generous sponsorship by CultureMap, as well as the Texas Commission on the Arts, and community stakeholders in Sugar Land (Bridget Yeung, Kathy Huebner, Donna Hine, Harish Jajoo, and David Wallace, SL's former Mayor).  Furthermore, Town Square has opened its arms wide for us and our efforts... we are very lucky!


We have to put our money where our mouth is, right?  So, here goes!  I'll be shocked if at least a healthy handful of Sugar Landers don't leave the festival on Saturday with a little better awareness of Houston's art scene and the curiosity to dig deeper.  And that, my friends, is the goal.  Wish us luck.


For more info about the ARTernative Festival this Saturday, October 2nd and the full schedule, visit



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Posted on: Sep 15, 2010

We wouldn't doubt if you've wondered that recently and we apologize for the radio silence…it's just that we've got our noses pressed against our computer screens planning this HUGE SPECTACULAR ARTS FESTIVAL IN SUGAR LAND!

It's the next iteration of the ARTernative, an ongoing collaboration between Spacetaker and Fresh Arts to bring Houston's best arts groups to the burbs and stimulate cross-county cultural collaboration. We firmly believe that people living outside the 610 Loop DO CARE about the arts & culture and they DO WANT to see great art, enroll their kids in arts programs, etc.


 We have been planning the ARTERNATIVE FESTIVAL over several months now and we have AN AMAZING AFTERNOON OF FREE ART-FILLED PERFORMANCES, INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES, & WORKSHOPS that we've been keeping from our blog readers…


Come party with us at Brunch & Brews: an ARTernative Kickoff this Sunday, Sept 19 from 2-5pm @Loggia in Sugar Land's Town Square.  Find out what the ARTernative Festival is all about, what to expect, and see a preview performance by Indian dance group Anjali Dance along with sweet tunes by The Smooth Operator. Oh yeah, and how about complimentary brews care of Saint Arnold and $5 bottomless Mimosas care of Loggia for anyone donating to the ARTernative Festival.


Hope on the ARTernative train on Facebook Twitter too!



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Posted on: Aug 25, 2010

Lovie Olivia…even her name inspires beauty…


We feel so honored here at Spacetaker to be showcasing Ms. Lovie Olivia's brand new body of work, titled "Thrice Removed," beginning Saturday, August 28 through September 18.


Please join us for the Opening Reception of "Thrice Removed" this Saturday, August 28 from 6-8pm at our ARC Gallery (2101 Winter Street, Studio B11). Along with Lovie's fabulous new work to peruse, there'll be booze along with hors d'oeuvres provided by "Sheila's Kitchen," and vocal entertainment by Lisa E. Harris.


Although her past includes some formal artistic training, including graduating from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Lovie Olivia has always relied on her independent studies of art, culture, music, literature and history to influence her work. She has exhibited her works at The Community Artist Collective, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Arthello Beck Gallery in Dallas, Project Row Houses here in Houston, and most recently, Lawndale Art Center in a collaborative show called “DARe to go FURther.” Olivia is also a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award, funded by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.


absolutely! In the Loop magazine published a recent interview with Lovie, which we've recorded here for your reading pleasure: 


What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?


The ability to make my thoughts and ideas tangible; to have a visual conversation, a connection with the audience without uttering a word.


Describe your artistic process.


I am a multimedia artist. I use many different materials and practices to arrive at my visual inquiries.  Right now, the techniques I use most often are Sgrafitto and Fresco. Sgrafitto is the marking, scraping and incising of plaster, wood, marble etc.  Frescoes are created by applying natural pigments to wet plaster panels. I have given my own personal and modern adaptation to both of these old world techniques by using various materials and mediums like installations, film and sound to accompany the paintings I create.


Who or what has been the most influential to your work?


At this moment, identity is a very important subject to me.  I explore my personal history and ancestry through the women in my life, particularly those with complex identities. I am influenced by the conversations we have, the issues we share as well as the troubles and triumphs we face. With my works I can visually initiate conversations – spoken, written or silent.


What’s your favorite part of being an artist in Houston?


There is something yummy brewing in Houston right now. I think it is a renaissance of sorts. Our arts community is flourishing, thriving and becoming more globally visual. I want to be a part of this movement.  It reminds me of Harlem in the 1920s and 30s or SOHO in the 1950s and 60s.  Based on the number of working artists, I read somewhere that Houston has the third largest art market in the country.  We have great galleries, museums, theatres and a terrifically supportive community to go along with it.


Troy Schulze, the editor of the new Art Attack blog at the Houston Press, also recently interviewed Lovie more specifically about her new work she'll be exhibiting at Spacetaker's ARC.  Read it here.


Here's a preview of a few of Lovie's new work:

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Posted on: Aug 24, 2010

Visual artist Pablo Gimenez Zapiola has dedicated the last decade producing a really unique body of work called "meaning in motion."


We were thrilled to have him at this month's Artist SPEAKeasy along with Lydia Hance.  Pablo recently learned that he has been selected as one of the 2010 FotoFest "Discoveries," a truly great honor.  10 critics review all of the work at FotoFest and each critic chooses 1 artist as their "Discovery" and Pablo was one of them in 2010.  Due to this honor, his work will be presented in a special exhibition in FotoFest 2012.


He finds different train tracks in whatever city he's in, waits until the sun begins going down, and then waits for trains to come.  On these passing trains he projects all different words in different patterns and then takes both still images and video of each train.


The result is truly mesmerizing.


Here are a few of his photographs:



Click the image below to see one of his videos, where you'll see he projected a poem in its entirety on the passing train cars:

2010 © Pablo Gimenez Zapiola


Visit Pablo's website to see more of his work.


Pablo will be collaborating on a piece with a musician friend of his and showcasing the new work at labotanica from October 15 - November 13.


Opening Reception
Friday, October 15, 6-8pm
labotanica - 2316 Elgin (at Dowling), Houston, TX 77004


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Posted on: Aug 23, 2010

This month's Artist SPEAKeasy was a real treat. For those of you who couldn't make it, here's a brief recap including where you can catch more of our two artist presenter's work.


Ms. Lydia Hance, dancer/choreographer and director of Frame Dance Productions, kicked off the evening by using the Speakeasy forum as a Fieldwork workshop with a new twist:  live immediate feedback to a live work-in-progress dance performance.


Everyone pulled out their cell phones, a few hopped on to computers around the room, and roughly half of the audience chose to either text, tweet or type their feelings and responses to a three-person live dance performance happening in front of their eyes by Lydia and two other dancers, Kristen Frankiewicz and Alex Soares.  The other half of the audience chose the non-tech route and waited until the end of the performance to offer their feedback.


Lydia is interested in the differences and similarities between live instant feedback and feedback at the end of a body of work.  She uses both sets of feedback to influence her choreography -- in fact she plans to use our SPEAKeasy audience feedback to help her finish choreographing the piece.


Before the performance began, Lydia explained the type of feedback that is most helpful and critical in the Fieldwork model.  Rather than offering subjective opinion-based feedback such as "I liked…" or "You shouldn't do…" or "This was good…," the more helpful type of feedback is experiential in nature, like this:


"When you did your work, I saw…"
"I was most involved by…"
"The work you did reminded me of…"
"When you did your work, I thought you were trying to…"


Most people stuck to this feedback method and the comments texted and tweeted in were projected on our screen behind the dancers. Things like:


"i feel impending something bad is going to happen…worried"
"i feel like flying, like i want to take off..but i cannot...its frustrating"
"It reminds me of snow capped mountains"
"i find myself trying to create a story"
"there is a fine line between extreme anger and extreme joy"
"I thought you were trying to put a club beat to the end of your movements"


At the end, one audience member commented about how she felt like she had to make a conscious choice between three things: watching the dancers, figuring out what to type on her phone, and then reading the feedback on the screen that other people were submitting. Some people found the instant feedback a distraction from enjoying the performance, some found that they were more engaged in the performance because they knew they were expected to comment on it.


You can catch the finished piece by Lydia Hance along with a short film that will accompany it during the CAMH's Dance with Camera Exhibition, Points and Coordinates, on Sept. 16 at 7 pm.  (It'll be interesting to see if we can see how her choreography changes based on our SPEAKeasy audience feedback!)


Check out Frame Dance Production's blog for updates and more about what Lydia and her crew are up to!  This post in particular is fabulous as we learn that visual artist Donne E. Perkins is collaborating with Lydia and drawing new work based on the lines she sees in her choreography.


Many thanks to our friend and Spacetaker board member Ed Schipul for snapping some great photos and posting them to his Spacetaker album on Flickr. (photos above by Ed Schipul)


Tomorrow we'll tell you about the 2nd artist presenter, Mr. Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola.



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Posted on: Jul 26, 2010

 WHAM 2009 image


Heeeeeeyyyy yoouuuu guuuuuuuyyyss!  It’s that time of year again, artists!  Time to submit your entry for our Winter Holiday Art Market, otherwise known as WHAM.


This year, WHAM turns 5!  If we were married, the 5th anniversary would be the Wood Anniversary and you would want to shower us with gifts entries made of wood. Like, you know…wooden bowls or wooden spoons, or maybe a piece of petrified wood with our initials etched inside a heart with an arrow shot through it.


Although that would be cool, Spacetaker is NOT married and so for our 5th anniversary we welcome ALL TYPES OF ENTRIES!  Fine art, jewelry, stationary, clothing, ceramics, soaps and other bath & body supplies, paintings, sculpture, and the like...including wood.


If you’re not familiar with WHAM, it is a fun 3-day art sale and celebration of Houston’s diverse creative community that draws crowds of up to 2,500 interested art-buyers.  Each year, WHAM features the work of 60 local artists, juried by a panel of arts professionals.


Since its launch, WHAM has generated more than $166,000 for more than 200 local artists and continues to grow as an important venue for Houston artists.


Here’s just a pinch of what some previous participants are saying about WHAM:
Spacetaker provides a direct means for economic growth by hosting events such as WHAM (the annual Winter Holiday Art Market), where I, along with a number of talented artists, have been able to sell their original art pieces to an appreciative and well-paying audience.  Over the last four years, the festival has grown to bring thousands of arts patrons to Winter Street Studios each year– thousands of people to whom artists such as myself would not otherwise be exposed. (artist Paula Hawkins)


The WHAM art market provides a focal point for the local community to know the artists that are working in the area. For us artists, it constitutes an opportunity to interact with patrons and art lovers in the unique environment of Winter Street Studios. It thus enables us to make our art known to a wider market by opening the Washington Corridor to our area of influence. (artist Marcela Garcia Bonini)


This year, WHAM will take place Friday, November 19 through Sunday, November 21 at Winter Street Studios.


The deadline to submit your entry is September 10!  Check out what is involved to submit your work and register for WHAM at www.WinterHolidayArtMarket.


(pictured above: Hello Lucky at WHAM 2009)

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Posted on: Jul 19, 2010



Today is my first official day at Spacetaker and believe you me, my squee level is OFF THE CHARTS! See?




So here I am, K.C. Scharnberg, the new Program & Marketing Manager @Spacetaker. I am living my DREAM of being completely surrounded, inundated, enveloped in the arts and I'm ready to jump right in and work with Jenni Rebecca, Anthony, and our kick-ass Board of Directors to take Spacetaker to the next level. OUTERSPACE!  (just kidding!)  In all honesty, though, my goal is to create a solid, functioning, and effective marketing strategy for this organization so that we can maximize the value of this organization and all the amazing artists that it serves. First step: Insisting that we have an office coffee machine! Keeps headaches at bay and allows for more productivity for me..ahem..the artists. Now THAT is value.


Can't wait to meet you all!




p.s. If you want to know a little more about me, read my bio on Spacetaker's Staff page!

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Posted on: Jul 14, 2010


Everyone at the ARC is pretty jazzed about the new HATER Magazine exhibit currently up in our space.  The show features six talented artists (Aaron Casas, Matthew Oberpriller, Fabian Owens, Veronica Ramos, Isaac Solomon and Tim Spencer) presenting their work in a gallery for the first time as well as the lovely Lisa Marie Godfrey (if you’ve been in our office space, she’s the one responsible for the cool cardboard tress!).  The theme of the show is hate, and the artists provided very thought provoking perspectives of how they see hatred in their worlds. 


The exhibition kicked off with a monster opening reception on June 25th.  DJ Cashless rocked the house with old school hip hop, soul and R&B jams, Dee Dillman of Kaboom Books provided the delectable pasta salad (truly to die for!), St. Arnold’s furnished the beer and the latest HATER mag was everywhere (check out a peek of the issue here – the highlighted page has an article written by one of the featured artists about one of the other featured artists).  The night was a HUGE success. 


In case you missed it (or if you just want to relive the fun), watch the video below, made by our superfly intern, and check out the event photos on Facebook.  Finally, for full artist bios, check out the Spacetaker event page.  The latest issue of HATER is available at various locations through the city including Aerosol Warfare Gallery, The Tipping Point, The Art Institute of Houston and Caroline Collective, among others.  The work will be up until July 30th, so be sure to drop by the ARC to grab an issue of the magazine and get your hate on.

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Posted on: Jun 30, 2010
Welcome to the NEW Spacetaker Blog!  For our inaugural post, we want to show you a bit of what went down at Poetry & Art - ON DEMAND!  We had a hilariously good time watching poets and artists co-create, bringing audience suggestions to life. 
The Skinny:
Audience members contributed five-word suggestions, which were then handed to either a poet or an artist.  These poets and artists were then given ten minutes to come up with a masterpiece based on the suggestion.  At the ten-minute mark, poets and artists swapped their final products and from them, created either a poem or a sketch.  Ten more minutes passed, the clock stopped and presentations began. 
Some of our funniest suggestions? 
Crime-fighting, time-traveling, Gatsby
My grandmother, she hates sausage!
Donut-allergic cop faces job adversity
Revenge of the Gulf shrimp
Kittens conspire to murder Easter Bunny
Mongoose dance battle gone wrong
Epic Laser Shark Throwdown
Be sure to check out the archive of selected final products and our photo album on Facebook.  Special thanks goes out to the Sketchy Neighbors crew (Chris Thompson, Devon Moore, Katharine Kearns, Kelley Devine and Carlos Hernandez), poets Andrew Kozma, Glenn Shaheen, Hannah Gamble and Becca Wadlinger, as well as NANO Fiction and Poets & Writers for making the event possible.  Stay tuned for more events (and blog posts) like these.  Peace!


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