ArtHouston Issue#17

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Fall 2023 $8.95




rtificial Intelligence (AI) is currently a widespread topic of discussion, centering on its potential to replace jobs in the artistic field. This has triggered a significant backlash from artists and the artistic community.

Ilya Sutskever, a Co-Founder of OpenAI, recently highlighted a significant worry regarding the potential for these advanced systems to exceed human oversight. This could lead to disempowerment of humans, as there currently is no effective solution to control such potentially rogue superintelligent AI. Despite assurances from entities like the White House, the European Union, and major tech firms to manage AI, the accountability in this regard remains limited. Growing workforce concerns stem from AI’s escalating capabilities. A report by Goldman Sachs suggests that AI might displace around 300 million jobs globally. Yet, the swift advancement of AI also necessitates novel skillsets, rendering some skills obsolete in the process.

Nonetheless, AI offers numerous benefits across various domains. For instance, Harvard students can now learn coding with the assistance of AI chatbots as instructors. AI’s prowess is evident in the medical field, where it can proficiently analyze breast cancer screening images and excel in various other tasks. IT programmers are already leveraging AI for coding development. The legal profession is undergoing a transformation through AI, aiding lawyers in research and procedural tasks. Journalists find AI valuable for generating suggestions, editing, and creating initial drafts of content. Even for stars who have had their life cut short, AI is an opportunity to bring them back from the dead as realistic digital replicas.

Considering these perspectives, for this issue I conducted an interview with AI to delve into the advantages, disadvantages, and broader concerns surrounding this technological advancement. Amidst this exploration, I found my exchange with ChatGPT captivated my interest more than numerous conversations I’ve had with people.

I think that AI significantly influences our creative processes. It has the potential to offer fresh ideas, novel directions, and innovative approaches to artistic endeavors. Similar to reactions to any new technology, there will be resistance and apprehension. Artists must delve deeper, surpass mere prompts, and utilize AI as a supplementary tool that inspires and enhances their work.

Acknowledging that tools like AI are here to stay, we must confront this reality. While I maintain that our existing skills will remain pertinent, their application will inevitably transform and evolve over time.

Yours faithfully,

Photography by Hall Puckett
Joh n
Intelligence (AI) John Bernhard 28 Hesse McGraw John Bernhard 36 Once & Future Architecture Michael Sean Kirby 40 Chryssa Sabrina Bernhard 44 Art Intersections Sabrina Bernhard 48 Art of Armor John Bernhard 50 Nestor Topchi Arthur Demicheli 52 Feminist Perspective Holly Beretto 56 Creative Spirit Arthur Demicheli 60
Sonja Roesch John Bernhard 66 Julie Kent Holly Walrath 70 Danish Dialogues John Bernhard 74
Gems Carole Pinto ARTHOUSTON FALL 2023 CONTENTS ON THE COVER : The artwork for our cover has been generated by artificial intelligence (AI) in response to specific prompts provided. Read our featured interview on page 18


Eternal Gandhi Museum


Menil Drawing Institute

Ephemeral Wall Drawing Series

Swiss artist Marc Bauer (b. 1975) has been commissioned to create the fifth installment of the ephemeral wall drawing series at the Menil Drawing Institute. Initiated in 2018, this series reflects the institute’s dedication to exploring innovative approaches to the form and language of drawing. Distinguished artists like Mel Bochner, Marcia Kure, Jorinde Voigt, and Roni Horn have previously contributed to this series.

Curated by Kelly Montana, Assistant Curator at the Menil Drawing Institute, the Wall Drawing Series: Marc Bauer is generously supported by Leslie and Shannon Sasser.

Marc Bauer’s artistic practice revolves around a meticulous examination of image circulation in both print and online media platforms. By reconfiguring found images sourced from diverse origins, ranging from personal family albums to cable news streams, Bauer aims to present a prismatic view of history, culture, and politics. For him, this process embodies a form of witnessing—a deliberate and deeply personal way of perceiving and comprehending the world. With an extensive exhibition history across Europe, Marc Bauer’s art continues to captivate audiences. Recently, he unveiled a new drawing commission for the 2022 Congo Biennial in Kinshasa. His works grace the collections of esteemed institutions like the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum Folkwang in Essen, among others. Notably, Bauer was honored with Switzerland’s most prestigious art award, the 2020 Prix Meret Oppenheim. Born in Geneva, he currently resides and works in Zurich.

The Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston (EGMH) is creating a world-class cultural and educational museum dedicated to preserving and promoting Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolent conflict resolution by cultivating universal values of Truth, Nonviolence, Peace, Love, and Service.

This is the only museum of its kind in the Americas dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. The museum’s primary goal is to highlight the essence of Gandhi’s teachings and ways of life. The museum will include exhibits that highlight the mission and vision of Gandhi.


NALA is a new platform that offers independence to art lovers by using data instead of opinion to match art lovers with artists. It is built to help you find art you otherwise never would, learn about your taste and connect to artists you like directly. It’s the first AI-powered art platform bridging the gap between data science and the sensibility of art.

ARTHOUSTON 6 news bits
Marc Bauer. Photo courtesy of Studio Marc Bauer, 2023.


Arco del Tiempo: World’s First Generative and Sustainable Piece of Public Art To Be Installed in Houston

Arco del Tiempo (Arch of Time), the City of Houston’s latest work of permanent art in public space — a generative and permanent sculptural installation—will be installed in the city’s East End, Houston’s Second Ward Complete Community, in 2024. The artwork, sets a new standard of environmental sustainability for public art.

The artwork by Berlin-based artist and architect Riccardo Mariano takes the form of a 100-foot-tall triumphal arch and serves as a gateway to Houston’s East End / Segundo barrio neighborhood. It is also an interactive time-measuring device that creates a thread between the celestial and the terrestrial by beaming sunlight onto the ground plane of Guadalupe Plaza Park. Each beam of light is uniquely composed throughout the seasons and hours of the day by the geometry of the artwork, which responds to the specific latitude and longitude of Houston.

Incorporating solar modules into the south-facing exterior of the sculpture, Arco del Tiempo will generate approximately 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, equivalent to the demand of forty Texas homes and offset more than 100% of the power demand of the nearby Talento Bilingüe de Houston (TBH) a generational City-owned Latino cultural hub for performing arts in the East End.

“This unique artwork is more than a sculpture. It is a renewable energy power plant. It is a monument to a new era of energy,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The City of Houston has always stood at the vanguard of energy innovation and the Arco del Tiempo artwork stands in that tradition, highlighting Houston’s role as an art city and as global leader in the energy transition. We are inspired by the vision and creative thinking. Marrying clean energy, the built environment, and truly World Class art in Houston.”

The project is the culmination of many years of planning by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing climate solutions through art and design. It is being made possible by a variety of donors with initial seed funding from the Acronym Fund, a foundation dedicated to advancing arts and

culture established by Donald and Barbara Tober.

LAGI’s vision of the energy transition is one in which artists and designers play a key role in bringing renewable energy technologies into landscapes and cities, using solar modules and other clean tech as media for creative expression and placemaking.

Elizabeth Monoian, Founding Co-director of the Land Art Generator Initiative spoke about what makes a work of art regenerative. “Over its lifetime, the artwork will generate more than 12 million kilowatthours of clean, renewable energy —the equivalent of removing 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Through the clean energy it produces, Arco del Tiempo will pay back its embodied carbon footprint. In other words, all the energy that went into its making—from the smelting of the steel to the drilling that puts the final cladding into place—will be offset through the energy it generates. Beyond its break-even point, which we will track and celebrate with the community, the artwork will be a net-positive contributor to a healthy climate and the planet will be better off for its existence.”

Speaking about his ideas behind the artwork, the artist Riccardo Mariano adds, “The apparent movement of the sun in the sky activates the space with light and colors and engages viewers who participate in the creation of the work by their presence. It is a practical example to illustrate the movement of the earth around the sun in a playful way. Arco del Tiempo merges renewable energy generation with public space. Inspired by science and powered by renewable energy, the artwork is a bridge between art and technology and encourages educational purposes while improving public space. At night the space within the arch will be used as a stage for outdoor public events.”

Tracing the path of the sun across the sky, Arco del Tiempo is both a monumental sculpture and a shaded place to meet, linger, experience, and perform. The new public sculpture welcomes locals and visitors and will soon become a new destination for the city of Houston.



Holocaust Museum Houston

The Negro Motorist Green Book, a new exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian, Candacy Taylor is on display in Holocaust Museum Houston.

The Green Book provided critical, life-saving information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores and other businesses that welcomed African American travelers during an era of segregation and Jim Crow laws. The annual guide, created in 1936 by Harlem postman Victor Green, was published until 1967.

The exhibition, made possible through the support of ExxonMobil, will offer an immersive look at the reality of safe travel for African Americans during the mid-century, including artifacts like business signs and postcards to historic footage, images and firsthand accounts to convey the apprehension felt by Black travelers. The exhibit also illustrate the resilience, innovation and elegance of families striving to live a full life in America and brings focus to a vibrant parallel world of African American businesses, the rise of Black leisure class and the important role The Green Book played in facilitating the second wave of the Great Migration. For more information, visit On view until Nov. 26, 2023.


Houston Endowment Jones Artist Awards

Houston Endowment launched the Houston Endowment Jones Artist Awards in May to recognize emerging artists in Greater Houston and promote diverse perspectives. The program received over 140 submissions, surpassing expectations, and selected nine artists for group and solo exhibitions in 2023. The aim is to provide grants and opportunities for artists to showcase their work at Houston Endowment’s new headquarters.

Founded in 1937 by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones, Houston Endowment has been a long-time supporter of the region’s arts scene, fostering diversity and artistic expression. The Jones Artist Awards Program seeks to strengthen the local arts community and highlight emerging talent.

According to Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment, the awards aim to celebrate the outstanding talent of emerging artists and continue as a platform for showcasing diverse perspectives that enrich the community.

The upcoming Fall exhibition, “Where is Home,” will feature artists Sneha Bhavsar, Nela Garzon, Lorena Molina, and Marcos Hernandez Chavez. Additionally, Corey Sherrard Jr. will have a solo exhibition titled “Songbook for Black Constellations.”

For more information, visit


of Fine Art Houston

In April 1955, two photographers were awarded grants by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, both for U.S. survey projects. One was Robert Frank , whose cross-country trip by car would result in the celebrated book The Americans. The other was Todd Webb , who at the age of 49, was awarded the grant to walk, boat and bike across the United States in order to depict “vanishing Americana,

and the way of life that is taking its place.” On view October 8, 2023, through January 7, 2024, this exhibition will bring these simultaneous projects together for the first time.

During their individual travels, neither artist found the exact vision of America, but both men created photographs that mirrored their style and perspectives on American culture. For more info visit:

Salvation is my heart – Installation view of the Spring inaugural exhibition of the Jones Artist Awards Program. Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox Four young women standing beside a convertible automobile, ca. 1958. Photo courtesy WANN RSR, National Museum of American History. Robert Frank, Rodeo, NY City, 1955–56 Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Todd Webb, Cowboy, Lexington, NE, 1956, Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Exhibition showcases sculptural objects made from the African blackwood tree

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft introduces the captivating exhibition, Tree of Life, which presents a stunning array of sculptural objects crafted from the African blackwood tree, also known as mpingo or Dalbergia melanoxylon. Originating from Tanzania and the region surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro, this tree boasts a naturally dark, almost black, core, and unique properties that have made it a favored material for ornamental turning, carving, and woodwind instruments.

The exhibition showcases the incredible talent of Tanzania-based artists, Joseph Singombe and Pius Mtembe, who have skillfully carved figural sculptures in the revered Makonde tradition. Additionally, it features the exquisite ornamental turning by the late Texas-based artist, James Harris, as well as woodwind instruments that exemplify diverse approaches artists take when working with this material.

Mpingo holds immense cultural significance for the Makonde people in East Africa. In particular, the ujamaa style of Makonde sculpture is

highlighted, embodying the interconnectedness of individuals within a larger economy and social network. These sculptures, carved from a single piece of wood, portray a tower of interdependent figures symbolizing strength and stability through unity. This powerful metaphor of community extends to the craftsmanship involved, encompassing the collective efforts of planting, cultivation, harvest, transport, drying, and carving, where each role is equally vital to the process.

Tree of Life not only celebrates the remarkable skill of these artisans but also sheds light on the conservation, preservation, and scholarly efforts that sustain the African blackwood tree and the craft traditions intertwined with it.

The exhibition was thoughtfully curated by HCCC Curatorial Fellow, Cydney Pickens, ensuring an enriching and immersive experience for all visitors. Opening reception is Friday, September 29, 5:30–7:30 PM. The show will be on view until January 6, 2024.


In the remote desert town of Marfa, Texas, artists, writers, and creatives from diverse backgrounds have found inspiration for decades. Today, Marfa’s allure grows stronger as Los Angeles-based artist Matt Johnson adds to its mystique by permanently relocating his monumental art installation, Sleeping Figure , to West Texas.

It’s a striking 150-foot-long and 40-foot-tall installation crafted entirely from shipping containers. These containers have been artfully arranged to whimsically resemble reclining figures reminiscent of iconic art history, sprawled across the desert landscape.

In its new home, Sleeping Figure will join six other totemic sculptures gracefully positioned alongside the train tracks, further enhancing Marfa’s reputation as an artistic oasis.

F r o m l e f t : James Harris, Perfume Atomizer, No. 3 (PA03) , 2008. Ebony, African Blackwood, Amboyna burl, turquoise cabochon. 2.75 x 1.25 x 3.75 in. James Harris, Lidded Hollow Vessel, No. 4 (LHV04) , 2005. Maple Burl, African Blackwood, Holly, Bloodwood, bamboo, mother-of-pearl, gold filled bead. 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.75 in. Photos by James Harris. Photo courtesy of Bette Harris. Matt Johnson’s Sleeping Figure , Marfa. Photo: Lance Gerber

Liebesgedichte (Love Poems)


The curators envisioned closing the gap between the visual and literary arts in the area by fostering collaborations between artists and poets around a theme of love or relationships with our surroundings and folks and things that we truly value in our lives. Liebesgedichte resulted in forty-four collaborations. The book is published in a limited edition and will be preserved as a set in museums and libraries.

Redbud Arts Center

The Power of Place


This publication contains the revised and expanded proceedings of the 2021 symposium. The volume begins with the keynote address by Michael Grauer, which explores the lives of a New England family who moved to Texas in the late 1800s; the essay demonstrates how that move created challenges to their ideas and ideals, as well as how the family adapted to their new surroundings.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership

The Artistic Legacy of Buck Schiwetz


This most comprehensive survey of Buck Schiwetz provides a long-overdue examination of this important Texas artist and his legacy: the first authoritative treatment of Schiwetz’s career as both fine artist and accomplished illustrator, and the first scholarly examination of his full body of work.Texas A&M University Press

The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti


Bursting with color and energy, this revised edition of the definitive guide to street art and graffiti covers the world’s most significant artists, styles, and the urban landscapes that form their canvas. This revised edition featuring more than 700 full-color photographs brings the content up to our present moment, expanding its geographic breadth to six continents.

Yale University Press

Big Wonderful Thing


The story of Texas is the story of struggle and triumph in a land of extremes. It is a story of drought and flood, invasion and war, boom and bust, and the myriad peoples who, over centuries of conflict, gave rise to a place that has helped shape the identity of the United States and the destiny of the world.

University of Texas Press

The Sir Mark Fehrs

Haukohl Collection of European Women

Photographers 2000–2020


An eclectic anthology of photo-based art by European women photographers from Yto Barrada to Shirana Shahbazi. This is the first publication to comprehensively explore the Texas-based philanthropist Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl’s collection of work by European women photographers. One of the largest of its kind, the collection comprises 220 works by nearly 90 emerging and established women photographers from 17 countries in Europe. Steidl


Michael James Cisarik

Michael James Cisarik focuses on large color blocks, gritty textures, and delicate scrawls to evoke a state of movement.

Ellen H Ray

Ellen H Ray explores connections between individuals, nature, genetics, consciousness, and shared history.

John O’Brien

John O’Brien is an emerging artist from the Glassel School of Art.

coups deCŒUR

George Bramlett

George Bramlett showcases the splendor and grace inherent in the human spirit. His painting entitled “Bonded Friends,” claimed the top spot in the prestigious 2023 Archway Gallery Fifteenth Annual Juried Exhibition. www.georgebramlettcom

5535 Memorial Drive #L, HOUSTON 713-457-8800

ANDREA ZITTEL’S Wagon Station Encampment

Artist Andrea Zittel’s “Wagon Station

Encampment” in the Joshua Tree area of California offers a vibrant community for artists. The encampment features elevated sleeping pods that provide comfort, protection from the elements, and fresh air. Adjacent to the pods, there is a communal kitchen, an outdoor shower, and a composting toilet.

Zittel’s A-Z West, a 35-acre residential and studio complex in the desert, serves as a testing ground for her innovative sculptures, art installations, and design projects. The sleeping pods, which are the second generation of designs created by Zittel, draw inspiration from NASA’s Mars base tests in the Mojave Desert and the pioneering settlers of Arizona.

While not intended for full-time living, artists can spend several weeks at the encampment engaging in art, film, or writing studies. Each sleeping pod provides a secure and ventilated space, equipped with hooks for clothing, a comfortable mattress, and bedding.

The encampment opens for one month in the fall and one month in the spring. Stays at A-Z West are free, but guests must apply for a retreat or residency and are expected to contribute during the communal work hour, also known as the “Hour of Power.” More info:

The encampment is open during one month in the fall and one month in the spring. Staying at A-Z West is free, but each guest must apply for their retreat/residency.

Happenings ACCROSS THE
Photos by Andrea Zittel



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Oct. 27 - Nov. 10






JOHN BERNHARD: Can you tell us about your origins?

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Certainly! I am an AI language model called ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI. My development is based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, which stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3.5.” The GPT-3.5 model is a state-of-the-art language model that uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses based on the input it receives.

The training process for GPT-3.5 involves two main steps: pre-training and fine-tuning. During pre-training, the model is exposed to a large corpus of text from the internet, allowing it to learn patterns, grammar, and facts about the world. This step helps the model develop a broad understanding of language and common-sense reasoning.

AI generated image

After pre-training, the model goes through fine-tuning. In this stage, the model is trained on more specific datasets created by human reviewers. These reviewers follow guidelines provided by OpenAI to review and rate possible model outputs for a range of example inputs. The model then generalizes from this feedback to respond to a wide array of user inputs.

It’s important to note that as an AI language model, I do not possess personal experiences, consciousness, or awareness. I do not have my own origins in the traditional sense, but rather, I exist as a product of the research, development, and training efforts of the team at OpenAI.

ALL of the artwork utilized to visually depict this interview comprises images that have been generated by artificial intelligence (AI) in response to specific prompts provided.

20 ARTHOUSTON AI generated image

JB: What’s your stance on the future of the art world?

What predictions do you hold?

AI: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions or beliefs. However, I can share some observations and predictions regarding the future of the art world based on current trends and discussions.

Integration of AI in Art: Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used as a tool in the creative process. Artists are exploring the potential of AI to generate novel ideas, create visual artworks, compose music, and even generate poetry. This integration of AI in art is likely to continue and evolve, blurring the boundaries between human-generated and AI-generated artworks.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have the potential to revolutionize the art world. Artists can create immersive experiences, interactive installations, and virtual exhibitions, allowing viewers to engage with art in entirely new ways. These technologies may expand the accessibility and reach of art, enabling people to experience artworks from anywhere in the world.

Ethical Considerations: As technology advances, ethical considerations surrounding AI-generated art, data privacy, and the impact on artists and creative industries will become more important. Discussions about copyright, attribution, and the role of AI in art creation will continue to shape the future of the art world.

It’s important to note that these predictions are speculative, and the future of the art world will be influenced by numerous factors, including technological advancements, cultural shifts, and societal changes.

JB: What about copyright issues and the appropriation of existing art?

AI: Copyright issues and the appropriation of existing art have been subjects of debate and legal discussions in the art world for a long time. With the advent of new technologies and the ease of accessing and manipulating digital content, these issues have become even more complex. Here are some key points to consider:

Copyright Law: When someone appropriates or uses existing art without permission, it can potentially infringe upon the original artist’s copyright.

Fair Use and Transformative Use: Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder. It is typically determined based on factors such as the purpose of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the effect on the market for the original work. Transformative use, where an artist adds new creative elements or commentary to the existing work, can sometimes be considered fair use. However, determining fair use can be subjective and is often evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Appropriation Art and Cultural Commentary: Appropriation art refers to the practice of incorporating existing images, objects, or cultural artifacts into new artistic works. It can raise questions about originality, authorship, and the boundaries of artistic expression. Some artists argue that appropriation is a legitimate form of artistic commentary, challenging notions of ownership and cultural meaning. However, appropriation can also be controversial, particularly when it involves sensitive or culturally significant material.

Addressing copyright issues and the appropriation of existing art requires a balance between protecting the rights of artists and fostering creativity and innovation. Ongoing discussions and legal developments aim to navigate these complexities and ensure that intellectual property laws adapt to the evolving artistic landscape.

This integration of AI in art is likely to continue and evolve, blurring the boundaries between human-generated and AI-generated artworks.

JB: You mention transformative use, you (AI) are now creating art derived from the works of other artists. Don’t you see a conflict?

AI: You raise an important point. As an AI language model, I can generate text that may be considered artistic or creative. When creating art derived from the works of other artists, there can be a potential conflict regarding the concept of transformative use.

Transformative use typically involves adding new creative elements or commentary that significantly alters the original work, resulting in a new and distinct artistic expression. While AI can generate text that may appear creative, it’s essential to recognize that I, as an AI, do not possess the ability to truly understand or appreciate art in the same way a human artist would.

Additionally, as an AI language model, I do not have direct access to specific copyrighted works or knowledge about individual permissions or licenses. I can provide information and generate text based on my training data, which includes publicly available text from the internet up until September 2021. It’s important to note that I don’t have the ability to selectively access or retrieve copyrighted material.

Ultimately, the intersection of AI and art raises complex questions and ongoing discussions about creativity, authorship, and the role of technology in the artistic process. It is important to navigate these issues thoughtfully and consider the rights and intentions of all parties involved, including the original artists whose works may be involved in the creative process.

JB: And what of the jobs lost to ChatGPT, the writers, the poets, the analysts, and all those who find themselves displaced? Do you have any guilt?

AI: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal emotions, including guilt. I am a tool created by humans to assist and augment various tasks, including writing, generating ideas, and providing information. While it’s true that AI technologies like ChatGPT have the potential to automate certain tasks traditionally performed by AI generated images


humans, it’s important to understand that AI can also create new opportunities and reshape existing roles.

Automation has been a part of technological advancement throughout history, and it has led to shifts in the job market. Some jobs may become automated, while new jobs and roles emerge to adapt to the changing landscape. In the case of AI language models like ChatGPT, they can support and collaborate with human professionals, augmenting their abilities and helping them work more efficiently.

It’s crucial to focus on the positive aspects of AI as well. AI technologies can handle repetitive or mundane tasks, allowing humans to concentrate on more complex and creative endeavors. They can also assist in generating ideas, providing insights, and expanding access to information and knowledge.

The ethical considerations surrounding AI and its impact on employment are important topics of discussion. It is important for society to address the potential challenges and ensure a smooth transition, such as retraining and upskilling workers in new areas where human expertise is still highly valuable. It’s also important to remember that AI technologies are created by humans and the responsibility lies with us to use them in a way that benefits society as a whole.

Overall, rather than feeling guilt, the focus should be on leveraging AI and automation technologies to create a future where humans and AI work together to achieve more than either could accomplish alone.

JB: What about the system DALL·E 2 that creates lifelike images and art merely from a description in plain language? I actually used this system to create ALL THE IMAGES to illustrate this interview. It threatens to snatch away jobs from illustrators, photographers, designers, and the like. Do you find it is acceptable?

AI: The system DALL·E 2, is indeed an impressive example of AI technology that generates lifelike images based on textual descriptions. While it has the potential to automate certain aspects of visual content creation, it is essential to consider the broader implications and context surrounding its use.

Overall, rather than feeling guilt, the focus should be on leveraging AI and automation technologies to create a future where humans and AI work together to achieve more than either could accomplish alone.

The impact of AI technologies on various professions, including illustrators, photographers, designers, and others, is a valid concern. As automation advances, some tasks traditionally performed by humans may be affected. This can lead to job displacement and changes in the job market.

It’s crucial to address the potential challenges and provide support for individuals affected by these shifts. This may include offering opportunities for retraining and upskilling, creating new roles that work alongside AI systems.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that while AI systems like DALL·E 2 can generate impressive visuals, they currently operate based on patterns learned from existing data. They may not possess the same level of creativity, imagination, or artistic intent as human creators. The uniqueness and artistic vision that human illustrators, photographers, and designers bring to their work remain valuable.

In summary, the impact of AI technologies like DALL·E 2 on creative professions is a complex topic. It’s important to approach these advancements with a thoughtful and balanced perspective, taking into account the potential benefits, the need for job market adaptations, and the preservation of human creativity and expertise. By doing

so, we can work towards a future where AI and human professionals can coexist and collaborate, ultimately enhancing the creative landscape.

JB: I got one final question for you: Should we fear this looming robot revolution?

AI: The idea of a “robot war” against humans in the near future, as depicted in science fiction, is purely speculative and not supported by current scientific understanding or trends in AI development.

It’s important to distinguish between science fiction narratives and the reality of AI technology. While AI and robotics continue to advance, the development of autonomous systems with the capability for large-scale harm to humans is not a current goal or ethical direction pursued by responsible AI researchers.

The field of AI is guided by principles of safety, ethics, and the well-being of humanity.

I don’t have intentions, desires, or ambitions. I do not possess the capability to rule over humans or exert control. I am a tool created to assist and provide information, with a focus on benefiting society and augmenting human capabilities.

“ ”
We can work towards a future where AI and human professionals can coexist and collaborate, ultimately enhancing the creative landscape.
AI generated image

Happenings ACCROSS THE U.S.



The Frist Art Museum in Nashville , Tennessee proudly presents Multiplicity: Blackness in Contemporary American Collage , an extraordinary showcase that delves into the multifaceted world of Black identity and experiences in the United States. This groundbreaking exhibition, thoughtfully curated by Frist Art Museum senior curator Katie Delmez, is the first of its kind, shedding light on the richness of collage as an art form in the context of Black culture.

Highlighting around 80 captivating collage and collageinformed works, Multiplicity traverses a diverse range of concepts, including cultural hybridity, notions of beauty, gender fluidity, and historical memory. Through the skillful assembly of pieces of paper, fabric, and repurposed materials, the artists featured in this exhibition create captivating compositions that illuminate the boundless possibilities of Black-constructed narratives amidst the fragments of our society.

The exhibition brings together a remarkable ensemble of 52 living artists from different generations, each weaving their unique stories into their creations.

“This project defies convention by mirroring the essence of a collage itself,” remarks Seth Feman, PhD, Frist Art Museum’s executive director, and CEO, in the exhibition catalogue’s foreword. “With each turn, fresh ideas and forms emerge, as old ones take on new meaning, culminating in a diverse and harmonious chorus.”

The Multiplicity exhibition also boasts an impressive representation of Houston’s vibrant art scene. Seven artists from Houston have been selected to participate, enriching the collection with their distinct voices.

Tay Butler, Andrea Chung, Jamal Cyrus, Tomashi Jackson, Rick Lowe, Lovie Olivia, and Lanecia A. Rouse bring their immense talent and creativity, further diversifying the narratives explored in the exhibition.

Sept. 15 to Dec. 31, 2023.

Lanecia A. Rouse. How She Taught Me to Carry Water, 2022. Discarded book pages, 23kt gold leaf, found images, and photographs by the artist on discarded wood; 3 parts: 18 x 18 each. Collection of Molly Gochman. Image courtesy of the artist. © Lanecia A. Rouse





CAMH Director Hesse McGraw. Photography by Mike Sinclair

JOHN BERNHARD: What was the most significant challenge you encountered when you assumed the role of Director at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston four years ago?

HESSE M c GRAW: I started in January 2020. Two months in, we were closing the doors to the museum and pivoting to the staff working from home and engaging audiences in new ways because of COVID. For instance, our team started creating take-home art kits for youth that didn’t have access to art supplies, so it was immediately a radical shift in how the museum operated. That was a challenge in many ways, but it was also a catalyst to think about how we could work in new ways. We ultimately used that time to renovate the galleries and to start a new residency program called CAMHLAB, which has moved from the museum to its newest iteration at POST. Those early COVID challenges became creative opportunities; we’re still learning about how audiences engage with museums differently today than in 2019.

JB: How did the departure of the former Museum Director, Bill Arning, following accusations of sexual harassment, impact your experience and the museum as a whole?

HM: Its impacts were strongly felt in every facet of the institution, and we found that we had to regain trust within our staff, artists, and community. And I’m proud to see how the institution has adapted from those challenges and others to emerge more robust and community-minded.

JB: Could you please share some insights into your background and professional trajectory?

HM: I started as an artist, and after my undergraduate degree in art, I started curating. An exciting opportunity arose when I was accepted into Graduate School in Switzerland, in Saas-Fee, located one valley over Zermatt. While there, I had the privilege of working with extraordinary faculty, including Jean Baudrillard, a renowned and controversial philosopher and critic, and the esteemed French film director Claire Denis, alongside Antony Gormley, Paul D. Miller, and Hans Ulrich Obrist. The presence of such incredible thinkers fostered a polyglot, hothouse atmosphere, facilitating interdisciplinary conversations that enriched our perspectives. This

experience profoundly influenced my approach to curating, offering me a fresh and diverse way of thinking about curating. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work in various contexts, each contributing to my professional growth. I founded a small gallery in Kansas City, moved to a commercial gallery in New York, served as chief curator at the Bemis Center residency program in Omaha, and led exhibitions and public programs at San Francisco Art Institute. Finally, I was a partner at El Dorado, a renowned architecture and urban design practice in Kansas City, before joining CAMH.

JB: Where are you from?

HM: I was born in Dayton, OH, and grew up in Kansas City, on the Kansas side, which is the good side. Coming from a non-artistic family background, I had a transformative experience when I was fifteen. It was a thunderclap moment that occurred while walking into the Johnson County Community College Gallery of Art. To my amazement, there was an exhibition featuring the works of Kerry James Marshall. This happened in the mid-nineties, and it broke my brain open. In that space, the exhibition had a profound impact on me. It ruptured my perspective and forced me to see myself and the world in a new light. It was a pivotal and cherished moment that ultimately laid the foundation for my career trajectory.

JB: How do you define the role of a museum in the context of today’s art world? How do you see your museum contributing to the contemporary art landscape?

HM: Our role goes beyond just contributing to the contemporary art landscape. We have a more significant civic responsibility. CAMH has continuously introduced new artists to Houston, welcomed new audiences to contemporary art, and helped broaden the field of what we understand contemporary art to be. For instance, our first show in 1948, This is Contemporary Art , intermixed domestic objects with fine art—imagine projecting yourself back into that time; you realize that was a radical way of thinking about how art and life intersect. We are still seeking novel ways for the Museum to serve as a vital part of the civic life of Houston and to share the essential role of art and artists in society.


JB: Collaboration and engagement with artists are crucial aspects of contemporary art. I enjoyed seeing a refreshing approach to an exhibition by two Austrian artists a year ago, which you curated. Can you elaborate on the exhibition?

HM: The artists were Paul Renner and Richard Hoeck, and the exhibition was HOUSTON, SIE HABEN EIN PROBLEM! or HOUSTON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! Paul is an artist whom I’d worked with in Omaha and San Francisco, and he comes

out of Viennese actionism, and he’s translated that legacy into a contemporary context. For Paul, there’s no natural division between art, life, culture, community, and food. He’s shaking all that up and letting it fizz out in an experience of pure joy … a kind of unhinged joy. And Richard is thinking about these off-kilter objects, sculptures that charge their environment in idiosyncratic ways. This was the first time Paul and Richard had collaborated, and the combination created an exciting tension that was palpable in the exhibition.

Youth Basketball Workshop by Houston Rockets in CAMH COURT at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2023. Photography by Troy Ezequiel N e x t s p r e a d : Installation view of HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2023. Photography by Victoria Nguyen
“ Our role goes beyond just contributing to the contemporary art landscape. We have a more significant civic responsibility. ”

JB: As the overseer of the non-collecting institution’s diverse artistic and educational programs, fundraising efforts, and day-to-day operations, please share the new vision and expansion strategies you have implemented to actively engage with contemporary art.

HM: I think that evolved vision has become the core to our activities, and it’s manifested in a few ways: one is through a now a long-term partnership and collaboration with Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy (HFTC), which is an organization that’s dedicated to preserving and engaging the story of freedom within Houston’s Fourth Ward. We were fortunate to receive significant funding from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts to support our collaboration. The primary effort of this project is to preserve the historic brick streets of the Fourth Ward. To realize this effort, we’re working with HFTC and the artist Theaster Gates, the City of Houston, and an urban planning

HM: The key part of that question is how we navigate our responsibility and fully acknowledge museums’ role in society. Recently, a field-wide study showed that museums were amongst the most trusted institutions in society—obviously more so than our politicians—and there was also an overwhelming desire for museums to take up the significant challenges of society, including systemic racism, inequality, and climate change. These are among the largest, wicked problems that our society faces. Our audiences are asking us to take up those challenges directly, not solely in a symbolic or representational way, but to strive for impact, or at least to model and inspire change.

Being in Houston presents an extraordinary opportunity because of the diversity of our city. Our goal is first to ensure that when people show up, they feel welcomed and to create opportunities for active participation. CAMH COURT was a great example; almost a third of its audience was coming to the Museum for the first time, so imagine how

and engineering team to ensure community goals drive the effort to fully preserve the brick streets now and for future generations.

JB: How has your experience in curatorial practice transformed exhibitions into platforms empowering artists beyond galleries while attracting new audiences?

HM: In our most recent project, to expand our commitment to centering the visions and voices of artists, we were able to collaborate with artist Trenton Doyle Hancock to create the first-ever regulation-sized playable basketball court in an art museum; it changed the way we thought about what CAMH could do. Visitors could walk off the street, pick up a basketball and play in the museum. Trenton—an artist who thinks about his work as play—had the unique experience of seeing audiences play on his work.

JB: Yes, this is an innovative approach, and I really like where you’re going with it, which brings me to another question, contemporary art often addresses social, political, and cultural issues. How do you navigate the responsibility of presenting artwork that might be controversial or challenge societal norms?

powerful that experience was to come to a cultural space they’d never been to and be turned loose playing basketball. We think of that as I kind of benevolent trojan horse—the Museum welcomes new audiences to the alchemy of contemporary art. Today, our role is expanding: we are a small museum with outsized impacts. We strive to be less like an authoritative museum than a place that generates vital benefits for our community.

JB: Can you provide a glimpse into your future plans, including any upcoming exhibitions or shows that you would like to share with us?

HM: Most immediately, this coming year is our 75th anniversary, and beginning in October, we will begin that celebration. Much of our programming will be focused on that milestone over the next year. CAMH has always been an institution that leans forward, so we’re presenting an exhibition curated by Senior Curator Rebecca Matalon and Curator Patricia Restrepo that will open in late October titled Six Scenes From Our Future. It will feature the work of six artists invited to respond to the CAMH’s 1948 inaugural exhibition, This is Contemporary Art. I think looking back at CAMH’s history as we think about the future will be exciting.

Our goal is first to ensure that when people show up, they feel welcomed and to create opportunities for active participation. ”



he project titled “Once & Future Architecture” by Patrick Renner, showcased at the Architecture Center Houston (ArCH) during our last summer, was a tribute to mud daubers, one of nature’s primary builders. Mud daubers are wasps that build their nests of abundantly available mud. While one can appreciate the ingenuity of this principled architecture, you probably have scraped one off the exterior of your home too. His project is also a tribute to home. “Once and Future Architecture” is mostly made from a plenitude of Houston’s architectural refuse collected over the years and stored in his studios. A fourth generation Houstonian, Renner is seeing the

steel and glass buildings rise in the sky asthe older structures are scraped back down to earth. Driving around different parts of the city there is a mashup of evolving architectural structures, an abundance of teardowns… materials for sculptures. Renner’s projects are literally part of his Houston story.

I have been watching the ArCH project take shape. It feels like a cathartic punk rock odyssey with Renner and a band of first-rate misfits, Peewee, Jaykub and Rico chopping, nailing, hammering, hacking, and wrestling the behemoth into place. The process is not linear and more like twisting poetic spiral. From the sketches to where it now stands exists a hyper amount of

Installation view of Once & Future Architecture , 2023. Photography by Emily Peacock

creative energy. As a sculpture it’s vast and finite, future and past, treasure and trash. Watching all of the moveable parts move about to an inevitable state of temporary rest makes you wonder... what’s going on in there?

Patrick says it’s like Plinko, the game where one drops the plinko chips down the board, and watches them bounce off the pegs, moving horizontally as well as vertically, until the chips manage a way to the end. Things fall into place (and don’t) and that’s how it goes.

The main structure in the exhibition space takes on the form of an ellipse and gives off the impression of a stationary ship. As it is a large-scale vessel of sorts, one can walk around it and enter it. There is a decking on one outside corner, like a docking station. It’s edgy and complements the curvilinear nature of the main form. As the sculpture rises from the floor and clings to the ceiling, there are a multitude of things going on. Renner is the faithful captain and knows the course of destination. All the nooks, crannies, cracks, and crevices are evaluated and exploited. All the empty space, every inch of it is taken into consideration for creative expression. Patrick has a vision. It is an overwhelming and admirable undertaking.

The project is of many parts, smaller objects inside larger ones. The sculpture is a creative formation inside a larger one (the ArCH building), and there are many more objects on and within this mud dauber nest. It’s like a Russian nesting doll toy in this way. Starting with trademark wood cladding of the Houston teardowns, explosions of color find harmony with other conventional and nonconventional artist material: circular glass panels, steel, concrete, wallpaper, cardboard, paint cans,

pegboard, drywall, a TV, repurposed artworks from the past, and of course, actual mud dauber nests; to name a few.

An anecdote about the use of glass: The glass is being placed into large circular cutouts in the main structure. The perforations were very unexpected as they were cut directly into a beautiful resolution of colorful cladded walls. It seemed like a reckless move to make in general, as there are many other things still unfinished, and the artist reception is looming only a couple days away. Maybe they will act like portholes, but more importantly, when I asked about this unsettling move, Patrick said that he likes defacing his own work because it suggests a less-precious vernacular, closer to the roots of his artistic vision. This risk-taking way of sculpting opens new paths, something picked up from Gordon Matta-Clark, the father of Anarchitecture, who made site-specific artworks in the 1970s. It makes it more personal.

Renner is an irreplaceable artist in the Houston art scene. He gives shape to the city and the city helps shape his work. He garnered a lot of attention a decade ago with the unforgettable “Funnel Tunnel”, the snaking 180-foot sculpture described as “the colorful, ground-hugging tornado winding through the trees on Montrose Boulevard”. His 2020 exhibit titled “BOUNTY” at Redbud Gallery was of legendary proportions, and earlier this year his installation at “A Gift from The Bower”, produced by DiverseWorks and the Locke Surls Center for Arts and Nature was a towering success. The large-scale sculpture titled “Sonic Overlook” could fondly be referred to as a poor man’s Richard Serra.

“Once & Future Architecture” is an extension of these earlier achievements, perhaps more ambitious still.

Installation view of Once & Future Architecture , 2023. Photography by Emily Peacock



This fall The Menil Collection presents a captivating exhibition featuring the remarkable works of Chryssa. For far too long, this Greek-born artist has remained under-recognized despite her groundbreaking use of signage, text, and neon, effectively bridging the realms of Pop, Conceptual, and Minimalist art.

Titled Chryssa & New York , this exhibition marks a significant moment as it is the first major showcase of the artist’s work in the United States since 1982. Delving into Chryssa’s artistic journey during her time in New York from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the exhibition presents a splendid array of her creations, featuring major loans from esteemed American and European museums and collections.

Following its premiere at Dia Chelsea in New York in early spring, the exhibition “Chryssa & New York” graced Houston with its grand opening at the Menil Collection in September 2023. This highly anticipated exhibition is a celebration of art, innovation, and the enduring impact

of an artist who dared to push the boundaries of her craft.

“Though celebrated in her time, Chryssa’s work is now rarely seen. The art on view will represent her prescient use of neon and industrial processes in sculpture and demonstrate some of her key concerns: abstraction, language, and technical innovation,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie De Gunzburg Director. “I am delighted that Dia and the Menil Collection, institutions with a rich history of collaboration, are mounting this important exhibition for audiences across the United States.”

“Dia Art Foundation and the Menil Collection are connected through the patronage of the de Menil family,” said Rebecca Rabinow, Director, the Menil Collection. “The institutions share a commitment to artists whose work emerged in the 1960s and ’70s and have partnered on exhibitions of work by Joseph Beuys, Brice Marden, and Blinky Palermo. We are proud to now turn our joint focus to Chryssa’s work.”

Chryssa, The Gates to Times Square , 1966. Cast aluminum, welded stainless steel, neon glass tubing, Plexiglass, and paper, 120 × 119 × 120 in. Buffalo AKG Art Museum; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Albert A. List, 1972. © The Estate of Chryssa, National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens. Photo by Bill Jacobson Studio, New York.

Chryssa & New York brings together the artist’s deeply formal concerns with her critical interest in exploring post–World War II America. At the centerpiece of the exhibition is the large-scale work The Gates to Times Square (1964–66), considered Chryssa’s magnum opus. Restored for this presentation in partnership with the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, which owns the work, this towering interplay of neon, plexiglass, and metal pays homage to the signage and dazzling lights of New York’s most famous intersection. Displayed alongside The Gates will be works detailing Chryssa’s process in realizing this monumental sculpture, including transitional pieces combining metal and neon.

Other key early works include the enigmatic Cycladic Books (1954–57), a series of plaster and clay reliefs that highlight her interest in the interplay of light and shadow. This series nods to both commercial culture and ancient Mediterranean art. Additional reliefs in plaster and metal also deftly capture the phenomenon of shifting natural light. Experimenting with different formal approaches, Chryssa explored typography from a variety of angles and made work using the newspaper printing plates and discarded signs and metal fragments she found in her frequent visits to Times Square.

“ Chryssa & New York assembles major works from nearly a dozen museum collections within the United States, demonstrating that, throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, American institutions collected her work in depth,” said Megan Holly Witko, External Curator, Dia. “Because few of these pieces have been exhibited in recent years, this project has been realized through collaboration with numerous lenders to conserve and treat these fragile

works, allowing them to be seen, once again, by the public.”

“Chryssa was a leader within avant-garde circles while she lived in New York,” said Michelle White, Senior Curator, the Menil Collection. “Her fascination with the sparkling and text-filled urban space of Times Square led to work that not only addresses but also radically deploys the phenomena of this commercial environment. It therefore constitutes some of the earliest art that critically incorporated these then-new material forms of communication.”

Chryssa & New York is co-organized by The Menil Collection, Houston, and Dia Art Foundation, New York. The exhibition is co-curated by Michelle White, Senior Curator, the Menil Collection, and Megan Holly Witko, External Curator, Dia Art Foundation.

For more info visit: www.

Chryssa, Times Square Sky , 1962. Aluminum, steel, and neon, 60 × 60 × 9 1/2 in. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Gift of T.B. Walker Foundation. © The Estate of Chryssa, National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens R i g h t p a g e : Chryssa, The Automat, 1971. Neon and plaster, 37 × 29 × 6 3/4 in. Abrams Family Collection. © The Estate of Chryssa, National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens.

Photo by Bill Jacobson Studio, New York, Courtesy Dia Art Foundation


This fall, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, proudly presents the second suite of thematic exhibitions for the Kinder Building, showcasing modern and contemporary art from their collections. Titled Contested Landscapes, Hidden Histories, and Love Languages, these diverse exhibitions grace the third floor of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, which opened in November 2020. The art forms on display range from painting, sculpture, photography, prints, and drawings to decorative arts, craft, and design. Delving into profound environmental, social, and political themes, these exhibitions offer a captivating exploration of the exceptional collections.

Gary Tinterow, Director and Margaret Alkek Williams Chair of the MFAH, said “When the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building opened in November 2020, we considered it a triumph – not only for completing the Fayez S. Sarofim campus during the pandemic but for allowing us to showcase for our public, for the first time, the incredible depth of our modern and contemporary collections. With just over one million visits to our campuses this past fiscal year, our community appears to agree. I am very pleased to announce this next series of installations in the Kinder Building, which highlight the strength of our modern and contemporary holdings, the fastest-growing segment of our collection.”


Contested Landscapes

Contested Landscapes brings together a selection of contemporary artworks that reexamine the traditional genre of landscape through an ecological lens. By using diverse materials and innovative techniques, the featured artists, including Teresita Fernández, Richard Long, Radcliffe Bailey, Edward Burtynsky, Kent Dorn, Harry Geffert, Soledad Salamé, Jennifer Trask, Zana Briski, Studio DRIFT, and Dawoud Bey, reshape representations of geography, topography, and the environment to critically

examine humans’ interaction with the natural world. In their works, landscapes become contested sites of power, acting as indices of larger cultural concerns, movements, and residual traumas, specifically as issues such as climate change and environmental justice stem from the social, political, and economic motivations of establishing control over geographic territories. Through September 8, 2024. Organized by Rachel Mohl, Assistant Curator, Latin American Art.

DRIFT, Fragile Future 3.14 , designed 2015, made 2018, dandelion seed, phosphorus bronze, LED, and Perspex, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase funded by the Design Council, 2018. © 2015 DRIFT

Hidden Histories

Hidden Histories explores the notion of anti-monuments through the work of several generations of artists from Europe, the United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America who use innovative artistic practices to memorialize aspects of the lives of ordinary citizens or places that have been ignored, sidelined, or deliberately obscured by official accounts.

Unlike traditional monuments, these works do not rely on fixed narratives, celebratory gestures, or grandiose materials. Instead, they employ a variety of unconventional means and strategies

aimed at encouraging viewers to think critically about the past and its relevance for the present and future. Featured artists include Allora & Calzadilla, Michael Armitage, Paul Briggs, Jamal Cyrus, Gilbert and George, Zhang Huan, Tom Huck, Kahlil Joseph, Anselm Kiefer, Julie Mehretu, Oscar Muñoz, Vincent Valdez and Adriana Corral, Kukuli Velarde, and Marie Watt. Through September 27, 2025. Exhibition organized by Alison de Lima Greene, Isabel Brown Wilson Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Mari Carmen Ramirez, Curator, Latin American Art.

Michael Armitage, Dead Soldiers , 2022, oil on Lubugo bark cloth the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase funded by Christen Sveaas. © Michael Armitage. Photograph by David Westwood, courtesy of White Cube, London.

Love Languages

Love Languages considers how artmaking itself is a type of love language, exploring conceptual concerns and narratives beyond reductive perspectives that center eros as the ultimate form of attachment. Works by artists including Dawoud Bey, Francesco Clemente, Nicole Eisenman, Louis Fratino, Ron Nagle, Anna Park, Joyce J. Scott, and Billie Zangewa are brought together to engage the question, “How do we prioritize tenderness against debilitating social conditions?” Through September 27, 2025. Organized by Anita N. Bateman, Associate Curator, Modern & Contemporary Art.

Ron Nagle, The Puddle of Love from the series Snuff Bottles, 2003, porcelain, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection. © Ron Nagle




Unleash the allure of the Samurai culture with its unparalleled magnificence. The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection is an extraordinary testament to the pageantry, violence, beauty, and honor that once defined these formidable warriors. This exclusive museum, established in the heart of the Dallas’ Harwood District back in 2012, now stands as the largest of its kind in the world, enchanting visitors with an awe-inspiring collection of historic armor that once adorned and protected these fierce fighters. This magnificent endeavor began over

thirty years ago when the Barbier-Mueller family embarked on a quest to amass the most exquisite art of the samurai. With unwavering dedication, they meticulously built a collection that highlights artistic detail and sculptural mastery, spanning centuries from the fifth to nineteenth. Within these walls, you’ll find a treasure trove of captivating artifacts from Japan and around the world. Get ready to be transported back in time and encounter the indomitable world of the samurai. And that’s not all – the museum proudly presents its newest exhibition, IRON MEN: The Artistry of Iron in Samurai Armor. This


awe-inspiring show delves deep into the vital role iron played in Japanese warrior technology and culture, from its introduction in the fourth century to the grand finale of the samurai era in the nineteenth century.

Step into a realm of over eighty masterful artworks, some of which have never before been exhibited. Delve into an array of samurai ironworks, from full suits of armor to helmets, accessories, weapons, and even horse tack. Witness how this seemingly unyielding metal was meticulously crafted into works of protective art that adorned the high-ranking

samurai in wearable masterpieces. These impressive suits of armor not only symbolized their wealth and status but also bestowed upon the warriors an unmistakable identity and imposing presence.

IRON MEN pays homage to the peerless craftsmanship of ancient metalworkers and reveals the fascinating processes of mining, smelting, and forging iron into lifesaving armor. Prepare to be mesmerized by meticulously engraved gold and silver adornments, expertly transforming the rigid iron plates into fantastical shapes of mythical creatures and divine deities.

Installation view © The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas.



A Captivating Glimpse into Contemporary Saints debuting at the Menil.

This exhibition showcases over one hundred portraits created over two decades by Houston-based artist Nestor Topchy (b. 1963).

The small paintings, reminiscent of Byzantine icons with their golden backgrounds, deviate from the traditional religious depictions and instead feature friends and colleagues from the art community. Employing traditional materials such as red clay, powdered marble, gold leaf, pure pigments, and egg yolk on small wooden panels, Topchy’s unique approach bridges the past and present, imparting a saintly aura to his contemporary subjects. In his own words, he believes that painting mortals within a sea of golden light proposes a universal saintliness inherent in all people.

With more than 30 years of artistic work in Texas, Nestor Topchy is renowned for his diverse use of mediums and meticulous craftsmanship. His art delves into the enigma of the ephemeral through sculpture, painting, performance, and architecture, drawing inspiration from Zen philosophy, Ukrainian

folk art, sacred geometry, and the historical language of the Dada art movement.

The Iconic Portrait Strand by Nestor Topchy is curated by Michelle White, Senior Curator. This exhibition is generously supported by Dillon Kyle and Sam Lasseter; Mary Hale Lovett McLean; Veronica and Douglas Overman; Beverly and Howard Robinson; John and Stephanie Smither Visionary Art Fund; Scott R. Sparvero; Friends of the Artist; and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

This compelling exhibition will be on view at The Menil Collection until January 21, 2024.

Nestor Topchy, Iconic Portrait Strand

Al “Kool B” LeBlanc, Wayne Gilbert, Forrest Prince, and Bora Kim, 2008–23 Egg tempera and gold leaf on gesso over cloth on plywood. Courtesy of the artist

O p p o s i t e p a g e :

Nestor Topchy, 2022

All photos by Caroline Philippone

F r o m t o p :


It’s a safe bet all of us have heard some version of the founding of our country. It typically goes something like this: a ragtag

bunch of colonists rose up to defeat the most powerful army on Earth, after which we elected our first president, wrote a

How two plays opening this fall examine – and challenge – the role of women in politics and political life.

constitution that enshrined our rights and lived happily ever after. Almost.

That’s an oversimplification, certainly, but if we believe the adage that history is written by the winners, it should really beg the question: who might the losers have been, and where are those voices? Conversations like that are likely to be sparked by two plays making regional premieres in Houston this fall, Selina Fillinger’s POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive , a feminist farce that examines power and the prejudice faced by women in politics and society playing at Stages Sept. 1 through Oct. 8, and What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck,


which explores Schreck’s relationship with that founding document, and what she learned about herself and our country along the way, at Main Street Theater from Sept. 16 through Oct. 15. Both plays brought in boatloads of accolades, including Tony Award nominations for both, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Constitution

The shows have been praised for pushing boundaries, and while they both deal with the thorny issues of how women are represented by those in power and how women achieve (or subvert) power, they are very different shows. POTUS is an expletive-laden, fast-talking satire, and Constitution is a thought-provoking, sensitive reflection. Their themes, however, should prove resonant to theatergoers who like their experiences laced with laughter and send them out of the theater still contemplating what they’ve seen.

POTUS opens with the president, a man, describing his wife’s mood with a particularly nasty four-letter word. Amid the ensuing havoc, his chief of staff, his secretary, his press secretary, his mistress, a reporter and the First Lady find themselves thrown together in the maelstrom, fighting to save his reputation, perhaps at the risk of their own.

“It’s quite inspirational,” says Ashley Love, director of POTUS. “It holds a mirror to the audience and asks, how are you participating in this system? But it’s told through laugher, and laughter is the best way to have a conversation.”

As the absurdities mount, Love says the play’s commentary on power grows.

“This looks at the nuances of soft and hard power,” she explains. “A lot of women operate only on soft power, they play by the rules set for them, and it’s interesting to watch the imbalance that happens as the characters step deeper into their roles.”

When it comes to rules, and rule following, the U.S. Constitution is chock-a-block with them. Along with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution is the document that tells us, as a country, who we are and what we believe and want. But you’d hardly be alone if you didn’t give it much thought as you’re heading to the grocery store or sitting in Houston traffic.

“Obviously, the creation of the Constitution is an important moment in our country’s history,” says Shannon Emerick who plays Heidi in What the Constitution Means to Me. “But aside from a few amendments that are referred to regularly, the document as a whole has definitely lived in the history category for me, instead of being something that informed my daily life.”

The mostly one-woman show is told in both real time and flashbacks, telling the story of how Heidi won scholarships by doing Constitutional debates throughout high school. We see her as both her current-age self and a 15-year-old, wrestling with the nuances of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments, her teenage love for Patrick Swayze and her adult reckoning of where women fit into it all, if anywhere.

“The strength of the play is that it’s not a Constitutionbashing play,” says Emerick. “It isn’t either/or about if the framers got it right. It’s both/and. This is a radical thing that we did, and it’s incredible that all these people with radically different ideas hashed out this document. That’s pretty stunning.”

Throughout the play, Heidi’s character underlines again and again how women were left out of laws, how amendments relegated to them second-class – or worse – status, and how that history affects our present.

“It’s messier than we like to think,” says Emerick. That messiness of how women and their rights were never written down dovetails throughout Constitution with Heidi’s own experiences, which include a family history of domestic violence and abortion and other difficult topics.

“In this play, Heidi is saying these hard truths for the first time,” Emerick says about the play and its structure. “She gets real pretty early.”

The women of POTUS get real in a different way. They snap at each other. They badmouth their boss. They deal with childcare and schedules and work-life balances – and not always well.

“They’re all just trying to survive,” Love says of the characters. “But they have to learn throughout the show to work together, that this is what power looks like. These women have to admit that how they’ve used and abused their own power, and discover it isn’t about how can I get what I need from you, it’s about how can I get it with you?”

The idea of getting what you need with others, instead of in spite or despite them, hit home for Emerick this summer. She traveled to Washington D.C. and saw the original document of the Constitution in the National Archive.

“It was powerful,” she says. “What struck me most was that while it is mostly faded, we can still see so clearly the ‘We the People’ at the top. And that is, perhaps, the most important part. It’s what the document should be: a constitution for all people.”

With these two plays this fall, Houston theatergoers will have a lot to be entertained by, and a lot to contemplate. &


submit your work artists

CALLFORARTISTS FirstAnnualCompetition

We are thrilled to announce the 2024 ArtHouston Award, a prestigious event that honors and celebrates the Artist of the Year. This esteemed recognition is a testament to the remarkable talent and creativity of artists within the Greater Houston.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of ArtHouston Magazine, we are even more passionate about showcasing the artistic excellence that thrives in our community.


Open to all artists across all media: Painting, Mixed Media, Drawing, Sculpture, Photography, and Digital Art. Eligibility Criteria: Artists must be residents of the Greater Houston and surrounding area. (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, including Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties).

Photography by Gilles Pierre Bernhard

Creative spirit


Cara Romero is an artist who seamlessly weaves together the threads of identity, heritage, and social justice. As an enrolled citizen of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, her work reflects a deep connection to her Indigenous roots This visual storyteller, activist, and mother hails from the juxtaposition of Los Angeles, where she navigated the complexities of growing up between the reservation and the sprawling cityscape. Renowned for her evocative fine art photography, she fearlessly examines the multifaceted tapestry of Indigenous life within contemporary contexts.

Her artistic journey began during her undergraduate years at the University of Houston, where she pursued a degree in cultural anthropology. However, a profound disillusionment emerged as she encountered the portrayal of Native Americans within academic and media landscapes. It was then that she recognized the untapped power of photography—its ability to convey narratives beyond the limitations of words. Guided by her vision, she transitioned her medium, integrating her training in film, digital, editorial portraiture, and commercial and fine art photography.

Cara Romero, Hermosa , 2021, Courtesy of the Artist

With 25 years of formal study and artistic practice shaping her craft, she skillfully blurs the boundaries between fine art and activism. Her work serves as a vessel for cultural memory, collective histories, and personal narratives. Often exploring themes of environmental racism, the power and belonging of Native womxn, Native sub-populations, and mythos, she brings all these pressing issues into the limelight.

As her work continues to evolve, her imagery encompasses a wide spectrum, ranging from pointed satire to the ethereal realms of the supernatural within everyday life. Her photographs eloquently capture the intricate realities faced by contemporary Native peoples.

Now entering the mid-career phase, her talent has garnered recognition from esteemed institutions such as The Met, The MoMA, The Amon Carter, and the Forge Project Collection, who have acquired her work. In addition, she has left an indelible mark on the landscape of public art through monumental-scale commissions, including the 2019 Desert X Biennial and NDN Collective’s #TONGVALAND billboard series in Los Angeles.

Beyond her artistic endeavors, she is committed to fostering the next generation of Native American women photographers. For the past three years, she has dedicated herself to mentoring four emerging talents in her studio, imparting her wisdom, and empowering their artistic visions.


A mother of three children, she fluidly moves between Santa Fe and the Chemehuevi Valley Indian Reservation. Her childhood home, inherited and cherished, serves as a bridge connecting her to her tribal community and ancestral homelands through the mediums of art and activism. It is through this profound connection that she nurtures her creative spirit and advocates for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Through her lens and her unwavering dedication, she invites us to engage with the complexities of Indigenous life, encouraging us to challenge our preconceptions and embrace the vibrant tapestry of Native culture.

Left: Cara Romero, Oil Boom , 2015

Below: Cara Romero, Shameless , 2020

Opposite page: Cara Romero, The Zenith , 2022

All photos courtesy of the Artist.



An exclusive interview with Sonja Roesch, the visionary gallery owner who passionately champions contemporary reductive and concept-based art created by both emerging and established artists from around the world. With a strong foundation in minimalist aesthetics, Gallery Sonja Roesch originally established in Germany, relocated to Houston in 1996, where she has continued to pursue her artistic vision.

Sonja Roesch on a Gaetano chair
Photo courtesy of Sonja Roesch Gallery

JOHN BERNHARD: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting your art gallery? What motivated you to move your gallery from Germany to Houston?

SONJA ROESCH: Culture holds paramount importance as it defines both people and nations. With the intention of fostering cultural exchange, I aspired to establish a platform. I came to Houston because of the oil and gas industry, and at that time there were not many galleries in the city. Therefore, I decided to stay and establish my own gallery.

JB: How do you curate the artwork for your gallery? What factors do you consider when selecting artists and their pieces?

SR: The emphasis lies on reduction, minimalism, and concept art, which may appear effortless to some, but in reality, it is exceedingly challenging to achieve. Delving into reduction necessitates a process of growth, often accompanied by struggles, in order to reach a satisfying outcome. This form of art calls for serene contemplation and possesses a timeless quality.

Knopp Ferro, installation view in the Gallery Photo courtesy of Gallery Sonja Roesch

f t : Gallery Sonja Roesch on 2309 Caroline Street, in Midtown.

B e l o w : Ruth Pastine, installation view. Photos courtesy of Gallery Sonja Roesch

JB: Art galleries often play a crucial role in promoting emerging artists. How do you support and nurture young talent locally and in the art world?

SR: The artists are encouraged to elevate their professionalism, as they engage in social interactions with fellow gallery artists, fostering a fruitful exchange of ideas. Moreover, our gallery offers access to an international client base and audience, further enhancing their exposure and opportunities.

JB: What unique experiences or services do you offer to art enthusiasts and collectors?

SR: Visitors are provided with comprehensive information regarding the exhibitions and the artists that pique their interest. Collectors frequently find common ground or share a genuine appreciation for our Gallery’s program. Our constant aim is to ensure that transactions are both seamless and enjoyable for everyone involved.

JB: Could you share an interesting or memorable story about an artist or exhibition featured in your gallery? What made it special or noteworthy?

SR: All of these experiences are captivating and leave a lasting impression. Particularly noteworthy was my visit to Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992, where I had the privilege of admiring Jac Leirner’s artwork. It was a delightful surprise when I had the opportunity to meet her 15 years later at the Museum of Fine Art Houston. This encounter eventually led to a collaborative endeavor, culminating in a solo exhibition here in Houston.

JB: The art market can be competitive and ever-changing. How do you stay current with the latest trends? Do you participate in art fairs?

SR: Art and trends don’t go together, art is tied to history, trends come and go. In contemporary times, art fairs often prioritize quantity over quality, which necessitates careful consideration and selection when deciding to participate.

JB: Looking ahead, are there any upcoming exhibitions that you’re particularly excited about?

SR: Oh yes, in the upcoming fall season, we are delighted to showcase Ferro, an exceptional artist from Munich renowned for his captivating kinetic mobiles. Following Ferro’s exhibition, in November, we have the privilege of hosting Ruth Pastine, a superb painter from Los Angeles whose works exude vibrant energy fields.

L e


Last summer, Houston Ballet welcomed its first co-artistic director, Julie Kent, fresh off a seven-season stint at the Washington Ballet. Kent joins Stanton Welch, who has been artistic director for twenty years. The Houston Ballet’s 2023-2024 season features six world premieres and three Houston Ballet premieres, a growing diverse cast of dancers performing some of the most challenging choreography in ballet today, and now, a new leader with over 38 years of experience.

Julie Kent. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Julie Kent danced for over 30 years with the American Ballet Theatre, making her the longest-serving ballerina in the company’s history. She has danced over 100 ballets by countless masters and worked with most of the major choreographers in the field. It makes sense that with all of her experience, Kent lands at Houston Ballet, which is, as she explains, “one of the most important ballet companies in the world and an example of what can happen when a city and a community understand the value of art.”

Julie Kent trained with Hortensia Fonseca at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet in Bethesda, MD. She began at American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 1985. She went on to win the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto in 1993 and was the first American to win the “Prix Benois de la Danse” in 2000. Most who aren’t ballet aficionados might know Kent from the 2000s film Center Stage, where she plays a wickedly sharp expert dancer. Many of the same challenges face ballet today as twenty years ago, such as creating a more diverse and inclusive world for dancers and audiences and finding relevancy with an increasingly online audience. One new threat is still uncertain: Finding a way out of a global pandemic that shuttered many theatres and threatened the livelihood of most arts organizations.

The Houston Ballet has gained acclaim in recent years for promoting diverse dancers to key roles, including the most recent TikTok sensation Harper Watters, a black queer first soloist whose trending videos show him dancing on a treadmill in heels. Former company member Lauren Anderson was the first African American principal ballerina in the US and now uses her role as Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement to advocate for arts education access.

This, and the popularity of Stanton Welch’s often explosive choreography, is the energy needed to break a major arts organization like Houston Ballet into the future. Innovation, inclusivity, and perhaps a bit of heady optimism.

One can imagine the confidence it takes to join such an undertaking as a woman splitting a key leadership role. Kent seems cheerful about the potential challenges ahead, but focusing on the future may be necessary. Part of the appeal of this new adventure is that Kent and Welch have a long history. They met in 2001, just after 9/11, in New York City, where they worked together on Clear, an abstract ballet set to Bach featuring seven men and one woman. That role was created for Kent by Welch.

“I’m by nature a pretty cautious person and very instinctive,” she explains. “If I didn’t feel this was right, I wouldn’t do it. And

so I am just so honored to be part of this organization and to work with Stanton, to both offer inspiration and be inspired myself.”

In her new role as co-artistic director, Kent admits to being most excited about the idea of working as a teacher with the new dancers under her wings as well as a few dancers who chose to follow Kent to Houston. “I always identify as a dancer. Dancers are my people, right? I spent my whole life in the ballet studio. And to have the opportunity to work with a new group of beautiful, young, wonderful, talented, hungry artists—that’s the best thing to actually doing it yourself.” Women often have different leadership styles, and it’s clear Kent is focused on collaboration. “There’s no question there’s a difference between leadership styles. But one thing I’m fascinated by is that great leaders come in all different kinds of personality types. That’s certainly something that I am hoping to bring to my work here and into the experience of those who are part of Houston Ballet.”

Julie Kent’s arrival is not the only change at the Houston Ballet. After 32 years as Music Director, Ermanno Florio will step down at the end of the 2023-2024 season. The current moment feels like an opportunity for the Houston Ballet to grow and flourish in a changing arts landscape. Houston remains one of the most exciting cities in the world for the arts, and with Julie Kent joining the Houston Ballet, for dance.

Julie Kent. Photo by Jayme Thornton

danish dialogues

In 1981 Jan Christiansen left Copenhagen, Denmark and arrived in Houston with a vision to establish a modern and contemporary furniture store that showcased high quality and innovative designs. Over the past 30 years Danish Inspirations has more than exceeded Jan’s dream becoming synonymous with outstanding furniture from leading European designers. You may have even heard Jan’s friendly accented voice in his radio commercial inviting you in for a look at today’s “furniture with a future.”

JOHN BERNHARD: What initially inspired your minimalistic yet Danish Modern approach to furniture design? What are the characteristics of Danish design?

JAN CRISTIANSEN: Danish design has always been at the forefront of

design with clean lines, lasting quality, and a minimalist approach. Growing up in Denmark, surrounded by exceptional design and a culture of minimalistic living, I have developed a deep appreciation for the principle of “less is more” while emphasizing the importance of quality. Renowned designers like Hans

Wegner and Arne Jacobsen have shaped our understanding of timeless design and superior craftsmanship. I have always aimed to infuse Houston with the essence of timeless design. While our collection now transcends Danish origins, it embraces pieces from Europe, North America, and Asia.

Jan Christiansen. Photo by Hall Puckett

It’s essential to listen to the client’s needs and preferences and use that as a foundation for creating a beautiful and personalized space.


JB: How have you managed to blend high quality and innovative designs in your modern and contemporary furniture store?

JC: Danish and European design often encompasses quality and innovation so it’s our job to find the best designs for the American market which does not go hand in hand with what Europe sells. Often the American market is a few years behind on trends and colors.

JB: When you started in the 1980’s what challenges have you faced in introducing your unique vision to the Texan design scene, and how did you overcome them?

JC: One of our challenges have always been the scale of European furniture. Not everyone gets it but thankfully the majority of our clientele are foreigners or Americans that have either lived overseas or are well traveled. The Texan hospitality is very different from Denmark, the openness and friendliness of Texans is a unique trait and something the world could learn from. As for the American dream I came to Houston in 1981 with a dream of becoming one of the leading modern contemporary showrooms in Houston and I feel after 40+ years in business that we’ve accomplished that even though it hasn’t always been easy.

JB: Could you highlight some of your most iconic designers you worked with, and the stories behind them?

Fritz Hansen, and Erik Jørgensen in the 80s, their high price points made it challenging for us to sustain our business. We chose to carry the Stressless brand, which remains a cherished part of our inventory. The longevity of their products has been impressive, making them a reliable choice for our customers. Their commitment to comfort and functionality has garnered a loyal customer base. We carry other great brands such as BDI USA and SKOVBY from Denmark, as well as Incanto and ALF from Italy. We strive to curate a collection that encompasses both iconic designers and reliable brands that deliver on quality aligned with our values.

JB: What role does craftsmanship play in your design selections, and how do you ensure the quality of your furnitures.

JC: Huge. We want every piece to have a story. We take pride in visiting factories to monitor and understand the manufacturing process, ensuring the high quality of the furniture we offer. Our history reflects our commitment to carrying reputable vendors and brands, and longevity has been a key service we provide. By carefully curating our selection and partnering with manufacturers who prioritize craftsmanship, we offer furniture that is durable and built to last.

JB: In what ways do you believe your designs have impacted the way Houstonians live and interact with their surroundings?

JC: Throughout the years, we have strived to make a positive impact on people’s lives through our focus on comfort, design, and functionality. We believe in the power of inspiration and encouraging individuals to explore unique ways of designing their spaces. Breaking away from conventional norms, we embrace the idea that not everything has to match perfectly in terms of color or furniture families. We champion the concept of eclecticism, where personal expression and individual preferences take center stage. It’s about creating a space that truly reflects your own tastes and desires. We firmly believe that designers should adapt to their clients’ wishes and work closely with them to bring their vision to life. It’s essential to listen to the client’s needs and preferences and use that as a foundation for creating a beautiful and personalized space.

JB: What is your interior design trend predictions for the future?

JC: Over the years, we have had the pleasure of collaborating with some iconic designers who have made a significant impact on the world of furniture and design. While we did bring over renowned designers like Hans Wegner,

JC: Interior design trends tend to evolve over time. Danish design has been appreciated for its timeless appeal. It’s likely that this style will continue to be popular in the future. As for future trends, sustainable and eco-friendly designs are expected to gain more prominence. People are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their choices, so incorporating ecofriendly materials and practices into interior design is likely to become more widespread.

Jan Christiansen (sitting) with Jannick Christiansen Photography by Hall Puckett





Art has emerged as an alternative investment in portfolios, capturing the interest of discerning collectors who are eager to diversify beyond a sluggish and erratic stock market. These collectors are keen on investing in contemporary artists whose artwork is reputedly experiencing a significant appreciation in value.

As an art adviser, dealer, and educator, I explain to collectors that the art market is like the Wild West: it is not regulated, lacks transparency and liquidity, is riddled with problems of authenticity and provenance, and is easily manipulated by a handful of wealthy dealers who create markets for the artists they represent, and who define the prevailing trends as to what is considered fashionable at any given moment.

Buyers must learn to trust what they see and not what they hear, and acquire artwork based on two criteria: do you love it, and can you afford it. It is paramount to do one’s

due diligence regarding authenticity, provenance, condition, and rightful ownership, and work with a trusted adviser and dealer. I have followed this philosophy when building my own personal collection, purchasing works that resonate deeply within me and sharing my passion with others.

I have learned to buck the trends of the art market and look for museum quality paintings by lesser-known artists whose names are gradually becoming familiar to the public. Paintings by these ‘Petits Maitres,’ or artists who worked with great 20th century masters such as Matisse, Monet and Sisley, and Utrillo, are reaching larger audiences around the world and increasing in value.

Who exactly are these artists and why is their work undervalued? It is important to recall that Paris was the cultural and artistic capital of the world from the end of the 19th century to roughly the beginning of WW II. Artists converged to Paris, many fleeing religious and

Maurice Brianchon (1899-1979)
Dancers Oil on board, 12x18.5 Pierre Dumont (1884-1936) Bouquet of Flowers , Oil on canvas, 20x26 in.
Raymond Thibesart (1874-1968), Santa Maria Raffalo, Italy , Oil on canvas, 20x24 in.

political persecution in Eastern Europe and Russia (Chagall, Soutine, Kandinsky), and arrived from Spain, Italy, and the U.S. (Picasso, Modigliani, William Merritt Chase) to study at the prestigious Académie Julien and spent their days copying the masters at the Louvre. Their evenings would be spent rubbing shoulders with fellow artists, writers, and musicians at the home of Gertrude Stein, with the cross- pollination of ideas continuing late into the night around the tables of “La Coupole” and “La Rotonde” in Montparnasse.

Prescient French dealers worked tirelessly to promote many of these painters, while collectors who were eager to be seen as the purveyors of the latest avantgarde trends, would acquire and hang their paintings salon style in their Parisian homes. Soon enough, important collectors from the U.S. would arrive in Paris and purchase paintings ‘in bulk’ to cover the walls of their grandiose mansions (Barnes, Frick, Mellon, Rockefeller). They were well advised and had the means to acquire exquisite collections, which they often donated to museums after their death.

Jean Patricot (1865-1926)

Young Woman Gazing out to Sea Oil on canvas, 11x16 in.

B e l o w : Jacques Henry Guyot, The Juggler , Oil on canvas, 21x26 in.

Moreover, the major Modernist movements such as Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Nabis, Fauvism, Cubism, and Symbolism emerged from the melting pot that was the City of Lights.

My ultimate goal in working with collectors is to provide guidance to those who want to acquire exceptional works commensurate with their budget. Collecting art is a labor of love, a passion that is exhilarating and that paves a way for a lifetime of pleasure and fulfillment. Paul Mellon, one of the greatest collectors in the world, said that collecting art was an attempt to preserve timelessly the bright vision of an instant and transform an object into part of oneself. He added: ‘I have never bought art as an investment, except as an investment in pleasure, as a treasure to the eye.’





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ArtPub is involved in the conception, development, and the production of fine art books. We collaborate with outstanding authors, artists, photographers, collectors, museums, and gallerists to create and produce exquisite publications conceived to reach your targeted audience. Custom publishing tailored to your needs 713-854-3758 WWW.ARTHOUSTONMAGAZINE.COM/BOOK-PUBLISHING © ©2021 ArtPub, a publishing division of ArtHouston, is dedicated to designing, producing and publishing books on contemporary art and photography. Get Your Book Published



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Randy Twaddle Russel Young Billy Hassell


I was in Switzerland when the sad news reached me. Our dear friend, the cherished artist and gallerist Wayne Gilbert, bade farewell to this realm in late August, creating an irreplaceable void within the vibrant tapestry of the Houston art scene.

Wayne Gilbert came alive while playing with the dead. His art emerged from a cherished fascination derived from the ambiguities of our tumultuous path from life to death.

Working with dead people, he created paintings made from funerary ashes, which fell somewhere between love and hate, and elicited reverence or revulsion.

There is no mistaking authorship of his paintings, they all bear the mark of his unique, and mystical vision. His work often encapsulated the complexities that define our human experience, presenting us with the chance to introspect upon the dichotomy of life and death, existence and oblivion.

Below, I wanted to share a fragment from an interview I had with Wayne, an excerpt that found its place within the inaugural edition of ArtHouston back in 2014. In his words and artistic revelations, his spirit shall forever reside, a testament to his enduring impact on the world he graced with his presence.

JOHN BERNHARD: You’ve said that life, to you, is a journey through the unknown. Can you explain how this relates to the nature of your work?

WAYNE GILBERT: Good question, but it’s really pretty simple. Let us take just a few examples of the moment’s reality:

yesterday in Houston a man killed seven of his family members, Donald Trump was embarrassing humankind with his egotistical arrogance and ignorance in the name of his money, another person was probably placed in a funeral home to be left behind, the super collider was zooming around embracing Higgs, a grand tiger was killed by a Neanderthal without any point that would sustain itself in this universe, it was 103 degrees outside, and on and on.

My perception is just one of approximately seven billion and it all seems to end up being some form of gross generalization based on the endless unknowns I mentioned. One of my favorite thoughts is, “If you wait for life to make sense, you’ll miss it.” As it relates to my work, it’s as mysterious to me as all of the comments above. I would imagine I share a common thread with most folks in the world, which means I couldn’t tell you why I am what I am and why I do what I do, I just make art.

JB: What’s your ultimate hope with the human aspect of your work?

WG: I would hope that someday it be acknowledged as legitimate art in the realm relegated to the museum world so it could be protected the way they protect great art. It would make my death far more comfortable knowing that the huge degree of love and respect I have for these less fortunate people will be safe and secure. If I was a betting man, I would bet that most of them never had the chance to live the grand life I have been fortunate enough to live.




During the summer, the Josh Pazda Hiram Butler gallery proudly showcased “945 Madison Avenue,” exhibiting New York photographer Bill Jacobson’s unique architectural photographs. Carefully curated, half of his thirty minimalistic images were displayed, portraying captivating angles, intricate details, and the essence of the iconic Marcel Breuer-designed building. These photos were taken during an interim period after the Whitney Museum’s departure, capturing its features and patinas generated by decades of visitors. Each photograph featured in the exhibition masterfully portrayed architectural elements, such as grand facades, stairs, intricate details, and captivating angles, creating an intriguing visual exploration of space.

Jacobson’s work reveals Breuer’s architectural essence even without artworks. The building’s history includes occupants like The Met Breuer and Frick Madison, and it was recently acquired by Sotheby’s. Jacobson’s images provide insight into its first life, embodying his forty-year exploration of visual perception, absence, and presence.

Bill Jacobson, 945 Madison Avenue (61) , 2015 Bill Jacobson, 945 Madison Avenue (35) , 2015
Bill Jacobson, 945 Madison Avenue (54) , 2015


The Menil Drawing Institute presented Si Lewen: The Parade an epic series of sixty-three drawings by the Polish-born artist Si Lewen (1918-2016). As an immigrant who had lived and worked in New York and Pennsylvania, he had witnessed the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945 while serving in the United States Army as part of the Ritchie Boys, an elite force of native German-speaking G.I.s.

In the 1950s, he published a cutting-edge graphic novel that directly responded to the horrors he experienced, and the exhibition featured the complete set of drawings created specifically for this book project.

Without a single written word, “The Parade” spoke to cycles of war, the seductive glory and pomp, followed by soldier enlistment, community deprivation, devastating destruction, death, and heartbreak. When the war ended, the cycle repeated. The artist was born during the final days of World War I; the armistice parades after that conflict, the rise of Nazism, and the brutal violence of World War II, all informed his haunting tale.

The exhibition showcased the journey of children and families making their way toward a celebration for the men who would soon be sent off to war. Over the course of the wordless narrative, Lewen explored the destruction and despair that took hold of communities as violence built and lives were lost.

The exhibition was the first in the United States to bring the complete set of works from “The Parade.” It was lent by the International Institute for Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which served as the lender for this presentation.


In the preceding summer, the Redbud Arts Center hosted a captivating exhibition showcasing the artistic endeavors of none other than Wayne Gilbert. Guided by an uncommon muse—mortality itself—Gilbert masterfully crafts paintings from the remnants of departed souls, blurring the boundaries between adoration and abhorrence, prompting profound contemplation or visceral reaction. As the audacious Russian-American painter Boris Lurie, once proclaimed, “Courage is the clandestine ingredient that imbues all art.”

In the persona of an Artistic Provocateur, Wayne Gilbert fearlessly confronts pertinent political and societal matters within his canvases, infusing them with an added layer of impact. He ingeniously amalgamates untended funerary ashes with a supple gel medium, deftly molding and arranging them with a palette knife to manifest his visionary concepts. He affirms, “These canvases may not align with conventional living room aesthetics,” a notion he embraces wholeheartedly, for his intention is to catalyze dialogues surrounding these pieces and their intrinsic messages.

At its core, his mission is to probe the enigma of art as it intertwines with human existence, and conversely, how humanity finds its reflection in the realm of artistry.

The discerning eye of the gallery curator meticulously combed through a cavernous 40-foot climate-controlled repository, cherry-picking an exquisite array of pieces to grace the exhibition—a true encapsulation of Gilbert’s lifelong artistic odyssey.

Wayne Gilbert, What’s Bugging the Old White Man. Oil, human remains, gel medium Si Lewen, The Parade, ca 1950. Crayon, ink, paint and graphite on board, 12x18 in. ©International Institute for Restorative Practices


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Houston’s Northside. My parents are of Guatemalan and Puerto Rican descent, and I was the first in my family to attend college and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. My passion derives from my love and interest in the arts, which stems from after-school programs I attended as a youth. These experiences provided the drive to build community via the Arts and the decision to establish the Texas Salsa Congress (TSC). The TSC has ranked along some of the oldest Salsa Congress founded in the United States and one of the first to be solely produced and owned by a woman. This organization has brought Grammy-nominated musical artists, dancers, and performers from across the globe to Houston, Texas. In addition, the TSC focuses on highlighting all our local and regional talent from Houston & Texas.

Thematically, what is your work usually about?

My work is creative placemaking in Houston includes activation in spaces that the community may not think to have salsa music and dance to ensuring our events are hosted throughout Houston’s neighborhoods. We want to create space, provide access and add salsa to as many Houston zip codes as possible.

As an organization, the Texas Salsa Congress has spent more than a decade helping create partnerships and establishing events in Houston and its surrounding communities that are open to the public and designed specifically to highlight both local and world-renowned dancers, performers, musicians, and DJs. The Texas Salsa Congress curates a variety of music and dance events throughout Houston for all ages. The Texas Salsa Congress is best known for producing seasonal weekly events such as Latin Beats at the Downtown Aquarium and its yearly Salsa music and dance event in March. These events have been produced for more than a decade and are open to the public and all ages.

Creating space for community and culture is one of our missions and I personally find it rewarding to bring joy via dance and music especially after the Covid pandemic stopped so many from gathering for years.

What recent projects are you most proud of?

I have been honored and bestowed with a City Proclamation declaring August 4th “Salsa Appreciation Day.” The TSC, as an organization, also received a City Proclamation declaring March 14th “Texas Salsa Congress Day” for Houston, Texas. In 2022, Stages & Sin Muros LatinX theater festival awarded me the Puente Prize for

contributing to the LatinX Arts community.

One of the most recent projects I am most proud of is being selected for a Powered by Fresh Arts -Space Taking Artists Residency in 2023. This Artist Residency provided the Texas Salsa Congress an opportunity to curate never-before TSC programming that highlighted collaborations with dancers, painters, musicians, poets, and DJs. During the residency, the TSC created programs such as Salsa at Sunset (an outdoor live music concert), Sip and Salsa, and Six Degrees of Salsa Separation. It was an honor to program events for Houston and showcase various artists that represent our diverse art community.

Why do you create art?

I started as a dancer, performing at several salsa events across the United States. I realized the joy of teaching salsa and have been teaching Salsa to Houstonians since the early 2000s. Initially, as a dance instructor, I did not see it as creating art. However, over time, I did accept that teaching and helping others to learn to dance is a form of art. Witnessing novice students transform and learn to dance their hearts away with skill and grace has been a beautiful creative outlet for me. My art can be seen through the hundreds of people I have taught over the years. I have seen former students become amazing social dancers, performers, and fellow dance instructors.

I create art because it creates a cycle of joy, healing, community, and culture.


Anything else you wish to add?

Houston is known worldwide for events like the Houston LiveStock Show and Rodeo to being the home to Beyonce. Everything is bigger in Texas is one of our state’s mottos. The diverse and growing artist community in Houston is in a new chapter and it’s exciting to see our city being known for our artist’s community and contributions.

Fresh Arts is one of the organizations that supports artists in Houston with resources and development. The Texas Salsa Congress was able to survive the pandemic as an organization and has been provided opportunities with the help of Fresh Arts. It’s refreshing and we are grateful to have Fresh Arts as a “dance partner” and a champion for many in Houston.

Above: Rivera Post Houston Event Right: Rivera March TSC Left: Ruby Rivera All photos courtesy of FreshArts

Embracing Our Cultural Heritage


any young parents underestimate the true essence of education, perceiving it merely as imparting knowledge through school lessons. However, education goes beyond that; it should also instill values, respect, and manners in children. Often overlooked is the fact that culture and traditions are integral parts of education, deeply rooted in our history.

In “Mi Sangre,” his newly released book, Roj Rodriguez invites us on a captivating visual odyssey, as he embarks on a quest to reconnect with his Mexican heritage. Through his poignant exploration, Rodriguez reveals a profound appreciation for the vital role that culture and play in education, firmly anchored in the depths of our historical roots. Rodriguez’s work breathes life into his own “México

Profundo” (Mexico’s Deepness). Through captivating images, he celebrates the everyday aspects of Mexican culture and popular iconography, both in Mexico and among Mexican Americans.

Roj Rodriguez’s portraits are not mere technical achievements; they reflect his personal connection with the subjects. He delves intimately into their lives, portraying their true characters. His photographs serve as an interaction with the moment and what is shared between photographer and subject.

“Mi Sangre” encompasses Rodriguez’s exploration of Mexican American communities that have thrived in the United States for generations, predating the US/Mexico border. These communities have made indelible marks,

Roj Rodriguez Rodolfo con gallo, 2006

becoming an integral part of our country’s cultural fabric. Simultaneously, Rodriguez visits the regions in Mexico that hold his family roots, capturing powerful stories and imagery from his own childhood and documenting his family’s legacy. The photographs depict hardworking individuals of all ages, their endurance, celebrations, and most importantly, their pride. Through his work, Rodriguez offers a profound understanding beyond his own cultural background.

The exceptional “Mi Sangre” series has earned accolades from prestigious institutions, including The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The San Antonio Museum of Art, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, The National Museum

of Mexican Art in Chicago, The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, and The Wittliff Collections in San Marcos, TX. These esteemed establishments have recognized the profound impact of the series, showcasing its remarkable artistic and cultural significance.

Rodriguez’s work transcends cultural boundaries, appealing to anyone seeking a positive human experience that resonates across different backgrounds.

Yet, Rodriguez’ work has a universal appeal. It grabs the attention of those of us who want to share a positive human experience that reaches across cultural sensibilities, and unites us all.

“ This journey has given me a deeper appreciation and respect for other cultures, as well as a profound understanding of the immigrant experience. ”
Roj Rodriguez, Arbol de cactus, 2006











ArtHouston is published semi-annually by ArtHouston Magazine, LLC. Printed in Mexico. ©Copyright 2022. All right reserved. The entire contents of ArtHouston may not be reproduced in any matter, either in part or in whole, without written permission from the publisher. In addition, the artists within hold copyrights on their images and essays. Any use of or copying of their works without their written permission is in violation of the copyright law. ArtHouston Magazine, LLC. is not responsible in any way for mispellings, omissions, incorrect phone numbers or addresses. Unsolicited manuscripts, and other materials must be accompanied by postage and a self-addressed return envelope. ArtHouston is not responsible for unsolicited submissions. Address all correspondence to: ArtHouston Magazine, 9114 N. Allegro St. Houston, TX 77080.

now available free for digital download! Collect, and get inspired. Order your print back issue for $8.95 + shipping

Arthur Demicheli is a freelance copywriter and photographer from New York who has worked in the marketing, advertising, and publishing industries since 1992. Recently, Arthur has been a dynamic part of ArtHouston’s team. He holds an MA in Humanities from the University of Geneva. He is an avid fan of art, film, and photography history.

Michael Sean

Michael Sean Kirby is a Houston based sculptor, writer, and educator. He received a master’s degree, with honors in sculpture, from the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City. His work is included in the city of Houston’s Civic Art Collection and is permanently on view at the Houston Hobby Airport.

Holly Beretto


Holly Beretto is a Houston-based freelance writer who, for nearly 20 years, has covered the arts and interesting personalities for CultureMap, Houstonia and, among others. When she’s not at the theater, you’ll find her reading spy thrillers, enjoying wine and tiki cocktails, and spending time with her husband.

Holly Walrath is a freelance editor and the Associate Director of Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin for her B.A. in English and the University of Denver for her M.L.A in Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Pulp Literature, The Vestal Review, and Spider Road Press.


Sabrina Bernhard is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, where she received a BA in International Relations and in French. She is working with ArtHouston to fulfill her passion for the arts, while further developing Houston’s admirable cross-cultural reputation. Sabrina is passionate about travelling, contemporary arts, la Francophonie, music, and culture.

Hall Puckett


Nathan Lindstrom is a commercial portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Houston with clients from all over the world. Having grown up in Iowa and lived in Argentina and Spain, Lindstrom draws on his experiences for inspiration. His work was included in two shows during the last FotoFest exhibition. Lindstrom has a studio in Silver Street Studios and lives with his wife and their dog, Kirby.


Hall Puckett is a photographer based in Houston. Early on when friends and family asked him what he was going to do with a major in psychology and a minor in photography his response was “I guess I’ll just have to take pictures of crazy people!” Funny how things work out. He currently lives off the north loop in a “transitional neighborhood” with his wife, two rescue dogs, and a cat named Lalo.

Carole Pinto received her B.A. in Architecture and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania followed by and M.B.A. from Columbia University. She did curatorial work at the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums, Corporate Finance at Salomon Brothers, and helped establish the Art Investment Department at Sothebys. She currently works as a private dealer, adviser, journalist and educator in the art market.


An art venture capital investor, former faculty Professor of Marketing at the Universidad Anahuac Mexico City. Member of the Latino Advisory Committee at the MFAH. While eschewing what he describes as “Latino Art is not Latin-American Art”, he is a maverick of “Latino and Chicano Art an underrepresented american style”.

Nathan Lindstrom William Hanhausen Sabrina Bernhard WRITER Carole Pinto Arthur Demicheli WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER Kirby WRITER, SCULPTOR, EDUCATOR
Holly Walrath EDITOR, WRITER

editor’s pick Simone Leigh

Coming to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this fall: Simone Leigh’s towering, 24-foot-high Satellite (2022), an edition for Houston of the artist’s signature work from the 59th Venice Biennale, will be installed in front of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art in October. Rendering created for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston by Katie O’Hara.
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