Houston, Texas. A city I have been lucky to visit and engage with in recent years since the first conception of WOAH (West Oaks Art House) was born in early November 2011. As a first-time traveller, worldwide urban-dweller and self-professed city-junkie, Houston was one of those destinations where I really didn’t know what to expect, nor did I anticipate the incredibly diverse and enigmatic artist-driven energy existing within this vast metropolis.
There are certain places where you truly do feel a collective creative consciousness brewing, where you actually see experimentation happening outside of prevalent critical discourse; ecologies where artists, activists, institutions, and cutting-edge nonprofits are evolving together to create something unparalleled outside of white walls; where possibilities are being built and new spaces and trajectories are being excavated in the process. Art and a sense of community can be mistaken for those awkward moments when you continually run into the same semi-familiar sea of art goers at the so-and-so weekly choice art happening, usually with a crowd contingent and distinct to the venue itself: institution, gallery, or alterna-space. That’s not to say I myself don’t partially enjoy attending and maintaining aloof anonymity at each of these art happenings. But, my point is, in Houston, there is a cross-pollination bridging artist, museum curator, commercial gallery owner, critic, collector, nonprofit space, newcomer, and audience into one all-inclusive art community. As an out-of-towner, feelings of inferiority initially plagued my stag attendance to varied art events, only to be quickly eradicated by the instantaneous feeling of being a key player in this creative exchange and dialogue. I was welcomed with the feeling of being integral to the experimentation and innovation taking place within and beyond this city’s kunsthalle infrastructure –– brimming with artists, renowned institutions, and community-centric projects–– sheerly because I, too, was an artist with an idea in Houston.
With that said, I continue to be humbled to be included in the upcoming book project, Satellites and Socialists: On the Fringe of the Houston Arts, published in partnership with Temporary Art Review and edited by Founder of landmark Houston artist-run venue, Skydive Art Space, Sasha Dela. Through an anthology of essays, interviews, mission statements, and floorplans, the book focuses on Houston as a city enabling and sustaining a variety of creative endeavors, chronicling a group of local arts organizations, that through an economy of means taking unconventional forms, envision a more perfect connection to and relationship with place.1
Included in the book: Antena Books / John Pluecker / Jen Hofer, Aurora Picture Show / Andrea Grover, Art House Rules / Nancy Zastudil, Box 13, Galveston Artist Residency / Eric Schnell, Hear Our Houston / Carrie Schneider, Hello Lucky / Teresa O’Conner, The Kenmore / Emily Sloan, Mainstreaming the Militants / Raj Mankad, Many Mini Residency / Sarrita Hunn / Ryan Thayer, The Mitchell Center for the Arts / Karen Farber, Notsuoh / Dean Liscum, Phoenix Commotion / Robert Boyd, Project Row Houses / Rick Lowe, Rice Gallery / Josh Fischer, Roadsign USA / June Woest, Settlement Goods / Jenny Morgan, Shrimp Boat Projects / Eric Leshinsky / Zach Moser, Skydive Art Space / Sasha Dela, West Oaks Art House / Sharsten Plenge, Workshop Houston and more!
We’ll keep you posted on where to read-up on the varied spaces and entities shaping Houston’s unique artscape … Plus, you’ll want to pick-up a copy for a pair of the hand-crafted WOAH enhancement included with our textual contribution.
For more information, please contact Sasha Dela.