PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston_April_2021

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Page 75 of 99

W hile COVID impacted Art League Houston's T e x a s A r t i s t o f t h e Year Gala last fall, a virtual event ensued in October 2020, with big- hearted supporters stepping up to guarantee the bottom line matched that of benefits in years past. Patron honorees and collectors Mary and Bernie Arocha, were joined by two 58 talents matched for our challenging times: Project Row Houses co- founder Rick Lowe, lauded as Texas Artist of the Year, and the pioneering activist/feminist Celia Álvarez Muñoz, recognized for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. With sensitivity to the pandemic's attendance limitations, Art League sagely extended both accompanying exhibitions; catch them through April 24 ( The accompanying catalogs ($50 each) are must-acquires, bearing essays and images illuminating the arcs of Lowe's and Muñoz's practices. Rick Lowe's vision as co-founder of Project Row Houses has kept a vital section of the Third Ward intact, serving as a beacon of art and community seen around the world — one that has fostered other examples of urban renewal. Row Houses was founded in a scrappy way in 1993 as a modest row of reclaimed historic shotgun houses, with a band of committed artists and neighborhood volunteers doing the labor. I first covered the project in 1998, as the art editor of the equally scrappy Public News. PaperCity was tapped over the years as media sponsor for countless Row Houses home-grown galas — and some of my personal favorite fêtes to cover, taking place either outside among the Row Houses or in the Eldorado Ballroom, a venue steeped in the history of jazz and blues greats. Lowe returned to his art studio after a quarter century as leader of Row Houses, and began exhibiting with representation by Hiram Butler Gallery. The resulting paintings and drawings now on view at Art League are both painterly and conceptual, embodying his vision of social practice via abstractions of the game of dominoes, which he has played countless places around the globe but most often around a modest card table with locals. Seeing a room of THE ROAD TO ROW HOUSES + A LIFETIME ON THE EDGE Art League Houston taps a MacArthur Genius as honoree: the man who made Third Ward a shining emblem of art and community. Plus, a pioneering Latina gets her due. CATHERINE D. ANSPON REPORTS. ERNESTO LEON COURTESY THE ARTIST Celia Álvarez Muñoz's Petrócoatl (detail), 1992 (Continued on page 74)

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