PaperCity Magazine

July 2014 - Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 39

THE SUPREME CONNECTOR N ative Houstonian Matt Johns is a connector of people and ideas. Dynamic and energetic, he cut his teeth at Artpace San Antonio before returning home to help shape the Blaffer Art Museum's efforts as director of external relations. With the launch of his latest project, Matter, Johns is now fulfilling the dream of running his own creative studio. His journey began during his junior year at Trinity University in San Antonio, when he enrolled in the study- abroad program to live in Spain. There, he developed a new perspective on life. "Living in Spain, I experienced the importance of work/live balance," he says. "People truly worked to live as opposed to living to work. I realized that embracing personal connections, enjoying life and being present were not a luxury but a requirement in the daily life of a Spaniard. So I changed my focus to dedicating my time to something I love and connecting with the world around me by contributing something significant to the cultural landscape." This new world view is what led him to Artpace. "That organization — one of the most important residencies in the world — gave me the opportunity to work alongside an extremely talented staff and some of the most important artists of our time." Johns left San Antonio to return to Houston to help redefine the public image of the Blaffer. "I wanted its image to reflect the incredible curatorial and programmatic efforts of the museum," he says. "Blaffer has one of the most exciting curatorial programs in town and is constantly looking to push boundaries and explore our position in the art world. I was hired to help launch this new image in preparation for Blaffer's grand reopening [September 2012] after a significant remodel that really was a game changer for the organization." Guided by the same philosophies he developed at Artpace and the Blaffer, Johns' newest venture specializes in experiential design and image management. "Matter works with creative innovators to design experiences like events, pop-up shops and temporary installations that help them connect with audiences in a meaningful way," he says. "To cut through the noise of the digital age and genuinely connect with individuals, you must provide an experience that brings people together, stimulates all five human senses and tells a story about your brand." Watch for Matter's new website,, to launch early this month. Steven Hempel "I FIND FULFILLMENT IN DESIGNING EXPERIENCES AND HELPING CREATIVE INNOVATORS TELL THEIR STORY AND CONNECT WITH AUDIENCES IN A MEANINGFUL WAY." — MATT JOHNS Matt Johns SALTED HONEY, A WOMAN OF METAL "THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT MEETING THE PERSON WHO MADE THE PIECE OF JEWELRY YOU LOVE AND WEAR EVERYDAY. THE IMPERFECTIONS IN EACH PIECE ARE SOMETHING A MACHINE CAN'T REPLICATE." — YVETTE CORTEZ F ascinated by gemstones since childhood, Yvette Cortez took a leap of faith by turning to jewelry as a full-time occupation. As the artist behind jewelry line Sal Miel, she crafts distinctive body ornaments by hand. But working in the arts and achieving commercial success are two very different animals. A love of fashion drew the native Houstonian to New York City in 2010. "I had a great opportunity and dropped everything to be a part of a city that truly inspired me," she says. "In New York, you've got to be doing what you love to do, or you'll end up miserable and cold. It helped put everything in perspective; I knew I didn't want to work for people who didn't value me as anything more than a number. I learned the value of a minute, a penny, my family and my friendships. Things don't always go as planned, but you have to take every hit or miss as an opportunity to make you stronger and work harder." She returned to Houston to focus on creating her brand. "Participating in Design Fair and Pop Shop Houston helped me realize I had enough support here to take it to the next level," she says. "I feel proud to be born and raised in a city so diverse and accepting. It doesn't matter who you are or who you know or what you do. As long as you're doing what makes you happy, people take notice." In a world dominated by mass production, human intervention and a loving, sometimes forceful touch make Cortez's work unique. "With the advancement of technology," she says, "people have undervalued human interaction and handmade goods. There is something special about meeting the person who made the piece of jewelry you love and wear everyday. The imperfections are something a machine can't replicate." Cortez works with local retailers, but much of her success comes from taking her work on the road and participating in local markets and workshops to teach others about her craft. "I have a big-picture plan, but it takes a lot of small goals to get there," she says. "I like to do markets in different cities. I would love to one day expand beyond jewelry — I want to be worldwide like Beyoncé." For now, her Sal Miel jewelry, priced $30 to $250, can be found locally at Myth + Symbol and Space Montrose, and online at Steven Hempel Yvette Cortez

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - July 2014 - Houston