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Museum Closes

Museum near downtown Houston suddenly closes, but legacy lives on

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Students at work during a Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston public art project. Courtesy of Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston
Reginald Adams
Reginald C. Adams Photo by Jeff Myers
Rhonda Adams
Rhonda Radford-Adams Courtesy photo/Facebook
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Reginald Adams
Rhonda Adams
Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston
Get Directions - 908 Wood Street, Houston

Despite Houston's philanthropic spirit, not all nonprofit entities are meant to last forever. The Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston, helmed by husband-and-wife team Rhonda Radford-Adams and Reginald C. Adams, announced on Monday that it would cease to exist the following day, bringing its 14 years of service to a close with only a one-day public notice.

The couple built MOCAH to be a catalyst for community building through interactive public art projects, outreach programs and professional development workshops. MOCAH, which was located in the Warehouse District on the north fringe of downtown Houston, has been responsible for installations that include a colorful mural composed out of jigsaw puzzle pieces for the Westview School, a mosaic for the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center, a mosaic caterpillar crafted for Buckboard Park in Greenspoint, an installation at a METRORail stop, mosaics for the Port of Houston and a mural for WorkSource Northside Center — among many others in low-income and historic neighborhoods.

"As we approach our 15th year of service to Houston we have decided to take the best practices of MOCAH, close this chapter of our work and wind down the organizational operations," the co-founders wrote in an email newsletter to supporters. "The legacy of MOCAH will continue to exist as long as the hundreds of projects and thousands of people that have been touched by MOCAH exist."

 "The legacy of MOCAH will continue to exist as long as the hundreds of projects and thousands of people that have been touched by MOCAH exist."

The news doesn't come as a surprise to arts aficionados who saw the activities of the institution dwindle in the past few months. As it is the case with art groups whose survival weighs heavily on their founders, a new path in the lives of leaders can close the book on even the most successful programs — particularly when the operational organization isn't strong enough to stand on its own.

As for Reginald Adams, his focus will shift to running a new 2,600-square-foot gallery in Vine Street Studios. The space, which he calls Reginald C. Adams, LLC, will display a photography collection of public art projects. An open house reception is set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2014.

Earlier this month, he was successful in raising more than $40,000 through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to underwrite the design and production of a glass tile mosaic in Midtown. As part of a citywide project dubbed Public Art Houston, his next endeavor is "to use Houston as a public gallery space" and display works that will "capture, embrace and celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the residents of Houston."

He did not immediately return a phone call request for comment.

While MOCAH, the institution, will call it quits, it appears that the essence of its mission will be carried through individual projects such as Public Art Houston. Rhonda Adams will continue her healing arts program.

Anyone who's ever worked for a nonprofit knows that the infrastructure required for compliance can often slow down implementation efforts. Perhaps this way, without accountability to a governing body of a board of directors, both artists can be more effective and more profitable in their ventures.

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