For the second official exhibition at its new facility on Caroline Street, the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is examining the inner workings of the human spirit with the help of two noted abstractionists who have maintained close working relationships with the arts organization in recent years.
According to the museum's curatorial statement on New Work by Danny Simmons and Andre Guichard, both artists created specific works for the joint show, exploring "the human impulse to relate to one another" and the manner in which these interpersonal connections help sustain social progress.
Over the course of a year, Simmons and Guichard each developed a series of deeply personal prints that examine the theme from two distinct vantage points — one purely abstract and one stopping short of figurative — culminating in a 30-piece exhibition currently on view as part of the 2012 PrintHouston festival.
"Danny has been a strong believer in our mission at the museum," said HMAAC curator Danielle Burns. "He immediately jumped at the idea of doing a printmaking show."
"Danny [Simmons] has been a strong believer in our mission at the museum," said HMAAC curator Danielle Burns on a recent tour of the show. "We'd discussed doing a number of different collaborative efforts and he immediately jumped at the idea of doing a printmaking show."
The older brother to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph "Run" Simmons of Run-DMC, Danny Simmons came of age as an artist in New York during the '80s downtown scene, the art of which greatly influenced the swirling abstract forms and bold palettes seen throughout his career.
"When he was working on this series, Danny told us he'd been obsessed with the color yellow, which eventually made its way into the pieces," Burns explained, motioning to a wall of canary-tinged images that harken back to works by Wifredo Lam, Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of who Simmons has noted as important points of reference for his current output.
Across the gallery and inside a smaller circular room near the museum entrance, Andre Guichard's series titled Shoulders of my Ancestors plays with three central motifs: the bird, the ladder and the human form. Grandson of 1930's New Orleans jazz musician Alfred Guichard, the self-taught artist has fused his love of music with a continued interest in the natural world to create a collection of heavily symbolic monoprints.
"Andre describes his process as being similar to a Polaroid photo," Burns said. "When he works, he likes to have only a loose idea of where to start, allowing the process itself to direct and breathe life into his art."
New Work by Danny Simmons and Andre Guichard is on display at HMAAC through Saturday.