With health and safety policies in place, several of the institutions of the Museum District have reopened their doors, while simultaneously keeping their online programs and virtual galleries open. Houston art lovers now have the option of at-home or in-person viewing of some of the city’s world class art.
For those donning a mask and heading into those museums and galleries, July brings quite a few new shows and exhibitions in some of our favorite art spots. And for those preferring to art watch in the great outdoors, let’s just say Houston artists will give us a helping hand.
“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at the Museum of Fine Arts (now through August 30)
Chronicling the work of 60 Black artists from the ’60s through the early ’80s, the blockbuster exhibition could not be more powerful and timely. The revolution will be painted, sculpted, and photographed. Slated to arrive at the MFAH late spring, the pandemic locked down the show in San Fransisco. But as one of the first major art museums to open its door for social distancing art viewing, the MFAH was determined to welcome the show in Houston, just a little bit later than originally scheduled.
Visitors will also get an distinctly regional perspective on the art, cultural, and societal movement as Kanitra Fletcher, assistant curator, Modern and Contemporary Art has added a Houston section highlighting the work of sculptor Carroll Harris Simms and John Biggers who founded the art program at what is now Texas Southern University.
“The Souls of Black Folk" at Houston Museum of African American Culture (now through August 29)
Take a deeper dive into that local perspective with this new exhibition organized by the HMAAC and curated by museum CEO Emeritus John Guess, Jr. The show which spans both floors of the museum, includes works from such Texas and national greats as John Biggers, Rick Lowe, Floyd Newsum, Earlie Hudnall, Jamal Cyrus, Robert Pruitt, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Vicki Meek, Delita Martin, Kermit Oliver, Dominic Clay, Kaneem Smith, Danny Simmons, David McGee, Bert Long, Jr., Cedric Ingram, Michael Ray Charles, Carrie Mae Weems, and Alonzo Williams. The HMAAC stated theme of the exhibition says it all: “We are here and we are resilient with our complicated souls intact.”
"Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes" at Asia Society Texas Center (now through November 29)
This exhibition of magnificent bronze objects originally opened in late February, but closed soon afterwards with the rest of the Museum District. Now Houston gets a second chance to journey back 3000 years to gaze at these serving vessels, bells, spears, daggers, and mirrors from the Shang to the Han Dynasties (1600 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.). Bronze designs influenced other art forms in China, and the exhibition also features rare examples in jade, blue and white ceramics, and cloisonné ancient artworks.
“Summer Window Series: Ganzeer” at Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University (now through July 25)
The Moody Center has always been about bringing the light inside, so appropriately during these COVID times, they’ll bring art viewing outside with a series of original work from Texas artists for its west wall of windows facing College Way, just off Entrance 8 at Stockton Drive.
First up is internationally renowned Egyptian-born Texas artist Ganzeer and the piece It Takes a Village, depicting multicolored hands that together appear to hold up the building. Always championing conversations and wondrous collisions within art forms and between the arts and other disciplines, Moody will also present other artists in interaction with the Window Series. For “It Takes a Village,” local poet Outspoken Bean, will present an original poem before each of the wall panels, which will be archived on the Moody’s Youtube channel.
“Hands of Heroes” at Discovery Green
From a bit of green serenity during the stay at home order to the site of one of the largest Black Lives Matter whole community demonstrations in the nation, Discovery Green has become an enduring outdoor heart of downtown this year. Now Houston artist, Anat Ronen, gives a beauteous hand to the space with this new mural. A celebration of the many heroic hands of Houston, the piece can be found at the Jack C. Alexander Plaza, in front of The Grove restaurant.
Second Saturday at Sawyer Yards (July 11)
The monthly art viewing extravaganza at The Silos, Silver Street, Winter Street, Sabine Street, and Summer Street Studios reopens for summer. This all day opportunity gives art lovers the opportunity to wander socially distant through the open studios and/or amid the outdoor installations and temporary stations.
Now more than ever we can use some home art, and the event gives buyers and browsers a chance to meet and art talk with the artists. Several gallery exhibitions have recently opened so look for #New Reality an exhibition highlighting some of the artists of Silver Street studios, the Sawyer Yards campus-wide tenant show, 2020: Discovering Repeating Patterns, as well as new solo exhibitions from Joan Laughlin and Tommy Taylor.
Galveston ArtsWalk goes DIY
While the regular bi-quarterly Saturday evening art fun of gallery openings and live events has been cancelled for July, the ArtsWalk organizer, Galveston Arts Center, has just put a new Galveston Gallery Guide. The free map helps art lovers find the most up-to-date policies, hours, and locations to see and purchase original art in Galveston’s historic downtown area. The guide can be found at www.galvestonartscenter.org/ArtWalk and on printed map cards at participating locations throughout the city.
Proving themselves artistically versatile, some organizations not yet fully open are set to offer viewing by appointment. Lawndale will begin this practice July 9. Meanwhile, private galleries in town like Archway Gallery and are mounting new shows online while welcoming in-person visitors by appointment.