If there was one Houston creative who roused audiences to pay attention to light, it was Jeremy Choate. The light artist partnered with numerous dance, theater and multi-disciplinary masters to layer aesthetic elements that not only complemented their work but shifted the focus of how what happened on stage was viewed.
More than a national and internationally-recognized innovator, Choate was a humble, respectful, charming, quiet gent with a witty sense of humor who would call all women, no matter their age, ma'am. Whenever he arrived on the job, his 6-year-old and 8-year-old daughters would signal his presence with hugs and kisses for everyone.
Choate died Sunday afternoon.
"His work has been an integral part of the Houston Arts/Dance/Theater world and has extended far beyond the Texas borders."
He was the victim of a hit and run accident at around 9:15 p.m. Saturday, reports KHOU. Choate was on his motorcycle stopped at the intersection of the Katy Freeway feeder road and Studemont Street when a driver identifed as 25-year-old Shannon Garcia ran a red light and plowed her black Ford Fusion into him.
Before officers arrived on the scene, Garcia ran away from her vehicle and abandoned her passenger, who identified the driver.
The death of 33-year-old Choate leaves a void in the arts community.
"Jeremy had an uncanny ability to diffuse stressful situations," Louie Saletan, Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex managing director, says. "He was amazing at scanning any situation, he could identify who was getting too tight and bring a sense of peace and calmness. He was the father figure that let everyone know that things would be OK.
"He would work beyond his job description. If there was a need, he would just take care of it before anyone asked or noticed. Jeremy could get done in 30 minutes what others would take six hours to accomplish."
NobleMotion Dance co-artistic director Andy Noble credits Choate for helping the company emerge.
Next year, Noble plans to re-stage Splitting Night as an homage to his close friend, advocate and company volunteer.
"Jeremy discovered us, signed up to be on our board and made us better artists," says Noble, who is in the midst of preparing for Spitting Ether: A Reality Bending Dance (Aug. 31 to Sept. 8 at Barnevelder). The performance extends a work premiered last year, Splitting Night, in which NobleMotion not only collaborated with Choate but centered the piece around Choate's vision.
"With light designer David Deveau, Spitting Ether continues what we started with Jeremy," Noble explains. "As it's about someone going into surgery and moving on to another world, Jeremy's passing is surreal."
Noble says that if he were to die at a young age, he would wish for his work to be produced one more time. Next year, he plans to re-stage Splitting Night as an homage to his close friend, advocate and company volunteer.
"I want to do that for Jeremy, to bring to life his art — at least one more time," Noble explains.
Many comments on Facebook evince what those close to Choate thought of his character and work.
Fresh Arts executive director Jenni Rebecca Stephenson writes that her "heart is heavy with the loss of a great Houston artist taken from us all too soon." Photographer Lynn Lane posted that "the world lost one of the most amazing lighting artists and people that has ever graced this planet," and that "his work has been an integral part of the Houston Arts/Dance/Theater world and has extended far beyond the Texas borders."
It's expected that Choate's daughters will live with his ex-wife, with whom he shared custody. Details about his funeral service have not been announced.