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Murals collide with national museum conference in Peter Marzio's communityservice vision
Houston boasts a surprisingly rich heritage of monumental murals — just look at the stairwell of the Julia Ideson Library or the hallways of Texas Southern University. Now, local residents have the opportunity to engage in this tradition during the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting & Museum Expo, which comes to Houston May 22 through May 25.
On the Saturday (May 21) before the conference kicks off at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the nascent Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) will host a community service project, in which all residents are invited to brandish a paint brush with the company of practicing local visual artists to create a series of murals.
On the cast list are such distinguished artists as labotanica's Jade Cooper, Manila-native painter Matt Manalo and Shannon Duckworth of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's Slide Jam! cred. Along with Toni Brione, Julian Kyle and Daniel Anguilu these artists have conceived a paint-by-number style mural design to be filled in together with volunteers on May 21 from 2 to 5 p.m.
The painting process is completely open — just RSVP by Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-353-1570.
Peter Marzio, the late director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is credited for jump starting the community service initiative, which will be the first event of its kind associated with an AAM conference.
"Marzio really was the impetus — he thought it would be a great way to showcase how Houston has world class museums, but still maintains a community aspect," AAM director of meetings and professional development Dean Phelus tells CultureMap.
Slated to open in late October or early November, the HMAAC was a logical choice to host the event, since the conference's theme is "The Museum of Tomorrow." Explains HMAAC CEO, John Guess, Jr., "We're redefining what it means to be a (African-American) museum. The old school model doesn't work, because nobody goes. You've got to get an audience."
Even without having yet opened its doors, HMAAC has organized lectures by Whitney Biennial participants and poet laureates, as well as a film series, a performance of The Vagina Monologues and a graphic arts students' senior exhibition.
"Everything we try to do at the museum is a gift to the city," says Guess, noting that the mural project will set a precedent for AAM conferences to come. Elaborates Phelus, "The plan is to continue the momentum that has been started here in Houston to do a community service project and demystify the world of museums to the local public.
The project was also arranged with the aid of the conference local host committee's public art and programming subcommittee, led by co-chairs Jonathan Glus, CEO of Houston Arts Alliance, and Claudia Schmuckli, director and chief curator of Blaffer Art Museum. Reflecting Houston's hallmark diversity, the murals will reside at such cultural hubs as the Blue Triangle Community Center in the Third Ward, the Chinese Community Center, the Julia C. Hester House in the Fifth Ward, the Jewish Community Center and the Ripley House Neighborhood Center.
The mural collaboration is just one of myriad opportunities for locals to get involved in the museum spectacular, from volunteering at the conference, attending special public sessions and contributing to the concurrent Museum of Broken Relationships exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum. To contribute memorabilia from failed trysts, visit BrokenShips.com and drop off your donation by Friday.