<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Creative risk

Consider the Museum of Fine Arts. The public really [doesn’t] want them to goof. They cost too much. They’re too big. They spend too much money for failure. It’s like having NASA fail: You don’t want failures of that magnitude. They don’t want to do a show and have the public say it’s a dog. They want to do shows the public [says]are great! Well, can you imagine where Dow Chemical would be without their laboratory? I mean—think about it—they have to have that lab. Lawndale was a lab. That’s basically what it was. There were some things being tested over there. There was also a very significant failure rate. You know, regardless of how much I appreciated something or liked doing everything we did over there, they didn’t all work. Some were bombs. I think you have to be able to do that. You have to have a place where you can take chances and run risks and if the test tube blows up, you simply say, “Shit. We learned.”

Art as curriculum

I think art should be one third of the curriculum in public schools. That’s a major statement, not a lightweight thing. I don’t say that offhand. Art, philosophy and science: That’s what we should be teaching. Art is the ugly stepchild to universities. We just are. And the reason that music is elevated is that they have their symphony hall. The reason that theater can be successful is they have their [venue]. Is it a good one? Damn right it’s a good one. Architecture, hey, they go and get Philip Johnson to build them a grandiose thing. Artists at one time had some kind of place. There was a place for them in the community and in society—and I don’t necessarily know where or what that is anymore. When the University did not embrace Lawndale to the point that they kept it and used it and developed it, I thought that was a tragic mistake. On their part, as far as I’m concerned, they goofed. That’s a big goof.

The road not taken is as important as the road taken. The reality is that Lawndale ultimately got kind of shoved to the streets. The students were the lifeblood. The Art Guys

The Art Guys, Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, are a Houston-based collaborative team employing unconventional media and humor to explore serious contemporary issues. The duo has worked together since 1983 after meeting as students at the University of Houston.
came through that venue. Sharon Kopriva
Sharon Kopriva, b. 1948. A Houston Heights-born sculptor educated at the University of Houston (BS in Art Education, 1970; MFA in painting, 1981), Kopriva taught in Houston-area high schools for ten years prior to a full-time career in visual arts.
came through that venue. The person who’s teaching sculpture there now came through that venue. They got to make the leap. It’s like being shot out of a rocket, you know. Students don’t [typically] get to do that. They graduate, they get their MFA, they go do this or that; the first thing you know this life’s a drag and they end up being a banker or something. I don’t think universities help them in that professional transition. They’re not prepared to do that, and Lawndale did. Lawndale put those students in traffic. An enormous amount of traffic flowed right through their living room. They got to give the parties; they got to host events. They also got to work on them, which presented some problems for some of the other faculty because students would leave a class to come over and work on something. There were a few scrapes, but to tell you the truth, in the scope of things they were so minor. Lawndale was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I loved being there. I loved being involved. I loved doing what I did.

Then and now

[My wife] Charmaine and I came to Houston together in 1976 in a red Ford one-ton truck with two pink suitcases. I’d taught [previously]at SMU for seven years. We stayed at John and Wanda Alexander’s

John Alexander, b. 1945. Abstract artist and Beaumont, Texas, native who served as Assistant Professor of Art at University of Houston in the early 1970s.
place for about a month; I’m sure it seemed like six years to him. We became the thing that wouldn’t leave…those kind of permanent houseguests.

James Harithas

James Harithas: former Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, director; Corcoran director; Hunter College instructor; Syracuse Museum curator; and co-founder, with wife Ann Harithas, of the Art Car Museum and the Station Museum in Houston.
was my entrée into Houston. Jim Harithas is the one person I’ve ever met in my whole life who worked for a museum, and particularly a director, on any level. [He] walked into my studio in Dallas, looked and looked and said, “I really like this stuff. You want to do a show? Here’s the date.” In a sense, that had a whole lot to do with supporting art.

You can live as far out on the edge as you want to go, but it’s not really necessarily fair to take your family out on the edge with you. You can’t take your kids out there and turn them loose because now all of a sudden two worlds have to survive side-by-side, simultaneously. They have to coexist. I spent a lot of money [at Lawndale]. I didn’t go around telling people that, or complaining. I did it because I wanted to do it. I liked doing it. I thought it was important…to me and to the community. I think one of the things that made [Lawndale]successful back then was the fact that artists took responsibility for their own actions. They were willing to do things. They were willing to take responsibility for their own actions, and suffer the consequences. That’s what responsibility means.

As best I can tell, [today] there may be a bit more “laying in wait.” Kind of saying, “I can’t do this because…” or “I can’t do that because….” There are too many reasons why they can’t do something—and mostly they’re self-imposed. You’re not really supposed to consider what’s out there in terms of what you can and cannot do. You just do it and let the chips fall. If they do, you may get hurt. There’s a possibility you might get wounded—that’s what entrepreneurialism is, to tell you the truth. And guys who can—I mean, Texas, for goodness sake! Is this the wildcat state or what? Are we risk takers, or what? Are we willing to go out on a limb? There have been more rises and falls and busts in this state than probably anywhere in the world, and some guys do itand come back and do it two, or three or four more times. That’s not happening [in the visual arts] now—but it did.

James Surls was interviewed on August 29, 1997. You can listen to the interview here .

Questions & Answers

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
hi
Loga
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10526/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask