For this year’s heART of Huntsville, we kicked off our first week as usual with a campus art tour! This year was somewhat different, however, in that we had many more SHSU people represented: Dr. Roseanne Keathley, Sammie Halley, Kerry Berry, Dr. Kathy Adair, Kim Childress, and Cathi Gillette all joined us for the four weeks. We also had some return guests, such as Cathy Kowart and Belia Aguayo join us from previous years.
Our group of around 35 people met at 6pm in the SHSU art department, and we all started our first evening off with a short quiz to determine how much we knew about art before we began our four weeks of learning about all the art that Huntsville has to offer.
After we turned in our quizzes, we began our tour in the Gaddis Geeslin Gallery. The gallery coordinator Ms. Mindi Gandara gave us a brief explanation of the pieces on display and the artists that created them.
Most interesting to me were the paintings by Reverend Johnnie Swearingen, because I remembered that some of his other works are on display at The Wynne Home which just so happens to be the location of our final week of heART of Huntsville, and where I interned during the spring of 2017.
After experiencing what the gallery had to offer, we made our way across campus and stopped at our school’s newest art installation.
As we paused under the 21-foot tall statue of the Raven, Houston-area artist and our guest of honor for the evening Mr. Ed Wilson gave a brief talk about the piece and what it took for him to create it. Mr. Wilson specializes in metal sculpture and is able to easily make metals seamlessly meld together in some areas or overlap to create texture in others, as is evident from the Raven sculpture.
Not everyone knows the significance of the Raven as a part of Sam Houston State University’s history, but Sam Houston earned his nickname of “Colonneh,” or “The Raven” during his time living among the Cherokee nation.
Our next stop was the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. The Center is home to a variety of pieces by many different artists. The most easily noticeable is the hanging sculpture by James Surls. His 16 foot sculpture is made of metal and wood, and hangs from the ceiling of the Performing Arts Center. Our tour guide Professor Yawn told the group that the sculpture sometimes doesn’t get dusted because the janitorial crew aren’t quite sure how to get up there to do it. Opposite the door where the James Surls piece hangs sits a sculpture done by Jesus Moroles who when he was alive specialized in granite sculpture. Both Moroles and Surls are artists that I learned about during my time at the Wynne Home, and they each have pieces all across the nation. There are also nice pieces by Charles Pebworth (who is also represented at the Wynne Home)…
…and Jason Lawson, who does some amazing work with glass.
SHSU is lucky to have some of their incredible works to call its own.
After a tour of the Gaertner Performing Arts Center, our group made its way over to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences building where we had a buffet-style meal laid out. Dinner was a mix of Latin and Asian foods like black bean pico de gallo and egg rolls with sweet and sour sauce. We all grabbed plates and took our seats in the conference-room-turned-dining-hall to listen to Mr. Wilson give a brief talk. He gave an overview of his career and other works that he’s completed, such as the giant mobile he was commissioned to create for the inside of the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.
It hangs from the 94-foot ceiling and had a special color-changing light display created for it.
Everyone in attendance seemed very interested in what Mr. Wilson had to say, and there were plenty of questions for him. When it was over, the LEAP Ambassadors offered the evening’s participants rides back to their cars across campus. After everyone was dropped off safe and sound, we headed home.