Far Out with the Far East

The mission of the LEAP Center is to provide unique learning opportunities and implicit in this mission is the idea of learning about new cultures and disciplines.  Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary learning were certainly central to our Houston “Arts and Parks” tour.

We began our 2nd day of the trip with a visit to the Herrman Park Japanese Garden.

LEAP Ambassadors, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, LEAP Center, Hermann Park

We also marveled at an Isamu Noguchi residing in Ms. Moody’s guest room. Perhaps this recurring motif lead us to choose Azuma Sushi and Robata Grill for dinner.

We found this as a great opportunity for some of the students to try new things. For some of the LEAPsters, this was their first time to try sushi. We ordered an array of sushi rolls, noodles, and other traditional Japanese plates so that everyone would have a chance to fulfill their culinary curiosity.

More curiously, it was Makayla Mason’s first time to try ribs.  We all ignored the fact that this Texas life-long resident had never had one of the state’s most iconic meals and recognized her adventurous accomplishment.

Empowered by this adventurous spirt, we took a drive down Houston’s still-roaring roads to visit the Houston Police Officer’s Memorial. Designed by Jesus Moroles, the memorial resembles a Mezo-American pyramid with its geometric outline and elevating levels. Rising in the middle the field, the structure commemorates the lives of fallen Houston police officers. Under the twinkling skyline of the city, we climbed the memorial to get a better view of the mesmerizing vista.

Jesus Moroles, Police Memorial, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU

Such added adventures made for a late night, but with rain in the forecast, we were promised a late morning start, allowing us to get ready for a continuation of our multi-cultural adventure.

___________________________________________

Continuing a Cultural Adventure, Kaitlyn Tyra

Well rested and eager to leap into the day’s adventures, LEAP Ambassadors embarked on the final leg of our Houston Arts and Parks Tour. To begin our day, we drove to the Asia Society Texas Center. Established in Houston with the help of former First Lady Barbara Bush, the center provides community engagement for Houston residents of Asian heritage and those wanting to learn more about the culture.

Before entering the art gallery, we admired the architecture of Yoshio Taniguchi, a Japanese architect, and learned about the design.

The Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU

Both inside and outside, Professor Yawn emphasized the horizontal lines traditional to that of Asian architecture while the building’s vertical lines incorporated American design into the structure. This was designed by Taniguchi to bind the American and Asian cultures together.

The first floor of the Asia Society houses a café, theatre, and art gallery. The gallery included numerous paintings by . Born in India, he earned his Masters in Fine Arts from Indiana University and now teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Majumdar created works of abstraction. But unlike other artists specialized in this discipline, Majumdar depicts the convergence of cultures through his art work.

 

The Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU, Sangram MajumdarA prevalent motif is also theatre, as he has experience in this profession and uses it as inspiration. His paintings allude to this trade, and depict images of performers getting ready for a play or the proscenium of a theater.

Craving a more realistic representation of theatre, we entered the Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater, adjacent to Majumdar’s art work. With walls lined with cherry wood panels and seats designed by Poltrona Frau, leather seat maker for Maserati and Ferrari, the acoustically rich theatre was spared no expense in order to achieve an excellent viewing experience. We had a chance to play around on the front stage and bounce on its Appalachian white oak floors.

SHSU, Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU

And even though the ever present use of wood in the building’s walls and floors is an aesthetic pleasure, nothing compares to the beauty of the artwork we were about to see.

Upstairs in the Sarofirm Gallery, we had the opportunity to learn about modern Japanese bamboo art. A new form of art for many of the LEAP Ambassadors, we were amazed by the craftsmanship in every piece.

Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU, Bamboo Art

These artists, some of which come from families dedicated to this craft for generations, have mastered the technique to shape bamboo into whatever form they please.

The process requires a developed taste for perfection and a precision to delicately weave one of nature’s strongest natural substances.

 

Interestingly, many of these pieces had a functional purpose. For example, one of the artists made his piece so that it could function as a fruit bowl, while another crafted the bamboo to use it as a vase.

Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU, Bamboo Art

It left us with much to ponder.

Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU, Bamboo Art

It also capped off the Asian theme of our trip.  Having seen work by Naguchi, visited the Japanese Gardens, eaten at an Asian restaurant, we now had an extensive exploration of Asian art and architecture. It wouldn’t be our last exploration of the trip, but it was one of our most fulfilling!

Asia Society, Houston, LEAP Center, SHSU, Bamboo Art

 

Houston’s Arts & Parks–Arts Edition!

Moody Gallery, By Bianca Saliderna

Following a vigorous morning at the park, we headed to one of the more than 60 art galleries in the Houston area, the Moody Art Gallery, where a special tour waited for us. As we took our first step into the gallery, Betty Moody, the owner of the gallery, was quick to give us a warm welcome to her very special art venue.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

As the tour began, we learned that approximately 42 years ago Ms. Moody and her husband, Bill Steffy, embarked on a journey when they decided to acquire a property and open their very own art gallery. Over the decades of dealing art for accomplished artists, she has built a good reputation and now deals artworks by Arthur Turner, Jim Love, Terry Allen, Mary McCleary, and Luis Jimenez, to name just a few.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Luis Jimenez

Her knowledge and passion have led her to not choose art because of a simple trend, but to choose it because of the meaning and the story behind the piece.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

Through viewing some of the most attention-grabbing art in her collection, we discovered that each person interpreted each piece differently and that, although dissimilar, they could all be representations intended by the artist.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Mary McCleary

One of the pieces that Ms. Moody focused on was Snow Vanitas, a mixed media collage by the local artist Mary McCleary. From a distance, it seemed like a simple piece, however, the illusions created by different elements including plastic, paint, wire, and wood, created a stunning result. Additionally, each of her three-dimensional collages have a story to tell and are created to leave an impact.

It was a learning experience in every way.  We learned archiving methods…

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

…strategies for displaying art pieces…

…the stories behind unusual art…

…and even how to use a rolodex!

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts
To continue with our learning adventure, Betty Moody gave us a tour of her own home, located a wall behind the art gallery.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

There, she showed us some of her most precious and sentimental pieces she owns.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

Decorated with Pre-Colombian art as well as modern pieces by Randy Twaddle, Robert Rauschenberg, Luis Jimenez, and the like, the room was a beautiful embodiment of art. Embedded in her book shelves were not only a trove of books, but also a Campbell’s Soup can signed by Andy Warhol!

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Andy Warhol

We also had the chance to see a Picasso on her kitchen shelf!

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Picasso

Ms. Moody’s home could easily be used as an art museum.

Although we are certain that these were highly valuable to Ms. Moody, without a doubt her most treasured objects where Bill Steffy’s visually attractive works. As a sculptor and jeweler, he incorporated silver and materials like turquoise to give each piece a unique appearance. Surprisingly enough, what appeared to be a bird sculpture, was a jewelry box, which with the click of a button released a stunning pendant from its wing.  It was one of our favorite pieces in the entire collection.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Bill Steffy
Photo from Houston Chronicle

There is no doubt varied talents are well exhibited at the Moody Art Gallery. Betty Moody gave us an unforgettable tour that went beyond our expectations.

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts

The LEAP Ambassadors will treasure this unprecedented experience.

ecious and sentimental pieces she owns.

Thanks to Ms. Moody’s intimate relationship with art and her generosity in sharing, we experienced a semester’s worth of art learning in one afternoon–while spending time with a delightful business owner and lady!

Betty Moody, Moody Art Gallery, SHSU, LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, Houston Arts, Helen Altman

 

 

Highlighting Our Purpose on Founders Day

The Ambassadors are back together again! On April 22, 2017, the Ambassadors met atSHSU for a day full of presentations to learn more about the University on Founder’s Day.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

The day began with a presentation about the new Osteopathic Medicine Program at SHSU. University officials plan to build the medical center in Montgomery County. President Hoyt began her discussion, however, by introducing the Austin Interns….

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

…before discussing her belief in this new Osteopathic program its capacity for stimulating growth at SHSU and meeting crucial medical needs in our region.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program, President Dana Hoyt

The newly hired Dean of the Osteopathic College, Dr. Charles Henley, also joined the conversation.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program, Dr. Charles Henley

He spoke about how Texas is in need of more medical students, and why SHSU can efficiently train such students, meeting the needs of the state. Noting that the program would be 100 percent self-funded, Dr. Charles did a great job at explaining the academic side of the college and how the program would work for future students.

After the program, Dr. Hoyt spent time with the LEAP Ambassadors…

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

…discussing the Osteopathic program more, and also the goings-on in Austin.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

Next, we attended the Golden Circle Luncheon, where SHSU Alumni who graduated in 1967 or earlier gathered for lunch–alongside other alumni who were attending Founders Day.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston AustiLEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program Internship Program, Golden Circle Alumni

We had the opportunity to talk to many wonderful alumni who talked to us about SHSU and their careers after college. It was a great experience for us, because we had the opportunity to talk to people who came from different career paths than what we are considering.  We even had the chance to see an alum who graduated before 1950!

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

As we enjoyed our conversations, the musical department provided some entertainment. The department offered a vivacious performance taken from their version of Hairspray. Viewing the comic choreography, where at one point the dancers invited guests to join them–including Mac Woodward.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

Following the Lunch, we headed to the Gaertner Performance Arts Center. There, we joined members of our community and presented the wonderful opportunities the Center for Law, Engagement, and Politics has to offer.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

The goal of our presentation was to inform community members of all the activities and subjects in which LEAP is involved.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

From visiting art museums around the country, to assisting local elected officials, to meeting intriguing authors, there is almost nothing a LEAP Ambassador would not participate in. As long as it promotes growth, education, and civic engagement, we will pursue any new experience.

LEAP Center, Center for Law Engagement And Politics, SHSU, Founders Day, Sam Houston Austin Internship Program

As we said goodbye to our guests, we all pondered on our accomplishments as an Ambassador and organization. With the Founder’s Day wrapping up, it was rewarding to consider our accomplishments as an appropriate way to honor our university.