During the four years since I hung out my shingle as a professional artist, I have benefited from the warm embrace of the artist community. By and large, these talented people share their knowledge of the business of art, their ideas, and suggestions—helping you to achieve your goals—both monetary and artistic. Although I started out as a photographer, being surrounded by creatives has inspired me to stretch creatively (and purchase more art supplies, but that’s another story).
Each year, more than 200 artists come together to donate their art to raise money to build affordable housing. The venue for this event has been Winter Street Studios. As most people know, this venue was torched by an arsonist who had a monetary disagreement with a single individual. The retaliatory act hurt more than 100 artists.
I belong to a small group of photographers who collectively spent the better part of $10K on an outdoor exhibition in the Houston Heights. Following the installation of the 40+ pieces, I was told that we might need to occasionally wash the street dirt from them to keep them looking presentable. I was concerned that the weather might damage them. Call me naive, but it never occurred to me that some of the work would be vandalized beyond repair. I’ve never understood how destroying art could bring a person some sort of sick joy.
In both of these instances, I’ve been lucky. I was able to retrieve my juried work from Winter Street Studios before the arson investigators arrived. The frames and matting were a loss, but not the artwork. Fortunately, my piece in the outdoor exhibition in the Heights was spared from the vandals’ handiwork. However, the destruction of art, especially the art of friends, sickens my soul. Some in the group had wanted to work on another outdoor exhibition, but they’re now reconsidering those plans.
To end on a positive note, yesterday (January 21), Fresh Arts, Houston Arts Alliance, Silver Street Capital, entertainers, food and beverage vendors, and countless artists, held a fundraiser to aid the many artists who were adversely impacted by the fire. The fundraiser started at 11:00 a.m., and when I poked my head in the venue at 11:15 a.m., I was pleased to see that it was already packed with people wanting to purchase art.
Hearing from so many people who said that they were there to support the artists healed a piece of my aching soul.