Local hidden art treasures

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The living room of Cherryhurst House displays a 3 dementional painting of motorcycle parts between rooms.

Emma Stout

“[[dropcap]A[/dropcap]rtists] look for projects that can dialogue within the Houston community but that can also dialogue in relevant issues outside of Houston,” said Cherryhurst House curator Barbara Levine. When we think of typical art cities, we think New York, Venice, or London; however, as Houston grows, its art scene grows with it. For those interested in enjoying Houston’s rich community of local artists’ work, there are over 100 spaces sprawled across the city. The Cherryhurst House, the Matchbox Gallery, and the Blaffer Art Museum are curating edgy and creative projects in a variety of unconventional spaces, from entire houses to closets.

Cherryhurst House is one of the newer spaces that has developed, following the recent growth of art in Houston. This 1920s bungalow is not characterized as a gallery, but as the renovated, private home of Dallas McNamara. Being the oldest house on Cherryhurst St., it was slated to be torn down and rebuilt, but Ms. McNamara, a documentary photographer, couldn’t bear the renovation plans; she bought the house, and started on her vision to convert the home into a work of art in 2012.

If you walk through Cherryhurst House, one’s focus is instantly directed towards the art, given the open floor plan and minimal furniture of the current exhibition. Billowing with trees and flowers in the front and back yard, the house’s intimate environment is more inviting than a typical gallery or museum.

Artists who approach the Cherryhurst House work with Mrs. McNamara, Ms. Levine, and co-curator Paige Ramey to find a project that is suited for the space. Ms. McNamara’s original goal for the Cherryhurst House was to “express her appreciation for the value of arts and culture in our lives by allowing for, creating space for, and supporting an artist,” Levine said.

Unlike typical galleries, the Cherryhurst House has an artist in residency program: the artist works with Cherryhurst House members to “[find] what would be a good fit for Cherryhurst house, what would be an interesting addition to the Houston community,” Levine said. They look for projects that can dialogue in the Houston communities and also relate to issues outside of Houston.

Current artist in residence, Heather Johnson, travelled by motorcycle throughout the Americas. She used photography, watercolor, and embroidery to portray domestic art forms throughout her journey. The Cherryhurst House allows artists to come and use the space to their advantage, to learn and to develop their work in a unique space unlike typical galleries. Johnson, for example, was looking to write on the walls, using paint to portray motorcycle gears across walls. “The house becomes their canvas,” said Levine. The exhibit can be viewed by appointment or during open hours, listed on their website: cherryhursthouse.com.

Similar to the intimate feel of the Cherryhurst House, Rice student-run Matchbox Gallery promotes new forms of creative craft and ironically, outside the box thinking. The cozy gallery is 1600 ft3 with room for just one artist; artists must apply to have their art shown at the gallery. It is open by appointment and the given showtimes on their website: matchbox.rice.edu.

Although it may take some exploring to find, the gallery is situated on the edge of a lovely secluded courtyard, just a minutes walk from the James Turrell Skyscape and Rice Coffeehouse. Matchbox Gallery is located in room 258, after entering into the Sewall Hall Sculpture courtyard at Rice. Often, you can find Rice art students sculpting outside in the red brick courtyard. 

Matchbox Gallery exhibits art from local Houston artists and Rice students. It’s current exhibition, “Best of Zine Fest Houston,” features locally designed magazines and posters that were exhibited at Zine Fest Houston.

Unlike the informal, homey environments of the Cherryhurst House and Matchbox Gallery, the Blaffer Art Museum evokes innovative thinking and provides a tabula rasa for the mind. As part of a public art program at the University of Houston, the Blaffer Art Museum was founded in 1966. Considering it has limited space with room for no more than two artists, the building has a contemporary and industrial outside with glass and concrete walls. The museum makes good use of the space by incorporating the building as part of the art.

Their current exhibitions include LA and New York artists, Analia Saban and Blake Rayne. Saban’s work uses monochromatic color schemes on a variety of mediums to portray her take on historic murder scenes. Similarly, Rayne uses a contemporary twist on multi media art and sculpture to represent his view on how art effects world issues.

Take a break from studying and go outside to explore new art; it is inspirational and opens your mind!