What is that single event/thing/place/food that represents the quintessential Houston to you? Whether you’re a Houstonian by birth or a recent transplant, America’s fourth largest city makes an impression. Join us for a story-telling panel discussion on the vernacular of Houston with guest speakers Nancy Ford, Stephen Fox, Alex “PR!MO” Luster, Robb Walsh, and Dan Workman. With stories ranging from culture, architecture, food, and music, panelists tell their “only in Houston” tales followed by a discussion and Q&A with the audience. Homespun: Houston Stories is held in conjunction with the group exhibition The Spectacular of Vernacular, on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston July 30-September 18, 2011.
Nancy Ford started her career as a “funny lesbian” years before Ellen DeGeneres made it cool. In addition to entertaining audiences as a nationally touring stand-up comic and musician, her insightful, award-winning column “What A World” has been published monthly by the gay press, without interruption, for more than 25 years. Her first book, a compilation of the “best of” those columns, is forthcoming. A Houston resident for 30 years, Ford is currently Senior Editor for OutSmart magazine, which she co-founded with Greg Jeu in 1994. Told with punch lines, Ford will discuss how Houston progressed from having an anti-gay “Straight Slate” seeking election to city council in 1985 to electing an open lesbian as its mayor in 2010.
Houston’s lack of zoning laws has certainly made for some interesting, if not disparate and ever evolving, landscape views. To explore some of these unique architectural choices, there is none better to accompany you than architectural historian Stephen Fox. Described by the Houston Chronicle as "a sort of unofficial collective conscience for the city…," Fox is a fellow of the Anchorage Foundation of Texas and is an adjunct lecturer in architecture at Rice University and the University of Houston.
Alex “PR!MO” Luster is a documentary filmmaker, Emmy award-winning television producer, and the creator of numerous digital media projects. Hailing from Houston, Alex’s creative projects touch on everything from sub-culture movements to musical groups and artists. His most recent project, Stick 'Em Up!, is a documentary about Houston's illegal street art scene and is currently in the film festival circuit.
Three-time James Beard Award winner Robb Walsh can usually be found at El Real, the new "vintage Tex-Mex" restaurant he opened with Chef Bryan Caswell. The eatery, located on Westheimer, is hard to miss with its three-story Tex-Mex neon sign. In addition to being a restaurateur, Walsh has worked as a commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, Sunday; as the restaurant critic at the Houston Press; as the editor of Chile Pepper Magazine; and as the food columnist for Natural History. He is the author of numerous cookbooks, including Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook, The Tex-Mex Cookbook, and Sex, Death & Oysters.
Dan Workman is president of SugarHill Studios in Houston, one of the world's oldest continuously operating production facilities (69 years). Dan began his music career as a charter member of the seminal art/noise/rock band Culturcide. He leveraged his indie rock credentials and continued his work in the mainstream, engineering some of Texas' most notable artists: ZZ Top, Clay Walker, Destiny's Child, Beyonce, Hubert Laws, and Arnett Cobb. Workman now produces full time, and is currently working with Kareem Salama, The Southern Backtones, Roky Moon, and BOLT! and is writing for Zenfilm. When not making music or spending time with his family, he rides very old motorcycles, very long distances.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
For the 27 artists included in The Spectacular of Vernacular, aspects of the vernacular—and often specifically American vernacular—provide a platform for narratives of home life, social ritual, and sense of place. Drawing inspiration from such sources as local architecture, amateur photographs, and state fair banners, their work runs the aesthetic spectrum from sleek to handcrafted, underscoring the diverse manifestations of the vernacular within our lived environment and its impact on artists working today. The Spectacular of Vernacularis organized by the Walker Art Center and is curated by Darsie Alexander, Chief Curator at the Walker.