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How Project Row Houses is transforming Houston’s Third Ward

HOUSTON, Texas – Thirty years ago, Houston Street Holman was one of the most dangerous areas in the city, a place known for crime and drugs. Today, it houses one of the most famous social sculptures in the world.

Project Row Houses began as an experiment in 1993. Artist Rick Lowe saw potential in a series of abandoned shotgun-style houses on Holman Street and brought together six other artists to turn the houses into art installations.

“What the city saw as poverty and all the social ills that accompany it, plague and crime, the artists saw as an opportunity to really use their talents, skills and talents to strengthen and transform the community,” she said. Eureka Gilkey, Executive Director. of Project Row Houses.

Each art space – which changes every few months – addresses a different community issue.

“The basis of Project Row Houses’ public art program is our Artist Rounds,” said Eureka Gilkey, Project Row Houses Executive Director. “Twice a year we invite artists, mid-career artists and up-and-coming artists to respond to what is happening in the neighborhood.”

Artist Leah Gipson has created an installation in a series of houses called “She Asked Her Mother”, a space for the protection and safety of children. It includes the “Black Girlhood Altar”, which is dedicated to black girls who are ignored and murdered. A piano sits in the center.

“One of the ways you can offer to this altar is to play the piano,” Gipson said. “So you can come and play the piano as part of the piece. It is meant to be interactive like all the other objects or offers you can bring, you can bring music.”

Gipson says that when guests play the piano and look at the screen, he pulls them into the message.

The space, “Ask her mother,” is really the total conversation that sometimes has to take place underground, the kinds of calm gestures between daughter and mother and aunts and daughters between them, about the difficult things that can not be said. “It is said through music, it is said through art, it is said through the things we collect and treasure,” said Gipson.

The Bradley Ward installation, Blacker Spectabula Rasa, includes a library that highlights black cultural images and institutions.

“I was never really given the opportunity to do anything to touch my own heritage,” Ward said. “It means a kind of world to me.”

Project Row Houses now covers five blocks and 39 houses and buildings – all dedicated to art projects, community enrichment and neighborhood development. It started a Small Business Incubation Program and one Young Mothers Housing Program. Project Row Houses is also dedicated to the restoration of the community’s legendary Eldorado ballroom, built in 1939. The ballroom was once one of the most recognizable living spaces for black musicians in the country. Legends like Etta James, BB King, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown once played there.

“This was a very important space at Third Ward,” said David Bucek of Stern and Bucek Architects. “It was not just a music venue, it was a social club. It was really the focus of Third Ward for much of the 20th century. Every major 20th century musician played here. Many people started here in Eldorado and became national figures.”

The $ 9.7 million renovation will restore the ballroom to its former glory and add some new features – including a market and a coffee shop to tackle Third Sector food insecurity issues.

Project Row Houses prepares for a Kickback Juneteenth celebration for the community on Friday, June 17, and a digital art experience at the Emancipation Park Cultural Center on Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19. For more information, visit Project Row Houses online.

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How Project Row Houses is transforming Houston’s Third Ward Source link How Project Row Houses is transforming Houston’s Third Ward

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