Round 7 (2015) Grant Recipients Announced

The Idea Fund, a re-granting program administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts announces the Round 7 2015 grantees. 64 artists or collaboratives from the greater-Houston area applied for The Idea Fund, and twelve were funded: Ayanna Jolivet McCloud; Nathaniel Donnett; Everything Records (Tierney Malone, Robert Hodge); Sandy Ewen; Fossilized in Houston (Tony Day, Lina Dib, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson); Gender Reel Houston (Koomah, Jay Mays, Stephanie Saint Sanchez), LMR (Randi Long, Gabriel Martinez, James Radcliffe); Joy Moore; Dennis Nance; TBD (Jamal Cyrus, Tia Simone Gardner, Jessica Vaughn); Sarah Welch; and Yatta Zoker. A total of $42,000 will be distributed at three distinct levels: Stimulus ($7,000), Catalyst ($4,000), and Spark ($1,000).

The Round 7 jurors were Ben Davis, writer, critic, and Executive Editor of Blouin ArtInfo; Ruth Estevez, Gallery Director and Curator, REDCAT, Los Angeles; and Carrie Marie Schneider, Houston-based artist and past Idea Fund recipient. Of the selection process, Carrie Schneider says: “We had a lively, impassioned debate. It was an awesome experience to help give support to great ideas from Houston’s inspiring artist community, and I look forward to seeing the projects come to life around town.”

And juror Ruth Estevez states:

“The interesting combination of experimental practices and community engagement projects make The Idea fund grant a remarkable platform for the development of artistic experimentation and collectiveness.”

A public reception honoring the grantees will be held on Thursday, January 29 at Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett Street, Houston, Texas from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Each grantee will give a 3 – 5 minute presentation about their work.

The Idea Fund is structured to provide artists with quick access to substantial financial support for projects that might not otherwise have access to funding. Now in its seventh round, The Idea Fund is the second re-granting initiative of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, following the pilot program, Alternative Exposure, administered by Southern Exposure in San Francisco. In addition to Houston and San Francisco, The Warhol Foundation now funds similar regranting programs in Portland, OR; New Orleans; Miami; Kansas City, MO; Chicago; Baltimore; and the state of Maine.

The Idea Fund 2015 Grantees and Projects:

STIMULUS ($7,000):

 Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud: labotonica

McCloud will launch an online experimental botanica/herberia, and present a series of parallel public programs devoted to arts and ecology. labotanica was originally founded in response to the lack of artist-run project spaces in Houston, and after a recent break it will be reformed with a new economic model at its core. This restructuring will pair experimental and bold art with ideas and products grounded in ecology. The online store will sell a small inventory of products and there will be a blog component featuring interviews with artists, scientists, ecologists and healers. At each public program (workshops, lectures, musical performances) labotanica products from the online store will be featured in a mini mobile botanica.

CATALYST ($4,000):

Nathaniel Donnett: Not That This

Donnett will transform his current blog, Not That This, into a full website providing a platform for critical discourse related to African American artists and artistic production in Houston, as well as other groups whose work is largely overlooked, ignored, or misunderstood by the mainstream arts press. The site will include reviews, commentary, interviews, and poetry, as well as listings of shows and artist opportunities.

Everything Records (Tierney Malone, Robert Hodge): 2 ½ Years: The Story of Juneteenth (LP)

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed on Galveston Island, Texas with news that the war had ended and that slaves were now free. Artists and musicians heavily influenced by jazz, blues, and hip hop, Tierney Malone and Robert Hodge will tell this story via a full-length album featuring new music by local and nationally known musicians. The album release party will feature an art exhibition and live performances.

Fossilized in Houston (Tony Day, Lina Dib, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson)

Though climate change is a global issue, Houston bears a special responsibility as the home of 5,000 energy companies. Yet issues of climate change are almost entirely absent in daily life or discourse in Houston. The Fossilized in Houston project aims to leverage Houston’s artistic community to make the consequences of our actions visible on a day-to-day level by funding 50 local artists to contribute drawings of 50 species endangered by climate change. These drawings will contribute to a guerilla campaign of lawn signs, stickers and wheat paste posters that will become a visible, regular presence throughout the city for a full year. The goal of this project is to create a means for Houston artists to contribute to an enhanced awareness about this issue, and hopefully push decision-makers in energy companies, city planners and individual citizens to reconsider collectively destructive yet normative behaviors.

Gender Reel Houston (Koomah, Jay Mays, Stephanie Saint Sanchez)

The Gender Reel Houston Film Festival 2015 will be a three-day film and performance festival with contributions from at least eight local artists and performers and one regional filmmaker. The festival will be scheduled during transgender awareness month to commemorate and celebrate the lived experiences of transgender people and their allies and families. Besides creating a platform for marginalized artists, Gender Reel Houston will foster more allies and educational opportunities in Houston, as well as support artists in building their personal and professional networks.

LMR (Randi Long, Gabriel Martinez, James Radcliffe): Noise Truck

Noise Truck is an interactive community project that will bring the sounds of the avant-garde, free improvisation, poetry, and other sonic projects to the city of Houston. Live experimental sound performances will be broadcast throughout the city from inside an altered commercial van. Noise Truck is intended to provide guerrilla concerts throughout Houston’s landscape while raising questions about the city’s noise ordinance codes, specifically what qualifies as acceptable noise? The unsanctioned use of sound in public spaces is intended to disrupt and destroy internalized behavioral codes and stakes a claim for a more democratic use of public space.

Joy Moore: Titanic

Moore will explore and dismantle the myths, stereotypes, and institutional blocks that have contributed to the number of non-swimmers (especially females) in the African American community through interviews with participants and community members. Additionally, she will provide swimming lessons to a group of African American women and will shape the project so that it sees participants through from their first strokes to a realized, rudimentary synchronized swimming routine tailored to their abilities. In addition to video documentation of the synchronized swimming routine, the results of the group’s talks and activities will be shared online and at the Emancipation Park Community Center. 

TBD (Jamal Cyrus, Tia-Simone Gardner, Jessica Vaughn): Say It Back to Me:

TBD will create a sound and sculptural installation between two small buildings located at the intersection of Scott Street and North McGregor Way in Houston, TX. Say It Back to Me calls attention to contemporary modes of place making as a means to document, preserve, and archive the fluctuating history of black mobility in the United States. The collective envisions this installation as an opportunity to perform experiments in shaping public space and have strategically chosen a commercial site where the social, political, mundane, and extraordinary are simultaneously present.

Yatta Zoker: The LDR Project

The LDR Project will be a series of three collaborative art making workshops and a sponsorship for one expatriate or immigrant student at the University of Houston to reunite with their loved ones during summer break. LDR stands for long distance relationship. LDRs are often thought of as intimate relationships between lovers separated by considerable distance, but in her own practice Zoker creates digital collages that reflect the broader experience of long distance relationships, such as expatriate living and the first generation American experience. Using a camera and skills acquired in the workshops, the sponsored traveler will document his or her journey. Upon return, the student will work with the Zoker to create a multimedia alternative-literature piece about the experience.

SPARK ($1000): 

Sandy Ewen: Future Time Machine

Future Time Machine seeks to create a dialogue with the past and future by harnessing the power of compounded interest to amass enough money to create a fully functional time machine. An investment of $1000 will be put in a legal trust for 500 years. Assuming a modest 4% annual return, the investment will be approximately 328 billion dollars in the year 2515, at which point it will be spent on scientific research and the construction of a time machine. First stop for the time machine will be 2015. We will have a reception for the time travelers, with a variety of speakers lecturing on the ethics of time travel and what the future may have in store.

Dennis Nance: Cast of Characters

Cast of Characters will use familiar holiday celebrations as a departure point to create a series of costumes and garments. Nance will expand upon his current body of work to create a year-round rotation of characters. The resulting suits will appear throughout the year at public engagements and surprise moments in individuals’ everyday lives. These surprise interactions will be documented, and staged situations will be photographed, resulting in a calendar and gallery presentation of the work.

Sarah Welch: Only Humid

Only Humid will be a physical comic book, an exhibition of the found and fabricated objects used to inform the book’s narrative, and a series of events that replicate the world of the comic’s protagonists. The book will be the third in Welch’s self-published comic series, Endless Monsoon. The Monsoon books take place in an embellished, alternate-reality of Houston. Only Humid will be the first attempt to bridge the fictionalized Houston with the actual Houston by connecting them through tangible objects and events that the viewer can experience in tandem. With the project’s sculptural elements, Only Humid will present a range of pseudo-props and artifacts, some which are convincing and pass as a piece of our world, and others which are clearly part of the comic book paracosm.