Houston’s Art Scene Recovery Efforts Post-Harvey

Spring Street Studios

By now, we've all seen the devastation Harvey wrought on the city of Houston. Entire neighborhoods once inundated with water are now rapidly filling with moldy detritus pulled from homes and businesses.

Among the city's 6.4 million residents, a vibrant group of working artists live in Houston, and in Harvey's aftermath, many of those artists found their homes, workshops, and archives destroyed.

Fresh Arts

In lightning-quick response, Houston-based artistic nonprofit organizations have pulled together resources and set up fundraisers to help those affected by the hurricane. For example, the Fresh Arts organization usually focuses on programming, audience development, and providing marketing and business training, but its leaders realized their community needed immediate assistance. "We needed to get involved right away and assist in the short-term recovery of Houston's artists," said Fresh Arts program director Marci Dallas. "As the rest of the country has seen in the past week, Houstonians are showing amazing resilience and strength, working together to help each other out. Right after the storm, many artists who weren't affected called to see what they could do to help others in need."

Kimon Berlin

Yayoi Kusama

Before Harvey hit, Fresh Arts had planned to hold its final summer art event at Spring Street Studio on September 9th. Post Harvey, Fresh Arts turned the event into a fundraiser called #TexasArtistsStrong—piggybacking on the #TexasStrong movement—where 100 percent of the profits went directly to assist struggling artists.

"The artists at Spring Studios offered to uninstall their current exhibition early for the #TexasArtistsStrong fundraiser, and over three hundred works of art became part of the exhibition," said Grace Zunga, artist liaison for Spring Street Studios. Artists from hard-hit Rockport and Corpus Christi were also invited.

Janavi Folmsbee

Janavi Folmsbee

One Houston-based artist's home survived Harvey, but the trailer where he had moved his archive was completely flooded out. That didn't stop him from participating in the fundraiser: he purchased new paints, canvases, and whipped up two new portraits—views of Houston post-Harvey—and submitted them to the show. "'Be careful, the paint's still wet,' the artist told me," explained Dallas. "It's just another example of how this community cares about one another. We've been able to sustain a small-town feel in a really big city."

The fundraiser was held from 2–7 p.m. on September 9th, generating $28,000, while an online donation board has raised more than $5,000 since its creation.

Spring Street Studio

submitted by Barbara

These funds will help artists in their immediate recovery needs, and Fresh Arts has started looking at the long-term work that remains. "We've already begun talking with the mayor's Cultural Affairs Office to determine what our artists will need in the weeks and months to come," Dallas explained. "We need to get these folks registered for FEMA relief. We will rebuild."

Artists in need of immediate financial assistance may apply for funds through the Fresh Arts website here.

About the Author

Barbara Basbanes Richter

Barbara Basbanes Richter writes for Fine Books & Collections magazine and Art & Object. She’s also a professional ghostwriter.