Looking for the leading edge in the art world? Art aficionados need look no further than the Lawndale Art Center, located at 4912 Main in the heart of the Museum District.
Sculptor James Surls started the collective in the late ’70s.
“I just found myself in a situation what I was not in control of, I just assumed control of,” Surls said in a 2009 interview with the Houston Chronicle’s Doug Britt. “I just kind of took over. I started appointing people in positions. Someone who liked photography, I would just say, ‘OK, you’re the curator of photography.’
“People loved it. They loved doing it, and God almighty, they worked, they worked, they worked.”
From the beginning, the students were the backbone.
“We had a space, and we had a labor force and we had a community that was receptive,” Surls said. “You couldn’t ask for a better kind of scenario, and it just caught on fire. Lawndale started off a five- or six- or seven-year era, that was when Houston was ready; the times were right; everything was — you know, Houston was just on fire.”
UH juniors Ya-Han Chen and Meredith Tucker designed an easily manufactured interchangeable sofa/bed that can be sold for around $2800.
“The students had to project the retail costs and include the cost of all materials,” Adam Wells, Professor of Industrial Design in the UH School of Architecture, said.
UH has the only Industrial Design program in Texas. Another Lawndale entry, Viera, was designed by UH juniors Umbelina Cantu, Sergio Aleman, Thi Vu and Kellee Kimbra.
Viera examines the function of sitting among humans, and can be manufactured in many colors, including sky blue, charcoal, bright red or olive.
Michael Guidry serves as curator for Lawndale and curator for UH’s public art collection.