Urban art on display in studio downtown

The Awready!: Houston Hip Hop Conference kicked off at the Betz Gallery with a display of photography, mural paintings and old school hip-hop tunes.

The Graffiti, B-Boy and B-Girl Exhibition hosted by Rice University, sponsored by Houston Enriches Rice Education Project, featured work by photographers Todd Spoth and Marco Torres as well as work by graffiti artists from Houston.

Torres’ photos included a work titled “OGs of Houston Rap” with a group of Houston hip-hop notables including Bun B, OG Ron C, Slim Thug and Z-Ro. A corresponding set of photos called “Future of Houston Rap” featured the up-and-coming rappers Doughbeezy and Propain.

Spoth’s photographs featured portraits of artists from Monica Landry, ABN, Trae and Spank D.

Another artist featured was Monica Landry. Her work, a mounted print, featured iconic Houston subjects such as the city’s skyline and the familiar street intersections Martin Luther King Drive and Bellfort Street, as well as Swiftwater Lane and Telephone Road.

Three large canvases set up outdoors allowed graffiti artists to work their talent. The three artists who participated in the event included 3rdlogic, Dez and Skeez181 who all had distinguished spray-painted work.

DJ No Request was spinning some of the more popular old-school hip-hop hits by artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Beastie Boys.

Among the personnel in attendance were Director of the HERE Project Anthony Pinn, Coordinator of Digital Projects and Instruction at the Special Collections of the University of Houston Libraries Julie Grob and a donor to the DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop exhibit who identified himself as Lil’ Randy.

Project Coordinator of the HERE Project Maya Reine gave some insight into their operation.

“This is our fifth year. We do a lot of outreach to the community. We have a high school essay contest. We have a distinguished lecturer series,” said Reine. “We also have an archive, which some of the work these artists are doing today is going to be in.”

Reine went on to explain that Rice collaborates with UH through the Houston Hip Hop Archival Network, which was started by Grob and Pinn.

Rice will continue in hosting events for the conference by having the 2012 College DJ Battle Honoring the Legacy of DJ Screw at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Grand Hall of the Rice University Student Center. The night’s music entertainment will be provided by local radio station 97.9 The Box’s DJ Ebonix.

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