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Wednesday, September 23, 2020 — Houston, TX °

A Virtual Guide to Art On and Off Campus

Illustrated by Tina Liu

By Michelle Miao     8/25/20 6:33pm

Despite the current situation with COVID-19, there are still a plethora of places for Rice students to explore the arts culture of Houston both on and outside of campus while maintaining the community’s safety and health. Use this guide of artistic hotspots offering virtual interaction options as a starting point for safely exploring Houston’s vibrant art scene.

On-Campus Art 

Visual and Dramatic Arts 

As always, Rice University continues to host exhibitions under the VADA department through virtual means. For this upcoming semester, VADA will be presenting outdoor “bring your own chair” screenings in conjunction with Rice Cinema, which will encourage viewers to watch films while following safety protocols. Attendees will be able to bring snacks and blankets to make themselves comfortable while viewing the movies in locations such as Lot 6, behind the Rice Media Center. The next big development that VADA hopes to bring about this year is its Emergency Room Gallery, a new project that will showcase emerging artists in the Houston community through high quality exhibitions of their artworks, focusing mainly on contemporary art styles. Sleepy Cyborg Gallery — previously known as Matchbox and then Insomnia Gallery — is also another space on campus dedicated to promoting emerging artists. Currently, neither ER nor Sleepy Cyborg have ongoing virtual options, but keep an eye out for socially distanced and virtual activities in the future by joining the ADA mailing list or following them on Instagram for more daily updates.

Moody Center for the Arts

An architectural beauty in and of itself, the Moody Center for the Arts is located on the southwest side of campus and reopens for the public on Sept. 19 while enforcing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for all visitors. The Moody provides a vibrant space to observe culturally diverse art including concerts, installations, special exhibitions and performances. Currently, the Moody offers several virtual ways to participate in its space.Its upcoming outdoor performance by Houston dance company Open Dance Project in response to Erin Curtis’ “Light Shift” window art installation will be available to watch on Youtube Friday, Sept. 4 at noon. You can also watch the “Open Dance Project: Behind-the-Scenes Live Event” on their Instagram on Aug. 29. If you are on campus, you can visit Erin Curtis’ “Summer Window Series,” open until Sept. 12. 

Starting Sept. 18, the Moody will display its fall 2020 exhibition “States of Mind: Art and American Democracy,” which will feature multiple works of 3D art and photography that demonstrate the deep implications of political problems in people’s lives today. The Moody will be holding multiple opening receptions over two days in order to space out guests while respecting capacity limits, allowing more people the opportunity to enjoy the exhibit while respecting capacity limits at one-hour intervals. Be sure to follow all safety protocols if you do visit in person.

Rice Cinema

Jean and Dominique de Menil, the founders of the Rice Cinema, have defined this famous campus theater as “a cinematheque experience for both the screening of great films and the opportunity to discuss these works.” The cinema continues to uphold this vision even in the current pandemic by offering a diversity of shows by world famous directors, from Andy Warhol to Fernando Solanas. Their Lo-Fi screening series will be conducted virtually via Vimeo and Twitch livestreams every Thursday this fall semester, starting Aug. 27. The Lo-Fi series is an active way of exploring the now more obsolete physical formats of video and film, created by students at Rice. In looking through this more “analog” style of lens, the series keeps the culture and past of Rice alive through cinema.

Student Art Organizations 

To discover more of the arts on campus, take a look at these clubs and organizations who are devoted to enhancing the arts environment at Rice. One of these would be the Rice Art Club, an organization that seeks to bring art lovers of all types together to create as a community. The next is 6100Main, the Rice hotspot for fashion tips, collaborations and photoshoots, showcasing novel clothing styles and models across campus. Another would be ASTR*, the Rice Art and Design Magazine, that explores vast and diverse themes through artwork and text. Also, KTRU Rice radio cannot be forgotten, continuously providing a platform for Rice students and bands to communicate through their music. And of course, don’t forget R2: The Rice Review, the award-winning literary journal of Rice University.

Off-Campus Art Spots

Rice also offers an abundance of artistic discovery located close by, and you can still visit these places even if you are not able to make it physically!

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston

The MFAH currently has over 70,000 pieces of internationally acclaimed artwork including oil paintings, prints, abstract acrylics and photography dating from before the 17th century to the present. Now the museum has also built a virtual experience to offer audiences “art collections and selected exhibitions, film screenings, art-making activities, recorded lectures, artist’s talks” and beyond, as stated on their website. The museum provides virtual tours such as that of the reinstalled Beck Collection, which includes works from Van Gogh and Claude Monet. It also offers many other virtual programs, such as “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” which provides virtual cinema experiences, exhibition tours and many more activities for viewers to participate in.

Lawndale Arts

Lawndale Arts is a museum that showcases “a diverse range of artistic practices and perspectives through exhibitions and programs, including lectures, symposia, film screenings, readings, and musical performances,” according to their website. Currently this museum can be visited by appointment under CDC guidelines for health and safety, but upcoming exhibition information will be posted to their website. Some upcoming exhibits at Lawndale to look forward to include visual art presentation “Inheritance” by filmmaker Cuyler Ballenger, experimental sound pieces in “Sounds from the Swamp” by Elana Mann, and intriguing abstract artworks in “Good Day Bad Day” by Marcelyn McNeil. Keep an eye out for virtual options to explore these exhibits which are slated to open in early October. 

Project Row Houses

This community platform is dedicated to exposing visitors to artists of the Third Ward neighborhood and provides many opportunities for exploring and connecting people with varying art forms, including presentations with distinct styles of sculpting, painting, and sketching. Currently, the art houses are closed due to COVID-19, but some exhibits are now available virtually. Up till Sept. 13, audiences can view the houses’ most recent Art Round, “Round 51: Local Impact II” which contains pieces by six different artists, and under the supervision of curator Ryan Dennis, works to demonstrate efforts towards fairness in society. These installations as well as future exhibits are available through their website for virtual viewing.

The Menil Collection

This art center is filled with historical international artistic works, collected from around the world by the rather eccentric couple who founded the collection. Although the public currently cannot visit this five-building space at this time, you are highly encouraged to view their collections online through their “Collections Overview”. This site contains photos of the many intriguing paintings and objects that the Menil holds and is sorted by place, from Africa to the Pacific Islands to the medieval times in the Byzantine, and also sorted by style, such as modern and surreal. Here you can find an array of strange but rare artifacts from centuries before or more contemporary photos and paintings; in short, there is something in the collection for everyone!

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston will also be hosting virtual events while its physical space is closed through its Museum From Home program. One ongoing event is an initiative titled “A Counting”, a sound-based project working to capture languages and voices from across Houston as part of its “Beyond CAMH” campaign. In addition, CAMH will be offering several virtually open studios, and other virtual events such as lectures and performances. 

Insomnia Gallery

This small, locally loved gallery space is known for its fun, quirky exhibits. Their most recent event was an online art showcase of their “Summer Slashes” exhibit, featuring a wide range of fatalistic pieces inspired by classic horror movies. Going forward, they will publicize their virtual events on their social media, such as their Facebook and Instagram

All in all, if you ever find yourself in need of inspiration during the pandemic, which is sure to have its dull moments, connect yourself with these art centers and perhaps you will find something that you really enjoy, or just something that takes your mind off things.

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