Usually, the web site Glasstire focuses on the visual arts scene in Texas. For the last two weeks, the site has become a resource for *all* arts groups in South Texas as they struggle to clean up after Harvey.
Rainey Knudson is the publisher of Glasstire.com, based in Houston. For State of the Arts this week, she joined me from Houston Public Media to talk about how artists are moving forward after the storm.
Here are excerpts from our conversation. You can click above to listen to the piece that aired on KERA FM.
On how she fared in the storm….People have been calling it drive privilege or dry guilt. We were fine. We didn’t even lose power. We didn’t even lose wi-fi. I’ve heard a lot of people say they feel terribly guilty.
On what we need to understand about how artists have been affected by the storm: Artists are like everybody else in that they have a home they need to worry about or a car they need to worry about. But they have this unique challenge of their work. So there were stories of some artists who thought they were okay, and then they went and checked their storage and it turned out actually, their house was fine, but their storage unit was not.
One artists I spoke to, Prince Thomas, he’s a wonderful artist, he was one of the people who had the storage unit situation He told me that he felt bad seeing all these people losing their homes, because his home wasn’t flooded. But in many ways his work means more to him than his house does. And so losing the work was just devastating.
But we don’t even really still know the full extent, because there was the initial people who posted pictures on Facebook and everybody saw what happen to them. But now the stories of other people are starting to bubble up. For example, I spoke to the photographer Keith Carter in Beaumont, and I asked, how is it over there. He was like I have no idea. There’s no way to know at this point what’s going on in Beaumont, with artists.
On the path of the destruction…I think the very worst hit spaces anywhere were actually not down in Rockport or Corpus Christi, where the hurricane landed, but in the downtown theater district in Houston. Those are the spaces that have been truly devastated. The Alley Theatre which had just redone the downstairs black-box theater, and it was beautiful, you know, they are going to be closed for a while. They’re actually going to come back ot the UH campus this year, which is where they were when they were redoing their theater before. The Wortham Center, Jones Hall, the Hobby Center, all of those theaters have basements, they have storage. I know the Hobby and the Wortham both had water in the main theater areas.
I actually spoke to Luis Perón ….he’s the director of the Rockport Center For the Arts . Many people saw photographs of their space, you know the roof was ripped off in some places, and it was an absolute disaster. He said they’re moving forward and they’re going to have their show this fall. The attitude with everybody is just, gotta keep going, the show must go on. It’s inspirational seeing how people are like, well….here we go again.
On art openings in Houston this weekend….I think it’s too soon to say things are getting back to normal, but I have a feeling a lot of people will come out this weekend, because there’s just going to be this good feeling of community and people want to see each other. After any disaster, anywhere, I think this is the case. It brings people together. And the art openings will definitely bring the art community together.
There’ve been a few things that have to be pushed back, but generally speaking, people want to have their shows up, they want to show their artists and they want to get the fall going.
On how she thinks about the city now: It has been beautiful to see the city respond to this and the way its handled it. Houston has so much that’s unlovable about it. I mean, the weather is nothing to write home about, God knows. But what is so wonderful about it is the culture here.
We had a former mayor who said what’s special about Houston is nobody cares who your daddy is. And that’s true. That’s really true. What Houston cares about is whether you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and put forward some energy. And you can do whatever you want. In good and bad ways.
The way people have come together has been remarkable. I wonder, perhaps, if it’s set an example for the country at a time when the country needed to see Americans coming together.