SWAN DEN | 2534 Amherst | 1976 - 1989 | Willie & Helen Lew, owners | acrylic and glitter on wood panel | 24 in. x 36 in. | 2015 © Amy C. Evans
A toy store sat next to an X-rated movie theater. Neighborhood kids played video games in the back of a beer joint. This was the five or so square blocks where my friends and I spent many hours—and lots of quarters—growing up. It was the early 1980s, and this was our Village.
Today, this part of my old neighborhood is known as Rice Village. It’s changed dramatically over the years, evolving into a high-end outdoor shopping mall. A Banana Republic sits where the X-rated movie theater used to be, and a bank has taken over the corner where adults drank beer and I tried to get the high score in Ms. Pac-Man.
I moved back to Houston last spring after thirteen years away. As I continue to become reacquainted with my hometown, I can't help but reminisce about the city that was. This group of paintings and drawings celebrates the places I frequented as a kid—places that I wish I had photographs of. Instead—and to borrow a phrase from the late Ethel Wright Mohammed, famed Mississippi Delta embroidery artist—I’ve created memory pictures—pictures that tell a story.
Collecting and sharing stories is what I do.
In addition to being an artist, I am also an oral historian. I met Mrs. Mohammed’s youngest daughter, Carol Mohammed Ivy, some years ago when I conducted an interview with her to learn more about her mother’s life and work.
For years, much of my fieldwork influenced my paintings.
Today, my paintings are influencing my fieldwork. I intend to continue this series, making more art and conducting oral history interviews with people associated with the places I’m already documenting through paint.
This connection between art and document—visual storytelling—is what I’m exploring through this work. I’m interested in creating and sharing documents that not only tell a story, but celebrate places that are long gone. Visual memories from these places and the information associated with them—addresses, dates, and names—are thrust back out into the universe, bringing them back to life.
Welcome to My Houston.
* * *
MY HOUSTON is on view at Koelsch Haus, 801 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX, from April 23 to May 22, 2015
LOOKING ART ART (Private lecture): Wed., May 13, 2015
ARTIST'S TALK (Open to the public): Tues., May 19, 2015. Time TBD.