A preview of Prauper’s Houston Forever exhibition
FOLLOWING UP TO HIS POPULAR 2021 EXHIBITION, From Houston, with love, Prauper Studios is back with another showcase of local artists.
The Memorial Park-based creative agency has a knack for transforming old and abandoned spaces into new and refreshing destinations. The team’s latest exhibition took over the former Forever 21 retail store on Main Street and turned it into a temporary gallery that was one of the most talked about local events of the summer.
In the continuation of FHWL, Prauper opened The MAG (short for Modern Art Gallery), a permanent art gallery located downtown in a two-story building that once housed Texaco’s offices. The raw, industrial building has a footprint of 18,000 square feet and has been vacant for 80 years. The updated venue aims to merge fine art with entertainment.
houston forever celebrates local artists and is a herculean effort made with the help of Art Houston Magazine and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The exhibit features a multi-generational roster of over 30 Houston-based artists and collectives working in a variety of mediums. In addition to art, MAG has three lounges and a cash bar where visitors can relax and socialize.
Entering the space on the first floor of the gallery, an interactive installation by art collective Street Dreams invites visitors to pose for selfies amid a nostalgic arrangement of old television monitors that play a recorded image of the viewer . In the left corner of the gallery facing San Jacinto Street is a light projection by Input-Output, the duo behind the experiential art museum Seismic. The projection meanders and climbs the towering interior pillars of the gallery and complements the architecture of the building. Several sculptures dot the ground floor of the gallery, including works by Tara Conley and set designer Tricia Jane. There is a wealth of paintings, Michael Reecefrom the family memories of LaMonté French to the still lifes of LaMonté French and the vast abstractions of Josh Allen.
Also on the first floor is a black box filled with information about Larry Hoover, a political prisoner in solitary confinement since 1997. Co-host Maya Jae (and daughter of Rap-A-Lot Records CEO J. Prince) s is associated with the Larry Hoover Project to raise awareness of inhumane treatment in the prison system. Hoover’s fight for freedom was a hot topic in the rap world and was commemorated with a fundraising concert with a performance by Drake and Kanye.
On the second floor is a collaborative installation between Houston-based dance teacher Stacey Allen, Saida Carter and Ashley Hoskins of the Free Black Women’s Library, a pop-up library and social art project showcasing black women’s literature. The project is titled A single thread weaves the future and reimagines the warm interior of a black grandmother’s living room filled with photographs, monochromatic coral-colored furniture, plants, and a selection of free books. A section dedicated to Houston music culture is at the opposite end of the second floor. Candy-colored photographs of slab lines by photographer Kolby Delce shine alongside Kaima Marie’s glossy, painted portraits of rap pioneers Bun B and Pimp C. Plaques and posters hang in memory of Screwed’s hay day Up Click on behalf of Houston label SoSouth Music Distribution.
Throughout the show, Prauper will host events, including the return of its “Currently Creating” artist talk series, as well as programs that engage local arts administrators and cultural workers. Putting on a massive group exhibit and reinvigorating an abandoned space is no small feat, Prauper director Emmanuel Alia told Houstonia. “It’s quite surreal. We had the idea of an art gallery for a while, and despite the challenges, we managed to do it. We have the opportunity to experiment, and we are just excited generally.” houston forever is a great warm-up for this small and mighty team of innovators.
Houston Forever is on view at MAG until April 10. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more information on tickets and programs, visit here.