12 Montrose Voice/ Dec. 16,1983
Avant-Garde Art Crowd Gathers Just Across the Bayou
By Jeff Bray
The drive in the car was hysterical
enough—Marilyn and Kathy in their
evening gowns, Marshall and Mark in
nice tuxedoes, and me in my New Wave
outfit, make-up and all. We had all
received our invitations to the gala event
at the Jack Pearce Warehouse, 908 Wood,
north of downtown, across the bayou.
Actually, it was a little frightening as we
got to that "no-man's land" area on that
side of the city—especially dressed as formally as we were.
There was a beam of light swirling in
the night sky above the bayou, and as we
drew closer to the massive white warehouse, we could see what looked like a K-
Mart parking lot on Christmas Eve.
Thousands of cars covered the area, and
the thumping of loud music filled the air,
rather like sitting at the stop light in front
of Mary's on a Saturday night.
We parked the car and walked across the
pitted gravel lot to the rough street, then
down the block to the massive three story
warehouse where all the noise was coming
from. Around us, others were walking, like
moths converging on a bright fire. Everyone was dressed to kill. Some were in
Punk attire (whatever that really is), and
others were quite formally dressed, looking as though they had just left the opera.
After all, this was the sort of avant-garde
event that stimulates an otherwise drab
evening—even for the jet set.
At the door, we paid and walked into the
most bizarre fantasy setting ever concocted for semi-public amusement in
Houston. The city was left behind. Reality
was thrown away. Men wore eye shadow
and lipstick, and women dressed in expensive rags and diamonds. The place was
seething with people of every walk of life—
Jack Pearce Warehouse; Looking like a scene from "The Day After" but containing creative fuel for the future.
many looking like they didn't belong and
others looking like they would never leave.
I couldn't help but wonder where all these
beautifully weird people lurk during the
day. Had the party dragged them out of
their lairs like old stoats?
The first floor held a massive dance
floor and lobby, with several stairways
leading up to the second floor. The Houston New Wave bands, Voices and The
Switch, played hard-edged music in the
new mode, while a multitude of the glittering crowd massed around the stage, dancing and hopping. Yes, gays and nongays
shared the floor, and it really made the
whole event so much more interesting.
On the second floor, literally hundreds
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104 WESTHEIMER AT BAGBY
THE MONTROSE CUMC
of people pressed into a large room, hung
with colored fabric and neon art, while
cryptic fashion was displayed on a makeshift runway. The models were certainly
not what would be seen in a regular haute
monde ramp in Milan or Paris, but then
this is Houston—Space City—land of the
future. The effect was to shock, and the
clothing shocked and pleased and added
to the totally decadent atmosphere of the
On the third floor, more art was displayed in separate galleries. In fact, the
whole warehouse is full of little galleries
and studios, occupied by a host of Houston's most gifted photographers, sculptures, designers and painters.
The artists were hard to trac*k down
because of the massive press of sightseers,
but the art was truly original and inspirational.
George & George, photographers, had
some of the most unusual photos on display. Particularly interesting were some
black and white pictures, depicting
murder scenes. One photo had a vampy
looking woman wearing feathers and
leather. She carried a meat cleaver in her
hand, and the bottom half of a man in
jeans was lying in front of her in a pool of
blood. Another photo was called "Child
Support," with another vampy looking
woman holding a set of tongs with an
unmentionable piece of male anatomy
dripping from them. Again, the legs of a
man were lying at her feet in a pool. Aside
from these grisley little photo funnies,
much of the other photography was beautifully done, and certainly not as sadistically.
Other interesting art displayed on the
third floor was the neon sculpture of Jon
Piccinin. His was certainly some of the
most colorful work in the building, being
illuminated by neon gas and formed into
intriguing shapes and brilliant colors. His
is not the normal type of neon art that is
mass produced in the novelty shops (palm
trees, flamingo, etc.). His neon sculptures
are very sophisticated, looking as though
they would actually be more at home in
some big corporate office lobby than on
the front porch for the neighbors to see.
Neon art is surprisingly reasonably
priced, and Piccinin says that contrary to
popular belief, neon does not cost that
much to maintain. The colors neon offers
are brilliant and exciting, and although
neon has been around for quite a while, the
art of molding it for more than restaurant
signs is comparativelv new.
There were so many artists represented
that it would be impossible to cover them A campus work crew at Williams College
all in this story. The best thing to do is to in Massachusetts recently bulldozed what
see them for yourself. they thought was a heap of junk. Trouble
There have been rumors of this ware- was, it was really an internationally
house art community spreading over the acclaimed work of art, reports the Boston
city for the last couple of years, and it was Globe.
all too evident that the rumor was not There was no comment from red-faced
false! The whole building simply burst at college officials, but the artist says she's
the seams with creativity. It was the type "upset and surprised."
of place that one envisions gifted artists of
the future writing about in their autobiographies; like certain alleyways of Paris
and London, or inspirational settings like
lofts in New York or villas in Biarritz.
Well, this is Houston, and as an artistic
center, the city is not that terribly well
established in the world—but something
With the end of the oil boom, the city is
searching for new and more lasting means
of notoriety. There is a sculpture boom
downtown, and publications are beginning to find some creative vent here. The
movie industry has been having a field
day in Houston over the past few years
(Terms of Endearment and The Man Who
Loved Women), and now there are some
real art communities springing up.
The reason for the great warehouse
event was to promote a new cultural information and half-price ticket center called
SHOWTIX—something many major cities in the world have. SHOWTIX is a
story in itself but, in short, it will provide
last-minute opportunity for people to see
cultural events at lower prices in Houston's faBt-growing cultural centers (for
information, call Arts For Everyone, 522-
After many hours of wandering through
the warehouse, drinking wine and talking
to artists and other visitors, we finally
made our way out to the carefully guarded
parking lots. It had been a night to
remember. The neon hallways; the pounding music; the wonderful fashions; the
light-hearted and thoroughly entertained
crowds of people, looking like children
exploring a hidden world of wonders for
the first time. Indeed, we had seen something that was hidden and wonderful-
real originality in a city that seems
sometimes to hide its talent behind glass
and marble and granite. This was bold
illumination and creativity thrown open
to the world through the medium of warehouse walls and iron elevator doors—not
silent, shiny underground passageways
and melodical muffled Musak compartments.
Beware, Houstonians. One of these
days, if this trend continues, you may not
have to go to New York or San Francisco
for your entertainment. Who knows. They
may have to start reserving their tickets in
advance to come here1.
Mistaken for Junk