04/29/15 5:00pm



The asking price for the Heights Theater on bustling 19th St. in Houston Heights in today’s live-or-work listing is $1.9 million. The owners last toe-tested the reel deal in 2008, at $1.3 million. In the interim, surrounding neighborhoods have tipped even more hip. Though the future of the historic (but not protected) property is up for grabs, its past scrolls like an old film roll, with scenes of early prosperity, seedy decline, suspected arson, and restoration.

The exterior’s revamp earned the current owners a Good Brick Award 20-ish years ago. The interior, a shell space since its near destruction by fire in 1969, has been used for live theater, retail, events, and galleries. In the former lobby’s crossroads sits an original projector (top), a sculpture standing as both a testament and witness to passing eras.


Film House for Sale
08/08/14 12:15pm

THE STARVING ARTIST GALLERY IS GONE, BUT ITS PARTIES WILL LIVE ON ONLINE 2037 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonWhat kind of revelry has Montrose been missing since the end of April, when the Starving Artist Gallery at 2037 West Alabama St. closed up shop? No need to try to imagine, because owner William Loyd and his now legally recognized wife, Nikki Araguz Loyd, documented the mayhem at last year’s blow-out Christmas party at their gallery in the just-released final 2 pretty-much-NSFW episodes of the first season of their web video series, Nikki’s American Dream. They’re called “Bad Santa” (episode 7) and “It’s Only Wednesday” (episode 8). (The gallery maintains an online presence too.) [YouTube] Photo of former Starving Artist Gallery: Swamplot inbox

01/23/14 10:30am

DeLuxe Theater, 3300 Lyons Ave., Fifth Ward, Houston

And look — all it took was a little uh, clearance from the city. You can see the working arm of the excavator inside what used to be the innards of the DeLuxe Theater at 3300 Lyons Ave. in this photo from this morning sent to Swamplot by a reader. Long the focus of various repurposing plans, the shell now appears ready for its latest renovation project.


Innards Out
11/20/13 11:30am



1800 Waugh Dr., Hyde Park, Montrose, Houston (03)An Oz-like urban vista from an (apparently railing-free) rooftop terrace (top). An artsy interior with multi-level gallery space. The pairing often indicates a Montrose-area address, as is the case with this custom 2003 contemporary with 3 levels of art-friendly living space currently devoted to an installation of frosty, over-sized life savers (above), among other works. The work-live-studio property, located near the Waugh bend in Hyde Park, rolled onto the market late last week. Price tag: $1.3 million. 


Dollars to Donuts
02/27/13 12:00pm

HALF THE $25.8M NEEDED FOR MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER RAISED Looks like the money for that proposed theater and gallery complex on Main St. keeps rolling in, reports the Houston Chronicle: “Fundraising up to now,” reports Flori Meeks, “has yielded about $12.3 million.” But the little meter on the website for the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston — or The MATCH for short — says that the troupe-friendly group already has $13.2 million; that’s 51 percent of the $25.8 million needed to get started on the Lake Flato- and Studio Red-designed building (shown here) on the existing surface parking lot that’s bound by Main, Travis, Francis, and Holman. And what’s it going to be when that other $12.6 million’s in pocket? “While designs have yet to be finalized,” reports Meeks, “current plans for the 59,000-square-foot building call for a large 350-seat theater, three black-box theater spaces with flexible seating configurations, two rehearsal spaces that can also be used for performances and exhibits, a large gallery area, more than 6,000 feet of office space, a central public breezeway that can be used for performances and exhibits and a coffee and wine bar.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH

02/12/13 2:00pm

The lights are coming back on inside the old Huston’s Drugs at 2119 Washington Ave.: Long for sale, the stout mid-century building was purchased at the end of December by Houston-based artist Chris Bramel, who tells Swamplot he is renovating the interior that’s still partially stocked with apothecary bottles and swivel-stools lined up in front of an old soda fountain into an art gallery, shared studio space, and apartment for himself.


10/23/12 1:15pm

HOTEL ROOM ART FAIR IMPRESARIO SELLS UNDERWEAR, LOSES SHIRT Wrapping up last weekend’s seat-of-the-pants Pan Art Fair, held in a third-floor hotel suite across the street from the massive Texas Contemporary Art Fair at the George R. Brown Convention Center, blogger and fair impresario Robert Boyd notes some successes. Among the sales: A piece from artist Jim Nolan’s drawers-in-a-drawer installation, the process of failure/it’s better to regret something you have done, also known as a pair of underwear displayed prominently in one of the bedside-table drawers. Also, Boyd sold out of the small run of T-shirts he had made to commemorate the event. And he’s glad a number of local artists helped push the exhibition space into some odd corners of the hotel room. But, he writes, “I lost money on this deal. Sales were meager. I had to take two vacation days from work to do it. So naturally, it is my intention to do it again next year — even bigger, if possible. See you then.” [The Great God Pan Is Dead; previously on Swamplot] Photos of Jim Nolan and artwork: Robert Boyd

10/18/12 1:39pm

SMALL COLD GALLERY SPACE GOING DOWNTOWN HOTEL SUITE MINI-BAR Having now sold out all remaining end-table and dresser drawer spaces in the hotel-room mini art fair he’s setting up in Room 307 of the Embassy Suites next to Discovery Green downtown, blogger Robert Boyd has found a tenant for one last untapped space in his Pan Art Fair, timed to coincide with this weekend’s Texas Contemporary Art Fair at the convention center down Dallas St. And that space would be: the hotel suite’s mini-bar. With only hours to go before tonight’s opening, Boyd has turned the space over to local experts with considerable experience running compact refrigerated galleries. Curators Emily Sloan and David McClain had been operating The Kenmore, a “cold self-run exhibition object” (which at approximately 3 ft. by 2 ft. by 2 ft. qualifies as one of Houston’s smallest art galleries) out of a few different local art spaces, including Skydive in Richwood Place. “I’m fairly certain I have no idea what [Sloan and McClain] will do,” Boyd is quoted as saying in a notice just added to the Pan Art Fair website, “but fuck-it, no one else wanted the fridge.” [Pan Art Fair; previously on Swamplot] Photo: The Kenmore

10/16/12 1:02pm

ART OF THE DOWNTOWN HOTEL SUITE FURNITURE Blogger Robert Boyd’s upstart Pan Art Fair — now touting itself as “Houston’s smallest art fair” — has been digging deep into the furniture of its Embassy Suites hotel room venue (Suite 307) to find space for more exhibitors. Added to the showing space for the fair, which runs at the same time as the much larger Texas Contemporary Art Fair across Discovery Green in the GRB beginning this Thursday: exhibits in the end-table and dresser drawers. Four of the six sliding spaces, dubbed “micro-booths,” have already been snatched up by artists and galleries, according to the fair’s website. Still available: the south end-table drawer, listed as the former location of “the installation Gideon Bible Piece.” [Pan Art Fair; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Embassy Suites

08/09/12 1:09pm

How long does DiverseWorks plan to stay in the new Midtown location it announced yesterday? A press release put out by the 30-year-old performing and visual arts organization doesn’t say, but DiverseWorks had been listed prominently as one of several groups meant to anchor the proposed Independent Arts Collaborative building planned for a now-vacant block at 3400 Main St. The new DiverseWorks spot in a 5,500-sq.-ft. portion of the former Cleburne Cafeteria building at the corner of Fannin and Cleburne is just 7 blocks south. It’ll open September 7th. With its move out of the warehouse district slot north of Downtown at 1117 East Fwy. it’s occupied for 20 years, the DiverseWorks Artspace will lose its built-in theater as well as its large parking lot and covered dock. It’ll gain a perch closer to the Museum District — and an address first-time visitors will be able to find. (4102 Fannin St.)

Photos: arch-ive.org and Cleburne Cafeteria

06/13/12 5:44pm

In 2009, the now-10-year-old Betz Art Gallery housed in a 1947 cottage-scale venue on West Gray gained a 3-story appendage to expand its exhibition space. Now the gallery towers over itself. Listed in January at $599,000, the property’s asking price dropped to $549,000 at the end of March. That’s around the time artist Lori Betz opened the Betz Art Foundry at the Summer Street Studios, up in the artsy warehouse district off Houston Ave. Although the Montrose-area gallery remains open, it’s moving later this year, a gallery staff member says.

A mashup of modern and vintage structures, the bi-level gallery-home is listed as ADA compliant and reported to be “very energy efficient.” Maybe it’s the dearth of windows. Glass panes that remain post-redo have light-diffusing panels.


06/11/12 12:04pm

Brave Architecture’s new Sicardi Gallery across from the Menil parking lot is “pretty amazing,” declares Glasstire art critic Kelly Klaasmeyer, who was there for Thursday’s opening opening. The 2-story 5,800-sq.-ft. stucco-and-steel structure is a big step up from the gallery’s small previous space next to the McClain Gallery on Richmond. That lone window on the second floor of the new building facing West Alabama is designated as a rear-projection screen for exhibited videos, but they’re not showing yet:


04/02/12 11:50am

Art galleries that are within sight and walking distance of other art galleries might do better than standalone spaces, guesses blogger Robert Boyd after mapping the somewhat clustered Inner Loop locations of Houston’s 9 art-gallery clusters (above): “Since I started this blog, none of the institutions in clusters have shut their doors except for Joan Wich’s gallery, which died when she did. But isolated, non-clustered institutions have had problems.” Call it Houston’s might-as-well effect: “Visiting an art gallery or museum generally requires someone drive (or bike) to it–to make a dedicated trip, in other words. But if there is a second gallery there, the marginal effort required to visit the second art space is practically nil. Might as well, right?”

Map: Robert Boyd

01/11/12 12:01pm

The Sicardi Gallery’s impending move to its new Brave Architecture building currently under construction at the corner of West Alabama and Mulberry in Montrose (above) should send a few ripples through the local gallery landscape, art blogger Robert Boyd notes. Headed for the current Sicardi Gallery space at 2246 Richmond (across the street from Blue Fish House and the Hobbit Cafe), according to Boyd’s sources, will be Thom Andriola’s New Gallery:


11/04/11 11:29am

THE HOUSEWRAP RED CARPET TREATMENT “Tina McPherson, whose day job is as the supervisor of the William R. Jenkins Art and Architecture Library at U.H., . . . conducted interviews of arriving guests (pretty much anyone who came through) similar to those red-carpet interviews one might see on awards shows or celebrity-oriented shows. I’ve always thought it was weird how the backdrop to these interviews would be wallpaper printed with copies of corporate and/or product logos. iPageant parodied this tendency by putting up Tyvek, the super-strong water-proof paper that home builders use to cover the wooden balloon framing of modern houses. Tyvek has its logo printed in a regular pattern, making Tyvek paper perfect for a red-carpet backdrop. McPherson treated everyone who came in as if they were a celebrity, whose answers to her repetitious questions were actually worth hearing. This went out live on the closed-circuit feed.” — Robert Boyd, describing artist Dennis Harper‘s homey one-night performance last month at The Joanna, across the street from the Menil Collection’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel. [The Great God Pan Is Dead] Photo: The Joanna