Rick Lowe — whose
Project Row Houses famously helped transform one of Houston, Texas’ worst neighborhoods — will turn a low-income and crime-riddled neighborhood into a large art project. The project is part of a multi-million grant program called Nasher Xchange, for which the Nasher Sculpture Center, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, has commissioned 10 contemporary artists to produce 10 public art projects for 10 sites across Dallas.
Originally from Alabama, Rick Lowe moved to Houston 28 years ago to pursue his art. It was during an in-studio visit with the very children his urban village had raised where the inner-city high-school students questioned the nature of his large-scale paintings and sculptures that focused on social issues. The students pushed him to make the ghetto his gallery, the streets his studio. After taking that charge to heart, nearly 20 years later through Project Row Houses, Lowe has made the Third Ward his masterpiece. It’s a rare example of an artist leaving the comforts of the studio life for the dangers of a very real, and very fragile canvas.
Project Row Houses (PRH) is a neighborhood-based nonprofit art and cultural organization in one of the Houston, Texas’ oldest African-American communities. PRH began in 1993 as a result of discussions among African-American artists who wanted to establish a positive, creative presence in their own community. Artist and community activist Rick Lowe spearheaded the pursuit of this vision when he discovered the abandoned 1 1/2 block site of twenty-two shotgun-style houses in Houston’s Third Ward. The shotgun houses became the perfect opportunity to pursue the creation of a new form of art. They had two key elements: 1) a beautiful form recognized by the renowned Houston artist Dr. John Biggers to be filled with architectural, spiritual, and social significance, and 2) a need for social action among the community to bring the project to life.