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Lawndale Art Center Puts Focus on Contemporary Art in Houston

By Kelly Church

The Lawndale Art Center is an organization dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, especially that of regional artists. Right on the edge of downtown Houston, TX, the facility is easy to access for all exhibits, performances, lectures and other events held on the property. With exhibitions that are selected by a Programming Committee, made up of artists and art professionals in the area who meet twice each year, the Lawndale Art Center has a continuous flow of projects on display.

Current exhibits include "Read Me," a series of optical illusions in the form of sculptures and wall texts that transform the room into a "puzzle book." It's an exhibit that begs for audience interaction as viewers solve clues as a narrative unfolds. Artist Candace Hicks used room escape games as inspiration for her exhibit, getting patrons through a metaphorical door (a door-shaped sculpture) at the end of the exhibit.

Additionally, the organization offers artists a space to develop new and exciting work within the facility. After the building renovation in 2004, the Lawndale Artist Studio Program was developed to give artists a workable studio. The program offers full access to the studios, around the clock every day of the week, for the chosen artists.

"Lawndale offers this space to three artists for nine months of the year (September through May), along with a $1,500 materials budget and $500 monthly stipend," says Dennis Nance, Exhibitions and Programming Director for Lawndale Art Center. "Applications for the program are normally available in the spring with the deadline falling in late May for the residency commencing in September. Selected artists also have their work featured in an exhibition each May and present a public program during their residency term."

Lawndale Art Center also provides guided tours and educational opportunities for guests. One of the organization's most popular is the Dia de los Muertos education program. Through this program, teachers are encouraged to educate their students on the history of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and traditional practices at the festival.

The organization relies heavily on volunteers, even saying they "are needed for every aspect of work we do." Volunteers work in exhibits, help set up art installations, work in the office and assist with refreshments at events.

However, those who can't donate their time but still want to help keep the Lawndale initiatives alive, they can make a monetary donation of any amount, become a member of the facility, buy Lawndale Art Center merchandise, link their customer rewards accounts and shop at Kroger and Randall's grocery stores or link their Amazon account to participate in AmazonSmile which benefits the art organization. All of these efforts help keep Lawndale Art Center free and open to the public with new and creative art programs and exhibits.

"As a non-profit organization, Lawndale relies on the generous donations of our community members, in addition to many volunteer hours given by artists, our board of directors, art enthusiasts and anyone who would like to be involved with the organization," says Nance.

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