Major Show Transforms Former Forever 21 into an Art Gallery

Major Show Transforms Former Forever 21 into an Art Gallery

OPENING THIS FRIDAY, Collect It For The Culture III isn't just a museum-quality group show featuring works by 40 stellar Houston artists working in the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation; it is also a bold initiative to educate first-time collectors on how to buy a piece of art and support the city's art-making community for the long-term.


Since its launch in 2018 by Black Buddha Creative Agency founding director India Lovejoy and artist Robert Hodge, Collect It For The Culture has grown, as Lovejoy puts it, "like a small, cute puppy that's turned into a big Great Dane." This year, to accommodate the large number of works on display, Lovejoy and Hodge have procured a majestic, two-story space (actually, a former Forever 21) in the heart of Downtown. It's the perfect venue for the show's inclusive, curatorial vision, where artists relatively new to the game share wall and floor space with such established masters as George Smith, Jamal Cyrus and Project Row Houses founder Rick Lowe. "We really want to honor these artists with a space that feels like a museum," says Hodge, who is relentless in his search for and support of homegrown talent. "We have to cultivate the artists we have here in Houston, or they're going to leave."

Robert and his wife Nikita Hodge

One of the show's first-time exhibitors is photographer Joanna Booth, whose family portraits elevate her everyday subjects to a "Vogue-level" of high fashion and, for Hodge, speak to the importance of self-care and positive body-image in the throes of the ongoing pandemic. Not surprisingly, many works in the show directly or obliquely reference life in the time of Covid-19. Rabéa Ballin's latest body of work, "Quarantine Portraits," is a survey of hair styles created and worn by its subjects as many salons and barber shops remained shuttered for the foreseeable future. A complete list of the participating artists can be found at collectitfortheculture.com/artists.

"This isn't a show where you can do a quick walkthrough, have a cheap glass of wine, and then disappear," says Lovejoy, who is delighted with both the venue and the artists on display. It's a show that spans generations, mediums, and experiences, but the last thing Lovejoy and Hodge want is for visitors to feel overwhelmed or uninformed when looking at and considering purchasing a work of art. "We do our best to make everyone feel welcome," says Lovejoy, "and open their eyes to the fact that buying art isn't what some people have made it out to be."

Collect It For The Culture III is on view Jan. 29 through Feb. 28, at 1201 Main St., Houston, 77002. Limited tickets are available. Masks required.

Art + Entertainment
Duos, Trios and Teams: ‘Next-Generation’ Mother-Daughter Leppert Duo Debuts

Clare Leppert and Clementine, the Cavachon. Leigh Leppert and Benny, the Bernedoodle.

HOW DID YOU come together as a team? This fall, we are celebrating the introduction of an exciting real estate collaboration between Clare Leppert, longtime Houston Realtor®, and daughter Leigh Leppert. Clare shared a 20+ year real estate partnership with her mother, Bette Carpenter, until Bette’s death in 2016. Having worked solo for several years, Clare in 2021 was awarded Houston Business Journal’s No. 2 Luxury Realtor® in Houston. Leigh, who has been working in marketing for the past decade, has always shared a passion for real estate and watched Clare successfully balance family and career. We are excited to re-create the next generation of a mother-daughter duo at Compass!

Keep ReadingShow less

Ben Berg (photo by Douglas Burns)

THE NEW YEAR has already yielded its fair share of tastebud-tingling headlines — and here's a few more! From a prolific restaurateur's big announcement to a Houston institution's ambitious expansion, catch up on all the latest below.

Keep ReadingShow less
Food

Wiley's 'Judith and Holofernes'

THE ENERGY IN the foyer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Caroline Wiess Law Building is quite lively, thanks to the installation of two provocative paintings, painted 400 years apart — one by Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian 17th-century female artist, the other by Kehinde Wiley, a contemporary, Nigerian-born queer Black artist. Each depicts the grisly climax in the Old Testament Book of Judith, in which the widow Judith decapitates the Assyrian general Holofernes, thus saving her besieged Jewish city of Betulia.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment