Multimedia Exhibit Homages Houston Music Scene's Global Impact

Multimedia Exhibit Homages Houston Music Scene's Global Impact

Artist Tierney Malone

IN 1968, IN the summer months of the Vietnam War, when musicians across the country were gleefully stretching the boundaries of funk, rock and psychedelia to express the fears, hopes and dreams of a draft-age generation, the number-one jam on Black and White radio stations was “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Once the needle hit the vinyl, the listener was treated to a ridiculously funky two-chord bass pattern, followed by drums, electric guitar, and the words, “Hi, everybody. I’m Archie Bell of the Drells of Houston, Texas!” followed by a directive for listeners to dance the Houston-born dance, the “Tighten Up.”

“Archie Bell helped to put Houston’s music scene on the world map,” says artist Tierney Malone, whose multimedia installation BLACK STEREO, a tribute to Houston’s musical culture and history, is on view at Hogan Brown Gallery through Aug. 11.

The exhibition, co-curated by artist Robert Hodge and Community Artists’ Collective executive director Michelle Barnes, is part of the Community Music Center of Houston’s Annual Legacy Project, a month-long series of programs celebrating musical artists, educators, and facilitators who have come from or have ties to Houston’s Third Ward.

'Stereo Sound' by Tierney Malone

Black Stereo reference source collage installation by Tierney Malone

'Anita Moore' by Tierney Malone

The June 9 opening of BLACK STEREO included a performance by the H-Town Orchestra upstairs in the Eldorado Ballroom. Originally built in 1939, and once known as the “Home of Happy Feet,” the Eldorado Ballroom is where hometown talent such as Milton Larkin and His Orchestra and crooner Horace Grigsby regularly performed to packed houses of dancers. A free artist talk by Malone and a performance by Grigsby, who turns 90 this year, will take place at Hogan Brown Gallery on Saturday, June 22, from 2-4pm.

For Malone, who was born in 1964 in Los Angeles, and grew up in Mississippi and Alabama, Houston’s musical history is a never-dry wellspring of inspiration for his art-making. In 2016, while an artist-in-residence at Project Row Houses, he literally built from the inside out the Jazz Church of Houston, remodeling the interior of a shotgun house to create a 30-seat venue that was part art installation, history museum and juke joint.

BLACK STEREO is a natural extension of The Jazz Church, with Malone’s instantly recognizable photo and music ephemera collages — alongside paintings and works-on-paper of words and fonts pulled from jazz, R&B, and classical music album covers and show bills — cut up and remixed to poetic effect. New to Malone’s oeuvre is a series of cobalt-blue digital collage cyanotypes, in which vintage photographs of jazz luminaries Arnett Cobb and Jewel Brown are recast as fully suited-up astronauts, pioneers in the fields of space and time, who made history through the ephemeral art of music. (Each cyanotype is credited to “J.E.T.” an acronym for Malone’s wife Jehn, their daughter Essie, and Tierney.)

“Black music is a connection to our past and a source of inspiration,” says Malone in a press statement, “a space-creating force that encourages and seeds dreams for the future.”

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