Friday, October 24, 2008

tales of a artspace operations manager: Part 1

Ok! We got lots of stuff coming up in my department.. Next weekend is the closing of Ben DeSoto's: Understanding Poverty... This show has had a fantasic run(dispite being delayed a week due to our old friend IKE) and gave DW a chance to work other great non-profits like S.E.A.R.C.H. Spacetaker and Health Care for the Homeless(who will be having a small receiption in the gallery on 10/28 4pm to 6pm.. all are welcome.)

Up next is THRIVE(opening on Nov. 14th).. The work is already starting to come in and Im pretty excited. Today I met w/ one of the artist, Elia Arce, to go over some details of really cool performance she'll be doing the night of the opening opening!! I dont want to give it away, but its different from anything I've worked on before( and trust me, that's saying something!!)

As always, there is way more work then we can handle(16 artist!!) so if you want the chance to help out(and get an insder point of view of how these shows are put together), please drop me a line:

Also remember, in the black box theater, we have Catastrophic performing: THE STRANGERER. Which I will be attending tomorrow(I hope). This runs through the 8th, so get you tickets ASAP

Stay tuned to THE REAL DIRT!!!

and don't forget to VOTE!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Piece of paradise at DW

Hello! My name is Tracey Morton and I’m one of the latest additions to the DiverseWorks staff. I have been with the organization for six months and have worked my way from Volunteer/Intern/Consultant (or VIC as I called myself) to contract worker to full-fledge staff member with a snazzy title — Administrative Manager.

I first came to DW because I wanted to get back into PR (my actual bachelor’s degree study) after working five years at the Houston Chronicle. I really fell in love with Houston’s art scene and wanted to work for art space, a year later, here I am.

Working here is awesome, I have met so many great artists and have learned so much about our city’s flourishing art community, but I have to admit, one of the sweetest things I have gotten from working at DW is one most probably take for granted — I have my own office. To some, this is nothing, but for me, with my past life of shared cubicles, or no desk at all, this is major.

Wanna see what it looks like? Take a tour with me:

--Tracey Morton

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Day of Lists

Today has been a day of lists. To-do lists. Board of Director's lists. Works in the Exhibition lists. Artists in the Show lists. Income and Expense lists. iPod Playlists (after all, making lists requires good tunes).

Yesterday Rachel Cook sent me a link to an amusing article by Jennifer Allen called Unsung Heroes. The article provides a snapshot of the life of a gallery assistant and illuminates the random and often absurd nature of that particular line of work. Rachel said it reminded her of her days working at DiverseWorks where every project involved a scavenger hunt for some must-have item required for the execution of a particular work of art. Anyone who has ever had the good fortune of working for an arts organization knows that there is a certain quirkiness about the work that we do. It's so much fun, I sometimes feel guilty for getting paid to do it.

During my time at DW, I've worked with hundreds of artists on countless projects and have fielded some pretty unusual requests for materials to be used in those projects. Last year as we were preparing for our 25th anniversary season, the staff thought it would be fun to assemble a list of some of this stuff. It's a fascinating and funny list--a long line of strange ingredients that, in the hands of the right person, can transcend its original function to become a fantastic work of art. So today, on this day of lists, I present the Partial Record of Random Stuff Used by Artists in Exhibitions at DiverseWorks Over the Last Ten Years list:

52 pop tarts
2000 hot dogs
a barrel of flour
100 gallons of peanut butter
2 ton cement horse
car engine
ping pong table
100 white weather balloons and 1 red one
11,000 feet of black tie wire
4 rolls of reflective tape
20,000 feet of fishing line
car airbags
paper snowflakes
10,000 plastic butterflies
a saddle
a purple monkey
toy fire engine
a working coke machine
a 10'x70' sheet of paper
a pallet of oranges
50 lbs. of onions
bales of hay
a bowl of matches
an ambulance (with a crew)
a pulpit
the contents of a small apartment
surveillance cameras
wooden fruit crates
36 tvs
7 old bedspreads
40 lbs of raw cotton
a baby pool full of jello
5 gallons of tumeric
enough crushed cigarette packs to make a 4 foot pile
disco ball
a barbershop choir
25 mixed breed dogs (it was for a video shoot so don't freak out)
a kindergarten class with teacher
a garage band
a mariachi band
gallon of ketchup
yoga instructor
6 members of falon gong
a block of butter measuring 2'x2'
8 4'x8' sheets of steel
bubble machine
red, orange, yellow and brown duct tape
40' table covered with newspaper stacked 2" thick
3 rottweilers (which we couldn't find so we used dobermans instead)
cowboy costumes for said dogs
a 10' stack of pillows
garbage bag of stuffed animals
polar bear costume (serious, not smiling)
old wooden boats - real ones
a wall-mounted water fountain
toy machine guns
tree trunk
cake icing
25' boomerang shaped rug made of black astroturf
bull horn
dog food cans

And yes, as a matter of fact we DO call that art. I love my job!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Howdy. Welcome to The Real Dirt, DiverseWorks’ weekly blog. You’ll get the skinny from a different staff member each week – sharing stories, ideas and opinions on the “inner workings” of DW.

This season is starting off not like we planned. The entire staff at DiverseWorks is pretty good at “going with the flow” and “enjoying the process,” but Hurricane Ike tested all of that. We’re lucky, don’t get me wrong - no one hurt, no particular damage to the space or to our respective homes – with only some of the staff suffering from the lack of electricity (happy to report that the entire staff has electricity, though it took 15 days for some).

Right before the hurricane, we hung Ben DeSoto’s Understanding Poverty exhibit on poverty and homelessness in Houston over the past 20 years. While we worked with Ben to make this exhibit happen, we knew it was a topic that is “of the moment,” little did we know how clear that moment was going to hit home.

Each day I come to work, I have the opportunity to look at the photographs and absorb the stories. It reminds me how completely lucky I am. I have my partner Matthew, my family and my friends who helped out throughout the 11 days without electricity. Our home had turned into a big, messy closet I didn’t want to go into. I admit that I was a wreck without that place I could call Home, without that sanctuary. It was hard for me to think beyond that day because of uncertainty, exhaustion and the dissolution of my routine. So many people I know – artists, administrators, creative types – all live on a paycheck -to-paycheck existence. We’re living on just this side of “not making it” – and “making it” is now completely redefined (I so live in a world of luxuries).

It’s exciting to be part of an exhibition that so fulfills our mission; Ben’s Understanding Poverty isn’t about politics, isn’t just about the striking photographs - it inspires questions, engages ideas and has changed my daily life. The exhibit tells many stories, but the one that continually comes home to me is about generosity.