Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pearland High School vs HSPVA for the Championship

Robert Boyd

The Bayou City Art Festival  displays installations by Houston area high school students every year in Memorial Park. They call this the emerging artist program. I don't know how many entries they get, but I've noticed for the past few years that the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts always has a lot of work in the show. But they have a rival--the unexpectedly strong Pearland High School. (Other schools have pieces from time to time, but these two seem to really dominate.) HSPVA is a given--of course they should dominate this contest of champions. But why Pearland? Of all the high schools in the Houston area, why would this one in particular have such a strong showing?

I think the answer may be an art teacher there named Sam Jowers. Jowers has a BFA from the University of Houston and seems to be an enthusiastic supporter of her student's art. (For example, she has posted her student's artwork on Artsonia, an online children's art museum, for the past four years.)

High schools all over Houston compete in the arena of sports. Here they are competing in the arena of art. Who shall emerge victorious?

Jose Aaron Rosenblatt, Poetic Edda

Pearland's Jose Aaron Rosenblatt put Pearland on the board with his mythological Poetic Edda.

Jose Aaron Rosenblatt, Poetic Edda

He appears to be going full Scandinavian with this sculpture, which may in fact be a portrait of the dragon Fáfnir.

Zoie Brown, One of These is Not Like the Other

HSPVA's Zoie Brown makes a strong comeback for her team with a totally different strategy. One of These is Not Like the Other is a stack of very similar looking white cylinders that appeared to made out of plaster (but I'm not sure what it was actually made of). This abstract, rather minimal piece is a stunning riposte to Rosenblatt's opening gambit, making Poetic Edda seem a tad overblown in comparison.

Brittany Santos, Riding Through Walls

Brittany Santos, Riding Through Walls

In a stunning countermove, Pearland's Brittany Santos gives a conceptual piece, Riding Through Walls, which reminds me of a kinder, gentle and more metaphysical Ed Kienholz.

Helen Little, Busy Busy Busy

Helen Little from HSPVA created a groundhugging nautical diorama with Busy Busy Busy. But Pearland's Rachel Beck had a similar idea in her piece Weight of the World.

Rachel Beck, Weight of the World

But the winning play was by Mason Marth of Pearland High School, with his striking sculpture Peace of War.

Mason Marth, Peace Over War

This well-designed hand was constructed out of chicken wire and transparent plastic water guns. The irony is a little easy but quite timely, and the plastic guns looked fantastic with the sunlight shining through them.

Mason Marth, Peace Over War (detail)

With Peace Over War, I declare Pearland High School to be this year's champs.

Of course I'm just kidding about the competition aspect here. This isn't just another football game. It's a fairly remarkable collection of large-scale artworks by high school students. Just by size alone, they seem way more ambitious than anything I ever attempted in high school. But the dominance of Pearland High School and HSPVA should be taken as a challenge to every other high school in the Houston area--show us what you got! I know there are creative, talented and ambitious would-be artists all over Houston. I want to see their installations next year!


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