Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Visit to Bert Long's House

Robert Boyd

I ran a post on Bert Long's old house, now for sale, a few days ago. All the pictures in that post either came from the listing for the house on HAR (the photos were by Margaret Losinski) or from architect Brett Zamore's website. When realtor Star Massing announced that she was hosting an open house, I decided to go by and check it out myself. I was especially eager to see the art on the walls--art by Bert Long and art by his friends.

Some of the art I could identify, but not all of it. If you know anything about any of the "anonymous" pieces, let me know in the comments!

I thought these eyeglasses were by Long himself. He was obsessed with the image of eyes. But Pete Gershon in the comments informs me that this is not the case.

Bert Long

Another Bert Long eye. You can see several of them in the back courtyard of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Here's a great photo of Long from his days as a chef. This photo was propped up in his studio.

James Surls (object on the left)

James Surls and Bert Long were by all reports close friends. Long had two Surls pieces in this small house, the sculpture above and a lovely pencil drawing over his bed.

James Surls

James Bettison

John Alexander

Solomon Kane

This Solomon Kane is hanging in the bathroom. (I'm always afraid to hang art in the bathroom--I worry that the steam from the shower will damage it.) It has the insane piece below hanging across from it.

Is this by Bert Long?

Another mousetrap-based piece is on the same table as the James Surls sculpture.

Aloma Marquis

Aloma Marquis

Gershon informs me that it is by Aloma Marquis.

Bert Long

Michelle O'Michael (left) and Bert Long,  Surely Somewhere There Is An Answer, 2000 (right)

I think this sleek blue sculpture is by Michelle O'Michael. And according to Gershon, the cast concrete sculpture to its right is Surely Somewhere There Is An Answer by Long.

Bert Long

Long has two large sculptures in his yard. I wonder what will become of them? I can imagine there are more than a few lawns in Houston that would benefit mightily by having a Bert Long on them.

Bert Long

According to Massing, Long's widow, Joan Batson, is moving up North to live close to relatives. I assume she'll take all this art with her. In any case, it won't be here. The house will be a blank slate for its new owners. I hope they treat it with respect for its history and fill it with art they love.


  1. Great tour, Robert. The eyeglasses and mousetrap art are not Bert's. The box-like sculpture covered in mousetraps is by an artist named Aloma Marquis. The round cast-concrete sculpture to the right of O'Michael's is Bert's, however: 2000's "Surely Somewhere There Is An Answer". Undoubtedly Bert's artwork is for sale to motivated buyers; Deborah Colton is handling his work locally.

    1. So who made the eyeglasses, then? (Your corrections have been incorporated into the article.)

    2. I wish I'd asked when I had the chance. Maybe Joan knows? I'll see if I can find out when I'm over there on Friday.

  2. The lion sculpture is awesome. Never mind lawns in Houston. It needs to live in the MFAH's Noguchi Sculpture Garden. BTW, is there a text plate resting on the lion's right forepaw? Is the text recoverable from your image?

    1. I know it sayd "Bert Long, Jr." but I can't read anything else on it.

    2. BERT L. LONG, JR.
      Cast colored concrete,
      fiberglass ready made
      forms, ship builder's paint
      polished gemstones,
      mirror and
      commemorative coin
      12 ' x 7' x 4'

      That thing is awesome, but hell will freeze over before it's in the Noguchi Sculpture Garden. How about somebody buys it and donates it to Discovery Green?

    3. Or on a pedestal in the center of the reflecting pond in front of City Hall.

  3. LOL. City Hall pool is perfect. Discovery Green isn't serious enough. A piece like this wouldn't stand out. (For that matter it probably wouldn't work in the Noguchi anyway. All the clever folks would agree how clever it was to put such a clever statue in such a clever place, pass the brie). This guy needs to take a bite out of its surroundings and put passersby on notice. It needs to go where people will say...