"This Is Houston" at the TX Contemporary
Art League Houston is excited to present 'This Is Houston,' a unique installation by Houston-based artist Phillip Pyle II at the 2015 TX Contemporary. For this project, the artist will redesign a series of ad posters that the City of Houston published as part of a tourism campaign during the 1970's and 80's. The posters will be wheat pasted along the walls leading up to the fair's entrance.
"Throughout my artistic career, mining imagery and re-imagining it new ways has been my staple" says the artist. "Being born and raised in Houston this project is close to my heart and I am excited to showcase it."
Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration
Black Panther Party Power
“BLACK PANTHER PARTY POWER”
A new exhibition by Phillip Pyle, II
On view September 25, 2015– November 6, 2015
Opening reception: Friday, September 25, 2015
(Houston, TX) – Fresh Arts presents “Black Panther Party Power,” an exhibition by Houston-based artist Phillip Pyle, II., Pyle will present a collection of original images that recast some of the most recognizable and outspoken activists of the Black Panther Party as superheroes.
At its inception, the Black Panther Party's core practice was to arm citizen patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality in Oakland, California. In 1969, community social programs became a central activity of party members. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, and community health clinics. Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover called the party "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” and he supervised a comprehensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership and incriminate party members in an effort to discredit, criminalize and drain the organization of resources and manpower.
In an attempt to reimagine the history of African-American people in the United States, Pyle will represent these vilified historical figures of the Black Panther movement in their new fantastic roles.
The public is invited to a free opening reception beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2015, at Fresh Arts, 2101 Winter Street, Studio B11, Houston, TX, 77007. Free parking is available.
“As a child, I was told numerous stories about the Black Panthers by my father,” Pyle says. “To him, the Panthers were heroes and defenders of the less fortunate, fighting for civil rights of African-Americans across the country. When my father told me stories about the Panthers, the majority of my heroes at that time were of the animated variety. Each Saturday morning, the cartoon Voltron was one of the shows that consumed my attention. The combination of outfits and large animal robots that united to form an even larger robot was thrilling.
As a result of Pyle’s mistrust of the traditional narrative of the Black Panther Party, he has chosen to represent the historical members on a galactic scale.
Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration
(EPCA) Emancipation Park Community Association
I am a lifelong resident of Third Ward, Houston, Texas. My grandparents moved to the neighborhood in 1947, and my grandfather was the first economics professor at Texas Southern University. This legacy has always shaped my life in Third Ward as well as my artwork. The neighborhood has a rich history with landmarks including Texas Southern University, the Eldorado Ballroom, Project Row Houses, the Shape Community Center, Emancipation Park — the first park for African-Americans in Texas and the site of a multi-million city renovation — and Unity Bank — the first black-owned bank in Texas. There are currently five Houston Independent School District schools in the area, which spans 1,851 acres.
I feel indebted to the neighborhood for the amazing experiences and wisdom I have gained from its residents. Unfortunately as gentrification has taken hold of the area, it has revealed and intensified a disunity in the neighborhood, where many of its unique qualities are nearly extinct. As of 2014 the Third Ward had a population of 16, 218. Based on a 2014 City of Houston Demographic and Income Profile, Third Ward, had a per capita income of $12,341 and 3,486 rental units compared to 1,218 owner occupied units. In 2008, a Third Ward Redevelopment Council report concluded that area shoppers and residents spent $345 million outside of the Third Ward per year, highlighting a lack of business within the community and the lost spending potential of the residents.
There are no grocery stores and only fast food opportunities. Arts organizations in the area have become isolated, working in a sort of survival behavior. In many ways the residents practice the same behavior as they watch the neighborhood change and await more property tax increases and cultural dislocation as developers move in. I don’t believe there is any way to halt the current gentrification. Instead, I’m proposing a way to not only benefit from it but help shape its direction.The city of Houston has no zoning so keeping a unified neighborhood aesthetic is a difficult task. And with a large number of residents living in renter-occupied units any deed restrictions would be limited.
As an artist, I have a responsibility to the community. So far, my community outreach has taken the form of guerrilla street art, starting with a project that highlighted the area’s lack of grocery stores. Borrowing the logo and font from a well-known Texas chain, I placed a sign on the corner of Holman and Dowling Street that read, "Coming Soon, Whole Foods Third Ward.” The sign caused a frenzy of speculation and bewilderment. A popular local real-estate blog posted a photo of the sign and the comments ranged from delight to fear. Existing Whole Foods locations in Houston answered calls from disgruntled residents of other neighborhoods asking why Whole Foods wasn’t coming to their area. After a weekend of news cameras and buzz, the city was told to remove the sign by Whole Foods themselves. The sign helped create a feeling in the Third Ward that maybe it did deserve a grocery store or at least a place where vegetables could be purchased. It also convinced me that unifying the neighborhood through a widely viewed but simple intervention could get the attention of big business and help maintain the history of the community. Connecting my love of satire and my artistic abilities, the idea of the Emancipation Park Community Association was born.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood’s large percentage of renter occupied units makes a true civic club next to impossible. Instead, this pseudo civic-club would derive its power precisely from the numbers of those typically excluded from conventional civic clubs. It would pose as a real civic club as long as it remains beneficial to the neighborhood. In the same way that the Whole Foods sign managed to start a uniquely visible conversation that had previously happened among a dedicated few, this project hinges on the impact of the buzz that signs strategically placed around the neighborhood can drum up. The collection of signs will blanket the neighborhood with attention usually reserved for city elections.
Signs will read:
EPCA Gun Club Now Enrolling!
EPCA HATES EYESORES (Placed on abandoned buildings)
THIS IS AN EYESORE (Placed on abandoned buildings)
EPCA Yard of the Month
Please Don’t Make Me a Condo!
Does Anyone Know Where to Get a Tomato Near Here?
This Is Our Neighborhood & It’s Not For Sale ( An ode to a Rick Lowe sign made in the early 90’s fighting against gentrification)
Elders of the community, including Rick Lowe, co-founder of Project Row Houses; DeLoyd Parker, founder of the SHAPE Community Center and Theola Petteway, executive director of the OST/Alameda Corridors Redevelopment Authority, met with me in April 2015 and supported the various sign ideas calling out businesses and absentee landowners but suggested delaying until the renovated Emancipation Park was closer to reopening.
In the meantime, I have focused on the creation of the civic club, securing funding from the Idea Fund and the Houston Arts Alliance. The project was featured on Creative Time’s On Our Radar. But the funding hasn’t been enough to grow the idea to what it can be. With a more substantial grant, I can create something with a lasting impact that will be self-sustaining. It will be a tool for the community for years to come, evolving with its needs.
The first phase of this project is community beautification. Going door-to-door throughout Third Ward, which I’ve split into five sections, a team of volunteers will ask members of the community to put the EPCA signs in their yard and give them brochures focused on issues relevant to the community, such as access to produce or food of any kind, the lack of commercial businesses, the performance of local schools and the development of a unified effort to address those issues. The club can take up these issues but, in occupying a liminal space between official and unofficial, it can also rely on satire and guerrilla signage to advance conversations in a way the typical civic club could not.
Here is an outline of the steps the project will take knowing full well that the traditional civic club process may not come to fruition but the more official the civic club appears the more powerfully it will resonate in the community and the city.
Within the first month of the project, the association will host a kickoff event at a neighborhood landmark with refreshments, music and a short presentation. The event will both introduce the community to the association and help recruit volunteers to get it going. It will point residents toward next steps, including a website where they can find information about association initiatives, volunteer opportunities and share neighborhood memories and hopes. A Twitter feed can pull in photos and posts promoting the effort, using the hashtag #EPCALOVE.
With momentum building, the next months begin with an on-the-ground, door-to-door effort, flooding the neighborhood with information and signs. Based on other examples of successful civic club activities in Houston, we’ll start an “EPCA Yard of The Month” initiative complete with a sign, balloons and fanfare to accompany the honor. Each business located in the neighborhood will also receive stickers reading, “We Heart EPCA.”
The following months will move forward from the community building into actionable efforts. The EPCA, again using signs, will highlight abandoned buildings and their absentee landowners, garbage waiting for city pickup, and other neighborhood eyesores. A monthly meeting at the Third Ward Multi-Service Center to talk about what further community concerns are. This month will also feature the publication of the first quarterly, with important community news and dates.
After the first meeting, the group will meet with Katye Tipton, Director of the city of Houston Department of Neighborhoods to gain acknowledgement for the EPCA as a community association and establish a place at the table.
At the end of the year meeting, the association will host its annual State of the EPCA address to discuss the organization’s progress and goals.
As the group’s various ongoing projects — like the Yard of the Month, the website and quarterly — gain momentum, the organization will continue to look for opportunities to work strategically. We’ll draw on resources like the Vibrant Streets Toolkit, a step-by-step community organizing template first created for Washington, DC’s Office of Planning aimed at empowering underserved communities, to help guide our efforts.
In describing Henri Lefebvre’s revolutionary imagining of the urban landscape, geographer David Harvey said:
“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”
This is the task of the EPCA; to make and remake our home and ourselves through the exercise of a collective power.
The use of art to motivate change no matter how small has been proven to be an effective strategy and I will follow this concept to start a dialogue for the improvement and continued beautification of Third Ward.
Art Direction, Branding, Graphic Design
Design for the #1 exotic car company in Africa. Mhunzi Motors
Art Direction, Branding, Graphic Design
Long Live Flower Man
For the Houston 2014 Thanksgiving Day Parade, I had the opportunity to create a parade float paying tribute to a legendary figure from my community. Cleveland Turner aka Flower Man, was the epitome of creating something from nothing.
presenting...The Black Guys
Art League Houston is excited to present 'The Black Guys', an experimental performance-based exhibition by artists Robert Hodge and Phillip Pyle the Second. Inspired by the well-known Houston-based collaborative artist team The Art Guys (Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing), the artists will recreate a series of five Art Guy performances; Try to Cry!, Dish it Out!, Stop N Go!, Huh?!, The Art Guys Agree on a Painting. The duo will also present five original performances by 'The Black Guys'.
Art Direction, Performing Arts
Recent 2D Work
Art Direction, Digital Art
CTGME is an experimental exhibition at the University Museum of Texas Southern University, featuring installation, performance and mixed media works by select Houston artists. This show has been initiated by artist Robert Pruitt but is a highly collaborative venture between all the artists involved. CTGME is pulled from a lyric of Hip Hop artist Brother J of X-Clan, and conjures up images of Hannibal and his elephants riding to meet the Romans in Battle. The title serves to reference historical ideas of value, migration, and shifting concepts of power. To that end this exhibition will attempt to replicate components from early 20th century World Fairs. Each participating artists creates their own pavilion showcasing innovative ideas of power, identity, and worth.
Fine Arts, Pattern Design, Print Design
The Beauty Box (Third Ward)
The Beauty Box is an outdoor public installation illuminating a particular time in an average Third Ward home prior to integration. The project transformed an abandoned portion of a building into an installation and gallery space where artist talks, round table discussions, and other public events were held.
Architecture, Fine Arts, Interior Design
Will They Reminisce Over You
Will They Reminisce Over You, looks to remind the viewer of those that have passed away, and forces you to reflect on your own "works" in life.
Exhibition Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design
Children’s building blocks (Legos) have been used to craft an enormous amount of things, from the Empire State Building, to famous movie scenes. Caroline Plantation was the first attempt at a full scale reproduction of a slave plantation. Loosely based on the Wavering Place Plantation located in South Carolina, the piece will featured over 1000 legos. Exhibited at the Houston Museum of African American Culture
Art Direction, Fine Arts, Sculpting
STACKS :: BLACK FRIDAY
STACKS is a group exhibition curated by Robert Pruitt. 5 week-long laboratory residencies will occupy the Main Gallery as a site of transformation addressing themes of Black imagination, creativity, and commodification. The exhibition features a series of performances and installations by five emerging artists:Jamal Cyrus, Nathaniel Donnett, Autumn Knight, Phillip Pyle II, and M'kina Tapscott. Writer Garry Reece provides an online narrative component tracking and examining each artist's project, offering his thoughts on possible meanings of the work. This project pays homage to William Pope.L. and The Black Factory
On STACKS opening night, the artists invite the audience to participate by donating items and objects that are loaded with cultural stigmas, represent a negative stereotype, demeaning, poorly crafted, low budget, antiquated Black memorabilia and paraphernalia. As part of a performance the artists will destroy these materials.
STACKS looks at the relationship between cultural tropes and the notion of an authentic black experience. As a cathartic act, these five artists will use the exhibition's opening to publicly deconstruct, destroy, and de-power materials that impede the construction and reception of Black imaginative power.
Digital Art, Graphic Design
VALUE$ - Project Row Houses: Round 36
The removal of the words from picket signs during civil rights marches leaves the content of the sign up to the imagination of the viewer. It also forces you to focus more on the people holding the blank signs. The Texas School Board has released a history textbook that has omitted, and twisted many historical facts. The idea of the picket signs being blank is a visual description of what the Texas School Board has done.
The artwork was selected as a finalist in the 2011 Bombay Saphire/Artisan Series