Senator John Heinz


  • The New York Times honors the 50th anniversary of Arthur Mitchell’s pioneering Dance Theater of Harlem through the recollections of those who worked with him go >>
  • Natasha Trethewey and her latest book are profiled by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette go >>
  • The New York Times profiles Carol Gilligan and her new book go >>
  • Dave Eggers' latest book, The Parade, is reviewed by the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times go >>
  • The New York Times interviews Roz Chast and her sometime writing and ukulele partner, Patricia Marx go >>
  • Boston Modern Orchestra Project to end their season with April tribute to John Harbison go >>
  • Michelle Alexander writes OpEd for The New York TImes on the need to face violent crime honestly and courageously go >>
  • Natasha Trethewey talks about making poetry in an interview for Guernica go >>
  • John Harbison is profiled by the Wisconsin State Journal for his 80th birthday go >>
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha pens an OpEd about remaining lessons from the Flint water crisis go >>
  • Mason Bates' first opera, "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs," wins a Grammy for Best Opera Recording go >>
  • Edward Zigler, architect of Head Start and 5th Public Policy recipient, dies at 88 go >>
  • Nadine Burke Harris to be appointed as California's first Surgeon General go >>
  • Natasha Trethewey is named as a chancellor for The Academy of American Poets go >>
  • Luis Garden Acosta, co-recipient of the 5th Heinz Award for the Human Condition, dies at 73 go >>
  • Cary Fowler discusses the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the BBC’s “Witness” podcast go >>
  • Arthur Mitchell is honored in a memorial service at Manhattan's Riverside Church go >>
  • Joseph DeSimone receives the 2018 National Academy of Sciences prize in convergent science go >>
  • John Harbison and his multi-decade career is profiled by Strings magazine go >>
  • Roz Chast is interviewed, on the occasion of her new retrospective, by The New York Times go >>
  • James Comer's School Development Program at the Yale Child Study Center celebrates 50 years go >>
  • Vanity Fair interviews Natasha Trethewey about her work and new retrospective poetry collection, "Monument" go >>
  • The New York Times reviews 'Relations,' with Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller and Ishmael Houston-Jones go >>
  • Natasha Trethewey is interviewed by NPR's Weekend Edition go >>
  • John Luther Adams writes for The Guardian on why he chose music over activism go >>
  • Joseph DeRisi talks about his work and virus hunting on Still Untitled - The Adam Savage Project go >>
  • Gregory Asner to establish Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at Arizona State University go >>
  • Jane Lubchenco awarded the 2018 Fellow Medal from California Academy of Sciences go >>
  • George Hatsopoulos, 3rd Heinz Awards recipient in Technology, the Economy and Employment, dies at 91 go >>
  • Arthur Mitchell, 7th Heinz Awards recipient for Arts and Humantities, dies at 84 go >>
  • John Luther Adams' work, In the Name of the Earth, to premiere in Central Park this Saturday go >>
  • Dave Eggers writes an article for The Guardian about The International Congress of Youth Voices go >>
  • TIME interviews Mona Hanna-Attisha on the occasion of her new book go >>
  • The Carnegie Corporation honors Mona Hanna-Attisha as one of 38 Distinguished Immigrants for 2018 go >>
  • Michelle Alexander to join The New York Times opinion pages go >>
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha is interviewed by Rachel Maddow go >>
  • Ann Hamilton's O N E E V E R Y O N E receives the Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network award go >>
  • Hugh Herr has a new TED talk on what it would really mean to be a cyborg go >>
  • Jake Wood of Team Rubicon to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service at 2018 ESPYs go >>
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha adapts a chapter from her new book for The New York Times' Op-Ed page go >>
  • Greg Asner helps to create high-resolution maps of Caribbean coral reefs go >>
  • Dee Boersma and her work are featured in The Pew Charitable Trusts' "After the Fact" podcast go >>
  • James Nachtwey is profiled by The Times in London as his new show, Memoria, is on in Paris go >>
  • Rita Dove talks to the Columbia Journalism Review on pairing poetry with journalism go >>
  • Abraham Verghese writes a piece for The New York Times Magazine on one major downside of electronic health records go >>
  • Sierra magazine profiles the ongoing challenges Beverly Wright and others face in combating environmental racism in New Orleans go >>
  • The LA Times explores John Luther Adams' career and his most recent work go >>
  • Mason Bates to premiere his new work, "Garden of Eden," with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra go >>
  • Jane Lubchenco receives 2018 Vannevar Bush Award go >>
  • Salman Khan receives the 2018 Visonary of the Year Award form The San Francisco Chronicle go >>
  • John Luther Adams writes in the New York Times what it is like to hear the desert in music go >>
  • Freeman Hrabowski III reflects in The Atlantic on UMBC's successes in closing the achievement gap go >>
  • John Luther Adams and his new compositition, Become Desert, are profiled by the Seattle Times go >>
  • Elizabeth Kolbert explores our misunderstandings about race and our genetic heritage for National Geographic go >>
  • Gretchen Daily is profiled in Stanford Magazine about helping organizations understand Natural Capital go >>
  • John Luther Adams writes about Alaska and his new work, Become Desert, for Slate go >>
  • Leroy Hood reflects on almost two decades with the Institute for Systems Biology go >>
  • Freeman Hrabowski III to receive the American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award go >>
  • James Nachtwey's series on opioid addiction is TIME's first issue devoted entirely to one photographer's work go >>
  • Dan Sperling co-authors piece on the significant benefits of using Uber and Lyft for carpooling go >>
  • Hal Harvey co-authors an Op-Ed for The New York Times on a utility's embrace of wind and solar go >>
  • Sanjeev Arora writes Op-Ed for The Hill on why rural Americans lack access to quality health care go >>
  • Jacques d'Amboise and an event on 'Balanchine's Guys' is profiled by New York Times go >>
  • Nadine Burke Harris is interviewed about her work on childhood trauma by The New York Times go >>
  • The Los Angeles Times reviews Dave Egger's new book, The Monk of Mokha go >>
  • Nadine Burke Harris is profiled on NPR about her work and new book, The Deepest Well go >>
  • Paul Farmer is awarded the National Academy of Sciences' 2018 Public Welfare Award go >>
  • A 2014 stage adaptation of Natasha Trethewey’s poetry collection, Native Guard, is performed at the Atlanta History Center go >>
  • Sal Khan is named 2018 Visionary of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle go >>
  • The New York Times looks at how some U.S. prisons have restricted prisoner access to Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow go >>
  • Freeman Hrabowski talks to The Baltimore Sun about being inspired to march as a teenager by Martin Luther King Jr. go >>
  • Bruce Katz co-authors a new book, The New Localism, on the evolving importance of metropolitan areas go >>
  • The Flux podcast talks in depth with Dean Kamen about inventing go >>
  • Politico profiles Dean Kamen’s work on the ARMI Initiative for regenerative organ medicine go >>
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha's work in Flint, MI, highlights a rising focus on environmental health impacts in medicine go >>
  • Sangeeta Bhatia is profiled in Brown University's alumni magazine go >>
  • John Holdren to receive the 2018 Moynihan Prize from The American Academy of Political and Social Science go >>
  • The Wall Street Journal profiles Joseph DeSimone's 3D printing company, Carbon, and its partnership with Adidas go >>
  • Mason Bates is named Musical America's 2018 Composer of the Year go >>
  • Steve Wozniak to launch Woz U, an education program to help people enter into the tech workforce go >>
  • Jacques d'Amboise is interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show go >>
  • Roz Chast's relationship to NYC is profiled in The New York Times go >>
  • Jerry Franklin and his ideas for new forestry practices are profiled in Science go >>
  • Greg Asner is interviewed by NPR's Living On Earth go >>
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha is interviewed by WESA public radio in Pittsburgh go >>
  • Rita Dove is profiled as one of TIME Firsts: Women Leaders Who Are Changing the World go >>
  • Hugh Herr is profiled in-depth by Outside Magazine go >>
  • The Los Angeles Times explores John Luther Adams’ new art installation at UC San Diego go >>
  • Bruce Katz co-authors new research on how cities can deliver better outcomes for children and youth go >>
  • The New York Times Travel Section explores August Wilson's Pittsburgh go >>


The Heinz Awards


January 23, 2005

The Houston Chronicle

Rick Lowe's world: A work in progress
Dynamic artist's goal is to change society with his creativity

By Patricia C. Johnson

One hand is that of a social activist, the other a humanist philosopher's. Both belong to artist Rick Lowe. . His distinctive dreadlocks are shorn, but everything else about him has grown: the warm smile, eloquence and intelligent approach to problem-solving, the dedication to making art part of everyone's life. . "It's about creating a heightened sense of caring about the place where you are," Lowe says. "You can dance any way you want to, but when you dance as art, it's not random; you dance with a certain structure. It's the same thing in a physical environment: You give it order; you arrange it in a way that is aesthetic."

His art takes several forms. One is sculpture, as in the "Victims" series of the 1980s. The full-scale human figures addressed conflicts within the black community and with powers such as the police. Exhibited during rallies and in exhibits at the Contemporary Arts Museum and SHAPE Community Center, the flatrelief "Victims" consisted of small tableaux about real events, including the 1989 trial of a Houston policeman accused (and later convicted) of killing Ida Lee Delaney, a black woman.

Soon Lowe adopted Joseph Beuys' concept of "social sculpture" - a definition of art as an interdisciplinary process in which thought and discussion are core "materials." He melded the German artist's cerebral approach with the humanism of artist and teacher John Biggers, whose art celebrated the rich traditions of his African-American ancestry and culture.

"Those two, coming together, gave me my place," Lowe says.

"Rick Lowe - Toward Social Sculpture", which opened Thursday at the Glassell School of Art, spotlights recent photographs by the artist and documents several of his civic projects. It's his first exhibition in almost a decade.

"What motivates me is a sense of justice," he says. For the exhibit, "I wanted to connect back somehow to the "Victims". I made some small images that deal with the quote by Martin Luther King, 'Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.' "

The new works

Lowe's house on Truxillo, in Houston's Third Ward, is a tight brick cottage with a front door painted purple and a sunny yellow kitchen. He bought and renovated it seven years ago, claiming the dining room as his studio. Small works, ink, paint and brushes crowd the table and line the walls. Here, too, are photographs he shot in the neighborhood and altered for the current show.

Lowe overlaid each image with one of three shapes, symbolizing what he defines as the key elements of his social sculpture.

A solid oval, he says, stands for pondering: "I'm trying to show how you have to be able to identify and ponder an issue or subject or area, until you figure out some of the elements and connect to something."

An oval ring represents linkage: "How do you link things that are there and make sense?"

The third is a square with an oval opening, manifestation of the hope that "comes out of linkage."

The eighth of 12 children in a family of sharecroppers, Lowe was born in impoverished Russell County, Ala., in 1961. He attended Columbus College in Georgia and was artist-in-residence at the Springer Art Center in Biloxi, Miss., before moving to Houston at age 23. In 1990 he enrolled at Texas Southern University, where he came under Biggers' spell.

"No one had ever talked to me about community, about the African-American experience, in such a positive light," Lowe says. "I started thinking about that, looking at this neighborhood, the Third Ward, and thinking of the possibilities."

Hanging with fellow artists Bert Long, Jesse Lott, Bert Samples, George Smith, James Bettison and Floyd Newsum - the Magnificent Seven, they dubbed themselves - he began brainstorming.

"We didn't know what we wanted to do insofar as working together," Lowe says. "We started thinking, 'What is it that we can do that could significantly impact the African-American community?'

"There was a kind of eureka moment when I drove down Holman Street one day and saw those old houses. There was a spark that really connected everything - Biggers' notion of the African-American family and Beuys' language of social sculpture. It just felt right, it made sense, and it was very clear."

Those "old houses" were a cluster of tiny, dilapidated shotgun homes that eventually became Project Row Houses, founded by Lowe in 1992. The idea was to rescue the historically significant structures. Introduced to the United States by freed Haitians in the 19th century, shotgun houses became symbols of freedom for African-Americans, who built them in clusters that shaped Freedmen's Town. The goal was to transform them into a vital community resource for their primarily African-American neighborhood.

A private grant allowed the nonprofit Project Row Houses to acquire the properties in the middle of 1993; with additional private, corporate and foundation money, eight little houses were restored the following year. That October, the project opened its doors to art installations by African- American artists, among them Lott, Tierney Malone and Newsum, along with Colette Veasey, Steven Bernard Jones, Annette Lawrence, Vicki Meek and David McGee.

An eclectic experience

More than 10 years later, Lowe makes clear that he is the founder, not the director, of Project Row Houses.

"What I like to think of my role as being is kind of artist-in-residence, where I experience the place," he says. "I don't work there; I don't live there. I ponder it. I think, what are the next possibilities? What can happen?

"I go to the staff (executive director Michael Peranteau and Deborah Grotfeldt, director of the project's community development corporation), to the board and others, and talk about these things that are possible, see if there are any links or connections to make it happen."

Lowe's proven leadership is tapped by many organizations, including the Andy Warhol Foundation, where he is a board member. His work with Project Row Houses has been recognized with several awards. In 2002, the Heinz Family Foundation gave him its $ 250,000 prize, which he shared with Dudley Cocke, director of the Roadside Theater in Whitesburg, Ky. Two years earlier, the American Architectural Foundation gave him its prestigious Keystone Award, "for exemplary leadership that advances the Foundation vision of a society in which everyone uses architecture to enrich their lives and transform their communities."

In April, the Skowhegan (Maine) School of Sculpture and Painting, which recognizes leaders in the arts, will present him with the Governor's Award for Outstanding Service to Artists. Past recipients include Houston arts patron Dominique de Menil and artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

Glassell curator Valerie Loupe Olsen says Lowe's experience at Project Row Houses has "enabled him to develop skills that benefit other projects." Some have succeeded; others have not.

"Just as there is something to learn from things that work out right, you learn from things that might not work out," Lowe says. "You just keep going."

The exhibit documents two successes: "Latitude 32- Navigating Home", for the 2002 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., and an ongoing project in Delray Beach, Fla.

Lowe worked with artists Mary Jane Jacobs and Suzanne Lacy in Charleston on a project about Ansonborough Homes, a public housing project razed a decade earlier. It incorporated stories by two former residents and a model of the homes created with students at Clemson Architecture School. Lowe reconstructed "the little porches we built for Spoleto" in his current show.

Photographs document the Delray project, where Lowe worked with four local artists. Two were from the upscale east side of a major thoroughfare, where museums and other cultural institutions are situated; the others were from the lowincome west side, where culture and community revolve around churches. The exchange, or "loop," as the project calls it, continues today.

One plan that did not succeed was Lowe's proposal, through the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, to integrate the city's famous folk-art monument - a popular tourist destination known as the Watts Towers - with its essentially derelict neighborhood. Others had tried and failed as well. Says Lowe, "Each (plan) would have cost between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000, and nothing actually hit the ground." Basically, he says, laughing, the end result has been "paper, the documents - worth about $ 1.8 million!"

What truly is valuable

That old adage about art following money has it wrong. In today's world, money follows art. Think SoHo or Chelsea in New York.

More to the point, think Houston's Third Ward. The primarily African-American neighborhood languished in poverty and disrepair for decades. Project Row Houses has changed that, and gentrification has begun. As real-estate developers move in, the project's campus has expanded, as have programs to preserve the culture and quality of the area.

"What we're trying to say is, 'Look, we know you have designs for this land, and you're going to do what you're going to do,' " Lowe says. " 'But look, there's something of value already here, so why not do what you do as it relates to this already-existing value?'

"The idea is to elevate the importance of the history and contribution of the low-income neighborhoods," he says, "and allow people to see there are some things there that makes the neighborhood valuable."
Rick Lowe, and his new exhibit, profiled in The Houston Chronicle