WHYY's ArtWorks draws on performing and visual arts stories from its sister PBS stations to bring viewers a geographically diverse arts experience.

Featured artists: Jeffu Warmouth, Ella Dinkins and Josephine Burns, the Art League of Houston and Robert Christensen

An artist uses his unique humor to help a museum revitalize a small town’s art scene, a quilting exhibit echbos the deep roots of a community, a serpentine structure snakes its way through town, and a photographer captures the sunbaked buildings of the old West.

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Episode Highlights:

Jeffu Warmouth

Don’t let the exhibition title fool you… this is seriously funny! Jeffu Warmouth: NO MORE FUNNY STUFF is a mid-career retrospective featuring the puns, parody, and absurdist humor of a beloved New England contemporary artist. Whether riffing on fast-food courts, Spaghetti Western cinema, or concepts of monotony and ennui in our tech and media-savvy society, Warmouth’s photographs, videos, and installations wittily demonstrate the transformative nature of the mundane in our everyday lives.

Art League Houston

Celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2013, Art League Houston is one of Houston’s oldest non-profit art organizations. It was established in 1948 by a group of sixteen artists as member organization whose mission was to design a building that would house a studio workshop and gallery for the continual exhibition of artwork by local artists.

In its early years, Art League Houston sponsored many exhibitions and lectures including the annual “Spring Arts Festival” in the exhibitions hall of the Shamrock Hotel. By the fall of 1953, Art League Houston had become a non-profit organization, signed-up its 300th member, and staged the first ever outdoor art fair at Hermann Park.

By 1956, Art League Houston had raised enough capital to build its first permanent building, which was designed by architect Paul Elliot and built on property leased to them at 906 Tuam St. After eleven years, the land was sold and in 1968, Art League Houston purchased and moved into two connected, circa 1920s houses located at 1953 Montrose, where the Art League Houston adult art school was established later that year.

In 1973, Art League Houston had registered its 780’s member and celebrated its 25th anniversary. By 1983, Art League Houston established the Texas Artist of the Year Award, and six years later, expanded the award to include the Texas Patron of the Year.

In 1990, Art League Houston established its free Healing Art program for adults living with HIV/AIDS, and in 1995, expanded the program to serve the needs of adults living with other severe illnesses including cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and physical disabilities.

Fifteen years later in 2005, Art League Houston kicked off a capital campaign to raise $1 million toward a new 6,000-square-foot contemporary building. During the fundraising campaign, Art League Houston invited Dan Havel and Dean Ruck to create Inversion, a temporary installation using the old Art League Houston building.

In 2007, the new Art League Houston building designed by Houston architect Irving Phillips, has its grand opening. Later that year Art League Houston established a Summer Art Camp for children ages 5 – 12 yrs. Almost ten years later in 2008, Art League Houston established ArtBound!, a free in-school visual arts residency, which places professional teaching artists in Houston I.S.D. Title I elementary schools with little or no visual arts instruction.

In 2013, Art League Houston established the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts to celebrate artists who have made a long-term commitment and outstanding contribution to the visual art world in Texas, and also celebrated the organizations 65th anniversary.

Above the Fray

Tucked away in the northern Florida town of Eatonville are quilters Ella Dinkins and Josephine Burns. By matching scraps together, the two women create authentic woven representations of the African American traditions of their community.

Both artists grew up and currently live in Eatonville, which was founded in 1887, and is the first incorporated African American town in the United States. Burns graduated in 1948 from the Hungerford School in Eatonville and lived on its premises as a boarder, working her way through to pay tuition. Featured in the exhibit is a quilt started by Burn’s mother over 100 years ago and later finished by the artist. It is a beautifully patterned quilt in deep reds and white, installed across a gallery corner.

Dinkins also attended the Hungerford School in Eatonville, and is the daughter of the contractor who built Eatonville’s first elementary school. Dinkins is retired from the Winter Park Telephone Company and has remained a consummate community volunteer.

Robert Christensen

For over 40 years Robert Christensen, a resident of Belen, New Mexico, has been quietly and unobtrusively accumulating a collection of delightful B&W images of the unique and enchanting vernacular architecture of his adopted state. He has recently enjoyed exposure with a one-man exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.

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