Art Car Parade


Derek and I attended the Houston Art Car Parade a few weekends ago. I have been wanting to see this for the last two years, but was never able to due to schedules.

The Art Car Parade consists of hundreds of just that – art cars. They range from cool to quirky and downright wacky. There were probably hundreds of them, the parade was two hours long!

The highlight of the parade was seeing Gulf Coast’s truck. Derek worked for Gulf Coast, a literary magazine, for a semester last year, and he helped design the vinyl wrap on the truck. He was happy to get to see it in person. (See the first photo below.)

The weather called for partly cloudy skies, which was true, up until an hour and a half into the parade. A nasty gust of wind came through, which got people screaming. We were sitting across the street from the VIP bleacher section, which was covered with tents. I think everyone was worried that the tents would fly away! Thankfully a bunch of people held the posts down. After the wind came through, the temperature dropped. About 10 minutes later, it poured. It poured on and off for the last half hour of the parade. Thankfully, since we were in downtown, everyone took shelter underneath the building entrances. We did not have to miss any cars, and the rain made for some interesting pictures!

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MFA Thesis Exhibition


All of the students at University of Houston graduating with a master of fine arts put on a show of their artwork, the MFA Thesis Exhibition. Derek has been working toward this show for the entire three year program.

The opening reception for the show was held last night, and we both had a great time. Derek’s pieces in the show seemed to be a big hit, and attracted a lot of attention all night long. Some of the elements were hands on, so Derek was happy a lot of people got involved.

Derek’s artwork in the show as a whole looked at the history of mass media and the early press, and various problems that arise during different times in history.

The individual pieces in the show included: (these are his words, not mine!)

  • Three abstract pieces that are speculations on the future of virtual reality technology. 
  • A roll of paper that features tweets from the @TEN_GOP twitter account, which was a fake account that effected American politics in 2016. For the tweets, Derek needed to make his own emoji font in order to print the tweet collection. The roll of paper is 72 feet long!
  • A sentence on the wall, made with vinyl, which is the definition of the graphic design term, gestalt, which Derek compares to the long-term, emergent effects of mass media.
  • Two recordings, one explaining his work, and the second was the original 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds by Orson Welles. Though its possible that the panic that this broadcast caused was exaggerated, it is one of the earliest case studies in the effects of mass media.
  • Pamphlets that he has created from historical documents from the 1600s to today. There is a book binder machine, and Derek invites people to take some of the pamphlets and make their own books from them.

It was so great to see people coming up to Derek all night long and shaking his hand and hugging him, students, classmates, friends and professors. It was good to see some classmates that I’ve come to known over the past few years.

I even met the wife of one of the classmates, for the first time in the whole three years, and she said, “I have heard so much about all of you!” to which I replied, “We have heard so much about you too!”

There was a toast to all of the graduates in the show, and when everyone was applauding, I tried so hard not to cry. I succeed for the time being, but both Derek and I agree that there will be no stopping the tears during graduation.

Some of my friends from work, who have become friends of Derek too, came to the show. It was great to have their support too.

The pamphlet binding part of his show was a success, and lots of people took pamphlets home. Everyone seemed to be in awe of the roll of tweets too. Someone came up to Derek and said his work was “brilliant.”

About two months ago, Derek was extremely stressed out, but then everything just clicked and came together rather quickly. The last two weeks were hard, getting everything put together and set up, but that big hurdle is done now. Last night was a great way for everyone to say, “WE DID IT!” In the meantime, Derek, and the other exhibitors, have to give artist talks next week about their work. He also has two write two big papers for another class. Graduation is 41 days away!

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Weekend activities


Last weekend we attended two events in one night: The Texas Contemporary Art Fair, and MoonGarden, an art installation at Discovery Green park.

Interestingly enough, two years ago, when I was on my way to meet Derek for the Art Fair, was when my former boss (now retired) gave me a call and wanted to see me for an interview. (Next week I will have been at my job for two years!)

Derek is able to get free tickets through school. This is an event that gives us an opportunity to check out all different kinds of artwork, and we both enjoy it.

Here are pictures of some of my favorite pieces, and some shots of the overall venue:









When we had our fill of the Contemporary Art Fair, we walked across the street to check out MoonGarden.

The art installation consists of large blowup spheres that light up in time to music, and some of them also feature light up dioramas inside that show Houston history. You were able to peek inside and see the moving parts too, which was interesting. It was organized by Lucion Traveling Light, a Montreal-based art collective.

The show was only there for about a week and a half so I am glad that it timed up nicely with the Art Fair for us to go see it

Photos and video:









Derek at the University of Houston


I have written all about our day to day life and our little adventures on Texas Tales for two years now, but I realized that I hardly ever mention what Derek is up to at school, which is the number one reason why we moved here in the first place.

Derek is starting his third and final year in the graphic design masters program. I am impatient and I want the year to go by fast, and he is the opposite. He wants it to s-l-o-w down.

This year he will be quite busy. He has to spend the whole year working on a thesis project. He has narrowed down the topic he wants to do the project on, now he just has to just figure out exactly WHAT to do. The third year students will have a thesis show at the end of the school year in the spring.

The University of Houston has provided Derek with some great opportunities, but he has also chased a few opportunities on his own time as well.

Derek has taught two graphic design software classes to undergrads. This opportunity is offered to the best students during their second year of the masters program. He will continue to teach this year as well. In addition, an unexpected teaching opportunity popped up as well. There were some summer openings, so Derek, along with one of his classmates, taught a six-week summer software class.

Derek also was the Teachers Assistant for one of his professors last year, and was set to do that again this year for a print production class. However, this professor was recently named the interim associate dean, which is making her extremely busy. She has trusted Derek enough to let him teach the class on his own! This is perfect, because when Derek was in the workforce (seems like ages ago) his job was in print production! He is excited to get this class started.

Last fall, Derek submitted a pitch for a session at the National College Media Convention in Dallas, and his pitch was picked! We went to Dallas for the weekend and he spoke to college students about typography.

Derek, and one of his classmates, also submitted a research poster for GRaSP (Graduate Research and Scholarship Projects). The event showcases research taking place at UH and is typically a STEM event (science, technology, engineering and math), so it was new for a graphic designer to join. It gave the graphic design program good publicity.  Here is a link to an article about the event:

He also spent a year working for Gulf Coast Journal, which is a literary magazine that is published on campus. He helped design pages of the magazine. He was specifically recommended for the job, because of his magazine experience, and was able to get class credits for this.

All of this reinforces the idea that moving to Houston was a good thing. Derek hopes to be a professor after graduation. We are hopeful because there are plenty of higher education places in the city.

Weekend explorations


We were pretty busy last weekend. We checked out new murals in downtown on Friday and we went to the Arboretum on Saturday.

Six new murals have been painted on McKinney street, just around the corner from Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Discovery Green, two of our usual hangouts.

A game changer for us has been discovering that Phoenicia customers can park for free in designated spots in the parking garage the building is located in. I am sure we might come here more often now knowing that.

The murals are really bright, and feature catchy, and Houston/Texas related sayings. My favorite one was “Smile, y’all are in Houston.” It was a good opportunity to get some fun photos. I think these will become popular for photos because they are on sidewalks, opposed to in a parking lot, which a lot of Houston’s murals are.

We also then took a stroll around Discovery Green and snapped some shots of all of the flowers and water lilies.

On Saturday we went to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. We go here often, but Derek hasn’t been since they have done the latest expansions and restorations. I have been writing articles about it for work, so I knew that their second parking area, along with new trails and ponds, had just opened the week prior.

The Arboretum is trying to restore the natural ecosystems, as well as give the visitors a more immersive experience. Before, the parking lot was just that, a parking lot. Now when you get out of your car, there are trees and plants everywhere, and the trails run right through the middle as well.

There is one new feature that I love in particular. It is a long curving boardwalk over a pond. It is peaceful.

With all of the restoration efforts, more animals have been seen at the Arboretum. We saw two different yellow-crested night herons on our walk.













Art at the Cistern



Two weeks ago I wrote an article for the paper about a new art installation at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

The Cistern is Houston’s old underground water reservoir. It opened up in 1926, and was in use for decades until it sprung an irreplaceable leak. It was going to be demolished, but then Buffalo Bayou Partnership found out about it and decided to turn it into a space where art could be shared. There are also guided tours to learn about the historical aspect of the space.

The Cistern is a spot that has been on our radar. The media preview of the installation was in the morning, and it timed up nicely that Derek was able to tag along. I am glad I asked if he wanted to go. I figured he would enjoy it even more than me, being an art student and all.

The interesting part about the installation is that the artist, Carlos Cruz-Diez, is three years older than the Cistern itself, born in 1923. Wow! The installation is called Spatial Chromointerference, and it features many light projectors. One way to describe it was psychedelic. We were given white lab coats so that our bodies could interact with the light too.

Here are some pictures, and here is the article I wrote about it for the paper: