A Force of Color: Painting-in-Action with GONZO247 May 13, 2020

Houston artist GONZO247 reflects on the 2019 MFAH “Spring Festival: Celebrating Colors,” explains why process is important, and salutes the power of art and community.

How did the exhibition Vincent van Gogh: His Art in Life inspire the work of art you created at the festival?
What I really liked was how the exhibition was laid out, starting with Van Gogh’s sketches. I connected with the use of lines because, for graffiti writers, a lot of what we do is sketch-based or letter-based. I used this inspiration, tied it to what I do, and translated to Plexiglas.

Why is a live demonstration important to you?
I think the real art is the process. What you end up with is residual to the energy and work. When an audience can see a finished work and know what it took to get there, they have a deeper appreciation.

What were the high points of the afternoon?
First, I saw an awesome, diverse crowd. I mean that in every sense of the word: people from all nationalities and of all ages. It grabbed a great representation of what Houston is. Second, I had the ability to directly show art—literally in your face.

You have donated the work you created to the Eastwood Academy, and it will be installed once schools reopen. What does that mean to you?
I grew up in Eastwood, a neighborhood in Houston’s East End. When I became more established as an artist, I crossed paths with the Eastwood Academy to do art projects with the students. I thought that creating an artwork in public, and installing it in a school setting, would inspire the kids. It also makes a visual connection between the MFAH and their school. It’s a powerful thing. We can put murals on the streets and sculptures in the parks, but taking it a step further to add art in schools and other accessible places lifts the quality of life.

How do you see art as a positive force for the community?
For my entire life in Eastwood, the only public art was a mural by Leo Tanguma. I was never taken to museums or galleries. The only art I had access to was on the street, when I was a captive audience in the back seat of my parents’ car. That mural inspired me and other kids to become artists. Look how much positivity and creativity came out of that one action.

Art created by GONZO247 at the 2019 MFAH “Spring Festival: Celebrating Colors.”