Navasota, You Rock!

IMG_8615(October 1st, 2015 – Me on my first day.)

Over the past 6 months, I have been living and working in Navasota, Texas. I have learned a lot about small town living, Texas, America, and myself. For my final blog post I wanted to answer some of the questions people have been asking me.

“Did you like it here?”

Yes. I found the people of the City of Navasota to be friendly and welcoming. There was definitely culture shock with moving from a big city to a small town in the country, and also from the North to the South. However I found once I sort of relaxed and made more proactive attempts to engage the community, the people of this city were enthusiastic, authentic, intelligent, helpful, and very curious about what I was working on.

“What would you have done differently during your time in Navasota?”

I would not have waited so long to ask for help. Almost to the day, when I asked Lupe at the gym and Dom in my garage why I was having such a difficult time connecting, they both gave me candid and smart answers that helped me change the way I approached the City. I made a way more conscious effort to engage and put myself out there, and it worked.

“How has your work changed?”

  1. Interacting with the floor. Because of the required hanging system in the Horlock House, I looked for different ways to use the neon units I had. My project “Candy On The Dancefloor” is the first attempt I have made to use neon on the ground. That project was spotted on Instagram by a curator in Puerto Rico, and she reached out to me. A few weeks later two of the units were in an exhibit at the Galeria Casa Jefferson in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  2. Working in the windows. As a new and still developing program, there is not a lot of foot traffic in the Horlock House Art Galleries. In an attempt to more directly reach the people of Navasota I began to regularly install and rotate neon and other lights in the windows. I was so happy to hear that people noticed, and seemed pretty happy to watch the show! I had forgotten the often joyful power of the “spectacle”. And it was just fun to do.
  3. Social media! I was pretty active on Instagram before I got here, but I really upped my game with social media on Instagram (@scottygorham), Facebook, a new Facebook artist page (Scotty Gorham), LinkedIn, and my website (www.scottygorham.com). I consider these social media outlets to be part of my art, and vital to understanding the work that I do.
  4. Traditional media. It really helped that people like Connie Clements, Jon Cooley, and Nicole Wilcox are the City’s “traditional media” because they are all awesome people. Giving interviews and working with them really helped me grow as an artist, and learn how to talk about my work more concisely. If my TV interview with Ian Smith from KAGS taught me anything, it’s that if you say funny things like “people kinda think I’m a space alien. But then they’re like ‘Oh, ok.’”, they will DEFINITELY put it on TV! 😉 Again, I consider the way my art and I reach the public to be part of the what the work is about.
  5. More conceptual grounding in history and the sociopolitical climate of a place. My work has always had a strong base in research and history, but this is first time I really tried to layer the more abstract issues of space with the more concrete issues of a place. I am happy with the combination, and look forward to developing this in my work.

“What does this project (“Neon Railroad”) mean to you?”

“Neon Railroad” is directly inspired by my time in Texas. I wanted to do a project about Navasota, so for me that was trains. Trains are such a large part of Navasota’s identity, as well as of our American heritage. This installation is about the railroad’s ability to both separate and connect, and the possibilities it offers. I am interested in the cultural history of “the wrong side of the tracks”, especially in a community that is so actively pursuing positive change. From my time observing the City Council meetings and working with so many employees of the City, I am sure this is a place that is continuing to move in a positive direction because of the people who run it. That gives me a lot of hope for this country.

“Do you sell your artwork?”

Yes. Yes yes yes. My general model is that I do large commissions or create large pieces that are “rented” by galleries or venues. However I have successfully created many smaller site specific installations in people’s homes. I usually sell the neon object and then work together with the owner to determine the most exciting place to install the object in their home. These typically run a few hundred dollars. My number is 312.731.1550.

“Aren’t people here friendly?”

VERY. I am leaving here with very real friends, and having known and worked with some really good people.

“What was your favorite thing about the Residency?”

Navasota Citizen’s University. Hands down the best thing ever. Shelby Green runs the program. Each week is a new unit where the students get to see behind the scenes a different aspect of how the City is run. My fellow students were such a diverse group of awesome people, and I looked forward to going each week. Everyone should do it.

And my roommate Andrea once asked me, “What would you consider “winning” this residency to be?”

The first week I was here I saw the 111 Railroad Street building and knew I wanted to do a large installation there. Mission accomplished. It wouldn’t have been possible without Donnie Roberts, Corey Johnson, Rachel Stack, Sarah Korpita, Dom, John, & especially Pat! Really so many people helped make the exhibition happen and that was such a fun and rewarding way to create something amazing! I’m pretty stoked with the result and definitely #winning. ScottyGorham_111Railroad

“So, what’s next?”

Right now I am staying in College Station for another week so I can keep the exhibition at 111 Railroad Street open through Thursday. Stop by! Then I am moving to Dallas. Almost immediately I leave for San Jose to do a 2 week visiting artist/consulting job at San Jose State University. Then in June I have a 1 month artist residency at Likewise in Portland, Oregon. It is a unique bartender-in-residence program, that operates as a creative space and a bar. I am also looking for new opportunities and constantly applying to things! I would love to run an exhibition space in Dallas, so if anyone knows anyone with an old empty building…hit me up! 😉

Thanks again everyone who made this such a great experience, and I hope to see you again! Navasota, you rock!

-Scotty

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(Me towards the end.)

 

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Back To Basics

Up now in the Horlock House Art Galleries are 3 light installations in the minimal style I really enjoy. The first room is the pale light blue, almost white, of electrified argon gas in clear glass. The second room is the bright red of pure neon gas and electricity in clear glass. And the final room is the layered “white” of RGB (red, green, blue) LEDs (light emitting diodes), combining multiple colors to achieve “white”. For all three rooms there is a certain strength in letting each light source stand alone, creating a subtle and beautiful experience. The Horlock House is still open by appointment as I work on the 111 Railroad Street installation which opens to the public next Monday.

Horlock House Hours 2/22-3/12

The Horlock House Art Galleries will be open BY APPOINTMENT Monday 2/22 – Saturday 3/12. Please call or text Scotty at 312.731.1550 or email at scottygorham@gmail.com to set up a visit.

I will be up the street working at 111 Railroad Street on my installation “Neon Railroad”. This will be one of the largest site specific neon sculptures in the country and is directly inspired by my time in Navasota. More to come about exhibition hours and opening details. If you would like to visit that space while I am working and see some of the process involved in creating such a large artwork, feel free to call or email and we will set up a time.

Thank you again everyone in Navasota for being so friendly and making this experience a great one! You rock.

-Scotty

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Texas Sky Lights For Open House (Sat. 2/6 2-4pm)

During my time in Navasota I have been working on combining LEDs more directly with neon/argon. Inspired by the complex layers of the Texas sky, these hybrid lights are both more contemporary and very beautiful. Right now I am blacking out the windows in one of the Horlock House Galleries so daytime viewers can get the full affect of my installation at our upcoming Open House (Sat. February 6th 2-4pm). See you there!

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Webb Elementary Field Trip

Today we hosted students from Webb Elementary for an art field trip! SUPER AWESOME. I blacked out the Best Museum and made a neon & LED light installation for them, Drea and the kids made sun prints together, and Steve talked to them about oil paintings and cartoons. Having them here was so fun and they asked the best questions. Thank you Mrs. French and her class for stopping by!

Holiday Art Party 12/12 3-6PM

Happy Holidays From Drea, Scotty, & Steve! Join us for our Holiday Art Party at the Horlock House this Saturday (12/12) 3-6pm. We are excited to be part of Navasota’s Home For The Holidays festivities, and look forward to seeing all our friends and meeting new people 🙂 There will be food and drinks and activities to go with all the new artwork up in the house, Santa will be stopping by from 3-4, and we will be giving away some art. Everyone is welcome! Hope to see you there before the parade!IMG_5186

Navasota Lights Chapter 1

What do I do when I stay up all night? Besides binge watch shows about vampires and superheroes on Netflix, that is. Well last night I took nearly 400 photos of the lights in Navasota. Armed with my camera, I put on a pair of prescription glasses and walked the empty streets for hours studying the lights. The building lights, the business lights, the sign lights, the street lights, the Christmas lights, and the train lights. And I studied the equally important surrounding darkness. While I vaguely had an agenda of light, I wanted to let the City guide me in my exploration. I wanted the lights to talk. By 4am we had had a pretty good conversation and I feel a lot a lot closer to Navasota today. I ended up with five types of images. This is the first of those groups.

 

Decisions, Decisions.

What does it take for me to get an image for Instagram? I will tell you what I did to select the image I just posted to @scottygorham.  First I took about 50 images with my Canon 70D on different camera settings and from different angles. Then I uploaded those to my laptop. From those images I narrowed it down to 8. I’m looking for general composition, unusual/interesting composition, clarity, color, noise, and sometimes certain images just grab me. I learn from these images and they further inform how I think about the space. From the 8 images I narrowed it down to the 4 I posted here. Then I emailed those to myself, saved them to my phone, and put them in the Squareready app. Then I sent them via text to 8 people (from a set of 5-10 people I respect for different reasons who are all over the world…upstairs, Texas, California, Chicago, Sydney, China) and wait for a few responses. They usually don’t agree (and that helps too!) Ultimately I pick one (which is probably wrong) and post it. I usually do minimal editing in Instagram with brightness, but often I just leave the image straight from camera. I have some go-to hashtags (#art, #neonart, #lightart, #horlockhouse, etc.) and I select from those. For tonight’s post I went with the 4th image because it is sort of a more casual (maybe even sloppy) composition that lends itself to the feeling of seeing this installation in person. I like them all.