Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where the Avant Garde Things Are

Cinema Arts Festival Houston, "the only U.S. festival devoted to films by and about artists," launches November 11-15, 2009.

When two New York real estate promoters, commonly known as “The Allen Brothers,” founded the city of Houston in 1836, their intention was to make the township a center of commerce and government. Houston’s bid to be the capital of the Republic of Texas was short-lived, but its status as a center of commerce has stuck like the very first ships that ran aground in what the Allen Brothers dubbed Houston’s first “port”– the shallow and silty intersection of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous. Houston’s forefathers in a long line of hucksters, Augustus and John Allen sold Houston to potential settlers, at $1 per acre, using advertisements that promoted this subtropical marsh as “an elevated land” replete with “waterfalls.”

Now 173 years later, Houston is concretely known as a place to do business – home to the largest petrochemical manufacturing area in the world, and an international hub for biomedical research and the aerospace industry. With no great range of topography, and a nose-to-nose race (on and off since 1999) with Los Angeles for smoggiest city, Houston is no high-ranking vacation destination.

So in 2008, when Houston Mayor Bill White (who has moved mountains so-to-speak to improve Houston’s aforementioned image) tapped his friend Franci Crane to spearhead a new film festival, there was no chance of luring travelers with ski slopes or sandy beaches– the likes of those at Sundance or Cannes. But what Houston did have on a monumental scale was art. Around 7 million visitors per year come to Houston for the Museum District alone; Houston’s Theater District is exceeded only by New York in its number of seats in one geographic area; not to mention the plethora of non-profit arts organizations, folk art environments, art galleries, art chapels, art parades, art festivals, and so on. Read the rest of this post on my blog, We Have The Technology on

Pictured: H Box, designed by Portuguese/French architect, Didier Fiúza Faustino

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