by Dorothy Puch Lillig

Houston area residents and business owners have until Monday, Oct. 21, to help decide who will move forward to possibly become one of three artists-in-residence at Zócalo Apartments in the Spring Branch District in 2020.

The awards include a single one-year and two six-month residencies with fully funded housing, a monthly materials stipend, and the freedom to create and display artworks designed to engage Zócalo residents and the surrounding Spring Branch neighborhood.

The semi-finalists of the 2020 program season include: Austin-based multidisciplinary artist Olaniyi R. Akindiya (AKIRASH), Houston-based fine art photographer Colby Deal, Houston-based artist & curator Theresa Escobedo, Houston-based multidisciplinary artist Ronald Jones, New York based multidisciplinary artist Tijay Mohammed, Houston-based experimental artist collective Input-Output, and Houston based environmental public artist Charles Washington.

“We were thrilled to see so many talented artists from all over the world apply for our inaugural season. It meant our judges had a fantastic pool of applicants to review and select from. We are now looking forward to giving the public and our residents at Zócalo a chance to participate in the final stage of the selection process,” said Ileana Yordan, Zócalo AIR program director.

The public is invited to visit the Zócalo AIR website to view finalist profiles and vote for their favorite artist through October 21. Voters can simply register to vote by visiting https://artist.zocaloliving.com

Once the voting period ends, the results will go back to Zócalo AIR’s expert panel of judges for the final deliberation and announcement on October 25. This year’s panel includes Art League Houston Executive Director Jennie Ash, Bohmams Auction Representative / Founder of Davis Cohen Art Lindsay Davis, Graffiti Artist / Aerosol Warfare Founder Gonzo247, Houston-based interdisciplinary artist Robert L. Hodge, and Galveston Arts Center Curator Dennis Nance.

The three selected artists will have the opportunity to do art shows at Zócalo Apartments and the freedom to create site-specific installations designed to engage with Zócalo’s residents and the greater Houston arts community.

Many in the Spring Branch District may know the property as Hammerly Walk Apartments, but 8787 Hammerly is now “Zócalo,” which means “town square.”
A $10 million renovation at the campus includes a highly colorful exterior with resort-like amenities and lush landscaping and a large water feature at the center of the property. In addition to new interiors and other amenities, Zócalo also features a new clubhouse and, of course, the art program.

The Houston Chronicle recently wrote about the trend of art being used by apartment developers, saying the Zócalo renovation “has the potential to inspire profound change” with one of the nation’s first commercial artist-in-residence programs.

Yordan said the program doesn’t just benefit the artists and residents of Zócalo. The public will be able to enjoy art shows and events on campus, she said, and artworks at the events will be available for purchase at the artist’s discretion. “No commissions or works made throughout the residency program will be owed to or owned by Zócalo, unless we decide to purchase any works for our permanent collection,” Yordan said.

Zócalo’s campus already has a strong artistic heritage. It is the very location in Spring Branch where world-famous artist and MacArthur Genius award recipient, Rick Lowe, had his start when he first moved to Houston in the mid-80’s.

“The Zócalo campus is in a magic area of Houston where one of our most iconic arts leaders had his beginnings, and it will continue to be an area where artists will have the opportunity to develop and thrive,” Yordan said.