While I had previously been aware of him, I finally met artist and curator Tommy Gregory a week and a half before he left Houston in 2018. He moved with his family to head the public art program for the Port of Seattle (SEA-TAC) at Pier 69. I am excited that we were able to do this interview. Enjoy! ~ Melissa Richardson Banks
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Tommy Gregory discusses how and when we first met; how he’s balancing life and work in Seattle and Houston; his work as a co-founder with Volker Eisele of Sculpture Month Houston; the importance of public art, especially now during the pandemic; his artwork — single-use objects destined for the landfill and immortalizing them in bronze — from his Winter 2020 show at Gray Contemporary called “Everything Lasts Forever;” how an artist’s intent of an artwork can evolve and even change in meaning over the course of time; the meaning behind his sculpture “This Land is for You and Me” on view in True North 2020, a temporary public art installation organized by volunteers with the Houston Heights Association; “hair farming” during the pandemic; and his upcoming artist residency at Pilchuck Glass School in 2021.
ABOUT THIS GUEST
Tommy Gregory is an artist and a curator based in Houston and Seattle. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 2005 and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009. In addition to maintaining a studio practice, Gregory also has a career in art administration. He was the Public Art Specialist for the City of San Antonio, then, the Public Art Program Director and Curator for the Houston Airports. Currently, he is the Public Art Program Sr. Manager and Curator for the Port of Seattle (SEA-TAC) at Pier 69 where he lives with his wife, artist and writer Casey Arguelles Gregory and their adorable precocious 7-year-old daughter Clementine. To learn more, visit www.tommygregory.com. Follow him on Instagram at www.instagram.com/tommygregorytxwa.
ABOUT HIS ARTWORK
Tommy’s artwork ranges from bronze sculpture to fine drawing and collage, combining humor with elegance of form. His most recent body of work is a series of cast bronze sculptures; the content is pertaining to altering the destiny of ephemeral or discarded objects while questioning permanence using an archival sculpture method. His art often has subtle and not-so-subtle political references in addition to commentary on the human experience. Tommy has exhibited professionally for over 20 years at venues such as Blue Star Contemporary, Blaffer Art Museum, The Glassell School of Art, and Gray Contemporary.
UPCOMING NEWS ABOUT THIS GUEST
Tommy Gregory was recently accepted as an Artist in Residence at Pilchuck Glass School, which has been postponed to Summer 2021 due to the pandemic. Currently, his artwork is included in a group show in Houston, Texas called “Matter” on view at Gray Contemporary, extended through Saturday, September 5, 2020. Matter is comprised of artists from different racial backgrounds joined together by the color black to show support for the inspirational Black Lives Matter movement worldwide. The works within this exhibition were not made specifically for this exhibition, but rather by their day-to-day studio practice. The exhibition is more about the unity of individual artists coming together as one to support and stand against any form of racism or oppression. All gallery percentages of sales from this exhibition will be donated to the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
ABOUT THIS PODCAST
Hosted by me, Melissa Richardson Banks, the “MUSED: LA 2 HOU” podcast focuses on topics tied to life journeys connected to Los Angeles and Houston, literally and/or figuratively.
WHY THIS PODCAST
A year ago, I started thinking about doing a podcast that connected my worlds in Los Angeles and Houston. While my friends who are baseball fans might say otherwise, the two sprawling metropolitan areas are similar in so many ways — sister cities of sorts. In some ways, Houston leads the way and in other ways, Los Angeles is on top. That’s why I love these two cities so much. I get the best of both worlds. The two photographs of each city below describe how I felt at the time that I shot them: one as I was leaving L.A. (“Keep Something Alive”), which in hindsight, forecast my year in 2016; and the other shortly after I arrived in H-Town (“I Might Love You”), which mirrored how I was then beginning to feel:
Since August of 2016, until the pandemic, I have commuted monthly from Houston to Los Angeles where I had lived for over two decades. In Southern California, I am known for my work producing, promoting and navigating the art world, which includes managing the Chicano art collection of Cheech Marin, documenting the fast-changing Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles as a photographer known as @DowntownMuse, and running my consulting firm CauseConnect. In Texas, I was able to lay low for a while, enjoy art every day, and be a tourist while re-connecting with my family. My photography continues in Houston and I share images of life here online as @MUSEDla2hou (formerly @HTownMuse). Because I felt “MUSED” out and that is how I came up with the name of my podcast: “MUSED: LA 2 HOU” (if you are from New York, we pronounced HOU as YOU!).
While this is not my first podcast (I hosted and produced “A.D. Live” in 2013 and “A Muse on the Road” in 2015), this time, I had to learn and understand in-studio technology since my previous podcasts were more of an impromptu “woman on the street” format. I am learning so much, so forgive again how I am releasing this – learn with me! Between paying clients and contracted projects, I began researching what I should do, and then Covid messed up my originally planned format (hosting guests in my home, along with a live audience, salon style). Now, I also have had to learn editing and how to remotely bring guests into the mix.
- I am grateful for the skills of my friend Christopher Fudurich — mixer, sound engineer, producer and musician — for helping me with much-needed technical assistance on this podcast.
- I appreciate the talent and the generosity of David Strother (electric violinist and composer) and his musical collaborator Scot Ray (lap slide steel guitarist) for letting me use a clip of their amazing song “Gravity Plate” — which happens to be on the album “Space Yard” that has my Houston image with the same name as its cover. Buy their album on Bandcamp by clicking HERE.
- How lucky am I? I am also friends with award-winning designer and photographer Jon Berry who designed my podcast logo.