Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio

Get ready for the Music Man. No, not the old Broadway musical. This Music Man is the bigger-than-life Jimmie Lee Matthews, who earned his nickname by constantly blasting soul music through a network of refurbished stereos. He's just one of the residents of Hale County, Alabama, seen in the documentary Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio. Mockbee, an architect and visionary, founded the Rural Studio, an experimental design/build program based in one of the poorest areas in the country. The film follows students currently working on building projects (each resident gets a unique home that is part structure and part artwork). Previously taped interviews with Mockbee are intercut between building scenes and conversations between other architects, teachers, students and clients. Over and over, the point is made that future architects won't be needed to design more cities like Dubai, but instead to design villages in African deserts and homes in the Appalachian Mountains. In discussing buildings, the students - and the audience - realize they are also talking about poverty, race, class, oppression and social change, which is just what Mockbee wanted. Film director and one-time Houstonian Sam Wainwright Douglas will be in town to present the documentary and field questions following the film. 7 p.m. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6 to $7.
Tue., Nov. 30, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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