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MasterMinds 2012

This year's winners have art, passion and history on their side. And now they'll also each have a check for $2,000.

"My dad said, 'Well, these have great composition, but there's something else: Your pinky is in every single shot.' And he was right. That taught me it's not about the equipment, it's the user."

Since then, his emphasis has been on doing a lot with a little. When he's shooting an independent project or on assignment for his day job at a television station that Luster won't disclose, he can usually fit everything, including cameras, into a small backpack.

Since Stick 'Em Up! dropped, he's been overrun with opportunities ("All of it positive," says Luster). He has taught editing techniques at a local Apple Store; sculpted beautiful short films for TEDx Houston and local jazz singer Tianna Hall; and spoken on panels about street art, filmmaking and about how awesome Houston is. Additionally, in May, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will screen Stick 'Em Up! six times over a three-day run.

Captain Matthews and Buffalo Soldiers Museum Board President Angela Holder anchor the museum's small operation that presents plays and African-American history 
re-enactments to area schools and church groups.
Photo by Marco Torres
Captain Matthews and Buffalo Soldiers Museum Board President Angela Holder anchor the museum's small operation that presents plays and African-American history re-enactments to area schools and church groups.
Stick 'Em Up! director Alex Luster has been looking for the next full-length project since his documentary about Houston's street-poster artists sold out the River Oaks Theatre.
Photo by Marco Torres
Stick 'Em Up! director Alex Luster has been looking for the next full-length project since his documentary about Houston's street-poster artists sold out the River Oaks Theatre.

However, it's not enough for an indie success like Luster to try and make it as a freelancer. He still needs a steady paycheck to fund his projects and to support his family, which includes a wife and two young children.

Luster says that one of the next challenges is to conceptualize his next full-length movie.

"Honestly, I don't know. I do have some ideas that are leaning towards a non-documentary project," he says. "I know I've been categorized as the 'street art guy,' but it's probably not going to be that."

Luster would also like to prove himself outside of Houston by getting Stick 'Em Up! in front of more folks, especially in Austin during South by Southwest. He's crossing all of his fingers and toes in hopes that the film will score an exclusive screening at the art and music blowout in March.

Says Luster, "Because most festivals like being the first one to screen a film, I haven't submitted Stick 'Em Up! to too many other festivals, in hopes that it will increase my chances of getting into South by Southwest.

"I think it's important to show the film in other cities in Texas. Plus, we can transport the entire audience up there," says Luster, who adds that he should find out if he got a thumbs up or down from SXSW around the time this story is published.

He's already heard a "no" from Park City, Utah's Sundance Film Festival, which caused a friend to offer Luster consolation in an online chat room. Luster, who wasn't all that upset about the rejection, replied with an "It's okay, dude" and then walked away from the computer for a bit.

The friend shot back a response that Luster didn't see. Minutes passed and the friend, who wasn't hearing back from Luster, assumed the filmmaker was heartbroken about Sundance.

Says Luster, "When I finally returned to the computer, he had written, 'Hey, man, don't worry about that because you're still a hero in these parts.'

"That made me realize something: Wouldn't you want to be a success in your hometown rather than a place you've never been to? That's why being in Houston is very important to me."

The Pilot Light

Restaurant Group

Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan are prepping for a series of private dinners when a well-dressed guy walks in from a propped-open outside entryway, through the kitchen and into another room. A few minutes later, a fashionable woman walks the reverse of the man's path and out a door labeled "Mortar."

Chefs Siegel-Gardner and Gallivan, who recently moved from New York City to form the Pilot Light Restaurant Group in Houston, are used to the employees of Mortar, a high-end men's clothing store on Westheimer, coming and going as they please. Since September, Siegel-Gardner and Gallivan have been cooking in the back room of the boutique while trying to find a space for their own restaurant.

So far, they haven't had any luck. Instead, they spend six days a week in this setting that, though a bit left-field for a professional kitchen, allows the heavy-hitting chefs to try out adventurous culinary ideas that they hope to present on a larger scale very soon.

The space is also the scene for Pilot Light Dinners, which features up to eight people eating the duo's oft-times audacious creations — onion toast with bone marrow; a root vegetable sundae that includes beets, parsley, carrots and ruta­baga — in this adventurous setting. Tickets for the meals sometime disappear in less than 30 minutes.

"We wouldn't be able to do this if we were sitting on the couch watching SportsCenter reruns," says Siegel-Gardner, who stares through a pair of glasses to concentrate on rolling dough for kimchi bread (which will be adorned with poached eggs and caviar) with a right arm coated with tattoos.

Next to Siegel-Gardner is the significantly taller and chattier Gallivan, who scribbles down notes in a medium-sized Moleskine notebook after chopping veggies. "It's a great space to hash out ideas," says Gallivan. "A lot of the dishes may not make the menu, but it gives us a chance to try out new concepts."

Though they're thankful for the opportunity to get out of their homes to cook, Siegel-Gardner and Gallivan are definitely itching for the next step, something they first started talking about five years ago in the kitchen of Gordon Ramsay.

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1 comments
Marcofromhouston
Marcofromhouston

Congrats to the MasterMinds! Well deserved for sure!

Nice work, Steve.

 
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