The Reformist School

In the grand tradition of confined artists such as John Wayne Gacey and Elmer Wayne Henley, the Art League of Houston presents "The Prison Show: Art from Inside: Out" -- an exhibition the New York Times described as "outsider art at the grittiest of grassroots levels." The exhibit's drawings, paintings and objects were made by 75 inmates from around the country, some of whom are awaiting execution.

The works were first displayed last January in New York. The Houston show is the brainchild of Florida artist/prison activist Carol Strick, who, after seeing the New York exhibit, convinced the Art League to bring it here. At press time, Art League officials had still not seen the pieces, but assistant director Diane Griffin-Gregory anticipates a moving display.

"The artists do the work with a bare minimum of tools that they make themselves," she says. "They work with an odd assortment of media." For example, the exhibition includes a shrimp boat made of toilet paper and glue. Indeed, says Griffin-Gregory, the invitation to the show is a representation of a letter an inmate received from prison officials granting permission to work on his art in his cell.

"The Prison Show" is dedicated to Texas death-row inmate Clifford Boggess, who's scheduled to be executed on June 11, his 33rd birthday. Boggess was convicted of the fatal 1986 stabbing of an 86-year-old grocery-store owner, Moses Collier, in Grayson County.

-- Steve McVicker

"The Prison Show" opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 5, and continues through July 11. Regular viewing hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Art League of Houston, 1953 Montrose, 523-9530. Free.


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