100 Creatives

100 Creatives 2012: Tom Stell, Actor, Writer, Director, Obsidian Art Space's Head Honcho

What He Does: Tom Stell does a lot of creative things; most of them are specifically related to theater, but not all. He is a writer, director, actor and he also paints. Stell is also one of the reasons so much theater is produced in Houston; he is the Executive Director of Obsidian Art Space, which boasts a packed schedule of local theatrical performances as well as being named Houston Press' "Best New Arts Venue" of 2011.

Tom's acting and playwriting has also gotten him some street cred. He produced, directed and acted in his original full-length production Republic Day, which reviewer Jim J. Tommaney deemed "an ambitiously epic drama." Stell has acted and directed numerous works over the years, most previously in Big Head Productions' collection of shorts "And I Feel Fine."

Why He Likes It: "Theater is the ultimate team sport," says Stell. Although he enjoys the isolated aspects to writing and painting, his juices get going when he is a part of a group of creative people who have come together to make art.

"Often people who have never been a part of theater do not realize how much creativity and problem solving go into the entire process. In every moment, actors and directors make choices about how to play a line. With every script there is just about an infinite variety of ways to put it on. Not only is each show different but every single performance is different. Every audience is a part of this same creative process. The exchange of energy between a cast and the audience is the magic of theatre."

What Inspires Him: Like many artists, Stell is inspired by the creative process, his own and that of others.

"The dream of Obsidian Art Space," says Stell, "was to create an artistic asset for the community, a place where writers and actors could come together and make art. Co-founder Leighza Walker and I knew that if the Obsidian Art Space served the community, it would help us achieve our personal artistic dreams as well."

If Not This, Then What? "It is difficult to imagine what I would do if I weren't in theater. Probably coaching youth sports, especially lacrosse or teaching in a more formal capacity. (I've done these on a volunteer basis on and off for years.)"

If Not Here, Then Where? Stell doesn't want to be anywhere other than good old H-town (here, here!) and says that even though he has traveled across the world, he feels that Houston is his only home.

"I love the eclectic dynamism that drives the arts community. Every week some fresh artist has a new vision and says, "let's put on a show." The community comes together to make it a reality. It's an inspiring process. We just need more first-time theatergoers to get to the theatre."

What's Next: "Our next step at the Art Space is to capitalize on our success to capture grants and donations so we can produce even more original works and make it even easier and less expensive for artists to achieve their dreams. Personally I want to act with more of the great directors in town. I want to write a musical and make a movie. I would like a show of my paintings at a prestigious gallery. What's cool is that all of this is possible because of the great community of artists here. In Houston you hear, 'Cool, let's do it.'"

More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder Oliver Halkowich, Dancer and Performer Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician Matthew Detrick, classical musician Travis Ammons, filmmaker Florence Garvey, actress Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist JoDee Engle, dancer David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor Jessica Janes, actress and musician Dennis Draper, actor and director Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist Adriana Soto, jewelry designer Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof Patrick Turk, visual artist Elizabeth Keel, playwright Bob Martin, designer Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer Jeremy Wells, painter George Brock, theater teacher Radu Runcanu, painter Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig