The first big Houston commission Israeli native Anat Ronen received was to paint the Galveston Causeway. "A company that paints the highways called me from my ad in Craigslist," she tells us. "They usually just paint the highways all one color, but sometimes they have murals. A Russian artist got stuck in Russia and couldn't come to Houston, so they had to find someone else. They told me, 'Worse-case scenario, we paint over your mural.' That was my first big job."
Since then Ronen has completed hundreds of projects locally including murals in and on private residences, schools and businesses. Ronen also participated in the "Call It Street Art, Call It Fine Art, Call It What You Know" exhibit at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art last summer and the "One Degree of Separation" show earlier this month at Silver Street Studios. "I don't particularly like doing shows," she says. "In order to grow, you have to put yourself out there, I know, but it's really not my thing."
What She Does: "I call myself an urban artist. Basically I love to do public art, but not the airport type of public art. I like to do street art, big murals or work out in the open for everyone to enjoy. When I do public street art events, like Via Colori, it's almost like performance art because the people get to see you at work."
Why She Likes It: "A year ago I was approached by Station Museum to take part in a show there. By then I had done a few murals and had done some street art. Station wanted something with a message and that opened a new door." (See the finished project above.)
"I realized that through my art, I can deliver messages. It's there for everyone to see. In street art, you don't have the same limitations of someone saying, well, I want this and that in it. In street art, as long as you have a wall you can paint, you're good."
Ronen says she enjoys the planning phase of each project the most. "In the planning stage there's a lot of excitement. After that, there's a lot of hard work but planning is always fun."
What Inspires Her: "Everything inspires me. And the lack of everything inspires me. Beautiful things, not so beautiful things, voids, things that I wish were but they're not, so I make it happen. I try to keep my eyes open and absorb everything around me.
"I travel a lot. I go to places where I'm afraid I'm going to have a heart attack because it's so beautiful there. Then people ask me where I'm from and I say Houston and they say, 'Oh.' But that's the challenge; when you live some place that's not that pretty, your challenge is to make it prettier. "
If Not This, Then What: "I would want to be a midwife," she says without hesitation. "I helped my sister-in-law deliver her first daughter and it was great. Being doctor can be very harsh, there's a lot of horrible things that can happen, but as a midwife, I think that would be fun. You get to see mothers and babies and fathers at a happy time."
If Not Here, Then Where: "I would like to live on an island, somewhere remote. I'm an introvert - like a hardcore introvert so I would rather be left alone but anywhere that my family's happy, anywhere that I have work, that's my home."
What's Next: "I always have 20 projects going on at once. No pressure, right?" she laughs. "Soon I'm going to paint in Virginia and then I'm going to be part of an international group that will paint murals in small towns. I have some festivals coming up, Via Colori here, and oh, lots, lots more."
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