Out in the Street: PG Contemporary Gallery and Local Artists Give Back with "Street Science"

PG Contemporary partnered with Aerosol Warfare and the nonprofit organization ArtBridge Houston at the closing reception of "Street Science" on Thursday, with the hopes of raising money for art classes benefitting the homeless and indigent children of Houston.

The exhibition featured works by Aerosol Warfare founder GONZO247 and Sacramento-based artist John Stuart Berger, and was capped off by GONZO's live freestyle painting on canvas, which, along with Berger's piece "15 Seconds," will be auctioned off with all of the proceeds going towards ArtBridge Houston.

"The community has been so supportive," PG Contemporary Owner and Director Zoya Tommy told Art Attack. "This event is about giving back...we want the artists to sell, we want the gallery to do well, but we also really want the community to grow."

ArtBridge Houston serves more than 5,000 children in eight Houston-area homeless shelters, providing weekly hour-long art classes in a safe, structured environment where the children can grow in creativity and self-expression through the impact of art in their lives.

"It's really important to have that stability," says Catie Cleary, who leads art therapy sessions at two of ArtBridge's locations, the Star of Hope Crisis Center and DePelchin Richmond Treatment Center. "These kids are moving throughout shelters, they're homeless and they don't have those kind of things that they can count on."

Cleary says the connections the kids make with others as well as the art they create give them a sense of worth and pride. All the kids will get backpacks filled with art supplies for the coming school year. The organization also hands out a survey asking, "What does ArtBridge mean to you?" The last time they did that, one student wrote, "ArtBridge means the good people."

"That just makes it so wonderful, to be able to be the good people for them," Cleary said.

Berger, who is also director of the art center for adults with disabilities, Short Center North, strives to make an impact in both his art and his community. Having studied art and zoology at Sacramento State University, Berger merges his passions into fantastical representations of the urban and natural worlds.

GONZO247 is also active in the community, volunteering at nonprofits like the Orange Show and the DePelchin Children's Center, and he teaches urban art workshops at schools throughout the city.

Though he began his career as a graffiti artist painting on walls and trains, GONZO247 transitioned into work on canvas and is now experimenting with other media like Plexiglas, Styrofoam, wood, Venetian plasters and gold leaf -- seeking to make his art multidimensional.

"I'm pushing my personal boundaries," GONZO247 told Art Attack. "Trying to break away from my routine and push what is possible with spray paint. I think that graffiti has always been on the wall, and I'm literally trying to lift it off."

The pieces on display are painted on the backside of two pieces of Plexiglas layered together, which forced him to do the entire process backwards.

"I started to design the artwork so that it intentionally had these blank spaces, so that you could play with the depth between the two layers," he said. "It helps to blur the line between where the piece starts and where it ends. I wanted it to have the look and feel of something you would normally see on the street -- the same energy, the same intensity."

All the proceeds will go to charity.

"Art opens your mind, and I think that all kids are creative, but it's outside factors that tell them that they're no good," GONZO247 said. "They don't always have the materials or even a room to go to...I want them to know, it's not a waste of time, you do have talent, and you'd be surprised at how far kids will go with just a small amount of encouragement. If you can touch just one kid, then all the hard work will be worth it."

Through Saturday. 3227 ½ Milam Street. For information, call 713-523-7424 or visit www.pgcontemporary.com

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