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The Strange Demise of Jim Crow

Events, Houston History Archives

cole001-ccThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will screen the film The Strange Demise of Jim Crow on Sunday, February 9th at 5pm in the Caroline Wiess Law Building.

Directed by David Berman, this 1998 film delves into the quiet inner-workings and subtle, sometimes shady, machinations of the process of desegregation of southern cities like Houston, where quiet compromise and media blackouts replaced the bombastic violence of fire hoses, police dogs, and street battles that engulfed other southern locales and burned themselves into the nation’s television screens.  Tickets may be reserved in advance for free at the MFAH website.  A panel discussion will follow the screening of the film, moderated by co-producer Thomas R. Cole.

At the University of Houston Special Collections, we are proud to make available for study the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers.  Part of the Houston History Archives, the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers contain the research materials that went into the making of this film.  As we have written previously, these papers are an excellent starting point for anyone interested in researching the unique path to desegregation that cities like Houston followed.  The collection contains drafts of scripts for the film, correspondence related to fundraising, and a variety of materials related to the topic of segregation as well as publicity for the film.  We invite you to review the detailed finding aid and visit us at your leisure to study these rich materials.

The Art Guys + “Loop”

Events, Performing & Visual Arts

loop‘Cause we got a great big convoy
Rockin’ through the night.
Yeah, we got a great big convoy,
Ain’t she a beautiful sight?
–C.W. McCall, “Convoy”

This weekend The Art Guys go in pursuit of the great, white whale of Houston commuters.

Continuing the year-long celebration of their 30th anniversary, an ambitious, 24-hour trek will go nowhere but everywhere, covering a wide expanse of our fair city.  From 5pm Saturday, November 9th, to 5pm Sunday, November 10th, The Art Guys will drive the I-610 Loop.  Echoing the patterns most recently laid out in “Intersection,” (Event #9 of the 12 Events) 12 hours will see an expectant convoy and crew headed in one direction around our beloved Loop and another 12 in the opposite direction.

If you think 610 traffic is a little congested as is, just wait until this bad boy rolls down the West Loop, attracting an army of onlookers.

The Art Guys have advised that they will use drivers to assist in this epic voyage and will make themselves available to any and all parties via Twitter and a telephone number specific for this event (832.712.6207).  More information is available through their website and Facebook page.  Interested in being there for the the grand send off or return?  The journey is slated to begin and end at the I-610 North Loop West at North Shepherd at 5pm on both days.

No doubt your weekend plans, at some hour or another, will find you on or around 610.  While you’re navigating that cycle of snares, keep an eye out for The Art Guys.

Legendary DJs and Rappers Attend Hip Hop Book Talk

Department News, Events, Houston Hip Hop

An engaging talk by author Maco Faniel plus a showing of Houston hip hop pioneers made for an enjoyable evening hosted by the University of Houston Bookstore and the UH Libraries. The event, a book talk and signing for Hip-Hop in Houston: The Origin and The Legacy on History Press, drew a crowd of students, librarians, and hip hop artists to the Honors Commons in M.D. Anderson Library on October 17th. The event also served to announce the donations of the DJ Steve Fournier Papers and the Carlos “DJ Styles” Garza Papers to Special Collections, where they will become part of the Houston Hip Hop collecting area.

Homecoming and Family Weekend

Events, University Archives
Homecoming Queen candidates at work on the homecoming bonfire (1949-1950)

Homecoming Queen candidates at work on the homecoming bonfire, from the UH Photographs Collection

The University of Houston campus is in the midst of celebration.  All this week students have been revving up for homecoming, participating in a number of celebratory events that culminate in Family Weekend and Saturday’s football game versus another group of Cougars from Brigham Young University.  Homecoming celebrations and college campuses need no introductions to one another.  Festivities and celebrations vary little, save the bright colors accompanying the pageantry, from state to state and town to town.  This year, however, homecoming and Family Weekend coincide in one tremendous Cougar Family celebration.

Homecoming program from 1950, from the Athletics Department Records

Homecoming program from 1950, from the Athletics Department Records

Family Weekend has traditionally presented an opportunity to invite the families of our students to campus and allow a look into the collegiate experience that is uniquely Houston.  This year, a growing schedule of events (including tours of our own M.D. Anderson Library), will give family members of UH students a first-hand view of student life on and off campus.  Events will also include various campus tours, a Family BBQ Celebration, and the Family Game Day Tailgate on Saturday preceding the big game against BYU at 2:30pm at Reliant Stadium.

All of the homecoming fervor, though, has piqued my interest.  A quick search of “homecoming” in our archival finding aids returns a number of interesting results.  Our UH Photographs Collection holds plenty of photographs related to homecoming celebrations throughout the years.  The Athletics Department Records boast programs from homecoming games dating back to 1950.  Even the President’s Office Records contain an entire folder dedicated to communications and various documents related to homecoming.

Telegram from University President, General A.D. Bruce, from the President's Office Records

Telegram from University President, General A.D. Bruce, from the President’s Office Records

Here at the University of Houston Special Collections we are happy to welcome all of the Cougar Family back to campus and encourage you to visit us as part of your celebrations.  Eat ‘Em Up, Coogs!

An Afternoon with The Art Guys

Events, Performing & Visual Arts
Galbreth (left) looks on as Massing (center) responds to a question from Bozeman (right) during "A Conversation with The Art Guys"

Galbreth (left) looks on as Massing (center) responds to a question from Bozeman (right) during “Archiving The Art Guys:  A Conversation with the Art Community”

Metaphors were mixed, tales of triumph told, and everyone walked away with their eyes a little wider.  It could mean only one thing.

The Art Guys paid a visit to the University of Houston on Wednesday, September 11th, as Special Collections hosted “Archiving the Art Guys:  A Conversation with the Art Community.”  Moderated by Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections, Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing (their lesser-known monikers) tackled a wide range of topics covering their early days at UH and genesis of their unique brand, the challenges and rewards of creative dialogue and collaboration, as well as the role of the artist in contemporary society.

Described by the New York Times as “a cross between Dada, David Letterman, John Cage and the Smothers Brothers,” Galbreth and Massing met while attending UH and, in one famous handshake, forged a partnership that continues to challenge the manner in which we view the world and gives voice to a contrarian song in the din and echo of consenting choruses.  Students at UH may know them best for the cryptic “Statue of Four Lies” near Cougar Village, but veterans of the art scene in Houston and abroad know The Art Guys for producing decades of irreverent art, redefining the term and concept with each work.  Fortunately for present and future researchers, they have also kept a meticulous account of it through the years.

The Art Guys revisit The Codex of the Statue of the Four Lies in the Special Collections Reading Room

The Art Guys revisit The Codex of the Statue of the Four Lies in the Special Collections Reading Room

The Art Guys recently donated their records to UH and naturally last week’s conversation turned to speculation regarding possible uses of the materials for future research.  A consensus seemed to emerge that, aside from the more obvious lines of artistic study and survey of art history in Houston, there are likely answers in these materials to questions not yet posited.  Fueling further excitement was the reminder that this is a living collection.  The Art Guys after all continue to survive, thrive, and, thankfully, challenge the way we view the world–a view promising to be expanded as the collection itself grows over the years.

We thank The Art Guys and all who attended last week.  My eyes, for one, were certainly wider walking out.  The Art Guys Records are currently being processed, but we will be sure to announce when they are available for study.  In the meantime, learn more about The Art Guys by visiting their website and reading up on the ongoing events commemorating their 30 year anniversary.

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