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Minority Artists Face Discrimination In The South At The Houston Art Fair
NEW YORK, NY - Oct. 10, 2016 Award winning artist Alberto Godoy and Lex Lumiere met several years ago during a art opening and formed an immediate friendship based in mutual admiration of their creative work. Alberto, born amid the turmoil of 1960’s Cuba, fled the oppression of the Castro regime in 1980, retaining the vivid, award winning, postmodern imagery of his country’s Cuban people, customs, and landscapes exhibited internationally.
Lex Lumiere also an award winning artist, carrying the creative legacy of her grandparents, the Cricchio’s carved out a name for herself as a minority artist in the elitist art world, working with globally recognized brands and showcasing her art as part of The Exposure Award at the Louvre, Museum last summer. Last fall, Lex’s artwork was personally sponsored by the owner of the Hamptons Groupfor the 2015 Houston Art Fair (HAF) as a solo art exhibitor and only living artist to represent the State Of Texas in the midst of thousands of competitive art galleries. Closing out the year, Lex provided artwork forboth the GLAAD Gala auction in Washington with Vice President Joe Biden, and Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Camille Grammer’s fundraiser for GYN Cancer, on displayat the Lurie Gallery in Beverly Hills with Bruce Lurie, famous for giving Basquait his first art exhibit. Both minority artists, well respected and accomplished in the art world.
After last years fair was over, HAF was sold. Under new ownership, Urban Expositions, a division of Clarion Events based in the UK moved HAF from NRG Stadium to Silver Street Studios, the nation’s largest concentration of artists studios located in Houston, Texas. They had created a win-win situation on the surface. Lex Lumiere was scheduled to host a charity wall for a silent auction benefiting St. Jude Children’s Hospital that began and ended before the Houston Art Fair. A personal visit to Silver Street Studios to meet Susannah Mitchell, Head of Exhibits wasin vain but several phone calls later, Mitchell said, “I will find a charity wall to accommodate you because we have plenty of space during HAF.” However, the ball was dropped by Silver Street and Urban Expositions management somewhere along the way even though the contract Lumiere signed made it clear that the St. Jude silent auction was a priority.
Alberto, out of the goodness of his heart donated art for the auction and offered to host the charity wall for St. Jude in his private studio for Lex Lumiere, an official Cultural Partner of HAF to accomodate her preview exhibit, ‘Intuition,’ artwork “Exploring our 6th sense, intuitive hunches and beliefs about heaven. “Unknown to both artists at the time, Steve Gibson, owner of Silver Street had made a deal with Urban Expositions to "force close" all professional artists studio doors during the hours the Houston Art Fair was open, not allowing them to work or sell art for four days, but expecting the artists payfull rent. All the artists, renting out of five seperate, 20,000sq ft warehouses, remain uncompensated for the loss of business due to forced closure and have yet to receive pro-rated rent for lost income.
Lumiereat last minutes notice, received an emailnotifying Art4Charity and Godoy Studios that the silent auction was “not allowed,” during HAF hours of operation. They would be forced to keep their doors closed during a city art event but could open them “after it was closed.” The notice was too late, the Art4Charity:St. Jude Charity Auction was already live andthe invitations for their HAF guests had gone out weeks in advance.
The evening of the VIP party, Lex Lumiere walked up to the Art4Charity & Godoy Studios to see that studio and event management had slid large, Buick Black Label sponsor signs in front of their studio door. Lex politely asked the Buick Representative working if he could help her slide the signs over so she could access the Art4Charity& Godoy Studio door. He kindly obliged, but then a fair skinned red headed woman came out of nowhere rudely broadcasting to Lumiere and VIP guests, “ You have to get permission from management to move those signs and you don’t have permission.” Ironically, it was Susannah Mitchell, who had failed to properly introduce herself in a angry rant. Collaborative partnerships and exhibits in art studios are the norm in Silver Street, surely this was no surprise since Lumiere had been in constant communication with Urban Expositions regarding the St. Jude auction. Even the Bourne Art Studio across from theirs had begun a collaborative exhibit partnership shortly after Godoy &Lumiere had. With the help of the gentleman from Buick, Lumiere was able to enter the studio door and close it behind her. Lumiere, by Urban Expositions contract was required to sit with her Cultural Partner sign, black table and chairs but only had the chair and her sign provided to her by the HAF sponsor because her small table was located inside the Art4Charity : Godoy Studio were they had planned to share space during the event.
Several minutes later, witnesses saw Lumiereput her Cultural Partner sign on top of the Art4Charity door plaque, but suddenly saw a womangrab her sign without explanation and put it down on the studio floor. Bewildered, Lex picked her Cultural Partner sign up, and grabbed her black chair to sit outside with the studio door closed, in order to play byHAF rules of an event that claimed to support artists but whose actions contradicted their words. The moment Lex put the Art4Charity: Cultural Partner sign up again, Mitchell was in her face, but this time in front of a room full of VIP guests screaming, “ That sign is not allowed.” The sign had been given toLumiere by Urban Expositions, they had created it, no one said she could not put the sign on display until that moment. Mitchell stormed offlike a two year having a tantrum to get Donna Davies, the Vice President of Urban Expositions.
Moments later, to many of the HAF guests disgust and horror, both managers were screaming in Lex Lumiere’sface over her Cultural Partner sign as she tried to explain to them that the studio door was remaining closed. Lumiere, to avoid escalating matters, slipped inside the studio disappointed by the lack of support for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital silent auction.Art4Charity & Godoy Studios werea few feet away from all the other Cultural Partners for HAF but were the only minorities forced to keep their sign inside and to keep their studio door closed. Glancing down the long corridor of other Cultural Partners revealedthat they also had placed their signs above the nearest studio name plaques, exactly as Lumiere had done but no complaints had been made against them by management in an aggressive manner. VIP guests were so upset at how Art4Charity and St. Jude Children’s Hospital had been treated that they wrote letters to the Mayor Of Houston, believing that Lex Lumiere& Alberto Godoy were discriminated against as minority artists by management and ownership still holdingto the racist mentality of the South; you can do nothing without permission because the freedom to “open your door,” especially for minority artists,“is not allowed.”Regardless,Lumiere put on a joyful face for the charity to greet clients and guests who dared to rebel against the elitist art establishment by knocking on theirart studio door. Open or closed, the silent auctionat Art4Charity for a children’s charity continued at: www.charitynetworknews.com
Art Lover Collectors Inc
Media Contact: Eden Rockefeller
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Phone: (212) 484-8000
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