Houston is the center of the art world in a new gallery

When Houston native Vincent Nguyen started missing all his New York art school friends, he had an idea: Why not put on a gallery show and bring them all to Houston?

This show called A friend of a friend, will open May 12 at Reeves Art & Design in Montrose. It has two goals: to bring a group of emerging and established artists to Houston, where viewers can see their work firsthand, and to showcase Houston as a southern cultural center for these artists. The exhibition will feature 21 contemporary artists from around the country working in mediums that include sculpture, paint, digital art and more. The idea, Nguyen says, is to show that the old ways of networking that required living on the coasts or receiving formal art training are no longer applicable.

Nguyen, who was born and raised in the Klein area, has spent the past 20 years living and working in New York and London. “When I wanted to go to art school, I felt I had to go to New York,” he says.

After school, Nguyen eventually went on to work in visual development for film and video games, working on films such as Ice Age, before co-founding a mobile gaming company where he served as Chief Creative Officer. During art school and his career, he befriended many working artists, some of whom he had known for over two decades.

In the early days of the COVID pandemic, before vaccines were available, Nguyen’s parents, who still live in Klein, contracted the virus and required hospitalization. That close call prompted Nguyen and his wife to return home to be near family. Because he owns his own business, Nguyen was able to work remotely, but something was still missing, he says. Like many people, Nguyen is responding to COVID by assessing what is most important to him. “Honestly, I just missed a lot of my friends.”

A friend of a friend at Reeves Art & Design.

Vincent Nguyen

A few months after returning, Nguyen attended an art show at Reeves, which had recently been converted by its owners from a high-end antique furniture store into a full-fledged gallery. There he met and befriended the owner, Matthew Reeves, who also introduced him to a friend named Mark. Nguyen later found out that the “Mark” in question was reclusive Houston artist Mark Flood.

The initial meeting between Reeves and Flood became the seed of the idea for this show, which marks the first time Nguyen has organized an event. To start, he contacted a few specific artist friends he wanted to include, and they in turn contacted them theirs friends. This includes Fleadh, who will be on the show.

“I know these guys, and if I’m going to be here in Houston, Houston needs to see their stuff,” Nguyen says. “People were asking, ‘Who else is going to be on the show?’ I’ll do it if they do.’ The only reason I was able to put this list together was because of each other.”

In addition to Flood, other participating artists include sculptor Austin Taylor, painter James Jean, ceramist Natalia Arbelaez, and more. Several of the artists created works specifically for the show, Nguyen says. Many also have ties to the Bayou City, whether through family or having previously shown in one of Houston’s galleries.

Most of all, the show will highlight the power of collaboration in the creative process and the connections that are possible through art. It will also double as a celebration of Houston.

“Houston has changed so much,” Nguyen says. “Love it. I feel there is more access to art. You have more access to everything.”

A friend of a friend will be exhibited from May 12 to June 3 in Reeves Art and Design2415 Taft Street. An opening reception will be held on May 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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