In The News

Matt Manalo wants to turn Alief into an oasis for artists

Chron.comPosted February 22, 2023 in In The News

The Manila-born sculptor traces his roots in a new solo exhibit at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

By Robert Boyd

Photo by Michael Starghill, Jr.

What inspires a person to become an artist? Ask Matt Manalo, and he’ll talk about the mural painters he remembers from his childhood in Manila. “I have this very vivid image of folks climbing scaffolding made of bamboo,” says the Philippines-born, now Houston-based artist. “They would be painting these giant movie posters, mural-size. I remember sitting back in the car in traffic watching these guys painting these figures and the titles of the movies. They did it so fast and so beautifully.”

Nineteen years ago, Manalo immigrated from the Philippines to the United States—specifically to the Houston neighborhood of Alief. He was 19 years old. Now 38, he’s officially spent half his life in the Philippines and half in the United States. Manalo examines his voyage from there to here in his sculptural installation “38,” part of his new solo exhibit Philippine-Made, currently on view at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

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Houston’s Craftiest Partiers Take Martini Madness to a New Arty Level — A Contemporary Craft Production

Paper City Posted December 10, 2022 in In The News

Iconic Art Space Goes Costume Crazy With a WitchCraft Twist

By Catilin Hsu. Additional reporting Catherine D. Anspon.

Perry Price, Rosemary Price, and Mary Headrick at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft Martini Madness (Photo by Katy Anderson)

This is the first story in a series detailing outrageous, inventive and important art parties. It’s time to anoint the most sizzling soirées of the season.

The Big Event: Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s Martini Madness! fundraiser

Mise en Scène: The Craft Center’s festive “Witches Den” (party tent) and “Garden of Fortunes” (HCCC’s Craft Garden) in the heart of the Houston Museum District.

In keeping with the evening’s WitchCraft theme, guests donned a variety of bewitching looks, many topped off with pointy hats. The winners of the costume contest were John Rufenacht, who sported an oversized witch’s hat adorned with garden materials; Karen Carr, for her outrageous zombie costume; and Hilary Williams, who went organic via a jaunty red mushroom costume topped by a handmade headpiece.

One of the highlights of the evening was the selection of handmade martini glasses created by guest artists. Crafted by 17 talents from Houston and around the United States, these vessels were primarily glass, plus a few ceramic iterations. Guests used these to sip the night’s cleverly themed drinks — “Crystal Ball” classic martinis, “Bee-Witched” (Bees Knees) cocktails courtesy Empress 1908 Gin and the “Warlock’s Hex” (Old Fashioned), concocted with Blade and Bow Bourbon.

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Art Beat – Hands on Houston

HCC Stafford TV StudioPosted November 11, 2022 in In The News

Parents everywhere know the value of crafts to keep children occupied, but can have difficulty coming up with new ideas. The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft has an ongoing monthly resource for that called Hands On Houston. Broadcast November 11th, 2022 on Stafford METV.

My Top 5: Artist Matt Manalo

365 Things to Do in Houston Posted September 12, 2022 in In The News

Our thanks to Matt Manalo for including Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in his 365 Things to Do in Houston “My Top 5” feature! We are very excited for Matt’s solo exhibition here at HCCC in early 2023.

In our My Top 5 series, we turn to the Houstonians who create and shape Houston’s character and ask them to share their own favorite things that make H-Town home. This week, we’re delighted to feature artist Matt Manalo, who also founded alternative art space, Alief Art House.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

By Justin Jerkins

Photo: Michael Starghill Photography; courtesy of the artist.

“I’ve lived here for 19 years; my family and I moved here [from Manila, Philippines],” says artist Matt Manalo, founder of Alief Art House and Filipinx Artists of Houston. “I was already in college when I left, pursuing computer engineering and then when I came here, I felt like it wasn’t a thing I wanted to pursue anymore. At that time, people were really hiring nurses at a fast rate and so I thought that was something I would be doing for the rest of my life, and it turned out it wasn’t [laughs]. I quickly realized that I can’t really imagine spending the rest of my life working at a hospital and that’s when I did some self-searching…I’ve always been interested in art growing up and that’s when I realized that art is something I wanted to do full-time for the rest of my life.”

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Identities, Narratives, and Histories: CraftTexas 2022 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Arts and Culture TexasPosted July 23, 2022 in In The News

How does craft tell stories differently than other visual arts media? I posed this question to Texas-raised, Los Angeles-based artist and curator Andres Payan Estrada, juror for CraftTexas 2022, the biennial juried exhibition presented by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC), now in its 11th edition. “We always highlight the material, how it’s made, and the labor behind it,” says Estrada, “but most importantly we aim to highlight the individual who is making it.”

By Sherry Cheng

Individual narratives and histories are embedded through and through in this conceptually expansive yet thematically cohesive exhibition, on view Oct. 1, 2022 through Jan. 28, 2023 at HCCC. 40 pieces by 27 artists, selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants, enter into nuanced conversations with each other and with the viewer, connecting through explorations of identity, social history, and communal experiences, while pushing the boundaries of contemporary craft. “Artists are dismantling the perception of what a craft object is,” observes Estrada. “It’s often thought of as either solely living in the domestic or something being painstakingly created by hand. A lot of these artists are taking these preconceptions and blowing them up.”

Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya, “OSU MEJILA ATI ODUN KAN – 12 MOON IS ONE COMPLETE CALENDAR YEAR,” 2020. Mixed-media tapestry sculpture installation. 100 x 26 x 100 inches. Photo by ARTWITHAKIRASH STUDIO LLC.

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HCCC included in AARP’s “Guide to Exploring Houston’s Cool, Walkable Museum District”

AARPPosted June 15, 2022 in In The News

By Becca Hensley

While mourning the death of my grandmother recently, I made my first visit to the Rothko Chapel in Houston. The octagonal, minimalistic sanctum, anchored by a reflective pool, looked nothing like a conventional house of worship, yet it drew me in immediately. Something healing flowed out.

In 1964, art collectors John and Dominique de Menil commissioned abstract expressionist Mark Rothko to design this ecumenical structure. Completed in 1971, a year after Rothko’s suicide, the chapel showcases 14 of this master’s paintings, each featuring a series of mysteriously dark, subtle hues: grays, purples, even greens. They took me inside myself in a grounding way — centering me on that first visit, as well as on subsequent ones.


Houston reigns as an arts and curiosities mecca, as evidenced by its prized Museum District, home to not only this chapel but 18 other institutions grouped into four walkable zones about 4 miles south of downtown. Displaying objects as varied as the largest emerald crystal found in North America, Byzantine icons and Jackson Pollock paintings, the district offers something for every mood. There’s even a 55-acre zoological park.

You can’t experience the entire district in one trip, but here’s a doable plan for a three-day museumfest.

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Craft Artists Get Their Due With One of Houston’s Most Unique Art Havens Celebrating 20 Years

Paper City MagazinePosted June 6, 2022 in In The News

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s Spring Luncheon at River Oaks Country Club toasted 20 years of cutting edge exhibitions from artists working in today’s important craft media. Artist Catherine Morgan, the inspiration behind HCCC’s founding, was honored at the event along with the organization’s original board of directors. who were tapped as honorary chairs.

By Vivian Phillips and Catherine D. Anspon

Yvonne Garcia, David Gooding & Edward Lane McCartney (Photo by Katy Anderson)

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s Spring Luncheon at River Oaks Country Club toasted 20 years of cutting edge exhibitions from artists working in today’s important craft media. Artist Catherine Morgan, the inspiration behind HCCC’s founding, was honored at the event along with the organization’s original board of directors. who were tapped as honorary chairs.

Chrissi Morgan, Bill Morgan, honoree Catherine Morgan, honorary chair Sara Morgan, honorary chair Mike Morgan (Photo by Katy Anderson)

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Former Resident Antonius-Tín Bui Among Winners of $100,000 Award in Craft

Maxewell/Hanrahan FoundationPosted May 18, 2022 in In The News

Exploration and insight require time and commitment. The Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation Awards in Craft seek to make both possible for devoted craftspeople and artists from around the country who strive to express what we see and experience in our world through engagement with material. The award recognizes practitioners committed to material mastery and exploration with practices encompassing the stewardship of living cultural traditions, unique insight in material study, and the advancement of craft at the intersection of other fields including science. We recognize that arts funding, especially for craftspeople, is lacking in the US, and we encourage others to commit to these fields.


2022 marks the first year for the Awards in Craft, and each year we aim to give five craftspeople $100,000. These are one-time, unrestricted awards intended to amplify the voices and work of each craftsperson and give them time and funding as they grow in their careers and propel their work forward. This year’s award winners were selected by a committee of panelists for their unique and visionary approach to material-based practice, their potential to make significant contributions to their craft in the future, and the potential for this award to provide momentum at a critical juncture in their career.

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Curator Kathryn Hall to Leave the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

GlasstirePosted April 5, 2022 in In The News

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) recently announced the forthcoming departure of longtime Curator Kathryn Hall, and its subsequent national search for a new curator.

By Jessica Fuentes

HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall. Photo by Scott Cartwright.

Ms. Hall, who began her time at HCCC a decade ago as a curatorial fellow, will leave her position in June. During her time at the organization, she curated twenty-five exhibitions exploring themes like food, culture, and social practice. She will be relocating to New York, where she is pursuing several independent projects.

In a press release announcing Ms. Hall’s departure, HCCC’s Executive Director Perry Price stated, “The impact that Kathryn has made on the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft over her decade-long career here is immeasurable. Without the exhibitions she has curated, the work she has fostered with artists and colleagues from the Houston area and across the country, and the scholarship and ideas she has generated, the field of contemporary craft and the arts community of Houston would be much diminished.”

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The Control Over Women’s Bodies, Expressed in Porcelain, Rope, and Hair

HyperallergicPosted November 9, 2021 in In The News

Jennifer Ling Datchuk’s exhibition is filled with the haunting, rhythmic sounds of gently clattering porcelain.

By Lauren Moya Ford

Jennifer Ling Datchuk, still from “Tame” (2021), video (photo by Walley Films, courtesy Jennifer Ling Datchuk)

HOUSTON — While conducting research at the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center in 2018, Jennifer Ling Datchuk came upon a poster that caught her attention. “Chinese Carry Out Family Planning for the Revolution” by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House features a smiling, smocked woman who holds a bottle of birth control pills and is surrounded by cartoons of a woman and a child engaging in lively activities. The slogan below reads, “Later, Longer, Fewer,” encouraging women to have later marriages, longer periods between births, and fewer children. The 1974 poster is a precursor to China’s one-child policy that was instituted five years later to slow the country’s climbing birth rates.

As empowering as the poster’s message may seem, it also draws certain parallels with the most recent restrictions on women’s reproductive rights in Texas, where Datchuk has lived and worked for the past 13 years. In response to the poster, Datchuk wrote, “This message suggests that women have the power and access to resources in order to make these decisions in the first place.” Now as then, from Shanghai to San Antonio, women’s bodies are subject to state control.

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