Moody Center convenes creative summer series of virtual programming and performances by local artists

From large-scale installations to an intimate concert series, new works respond to a critical time in history

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moody Center for the Arts is offering a summer of art, music, film and dance that audiences can enjoy from home — or even from their cars.

The Moody’s summer window series opened June 13 with a site-specific commission by Egyptian artist Ganzeer. Known for his political street art in Cairo during the Arab Spring and subsequent years, Ganzeer worked internationally before relocating to Houston last year.

Egyptian artist Ganzeer's installation “It Takes a Village” will be on view at Rice's Moody Center for the Arts through July 25. (Photo by Katharine Shilcutt)

Egyptian artist Ganzeer’s installation “It Takes a Village” will be on view at Rice’s Moody Center for the Arts through July 25. (Photo by Katharine Shilcutt)

Ganzeer’s large-scale project, which can be seen from College Way as you enter campus from Stockton Drive, is titled “It Takes a Village.” Installed on the Moody’s west-facing wall of windows and created to work with the building’s architecture, Ganzeer’s piece features a colorful array of giant hands that seem to be supporting the structure above.

Houston poet Outspoken Bean will activate the project by presenting an original poem June 22 before each of Ganzeer’s wall panels. Bean will also do an Instagram Live takeover of the Moody’s account that evening.

Bean’s performance will be presented on the Moody’s YouTube channel June 26 along with an array of newly commissioned work from visual artists, musicians and dancers, all of which will be available online. The Moody will also be launching a virtual film series featuring artists in the Rice Public Art collection.

“Supporting local artists and celebrating Rice Public Art allows us to continue to pursue the Moody’s interdisciplinary mission while engaging diverse audiences during this critical time,” said Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director of the Moody Center.

Ganzeer’s window series will run through July 25. The second artist in the Moody’s two-part window series, Austin-based Erin Curtis, will create a site-specific work of intricate patterns and hues, on view from Aug. 1 until Sept. 12.

Curtis’s work will be also activated by local artists with an original performance by Open Dance Project (ODP), to be presented on the Moody’s YouTube channel in late August.

“The first project ODP will embrace once the dancers return from their summer hiatus is a creative response to Erin Curtis’s original installation at the Moody,” said Open Dance Project founder Annie Arnoult, a frequent Moody collaborator.

“Our focus is on innovative ways to break down barriers between artists and audiences to make dance more accessible and meaningful,” Arnoult said. “As a site-specific response to our current moment, this project is a positive start to our next season, and we’re delighted it will be in collaboration with the Moody.”

Shepherd School percussionist Aaron Smith performs a new composition by Shepherd School composer Theo Chandler inspired by Mark di Suvero's Po-um (Lyric) (2003). Photo by Daniel Ortiz

Shepherd School percussionist Aaron Smith performs a new composition by Shepherd School composer Theo Chandler inspired by Mark di Suvero’s Po-um (Lyric). (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

For its summer music series, the Moody has commissioned five composers from the Shepherd School of Music to create original works responding to individual objects in the Rice Public Art collection. Each composer’s short solo or duet was filmed and performed by Shepherd School students or alumni in front of each piece of artwork.

Starting June 23, the five performances will be released on the Moody’s YouTube channel on Tuesdays at noon. The first performance, by composer Daniel Zlatkin, responds to Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Malutka II. It will be followed weekly by new videos: composer David Jones’s response to Mark di Suvero’s Po-um (Lyric); Jake Sandridge’s composition for Jaume Plensa’s Mirror; Theo Chandler’s composition for Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1115; and Nicky Sohn’s composition for Leo Villareal’s Radiant Pathway.

The Moody’s summer film series will feature virtual screenings of documentaries about three artists in the Rice Public Art collection. The first in the series, the new film “Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own,” is presented in partnership will the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Beginning June 17 at 10 a.m., the documentary will be available for one week at mfah.org/virtualcinema. Created by filmmaker Daniel Traub, the film illuminates von Rydingsvard’s 50-year career and personal journey from a post-World War II displaced-persons camps to her arrival in 1970s New York.

On June 22 at 2 p.m., Weaver and Alison de Lima Greene, the Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), will host a virtual Q&A about the artist, the film and her work. It will be moderated by Marian Luntz, curator of film and video at MFAH.

The second film, “Sol LeWitt: Four Decades,” was created by Michael Blackwood on the occasion of the artist’s last major retrospective in 2000. It offers a rare opportunity to hear directly from this seminal conceptual artist, who famously resisted being filmed and photographed. It will be available to screen virtually July 22-29 through the Moody YouTube channel.

The third film in the series, “Impossible Light,” follows the creation of Leo Villareal’s critically acclaimed public art installation “The Bay Lights,” an ambitious project requiring the installation of 25,000 LED lights on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Directed by Jeremy Ambers, it will be available to screen Aug. 19-26. On Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., Ambers will host a Zoom Q&A regarding the film and the artist.

Additional information about the Moody’s summer programming can be found at moody.rice.edu.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.