Oct 28th was non-stop for me. 7 visitors and 4 conversations that day.
First, my sister Leticia comes by with my Aunt Licha. I spent time explaining the LINES DRAWN show to her. She liked the Pablo Lasch work as well as Jorge’s and JP’s. I wasn’t sure how our conversation was going to develop but she instantly started talking about how her name has changed over the years. From her birth certificate, to her marriage and driver’s licenses’, passport, bills and bank statements, etc. This was not by her design or choice but because it was imposed on her by authorities that did not understand the Spanish surname custom of the order of maiden name to marriage name. One could also say English speaking, Anglo/US authorities are confused or ignorant of the culture, or perhaps the name changes were done for the sake of convenience and preferences. Her original name, Maria Louisa Garcia de Villareal, has changed four times throughout her life. She now goes by Mary Garcia Herrera.
This is an example of someone without a choice in deciding her identity. It was made by one authority after another making the decision for her. Leticia pointed it out that a male relative of ours resisted this simplification in his passport and made sure his name was written and spelt in the way he wanted. This example runs contrary if you are a woman as the name clarification becomes more complex when the marriage name change is adopted. Still it seems that there is one rule and custom for men, another for women.
Deborah Grotfeldt (long time Houston arts leader) showed up with guest. It didn’t take me long to see that it was Caroline Huber (former director of the first DiverseWorks). Wow! This blew me away. I haven’t seen or spoken to either of them in almost 26 years. I tried to explain my history from Houston to New York and now back again. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to engage in-depth in conversation. Turns out they had leave for Deborah Colton Gallery to deliver a talk that afternoon about the Houston art scene in the 70’s and 80’s. I would really love to talk Deborah Grotfeldt and sound her out for advice about my project. Caroline spends her time in California, but she recently bought a place here in Houston. She will be here part-time. It would be great to have her back. I am still really so amazed that they remember me at all!
Rob Greenstein, Chair of DiverseWorks Board of Directors, was another unexpected person. Rob is originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and still carries the accent. He’s retired from working with the US Customs and Border protection. Now he spends his time serving with arts organizations and artists, art museums etc. Which makes his “retirement” years spiritually and intellectually fulfilling and fun. We talked in general about how our country suffers from very narrow self-interests of our fellow citizens (from all income strata). Voting against our own national interests leads to the fraying of a working safety net, causes economic insecurity for all and exacerbates our efforts to battle global climate change. There are multiple reasons for this and ironically it comes from the very same issues causing the problems in society. So what motivates some to vote the way they do: short-term tax relief, a sense of false Nationalism, racism? We worry about our desire for short term relief will affect our ability to sacrifice and pay for its consequences in the future. He and I may not be around in 20-30 years. But, I have hope with the millennials in our country. It was a sobering exchange.