Spilling the Tea: Houston Artist Lauren Luna
If you are living in or around Houston you may have run into Lauren at one of the city’s art festivals or markets throughout the year. Lauren has participated in both Bayou City Art Festivals in the spring and fall for the last three years as a painter. Her work features iconic buildings and locations around Houston as she is even dubbed “your city painter”. Since arriving in Houston in 2011 after teaching and creating in Columbus, OH, and New York City, Lauren has become a noticeable part of the city’s art scene. Currently, she is a part-time professor of art at Lone Star and San Jacinto Colleges. In 2019 Lauran became the Co-President of the D.R.E.A.M. Affect Foundation, a non-profit organization that awards scholarships to minority art students pursuing Fine Arts, and grants for emerging artists.
Q&A with Lauren Luna
What are you currently working on? I am working on pieces for my solo show titled, "Urban Playground", that will be held at the Bisong Art Gallery, September 19, 2020. Amongst the iron trees in the heart of the concrete jungle are the hidden gems. A location for humans to pause their robotic, repetitive, digital lives and reconnect with those basic elements that make us human; social interactions, fresh air, and the sun.
Who is your favorite artist? I have several. Vincent Van Gogh, Elizabeth Catlett, Constantin Brancusi, and Glenn Ligon. The only living artist on this list is Glenn Ligon, and I got to meet him at a lecture he did recently! I've been following his work since I was in undergrad, at Kent State University. The school would take students to New York City so that we could visit the museums, galleries, and go to artist talks. Ligon had a piece that was in the Whitney Biannual, which spoke volumes to me. I came back from the trip and made a piece that was in the same style. So being able to meet him after all this time of seeing his work in other museums was so awesome!
Who or what inspires you? Cities. I love the architecture of cities; the juxtaposition of the eras past that still live above our heads carving out the skylines.
How has the current global health threat impacted you and your art? Well, I decided to go full-time artist without the crutch of a full-time job in October 2019. I had worked very hard, establishing myself as an artist here in Houston, and thought that the time had come that this would be something feasible. The end of the festival season was winding down, but I still had gigs and commissions in addition to them throughout the end of the year. Then the spring festival season was ready to start up, and COVID hit. Every one of my festivals, and subsequently the commissions, gigs, and contacts I make at them, were canceled. I was very thankful that I had decided to accept a few part-time teaching positions at the local colleges. They were something, but not enough to make it. Thankfully I was able to receive a few emergency grants and a few of my collectors reached out for commissions. I was forced to rethink my whole business model. Whereas festivals were my main source of income, it turned to online sales. I have in the past hosted face to face painting parties, and still had all the supplies. So what I started doing was boxing them up and selling them as painting kits, so people could paint in their homes. Also, every Friday evening I would host a "paint-a-long" on Facebook Live. I even hosted a corporate Zoom painting party!
How have you changed your creative and sales process? Everything is online. I did just have my first outdoor art market since March at the beginning of June. All the tents were super spread apart, which actually was nice because we could set our chairs up in between them. My creative process hasn't changed at all. I just have more time to get it done!
What does the Bayou City Art Festival mean to you? Bayou City Art Festival means a
goal achieved. When I first moved here in 2011, I went to the fall festival. Seeing all the wonderful art was so amazing to me. I saw an artist whose work I'd recognized from Professional Artist Magazine and another who I wrote about for my master's thesis. When I was accepted as an artist in the Spring 2017 show, I ran into that same artist. It was a full-circle moment because now those artists are my contemporaries!
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing right now? There has never been any other goal but to be an artist. I've worked my entire life to get to where I am now.
What are you most proud of? The proclamation of Lauren Luna Day in the city of Houston for July 11th for my artistic contributions.
What is the best advice you can give someone? Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Tell everyone about what you do, unapologetically.
While this year has certainly been a challenge for Lauren and other artists, her resilience and insistence to press forward and keep creating is evident in her work. Get to know Lauren and her work more by visiting her website. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For the locals, you can catch Lauren’s solo exhibition at the Bisong Gallery this September.
Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your time with us here and at the festival! We will look forward to welcoming you back!
Artist Relations Director