Friday, April 24, 2009

Featured Artist: Zach Houston

Oakland-based artist/poet Zach Houston refuses to be another starving artist. His ongoing project "Poem Store" is hardly ironically titled: Houston sets up camp (handmade sign, manual typewriter and all) at any number of public places to write impromptu poetry for donating patrons. For Houston, no given topic is too too precious or too banal, and he writes his cogent, free-verse poems with genuine sincerity and touches of humor, the resulting white sheet of minimal type equally charming in its own right. Suffice it to say, customers rarely ask for their money back.

This former Sonoma State University student is hardly your run-of-the-mill street performing eccentric. In addition to "Poem Store," Houston has been involved in exhibitions at Johansson Projects in Oakland, New York's White Columns Gallery, and the current inaugural exhibition in Berlin's new Golden Parachutes, the majority of his work dealing with "language and trope" as well as reacting to an economy with little sympathy for artists and writers. Thanks to the help of our dear friends Paul and Jesi of Golden Parachutes, Zach agreed to answer our "12 Questions," enlightening us to a bit of his style and inspiration. Learn more about Zach Houston at

12 Questions with Zach Houston

Q: At what moment did you first feel like an artist?
A: birth

Q: What has been your biggest art faux pas?
A: birth

Q: Whose style do you most admire?
A: universe

Q: If your work had a soundtrack, what would it be?
A: sound

Q: What is your trademark?
A: money

Q: Name your dream collaborative team.
A: every living and dead

Q: How does where you live affect the art you make?
A: very well thank you I live in California

Q: If you could travel back to any era for its art and lifestyle, what
time would you visit?
A: utopian future

Q: Sum up your aesthetic in 3 adjectives.
A: person place and everything (adsictives)

Q: What is your must-have when you're at work in your studio?
A: "if you want everyone to have work you are part of problem" Di Prima

Q: If money was no object, what major project might you take on?
A: end war starvation poverty money

Q: What work of art that you've personally seen has most moved you?
A: psychedelics

*All images courtesy of Golden Parachutes except for heading photo of Zach, which comes from Johansson Projects' Flickr album. Other images include a photo of Zach's "Poem Store" by Casey Bisson, the drawing "Advertising Rienhart Descending a Staircase to Another Woman" (Johansson Projects), and the ink on paper drawing "It's Not a Choice, it's a) moral quantity b) the war" (2007).

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