Homeless poet Lowell Smith, whose work is part of Windows to the Soul, an installation at the Dallas Homeless Assistance Center.
Guest blogger Gail Sachson is Vice-Chair of the Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Dallas Public Art Committee.
There could not have been a better choice than glass artist GORDON HEUTHER to create the artwork embellishing THE BRIDGE, Dallas’ Homeless Assistance Center, just opened yesterday. Easy-going, self-deprecating, but openly and charmingly self-promoting, California artist Gordon Heuther is a risk-taker and an optimist! He’s a can-do kind of guy who never finished high school and who spent several months in juvenile hall, in San Francisco around the time of his parents’ divorce.
He may never have been homeless, but he HAS struggled with being scared and being directionless. He understands the necessity of a helping hand and even today calls his devoted and supportive patrons “sweet, sweet angels”. In this case, Heuther is the “sweet, sweet angel”. In the art work he created, he was able to give the words of two homeless poets, LOWELL SMITH and BILLY BLAIR, a stage, an audience and life.
Chosen by the construction project’s design team from a Public Art Committee list of approved artists, Heuther designed and fabricated Windows to the Soul, 7 traffic-stopping art windows of etched and colorful fused glass for the shelter’s third-floor dormitory area. The soul-searching words of Smith and Blair, written during creative writing workshops at The Stewpot, were sandblasted in Heuther’s own handwriting atop of colorful rectanglular shapes.
At the opening ceremonies yesterday, I was fortunate to meet LOWELL SMITH, one of the poets. As he stood before one of his favorite windows, it dwarfed his human-size, but it swelled his spirit…and mine. Written as a response to Katrina, he asked, “Is this a day when God had enough? Is he fixin to teach us another lesson?” If he were, perhaps it was when Smith and Heuther met for the first time yesterday and hugged beside the window.
The lesson might be love.
By building THE BRIDGE, Dallas has hugged the homeless. But is a hug enough?
KERA Radio’s B.J. Austin just brought over some additional interviews she did for her story on the shelter opening. Thought I’d add them here – Anne Bothwell
Poet Lowell Smith
Gordon Huether explains his work to Dallas City Council members and others on the tour.
And Rick Archer, with Overland Partners Architects, talks about the public art aspect “Windows to the Soul.”