district gallery

District Art

District, the city’s newest art gallery brings Black creativity on canvas center stage.

Art is our grandest form of expression. It comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. However, when it distinctively belongs to a group of people long underrepresented, it takes on far greater significance. A larger meaning. Last Thursday, tucked away downtown near Last COncert Cafe, District opened its doors.

Co-owned by Moriah Alise and presented by Saint Austin, the space featured work specifically for and from black artists. Latonia Allen proudly stood near her Distinct Locs pieces, an acrylic on canvas where freedom was found in hair. As guests enjoyed cocktails, mini gourmet burgers, red velvet shooters and mixed drinks, they were treated to the sounds of a violinist who played tunes from “Work” to “One Dance.” Ryan Williams, who walked proudly in a black hat and open jacket had two of the more moving pieces of the event – an antebellum piece of two loves he called “Bliss” and another, of a couple in bed. He called it “Reciprocity,” the phrase brought to light by Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.”

“Black love to me is a norm,” he said about his work. “I grew up around creative people, like my grandmother and my dad. Culturally, we’ve always have had people around me who were artists. As I got older and started to mature, I wanted to tell a story. I want people to look at my work and feel a way. I want them to identify with it.”

The opening chose to focus on identity. “I Am, We Are,” Alise coined it. Black identity, even in new spaces, feels like a strength that few truly recognize. As she stood in front of the gallery, looking at all of the patrons, she couldn’t help be taken aback. “I curated the show to separate it from portraiture and abstract pieces. This show is based on people who inspire me.”

“I was telling a friend of mine this earlier, I prayed that my dreams align with God’s desires,” she said. “The more I prayed that prayer, the less I worried about what I wanted to do in life. I was doing what he wanted me to do. I just have to thank Him.”

latonia sharee district

“Distinct Locs” by Latonia Allen

ryan williams district

“Bliss” by Ryan Williams

“The Gift of Laurie” by Moriah Alise

“Bae” by Shawn Artis

ryan williams reciprocity district

“Reciprocity” by Ryan Williams

District is located in Downtown Houston at 810 Richey. For more photos, visit the official gallery shot by Ahmad Sweeney here. Photos here were taken by the author.