Rick Lowe’s unconventional approach to community revitalization has transformed a long-neglected neighborhood in Houston into a visionary public art project to address the pressing social, economic, and cultural needs of his community. With a group of fellow artists, he organized the purchase and restoration of 22 derelict 1930s shotgun houses in Houston’s predominantly African American Third Ward and turned them into Project Row Houses, an unusual amalgam of arts venue and community support center.
PRH has served as a neighborhood anchor, providing arts education programs for youth, exhibition spaces and studio residencies for emerging and established artists, a residential mentorship program for young mothers, an organic gardening program, and an incubator for historically appropriate designs for low-income housing on land surrounding the original row houses. In the 2 decades since it was founded, the PRH campus has expanded to a 6-block area to preserve the historic district’s character in the face of encroaching gentrification.
Lowe has initiated arts-driven community building projects in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle, Charleston, Delray Beach and North Dallas. His work has been exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum, Houston Contemporary Arts Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Arts, Neuberger Museum, Kwangji Bienale in Korea, Glassell School, Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Kumamoto State Museum in Japan and the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Lowe has been honored with the Rudy Bruner Award in Urban Excellence, the AIA Keystone Award, the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Governors Award, Skandalaris Award for Excellence in Art Architecture, USA Booth Fellowship and the Creative Time Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change. He was a Loeb Fellow in 2002 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2014.