The new Montrose gallery brings the hyper Houston look to the art scene

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Janice Bond has held just about every possible title in her art career – artist, curator, administrator, collector, Bond has done it all. Now the Houston native can add to that list.

Bond, 38, officially opened the “ART IS BOND”. Gallery at 4411 Montrose Blvd., Friday with “…and then there was (always),” a seven-artist exhibition celebrating the legacy of black art in Houston and around the world.

The exhibition sets the tone for what Bond hopes to achieve with her new gallery, which is “to place a hyper-local art scene in a global context”.

“I think of all the greatness and beauty and power that has always existed, be it cultural, spiritual or emotional, throughout the diaspora and am ready to draw on it,” Bond said.

The daughter of oil and gas workers, Bond grew up in the Houston area and has lived in various locations in Greenspoint, South Park, Midtown and Missouri City.

She credits a summer workshop at Project Row Houses and concerts at Helios (now known as Avant Garden) in Montrose for introducing her to art as a child, but it wasn’t until she moved to Chicago for college that her interest in really pissed off about this topic.

There she was active in a number of arts organizations and founded Bond Creative Advisors, an arts advisory group, while pursuing photography herself. After 13 years, she moved back to Houston in 2020 to take on a role as Associate Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where she was tasked with driving “systemic change.”

Bond said she’s proud of her time at CAMH — which included conceptualizing next summer’s Ming Smith: Feeling the Future exhibition and developing the museum’s CAMHLAB residency program — but feels she’s in own space can have a greater impact.

“A big part of it was asking where I can best serve the arts ecosystem of Houston and beyond, and how best to use relationships to create space for that ecosystem to continue to thrive as I do imagine me and many other creators,” said Bond.

“I want to focus on what we’re creating here and encourage Houstonians to see what we have here a little differently. That’s us,” she said, pointing to pieces by local artists like Colby Deal, Greg Noire, Lanecia Rouse Tinsley and more.

Deal – whose photographs of black life in Houston, according to Bond, have made him a rising star in the art world – said all those involved benefited from being exhibited alongside local and international artists such as Adama Delphine Fawundu.

“Janice paved the way with a remarkable and beautiful space that allows her to reach out to help people and artists by spreading her work and her message,” Deal said.

Art is Bond sits in the massive gray art building on Montrose Boulevard off the Southwest Freeway.

Barbara Davis, a gallery owner at the building for over a decade, said Bond was a welcome addition for both “her great eye” and her “special activations”. Bond has said she plans to use the gallery as a project space for artist collaborations, workshops and more, and she’s already partnered with Kindred Stories, the bookstore owned by a black woman in Third Ward, to sell art books from within the gallery to sell.

“She has curated, she has an international reputation and she will bring new ideas. It’s a great addition to the Houston gallery scene,” said Davis.

At Friday’s grand opening, Bond said she could already see her vision taking shape.

“I kept saying, ‘It really does look like Houston in here,’ in the best way, which means there’s a lot of different ways to see how diverse Houston is,” Bond said.

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