After the levees broke and much of New Orleans flooded, donations poured in to help the residents there. The arts community rallied around the New Orleans Museum of Art, which sustained extenstive water damage. But Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Director Marti Mayo says she realized hundreds of artists along the Gulf Coast were in need of help also.
"You know, they didn't have kitchen tables, they didn't have cars. And many of them lost their gigs or their jobs, you know, whether many of them were teachers or waiters or whatever -- all the kinds of things they did to make a living while they make their work were gone like the work was gone. And we began to talk about how we might help a few of these people whose stories we had heard."
The CAMH began to seek donations from the art community. Money started pouring in from around the country. Other museums contributed, some donating admissions revenue. Then two grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Weisman Art Foundation came in. The CAMH suddenly had $125,000 to give away. The collected applications and awarded 25 artists with $5,000 each. One of the recipients was New Orleans based artist Dawn Dedeaux, who lost her home to the storm and her studio to a fire. Bill Fagaly was on the panel of judges that selected the artists. He says the grant is just a start for people like Dedeaux.
"A hundred dollars would be a nice gift, so $5,000 is very sizeable amount of money for her to receive and to get back on her feet. And it's not just helping her to get back on her feet, but her morale -- it's a vote of confidence to her as an artist."
Dedeaux has been living with family in Alabama while waiting for FEMA to provide a trailer in New Orleans. The trailer came in last week, but FEMA won't be able to provide her with electricity for another month. She says it's been incredibly difficult to deal with the challenges, but things like this grant make it easier.
"And the star of this whole episode has been the city of Houston. I can't thank the city enough for its generosity to so many people. It's just been lovely and thank you Houston."
Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.