VIDEO: Rick Lowe: Houston Artist Awarded 2014 MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’

Rick Lowe won for his work to revitalize Houston neighborhood.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

Rick Lowe is an artist who worked to revitalize a long-neglected Houston neighborhood


Local artist Rick Lowe is one of this year’s 21 MacArthur fellows, and he almost ignored the phone call from the foundation.

“I was at a meeting, and I kept receiving a call from the same number a number of times, and I decided maybe I should pick this up,” Lowe said. “They were calling from the MacArthur Foundation and informing me that I was a recipient of the fellowship, which completely took me by surprise.”

In 1993, Lowe founded Project Row Houses, an effort to renovate 22 abandoned homes in the Third Ward. The campus now spans six blocks and serves as a community center and art exhibition space.

The MacArthur Foundation awards grants each year to creative individuals whose work shows promise. Fellows receive $625,000 over the course of five years to support their visions. Lowe says he doesn’t have specific projects in mind yet, but he hopes to bring more cultural amenities to the Third Ward.

“There are a number of places that hold the history of African Americans in architectural forms,” he said. “My hope going forward is that we can start so solidify the northern Third Ward as being the hub for African American culture.”

Lowe is the first Houstonian to win a MacArthur grant since 1998. Other Fellows from Texas this year include Austin-based public housing advocate John Henneberger and Austin-born filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. 


List of 2014 MacArthur ‘genius grant’ recipients

CHICAGO (AP) — The following 21 fellows will each receive $625,000 over the next five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation:

__ Danielle Bassett, 32, Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania physicist who applies mathematical approaches to analysis and modeling of brain connectivity.

__ Alison Bechdel, 54, Bolton, Vermont. Cartoonist and graphic memoirist whose narratives explore family relationships.

__ Mary Bonauto, 53, Boston. Civil rights lawyer, director of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and a leader in the marriage equality movement.

__ Tami Bond, 50, Urbana, Illinois. Environmental engineer at the University of Illinois and expert on global effects of soot on climate and health.

__ Steve Coleman, 57, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Jazz composer and saxophonist who is being recognized for creating a “distinctive new sound.”

__ Sarah Deer, 41, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Professor at William Mitchell College of Law and advocate for Native American women at risk of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

__ Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 49, Stanford, California. Stanford University social psychologist investigating how racial bias and stereotypes affect law enforcement and criminal sentencing.

__ Craig Gentry, 41, Yorktown Heights, New York. Computer scientist at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center whose work has led to the possibility of more secure cloud computing.

__ Terrance Hayes, 42, Pittsburgh. Professor of writing at the University of Pittsburgh and poet whose work has focused on race, gender and family.

__ John Henneberger, 59, Austin, Texas. Co-director of the Texas Low Income Housing Service who has worked to expand affordable housing and make sure all communities have equal access to federal relief funds after natural disasters.

__ Mark Hersam, 39, Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern University materials scientists investigating physical, chemical and biological properties of nanomaterials.

__ Samuel D. Hunter, 33, New York, New York. Playwright whose work confronts what the foundation calls the “socially isolating” aspects of contemporary American life.

__ Pamela O. Long, 71, Washington, D.C. Historian of science and technology who has researched scholarship and craftsmanship in Renaissance societies.

__ Rick Lowe, 53, Houston. Public artist who worked to revitalize a long-neglected Houston neighborhood.

__ Jacob Lurie, 36, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University mathematician who created a new conceptual foundation for derived algebraic geometry.

__ Khaled Mattawa, 50, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Poet and translator of contemporary Arab poetry at the University of Michigan, where he is an associated professor in the Department of English Language and Literature.

__ Joshua Oppenheimer, 39, Copenhagen, Denmark. Documentary filmmaker who has covered topics such as state-sponsored violence.

__ Ai-jen Poo, 40, New York, New York. Labor organizer who has pushed to improve working conditions for domestic or private-household workers.

__ Jonathan Rapping, 48, Atlanta. Criminal lawyer who founded program to help public defenders provide quality legal representation to the indigent.

__ Tara Zahra, 38, Chicago. Professor at University of Chicago whose research and analysis about twentieth-century Europe helped create a “transnational understanding of events,” according to the foundation.

__ Yitang Zhang, 59, Durham, New Hampshire. University of New Hampshire mathematician who is being recognized for a landmark achievement in analytic number theory.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required