Interview with Board Member and Arts Council Committee Member Carlos Silva

By Christina Autry

What is the Arts Council?

The Arts Council is something the East Aldine District has wanted to do for some time now. The management district is tasked with improving infrastructure, economic development, and partnering with organizations in the community to provide resources and an improved quality of life. Among all of these things, a missing component was public art, which is an important factor in quality of life. It wasn’t until this year that we formally created the Arts Council as an official committee of the district, with a budget within the overall budget. The idea for the Arts Council was to finally incorporate visual public art into the East Aldine community.

What is the mission of the Arts Council?

Our mission statement is to promote and advocate for the visual arts within the East Aldine community. Our objectives are: first, to foster creativity and expression through public art installations and exhibits. We want to bombard the district with art installations, exhibits, murals, sculptures, and projects that people will see, enjoy, and will spur creativity among residents. Through that process we will be able to uncover and discover local artists.

Second, our mission is to actively engage with the community and work with local partners to ignite civic pride with visual arts. It’s important that we don’t just bring in art from the outside and superimpose art into the district superficially but rather an organic process by which we engage the local community in Houston.

Third, we want to make East Aldine an arts-centric destination. Promoting art and having installations will spur the interest of visitors or local tourists. Drawing people into the community will have a positive economic impact. This is done by providing a platform for local artists, and creating a place where art is accepted, embraced, and encouraged.

What current projects are the Arts Council working on?

We are in the process of developing a mural for the new district office in Town Center. The goal is for the mural to be ready by the time the building opens next spring. We are working on creating a historical mural that tells the story of Aldine on the 8×30 foot wall in the lobby. We are working with our partners to get the research, history, and accuracy, and then work on the imagery. The mural will cover topics native people, the grasslands, bayou, prairie, ranching, trains and commerce, industry, oil, machining, airport. We will be meeting with Mark McKee, someone we consider to be the single most knowledgeable person about the Aldine area, to confirm that our chronology is correct.

Prior to this, the Arts Council was involved in the 2020 Census mural at the public library in collaboration with Harris County and UpArt Studio. We were overwhelmed by the excitement of the community over this Aldine-themed mural. This was the first commissioned piece of public art in the community.

What’s next for the Arts Council?

We’re getting ready for what I like to call “Aldine Arts Activation” in 2021. We have built a relationship with UpArt Studio, and we want our local artists to have the opportunity to collaborate with them through their Mini Mural project in the district. We will work on locating various walls for murals throughout the district, and find and other creative avenues to get the community excited.

One idea that we’re excited about is a “Greetings From Aldine” postcard-style mural. We hope that it will give people an immediate sense of ownership, connection, relatability to the community. In a time when people are seeking out the perfect Instagram photo, it will become a hotspot for residents to make use of.

We want to see sculptures, murals, and all manner of art in the parks and greenspaces. Eventually we’d like to have an East Aldine Arts Center and gallery spaces for local artists to display their work.

We’re just getting started. Our main idea is that if we start to get art out there, people will respond. Once people start seeing public art, they might want to find out how they can as well.

Once it gets rolling, it will start building up steam to the point where it saturates this community.

What is your connection to the mission of the Arts Council?

I’ve always had a hunger and interest in artistic expression. My wife is an Arts major, and we both share that passion. We love art. Because of my involvement on the board and her experiences in the art world, we’re in a position where we can help kickstart the arts scene in the community. Our roots are in Aldine, and is the perfect opportunity for us to contribute.

I feel strongly that public art has the means to inspire, and promote a sense of pride in community. Art can communicate so much with so little. It is something for the eye to behold, that strikes people and makes it seem like all of a sudden something different, unique, and important is happening beyond the practical.