We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrick Renner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patrick, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I’m inspired by the constantly-evolving urban landscape that is Houston. Because there’s an inclination toward “out with the old and in with the new” in our city, I realized early in my development as an artist that there’s an abundance of architectural refuse at hand nearly all the time. Heavy trash day is a gold mine for people like me who enjoy culling from the remnants of defunct structures in the hopes that these elements can be resurrected in new compositions. For over two decades I’ve been sifting through H-town’s roadside offerings and building my visual language as a sculptor.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I don’t know what sets me apart from others, but I like the idea of what we share: we all navigate our existence inside the unknown of how much time is allotted to each of us, and what we make of it. As such, I’m continually fascinated by the remnants of residential spaces, i.e.: architectural refuse. The record of our existence as humans, on a local scale as it is evident in the places we inhabit, is made available, in glimpses here and there, in the heavy trash piles by the side of the road when a renovation or tear-down occurs. Acting as a pseudo-archeologist, I have the opportunity to re-present these familiar things in a new way through my (re)constructed art pieces. The way I build images is in a similar vain to the quilt-making I saw my maternal grandmother work at so meticulously, filtered through the wood-working processes I learned first through my paternal grandfather, and later, other craftspeople. I have gained a reverence for material over the years, and the joy of working with my hands in order to transform something humble into something a little more interesting never grows old.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Obviously I’m biased toward art, which Houston has a lot to offer. We would explore many of the cool DIY art experiences that make Houston unique, like the Beer Can House, the Orange Show, and if the time of year was right, then the Art Car Parade for sure. There are also so many excellent museums, like the CAM, the newly expanded MFAH, and my personal favorite, the Menil Collection with its many satellite galleries in addition to the Renzo Piano-designed crown jewel that is the main museum building. Menil Park is a perfect spot to hang out and picnic, especially if you bring some tacos from my favorite truck down the street, Tierra Caliente. Speaking of food, there are so many great cultural offerings that the list is far too long, but Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, seafood, and BBQ are all top notch here. A couple of my go-tos are Teotihuacan, Thai Lanna (a hidden gem on the north loop), Cafe TH, Bombay Sweets (I hope they get the buffet open again soon!), Zydeco, and Burns. For chill spots, I like Antidote for coffee on their patio, Equal Parts brewery whose tiki-inspired sours I just discovered, and Johnny’s Gold Brick for a rotating list of interesting cocktails as well as an old fashioned that never fails. The good people at Johnny’s are currently hard at work on launching a new venue called Winnie’s that will debut soon on Main St. in midtown, and feature fancy sandwiches paired with simple cocktails. They’ve given me the amazing opportunity to design and create their bar top and back bar, so when they open later this summer, maybe we can meet up there and spin a yarn at the bar over a drink 😉
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my mom and dad, who took me to galleries and museums as a youngster and set me on the path to becoming an artist; and to my son Indiana, who inspires me every day with his humor and inquisitiveness.
Facebook: Patrick Renner
Funnel Tunnel image credit: Arie Moghaddam, 2013.