We had the good fortune of connecting with Pen Morrison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pen, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by staying engaged with the world. It is a fantasy that artists can only make art holed up in their studios, isolated so they can create. I have to be a part of the day to day world. And by keeping up with what brave women like Greta Thunberg and hard working women like Elizabeth Warren are doing, I am driven to do my own work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a graphic designer I have to make work that makes the client happy, it is part of the job. As an artist I feel I make work that speaks to buyers. Doing this is not a compromise to me, and of course in both endeavors I only show work that I am happy with.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would start out at the Beer Can House, a life long art project made by a kinda crazy guy who had a unique vision! For lunch we would head to Goode Company BBQ, a place that has been there forever. There is a server there who has been there since I arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed in Houston in 1978! We would head over to my house in the Heights for a home tour of all the art I have in my house. We would have tickets to a live music show at Heights Theater, walking from my house 3 blocks away, and stopping to have a pre-show cocktail at Harold’s across the street from the theater. Next day we stop by Project Row Houses on the way to the free boat ride at the Port of Houston, with dinner at Dona Maria’s Mexican Cafe on Navigation near the touristy original Ninfa’s but much more authentic! The next day we would have a picnic lunch on the grounds of the Menil Collection, the Drawing Institute, and the Cy Twombly Gallery with visits to each. A stop inside the Rothko Chapel gives us the right frame of mind. Nighttime excitement includes drinks at Warren’s on Old Market Square, and dinner at Local Foods on Main Street. The following day we would do the Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum, with lunch inside. A drive home stop at Lawndale Art Center and the Center for Contemporary Crafts. Dinner at my house in the Heights with Star Pizza! We are tired of walking so it is off to The Tremont House for a fancy overnight. Music show at The Grand 1894 Opera House and the Old Quarter Cafe. The next morning we stop by Katie’s Seafood and a ride on the Bolivar Ferry to visit my friend who lives in Bolivar. We cook seafood for everyone that night, look at the stars from the beach, and be grateful for all that Houston has to offer!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I must have music in my life. I’d like to give credit to all the musicians, music venues and festival who have brought so much to me. Tipitina’s in New Orleans, The Heights Theater in Houston, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Lalapalooza, House of Blues, the late Fitzgerald’s in Houston, and many others. I don’t know how all of these people will survive this pandemic, but I hope and pray they will be able to bring joy to us again.