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  • Danielle Fanfair

Spending Time With Judy Nyquist


I had the pleasure of producing a Folklore Films visual poem for Judy Nyquist called, "Curator of Human Potential." Judy invited Marlon Hall, Shelly Travis, and me to a gorgeous house on Kirby Drive, which serves as both the Nyquist Gallery and home to she, her husband, and her now out-of-the-nest children. I didn't know what to expect, and I did not expect Judy. To see her is to instantly love her. Fabulous silver bob and fluttering lashes. Check. Chic ensemble and accessories. Check. Easy smile. Check. Zippy little smart car (of which she was one of the first to own in the United States). Check.

To enter the house is to instantly question everything you ever thought was a good idea for home decor. Her home is punctuated by well-placed, interesting, beautiful works of art (that were once on exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and The Menil Collection) with pops of humor. The furniture is this harmonious juxtaposition of modern and elegant vintage. From the kitchen emerges Judy with a neon green tray full of nuts, chocolates and Perrier. Our film crew came in weary from the Houston heat and depleted from the workday that preceded the shoot and we left lighter, happier and inspired.

Judy has a reputation for being an innovative curator, a generous patron and an encourager of artists. What lights Judy up is being able to support the dreams--both curatorially and financially--of local contemporary artists that she knows and believes in.

Ok do you know how rare it is to find a person with resources, whose desire is simply to support and encourage beautiful work, with no agenda to manipulate or control the artist for their own gain?

There was an unspoken bracing on my part; I wondered if she would be a little cold (we were strangers, after all). I was silently concerned that our youth and African-American-ness may create that invisible barrier that impedes true connection for so many, even in our diverse city. It was unnecessary. Judy dispelled it all. We were honored at her invitation; while with her, we felt genuinely welcomed, respected, and really enjoyed our time with her. There is a genuine kindness and assumption of goodwill that Judy possesses, and it is contagious.

She allowed our film crew to tag along as she visited artists in their studios, hosted a party at her home, attended openings, and to a gala for one of the many arts organizations she serves as a board member. Watching folks clammer to get to her just doesn't match the humble and gracious manner with which she honors people.

I will forever learn from spending time with Judy. Upon hearing the dreams and visions of artists, most people extend well-wishing platitudes as the least they can do. Judy engages her deep character, draws from her extensive (continuing) education, and extends her resources to actively nurture her belief in artists and what they say to the world as the most she can do.

She does many things in a few hours that I want my whole life to be characterized by; specifically:

  • She brings ease to artists with real support.

  • From her love and deep study of art and art history, she gives artists essential feedback that catalyzes their growth as creatives and humans.

  • She is generous with her time, energy and resources as she connects artists to relationships and opportunities that are generative.

Then she gets in that little blue Smartcar and zips away.

Watch the trailer for Judy's Visual Poem. Want to see it? Go to https://www.folklorefilms.org/homescreenings and learn more about how Judy's life nourishes our city.

#JudyNyquist #Glastire #contemporaryart #houston #folklorefilms #film #art #Menil #ContemporaryArtsMuseumHouston

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