While in Houston in April this year I came across this beautiful relic in the city’s downtown. It is the Sunset Coffee Building, and is located right where Houston was born in 1836, at Allen’s Landing on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou. It has been occupied for less than 15 years since going up in 1910, and it is a miracle it was never paid a visit by the wrecking ball!
Built by the Sunset Coffee Company, it housed the company’s brand, Sunset Coffee. It was a premium brew, distributed throughout the state. But only 10 years later, the building was vacated and remained empty for over 45 years. In 1967 it became the site of one of Houston’s strangest venues ever.
During the Summer of Love, the old Sunset Coffee Building was transformed into a psychedelic music venue and nightclub: The Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine. It had a brief but notorious history, setting itself apart by featuring a “zonk out” area that was filled with giant mattresses and hundreds of colored pillows, allowing patrons to lay back and watch the bands on stage, the go-go girls on side stages and the groovy liquid light shows and image projections.
Love Street closed after only a few years, and the building has remained vacant for – again – over 45 years!
Coincidentally, two months before I shot Alley 144, the city unveiled plans to transform the Coffee Building into a landmark historical and recreation destination. Houston has found a new love for this woefully neglected space!
I knew nothing of the building when I shot it, but after learning of its psychedelic night club past and elaborate stage light shows, I was thrilled to see some of that echoed in my own version of the Sunset Coffee Building.
You can read more about the Love Street here.
The Huffington Post recently featured a story about my work on its front page and its arts & culture page.
Shooting Photos of Alleys and Ruins
by J. Michael Welton
Portions of this post originally appeared at Architects and Artisans
Chicago’s daily Spanish newspaper, Hoy, interviewed me and reviewed my show at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago. It was my first ever Spanish interview! What took you so long?!
XAVIER NUEZ y su revalorización del “UNDERGROUND”
by Delia Negro
The Cervantes show is finally winding down. It is my longest ever solo exhibit! The show opened April 18 and will end Sept 10. The 23 pieces in the show include three 8×10 foot pieces. Most of the exhibit is moving to Elmhurst College next.
A solo exhibit of my photographs, featuring 8×10 foot prints from my Alleys & Ruins series, will be on display in the Frick Center gallery at Elmhurst College.
The show will run from Sept 17 to Oct 17, 2013.
You are welcome to come to the opening reception on Sept 19 from 4:30pm-6:30pm where I’ll be giving a talk. The college is located at 190 Prospect Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois.
For the first time, I will be exhibiting many of the Polaroids that I shoot as tests before shooting the film. Since I shoot film and don’t have digital feedback, the only way I can tell what I’m doing is by shooting a polaroid.
And this brings me to the worst exchange I had with someone this month.
A 16 year old girl asked me how I created my photographs and so I explained that I start by using a 50 year old film camera.
“What’s film?” she says
I reply, “Wha?? Film! Film! Its what, until recently, was how you captured an image. You put light sensitive film – a plastic strip – in your camera.”
“I don’t know. I think I might’ve heard about something like that.
Life goes on…