Paul Villinski - "Emergency Response Studio" at Rice University Art Gallery - Houston, TX, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.
The Rice University Art Gallery opened its exhibition of Paul Villinski's "Emergency Response Studio" last week. Villinksi's idea was this; artists should be embedded with other post-disaster emergency responders and this retrofitted trailer a prototype to aid in that process. Friday, I attended the artist lecture and free lunch that accompanies every exhibition the galley has. For an artist working on "A Big Idea" he was free of the pretensions that might make a person skeptical of the merits and/or success of the concept. His interview on KUHF does a nice job of putting the project in context.
That being said, another artist immediately came to mind who provided timely and worthy art to the people of New Orleans after Katrina hit. The work British street artist Banksy created in New Orleans required a little more than plane ticket and some cans of spray paint. It wasn't created in a studio nor limited to the confines of a gallery. He (assuming the unknown artist is a he) put his critique of post-Katrina government action front-and-center of the people who were living through its failure. But the best reason to love his work is that it is really great art; concise, witty and completely relevant to its surroundings. And that is why I am always pleased when more work of his is made public.
From what I can gather most, if not all, of the Banksy's New Orleans public art has since been erased by the Gray Ghost.