LUNAR COUGAR: Congratulations on your mural at Calhoun’s Rooftop Bar & Grill on campus! What were the parameters of the contest, and was it solicited by the restaurant or UH in general?
TYLER KAY REICHERT: The contest was solicited by Calhoun’s Rooftop Bar & Grill — they posted an announcement on their social media pages and on flyers throughout campus for an open artist call/contest requesting mural ideas. I happened upon the contest when a friend on Facebook tagged me in their post!
Why did you choose to depict Houston mascots, and what do you hope that patrons will take away from the mural when they visit the restaurant?
Calhoun’s Rooftop provides the ultimate atmosphere for sports fans. When I envisioned a mural I knew it needed to incorporate Houston sports teams and deliver a feeling of city pride. I hope that those who visit Calhoun’s Rooftop connect with the mural and their favorite Houston team.
When did you first become interested in art, and is painting your preferred medium?
I demonstrated artistic ability at a young age and my fascination for the arts grew. My mother and grandmother encouraged my constant experimentation with various media, and I was fortunate enough to have this access to materials that allowed me to ultimately realize my love for painting.
How did you come to UH – what was the deciding factor in your decision to enroll?
I began my college career attending Blinn Junior College and transferred to the University of Houston as an Economics Major. I made my transition from College Station to Houston still very unsure of the direction of my studies, but certain I needed to be in a large city to explore all of the possibilities. The University of Houston seemed to be the right fit due to the multitude of programs offered and its location in a large, prospering city.
How did your education at UH and the School of Art change your perspective and shape your life and career now?
I transferred to the University of Houston my sophomore year and after completing one semester I changed my major to art, and I began to see how I could pursue art professionally. I took a position as a gallery intern at two galleries simultaneously while also commissioning paintings for clients. The decision to change my major and pursue my dream took a lot of courage.
Why did it take a lot of courage — what obstacles and apprehensions did you face about changing your major to art?
I supported myself financially through college and I knew this decision would affect my future entirely. Ultimately, my courage derived from the whole hearted belief that I was capable of becoming a professional artist. Certainly, I would encounter failures throughout my journey, but I was determined to make it work. My education at UH has taught me a lot about myself and how to see my passion as a career.
But, fear of rejection also plays a part of it. I was not liberated from it until my freshman year of college, when the unimaginable happened: my boyfriend of two years was killed in a passenger car accident. In a fighting attempt to restore my “new normal” I resorted back to the therapeutic and comforting practices of my art. Within this period of losing myself, I found myself. These unexpected life circumstances enlightened me on my pursuit of happiness and purpose in this lifetime.
That is heartbreaking, but also very inspiring. Are you from Houston originally, and what do you like best about living here?
I was raised in the Houston suburb of Katy-Cinco Ranch. The Katy area has noticeably developed its name within Houston arts community over the years through the establishment of various art outreach organizations and galleries. It gives me great joy to know the community I call home is gaining an educational and public appreciation within the arts. Those from Katy, Texas can relate to the feeling of Houston pride, which is a result of living only a short drive to popular downtown destinations and attractions. I aspire to contribute to the Katy arts movement within the upcoming years. Furthermore, I hope my involvement with Houston inner city projects will lead to the development of similar programs in the Katy area.
Tell me about your role as gallery director at Bisong Art Gallery. Did you start working there while you were a student, and what is your day-to-day like?
My role as gallery director at Bisong Art Gallery includes curating exhibitions, reviewing artist applicants, marketing, teaching group and private painting classes, planning and coordinating private events, and completing private painting commissions for clients. I began working at Bisong Art Gallery as an intern shortly after declaring my major in art at UH, hoping to gain knowledge in gallery operations. My day-to-day varies tremendously based on what we have planned each month, and I utilize my knowledge obtained from various classes all day, every day. My position as gallery director is traditional regarding the business aspect, yet unique due to the fact I am a practicing artist. My dual profession as artist and gallery director enables me to bring a unique point of view to my role.
Did you have a favorite professor or class at UH, or any other favorite UH memories?
My favorite class was my sculptural processes class, which taught me skills like welding and carpentry. It challenged my creativity and allowed access to a skill set and tools I would otherwise never have been exposed to or explored. My favorite UH memory was my acceptance into the 2014 Student Art Exhibition, which consisted of a month-long display of chosen artists’ work at the MD Anderson Library on campus. This was the first opportunity I received to display my art to my fellow classmates, and it was very exciting.
You are currently enrolled in the M.A. in Arts Leadership; what are your goals for the future, and why is Houston a good place for working artists?
I’d like to establish of my own Houston non-profit arts organization that diminishes the present gap between art and art appreciators. I hope to break the stereotypical categorization of the “art appreciator” belonging only to an “elite” society. Houston is a great place for working artists due to the fact the city is incredibly diverse and thriving. Houston ranks among the top cities in the country in its population of working artists, who are distinguished both by the quality of their exhibitions and the diversity of their work.