GET TO KNOW US: ALEX IRRERA
Houston Arts Alliance
Ever wanted to put a Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) name to a face? In this series, we introduce you to our staff, providing a little insight into who they are, and diving into what it is they do. We hope you’ll get to know us! This month the spotlight is on Alex Irrera.
DEPARTMENT: Civic Art + Design
RESPONSIBILITIES: As the Collection Coordinator, I am responsible for managing the information in HAA’s City of Houston Art Collection database. I am tasked with carrying out condition reporting for works in the collection, and play a project management role in some of HAA’s conservation efforts. I am also responsible for releasing and publicizing HAA’s civic (public) art open calls and manage HAA’s online civic art call application portal, Submittable. I prepare the presentations and materials for the civic art artist selection panels, Civic Art Committee meetings, and Temporary Public Art Committee meetings. Finally, I am responsible for submitting and tracking all the civic art invoicing at HAA.
DEGREES / CERTIFICATES: BA in Artistic and Social Perspectives from Juniata College. The primary emphasis of my degree was in art history, with supplementary focuses in sociology and museum studies. I also have a minor in Chemistry.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ARTS? My first job in the arts was as a Kinder Foundation Education Center assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). Basically, I worked as the Education Department’s teacher resource center staffer on evening and weekends. In addition to assisting educators, volunteers, and families, I also had the chance to contribute material to the middle school curriculum that the MFAH Education team was developing at the time.
WHAT IS YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THE ARTS & CULTURE? I’ve completed internships with the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, the Education Department at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Curatorial Department at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Directly before coming to HAA, I spent two years as the executive administrative assistant at Society for the Performing Arts (SPA). I was grateful for my time at SPA because it gave me my first in-depth view into the challenges and rewards of contributing to nonprofit arts administration. Working in the theater settings of SPA also gave me a whole new interest in and appreciation for the performing arts, especially modern and contemporary dance. I have also done some freelance arts writing for local publications—including Houston Press, Arts + Culture Texas Magazine, and Gulf Coast Literary Journal—over the past two years.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING AT HOUSTON ARTS ALLIANCE? The bigger picture. HAA is pretty diverse in terms of the cultural tools, resources, services, and opportunities that we offer.
Being a public-private organization, we are also accountable to a wide variety of communities, institutions, and interests. It’s a complicated role to play, and something that the Civic Art + Design department takes into consideration daily. Our intention is that the commission opportunities that we facilitate and the artworks that we maintain enhance the elements of culture within Houston and quality of life for artists and locals.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS / ATTRACTIONS / EVENTS IN HOUSTON? The Menil Collection, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Miller Outdoor Theater, Project Row Houses, the Blaffer Art Museum…
FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF: I can pick up marbles with chopsticks.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PETS? No pets right now. I am a cat lady currently without cat.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW GROWING UP? This isn’t a TV show—but when I was in middle school, I discovered the Turner Classic Movie channel. I have been hooked ever since. I think part of the appeal of classic film can be glamour and escapism, but you can also find really masterful writing and great dialogue. Studying classic film, you bear witness to the evolution of style or craft in film making and acting—all which still continues to influence and inspire the medium today. As with art history, classic film gives you a window of insight into society’s vision (idealized or real and gritty) of itself over the last century.
WHICH MUSEUM (IN THE WORLD) IS YOUR ABSOLUTE FAVORITE? WHICH ARE YOU DYING TO GO TO? I am a huge fan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, NYC. The museum’s building was constructed from the cloisters of four Gothic and Romanesque French monasteries and is filled with medieval architectural elements, sculptures, tapestries, paintings, and furniture. There are historically accurate gardens on the grounds, and interior parts of the building are exposed to the elements (wind, rain, etc.). Strange, serene, mystical, and contemplative—it’s a totally bizarre, immersive, and beautiful space. This month, I’m traveling to the Windy City for the first time; I am looking forward to visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE? Elisabeth Moss. She’s really wonderful in Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and The One I Love. Her characters tend to be fallible, but also smart, contemplative, and resilient. She also acts silences well. I think she could portray a good mix of who I am and who I imagine myself to be.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SEASON? Winter in Houston / fall everywhere else. I love stepping outside and feeling the cool air on my face. For me, these season also mean the much coveted chance to be all wrapped up in scarves, boots, sweaters, coats… which I enjoy.