On Friday, August 25, 2017, just as Hurricane Harvey was en route to Texas, I called home to Houston see if everything was ok. It was projected to hit south of Houston, closer to Corpus Christi so things should've been ok, my mom told me.
On Sunday, as I was coming back from New Jersey, everything fell apart. Harvey swerved north and decided to just sit atop Houston for three days. Three. Days. Three crazy, intense days of flooding.
I watched local news coverage continuously for three days, with my iPad all day at work, and on tv all night. I called, texted and checked social media regularly just to make sure friends and family were ok. I didn't know what else to do from 1,400 miles away, but to donate, ask others to donate, tweet out emergency service numbers, and warn Houstonians not to go into their attics unless they had an axe or sledgehammer. I was feeling restless, glued to the tv, feeling a mixture of heartbreak and helplessness and had to some of the bad energy out, so I doodled scenes that were the opposite of that.
My friend, Thomas Nguyen, who went to the University of Houston with me, then moved to New York City and experienced Hurricane Sandy with me, then moved back home to Houston got unbelievable photos of the flood. With his permission, I used one of his Instagram posts as the backdrop to my next painting, Sam Houston Crossing the Buffalo.
I wanted to capture the essence of why Houstonians make Houston a special place: a diverse city, full of neighbors helping neighbors led by our namesake, Sam Houston.
After spending more than a year only drawing animals in a certain style, trying to paint and draw a human being is very difficult. Especially since my point of reference was Washington Crossing the Delaware.
It took me a few tries. And though it looks nothing like a Leutze, it's still special to me.
I'm making some prints and putting them in the store. 100% of the proceeds go to Houston Food Bank.