Otis Houston Jr.

All Eyes on Who?

Mar. 10–Apr. 21, 2024

Gordon Robichaux is pleased to present two new exhibitions: recent sculpture and paintings by Otis Houston Jr. (Room 925), and an installation of new drawings by Miles Huston (Room 907). The artists have previously collaborated, and although their exhibitions at Gordon Robichaux are distinct, we are excited to honor their long-standing friendship—Huston introduced Houston Jr. to the gallery in 2018—with concurrent shows.

A self-taught artist and musician, Otis Houston Jr. began making work after taking an art class while incarcerated. Since 1997, he has maintained an ongoing presence under the Triborough Bridge (now RFK Bridge) on the FDR Drive in New York, where he stages impromptu performances and a site- specific installation of signage and sculpture.

All Eyes on Who? is Otis Houston Jr.’s second exhibition at the gallery and his first since the two-part institutional residency and show, My Name is My Word, at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2022–2023). For his exhibition at Gordon Robichaux, the artist will present five recent assemblage sculptures made with found and altered objects—a toy clock, a fluffy yellow chicken suit, carved wooden sculptures inspired by African power figures, a plastic Doric column, a child’s doll—and a group of new paintings presented in colorful frames by the artist and adorned with text. On the floor of the gallery, the artist has arranged a constellation of coconuts around the sculptures’ pedestals “to bring in nature,” he says, and to signal his interest in promoting healthy eating and wellness. Throughout, the works exemplify Houston Jr.’s deft use of found objects, images, and text to address visibility, identity, and social and political concerns.

The largest sculpture, Mother Nature, was made during the artist’s residency at JMKAC, and is reminiscent of the tableaux he creates outdoors for his performances. The work is composed of a chicken suit “supported by a cross- like internal structure. Around extended arms, there is a necklace, of sorts, which layers a spray-painted heart pendant above the figure’s chest. At the base, three plastic bowls create a patterned foreground for a first-person message signed by the artist, ‘I Don’t care too Much For No Man That Don’t Know How To Treat Another Man: Artist Otis Houston Jr. PEACE’”(1).

A group of five new works on canvas hangs on the walls of the gallery. Two are copies of paintings, by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Stanley Whitney, with all four sides of the frames signed with Houston Jr.’s name. Another is a found painting of the Manhattan skyline onto which the artist has written his name, a declarative statement, and a poem, which he has inscribed around the sides of the frame: “I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD IN THE GREATEST CITY OF ALL — I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD AND I GOT THE BALL.”

In the back room of the gallery, a small canvas with blue and red text exemplifies the artist’s use of pithy language as social commentary:

You Paycheck

To Paycheck

Him No Check

To No Check

Nearby, pinned to the wall, a towel with spray-painted text—“You can kill
Me, but You Can’t kill MY Spirit”—affirms the artist’s philosophy of resilience, faith, and belief in the transformative power of art-making.

1. Laura Bickford, “Otis Houston Jr., My Name is My Word,” exhibition handout, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2022.

Install (10)


Untitled (Jean-Michel Basquiat)

Canvas, acrylic, oil paint marker, Sharpie, wood and nails

30 x 24 inches

Untitled (Stanley Whitney)

Canvas, acrylic, spray paint, oil paint marker, Sharpie, wood and nails

24 x 36 inches

None Are Doing What I Am Doing...

Found painting, oil paint, marker, acrylic, wood and nails

18 x 36 inches


The Power of One

Found objects, glue, Sharpie

7 x 16 x 11.5 inches


The Royal Man

Found objects, spray paint

58 x 13 x 13 inches


Baby Nigerian Warrior King

Found objects, oil paint and acrylic on canvas

47 x 19 x 22 inches


Mother Nature

Found objects, Sharpie, spray paint, VELCRO and twine

55 x 26 x 28 inches


You can kill Me but you Can't kill MY Spirit

Spray paint on towel

24 x 48 inches


You Are A Model Of Hope...

Marker on canvas

30 x 24 inches


You Paycheck to Paycheck...

Canvas, acrylic, oil paint marker, Sharpie, wood, nails

12 x 16 inches



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