A mountain and a boat

Both native Texans, Debra Barrera and Jonathan Hopson illustrated on Tuesday their exploration with and commitment to human control and the power of choice.  Their story, for us at least, begins with a mountain and a boat. No humans or human remains were found with the (abandoned but in good condition) boat, and the mountain was otherwise untouched by the residue of human control. This finding at this mountain inspired Debra to explore the notion of conquest and control. 

They soon after started their first gallery, located in Hopson’s native Houston: Hello Gallery. As a team, the duo had complementary traits: She had the perspective of an artist, while he had a set of fresh eyes. From the start, they tried to showcase as much Houston art as they could. After some minor setbacks which included the closing of the Hello Gallery, the pair decided to start a new space. This one was deemed the Jonathan Hopson Gallery. The difference– it was also their home. One room was her studio, another the actual gallery space. Yes, they kept it commercial even though they lived there. No, they didn’t make it a nonprofit. These choices allowed them to keep control over what went into the gallery space.

Today, as a couple in the business side of the art world and also a prominent pair of voices on the Texas art scene, the two continue to complement each other and promise to support and promote the Houston art scene as much as they can.

-Hannah Jurgens





  1. The image of “the mountain and the boat” that Debra made was interesting of itself, the high contrast she was able to make with such simple materials. The story she gave made it that much real and relatable. I am curious, though, if when it was exhibited, the story was posted along with it. It didn’t seem like it from the images she had, but maybe there was a program that went with the show. It’s interesting how a background could make a work so much more significant. Would you have noticed it as important if you were walking through the gallery, compared to the blocks of marble and tank of hair gel?

    -Adrienne Hudson


  2. As the comment before mine pointed out, I was struck by her illustration of the mountain, and I too wondered how it was exhibited in the space. It was a beautiful story and combined with her explanation and medium, it was a beautiful work. But I’m not sure how it translates in the exhibition space. Again, it’s unclear whether or not the work was accompanied by an excerpt from or the story itself, but i would have felt some distance without explanation. And then gone onto the tank of hair gel, which seems a bit more accessible without context. Maybe that was intentional. It’s super interesting to think about.

    -Kaytlin Esparza


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