On February 1st Houston lost one of its revered artists, Bert Long. This Valentines Day admirers of Bert’s work will gather at the Menil to pay homage to the late Houstonian artist who had such an impact in the community. The Museum of African American Culture, the Houston Cinema Arts Society, and the Menil Collection have come together to present “Bert”, an hour long documentary exploring the life and work of Bert Long.
Long was born in 1940 in Houston. His father died when he was 3-years-old. Bert, being the oldest of four, picked cotton during his summer vacations of elementary school to provide a second income for his household. By age 12, he was officially employed at the Houston Club. A year after graduating high school, Bert joined the marines where he learned how to cook; a skill that would prove lucrative.
After marrying his first wife and retiring from the military, Bert moved to Los Angeles where he attended and completed culinary school. He then opened his own restaurant, Big Bert’s, in Oregon. Bert eventually landed a coveted position at the MGM in Las Vegas. It was there that Bert began to contemplate a painting career. He was 39, had three children, and a very agreeable income. But, Bert, as the cliche goes, threw caution to the wind, quit his job, and hit the road with his family to sell his paintings and make a name for himself as an artist. Low on funds, they soon found themselves in Houston, and Bert was back in the kitchen. He continued to make art, and began to show his work at the Westheimer Arts Festival. From there, curators and collectors picked up Bert’s art more and more frequently.
During his 33 years of making art, Bert traveled the world and won several prizes. He held galleries in Italy and Spain, and in 1990 was awarded the esteemed Rome Prize. The film “Bert” will honor these accomplishments and more.
The screening of “Bert” will begin at the Menil at 7pm February the 14th. For more information, please visit www.menil.org.