Lori Betz bettering Houston’s art community
by Kim Hogstrom
It’s immediately apparent that Houstonian Lori Betz is passionate about art. It’s not that this artist screams it, on the contrary, hers is an elegant passion.
One hears it in Betz’s voice, sees it in her mannerisms and, notably, witnesses it in her sculptures — an intensity that seems to nearly burst from each piece, while wrestling against itself not to do so. The result is magnificent.
“I believe strongly in the words of Yann Matell,” explained Betz. “I believe that, if citizens do not support our artists, then we’ll all sacrifice our imaginations — and we will end up with worthless dreams. Worthless dreams,“ she restates to make sure the words sink in.
“Fortunately things have changed in Houston in the past 12 or so years,” Betz continued. “The people of Houston and our communities love art now, and support it on all levels. As a consequence we have one of the largest arts communities in the nation here. You may not see them, but they’re here,” she said with a knowing smile.
And Lori Betz does indeed know, she’s been supporting herself as an artist for 30 years.
Betz graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in English, but fine art was her calling so she traveled the world studying under masters in places such as Greece, Italy and Japan. Her work has been shown in venues across the globe.
Local pieces include a bronze sculpture for the Chamber of Commerce in Pearland, and a series of stunning bronze dancers for the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater and the Houston Ballet.
Today, Betz also owns a successful gallery, Betz Art Gallery, near downtown, a space first and foremost dedicated to artists and the community. In addition to a series of monthly art exhibitions, she hosts at least six nonprofit functions a year.
After identifying a need in the arts community, Betz launched an art foundry, a real working sculpture foundry in Houston’s Heights this spring. The artist spent several years searching for a foundry near Houston that was both affordable and produced quality work. When she couldn’t find one, she created one — Betz Art Foundry.
“I am very hands-on when it comes to my sculptures and I was having trouble locating a foundry that would welcome me during the process. I also found that if a foundry produced quality, they weren’t affordable,” Betz said. “The good ones were expensive.
“Other sculptors made the same observations, so I thought it would be great if someone created an affordable, local foundry where artists could come together, share their creativity and engage and enrich our community, all at the same time.”
The Betz Art Foundry showroom is open to the public and the community is invited to drop by and watch masters actually creating sculpture. She also offers once-a-month free workshops, open to both artists and the public, to help them fulfill their dreams.
In addition, Betz founded and launched a nonprofit agency dedicated to fostering and mentoring young artists in Houston called, Houston Arts and Culture. The agency awards scholarships, as well as providing mentoring, education, and outreach.
“Houston Arts and Culture is an organization that helps the community, helps artists, and helps our culture,” stated Beth Guide, Treasurer for the nonprofit agency. “In addition to fostering artists, we use art to work with homeless people and people with cancer. Art has some very healing qualities. Houston Arts and Culture is awesome,” she concludes.
All of Betz’s endeavors have the same spirit at heart – building a supportive artistic community, helping others get a leg-up, and sharing the joy of creating.
Thanks to Betz, we think Houstonians are at little risk for “worthless dreams.”