A review of the exhibition Love Letters in a Tree by Otis Ike at Lawndale Art Center:
Throughout history, lovers have exchanged letters — sometimes openly and sometimes in secret. Documentation of letters like these is nothing new. You can go online and read love letters between James Joyce and his wife Nora during his 1909 business trip to Dublin. Henry VIII’s love letters to Anne Boleyn are even kept in the Vatican Library. Currently on display at Lawndale Art Center, you can see the love letters of two Houstonians in the heartwarming yet voyeuristic exhibition “Love Letters in a Tree” by Otis Ike and Ivete Lucas.
The two artists have always used documentary photography and filmmaking to explore niche parts of our society, often growing attached to the subjects of their work. The key difference in this exhibition is that, instead of a sense of closeness between the artists and the subject, there’s a sense of distance. “This project began when Ivete and I witnessed an odd man in Broad Acres Park in Houston, TX get out of his car, walk up to an enormous burl on a dead oak tree and place something into it.” After the man left, Ike went to the tree and found a Ziploc bag buried in the burl. In it, he found two pieces of paper: a letter addressed “My Dearest J” from “V” and a drawing of a man who could be no one other than V himself.