A profile of and interview with Barbee Manshun, a pop-up art space by Sara Balabanlillar, Veronica Leon, and S Rodriguez:
On any given day, the anonymously adorable 1930s bungalow looks just like the other houses on Barbee Street in Houston’s North Third Ward. Its occupants, Sara Balabanlilar, Sarah Rodriguez, and Veronica Leon—students at the nearby University of Houston—go about their daily lives, eating, studying, and putting off assignments. What sets these students apart is that while they’re procrastinating, they’re helping change the face of Houston’s art community. “Let’s not do our homework; let’s make an art space,” Rodriguez remembers, and that’s what they did. Every two weeks the trio transforms its quiet little bungalow into Barbee Manshun, an art space and creative outlet serving a community of underrepresented artists.
Inspired in part by Mexico City-based artist Nuria Montiel’s participation in public pop-up events called La Galería de Comercio, the front room of the bungalow undergoes a metamorphosis, and Barbee Manshun emerges. “[Montiel’s] group of artists picked everything in a democratic way. That idea of art as temporary and accessible is something that I aspire to,” Balabanlilar said. “We’re providing a space for artists who are up-and-coming, amateur, starting out, who would not have a space in the mainstream setting.” In April, Let’s Go Shopping transformed the space into a vibrant marketplace as artists Michelle Yue of shopnonhuman and Kevin Burnett of Spicy showcased their works and peddled their wares.