This was originally written Friday, March 23, 2012 for the Houston Chronicle.
With piles of sandbags flanking its entrance, the Houston Museum of African American Culture appears to be expecting a flood.
A deluge of funding would be welcome, but the sandbags are the foundation of a provocative art installation, "Fort HMAAC," by Otabenga Jones & Associates, a Houston artists' collective whose work has also appeared in the prestigious Whitney Biennial.
"Fort HMAAC" was commissioned by CEO John Guess Jr. to coincide with "first glimpse" events at the museum last month.
"I like to make statements, as you can tell," Guess said recently, sitting in the museum's sparsely-furnished conference room. "The kids call me Nino Brown (a reference to Wesley Snipes' tough character in the film "New Jack City"). They say, 'John is gangsta.' "
Guess wanted the installation to express his sense that HMAAC is under seige and deserves protection.