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New O'Kane Gallery Exhibition Showcasing Gift to UHD


By Mike Emery

Earlier this year, the University of Houston-Downtown’s O’Kane Gallery showcased a range of works celebrating Latinx communities. Those pieces were among nearly 100 prints donated to UHD by art collectors Drs. Harriett and Ricardo Romo. Now, the gallery is presenting 28 additional works comprising this substantial gift to the University.

“A Selection of Recent Gifts from the Harriett and Ricardo Romo Collection” is on view through Dec. 14.

“This selection of works provides an opportunity view a broader cross section of works from the Romos’ collection,” said Mark Cervenka, director of the O’Kane Gallery. “Although the works are visually disparate, they retain thematic similarities. These works mirror the cultures in which they were created and provide much insight into the artists themselves. Their works reflect themes of family, home, identity and activism.”

Works include a colorful portrait of Latino rock icon Carlos Santana by Margaret Garcia; Frank Romero’s “Closing Whittier Boulevard” (a colorful representation of the conflict between Los Angeles law enforcement and lowriders); “La Gabby in Red,” a vivid black and white depiction of a young Latina against a vibrant red backdrop by Gaspar Enriquez (from his Barrio Series); and “Amigos De La Granja Nadando El Rio Grande,” a portrayal of immigrants’ (all illustrated as cats holding lawn gear) perilous journey to the U.S. by Michael Menchaca.

Works on view at this exhibition add to the Romos’ initial gift to UHD. The first works from the Romos’ collection arrived at UHD in January for the opening of “Close to Home: Latinx Art and Identity.” The exhibition was part of the citywide Latino Art Now! festival, which UHD co-sponsored.

Another 36 pieces (including those represented in the current O’Kane show) recently were given to UHD. Soon, all of these works of art will be installed on campus and become a part of the UHD campus experience. Overall, the 135 prints donated by the Romos (both higher education veterans) comprise the largest art gift to UHD.

The Romos, both longtime educators, have collected art for decades. The first major piece in their collection was Rufino Tamayo’s “The Man With a Hat,” which was obtained while residing in Los Angeles.

Dr. Ricardo Romo was the fifth president for the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He served in that role from 1999 to 2017. His wife, Dr. Harriett Romo serves as a UTSA professor of sociology and directs the institution’s Child & Adolescent Policy Research Institute and UTSA Mexico Center.

“We are honored to receive this gift from the Romos’ personal art collection,” said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “These works are vibrant and address a broad range of cultural and social issues. They will enliven our campus and serve as a distinctive hallmark for our University.”

UHD’s O’Kane Gallery is located on the third floor of the University’s Girard Street Building. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday and noon – 5 p.m., Saturday. For details on parking and directions, visit the O’Kane Gallery website.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.