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Sad news, Al Gury’s catastrophic loss of home and animals in fire, deaths of Vinson Houston and Paula Winokur, Plus good opportunity with Fairmount Park Conservancy for West Park Fest

February is a cruel month. We've lost two artists, and one artist lost his home, animals and art in a fire. We are so very sorry to report these losses. But, we end on a note of opportunity, with a call for proposals by Fairmount Park Conservancy.



Al Gury, with one of his foster cats.
Al Gury, with one of his foster cats.

A big apartment fire always hurts many people. In this case, a beloved Philadelphia artist and PAFA faculty, Al Gury, lost his home, his animals and his art in a 4-alarm fire in his apartment building in Old City. Luckily, Gury is not hurt. But he had six cats and a number of birds who did not make it. And his art is gone. More about the fire here. If you wish to lend a helping hand, check out the Go Fund Me page.

Via the 40th Street AIR community comes this sad news: Vinson Houston, a past AIR artist resident, unexpectedly died. We are sad to hear of this young artist gone. More below from AIR

Vinson Houston
Vinson Houston

This message is from our (AIR) Director Gina Renzi:

I am so sad and sorry to bring bad news to everyone. Artist, performer, writer, sweet and gentle soul who always greeted me with a smile on West Philly streets, 2009-2010 AIR Resident with whom I worked closely, wonderful Vinson Houston has left us. Please stay tuned for funeral announcements. In the mean time, you can help his family give him a great send off by making a donation to his funeral fund here:

This is from his sister Reece Houston:
“Our beloved brother, uncle, and friend VINSON HOUSTON has unexpectedly died. No words can convey our deep pain and sorrow. We are completely heartbroken and grieve for the authentic, exuberant force of life Vinson was. To know Vinny, was to love him and we have been enriched by his life and spirit. Godspeed my brother, godspeed!”

If you have memories, photos, etc of Vinson that you want to share, please feel free to conact us so that we can connect you with his family. You can reach our Director at

And in case you missed it, another artist gone – Paula Winokur, 82, influential ceramic artist and educator beloved by many. We spoke with Helen Drutt English, who was broken up about the sudden loss of her friend. Helen told us that Winokur’s work will soon enter the National Museum of Sweden. Below is Helen Drutt English’s full statement about her friend, Paula Winokur.

Paula Winokur led us into unknown territories for over one half century. She began as a production potter sharing a studio with her husband Bob. As the women’s movement developed, her interest in exploring porcelain became central to her work. Impressed surfaces with lace and dream boxes emerged from her imagination. Paula’s interest in nature empowered her exploration of landscapes and, in her later years, the  evolution of  glaciers and icebergs commanded her sculpture. Paula  was warm, generous and unassuming; she held her countless awards and recognitions with quiet dignity. She was a  beloved friend.


Via Theresa Rose, artist and curator, request for proposals, Fairmount Park Commission – Due March 30, 2018. Theresa writes:

For the second year, I am working with the Fairmount Park Conservancy curating art projects for the West Park Arts Fest. We will be directly commissioning a couple artists, and we have an open call opportunity for an artist or artist team to work with a school or community group in the development of a project for the festival. FPC will assist with community engagement. There is a nice stipend of $4,000 for this opportunity.

Please share widely. Submissions are due March 30th.

More info at Fairmount Park Conservancy website.