Pharmacy Domesticus, 2009, by June Woest & Urban Artists is a site specific Installation, approximately 50 feet in length using 3,000 plastic prescription bottles, 12 gage aluminum, and ribbed plastic.
This work was temporarily "planted" in a nature preserve, a 4-acre plot of land in a 1905 suburb of Houston, TX, retained from commercial development by concerned citizens and neighbors in the Bellaire Community, in 1979. The work of art asks questions about balancing our personal health care with the care of the environment.
For thousands of years plants have served to inform systems of health care. Modern pharmacology is a relatively new innovation by comparison. The pharmacy industry uses scientific theory of plant biology to derive its products. These are the same synthetic plant compounds I sometimes use for my own ailments. This artwork references the scientific and commercial success of pharmaceutical science while being an homage to the life cycle of plants.
Students For the Betterment of the Community (SFBC) volunteered to explore the connection between modern medicine and the landscape, by planting stems of Pharmacy Domesticus - Bamboo.
Detail of Pharmacy Domesticus - Bamboo, a site specific work, by June Woest & Urban Artists, 2009
We didn't come up with these drugs by our sheer brilliance. We would have never known to isolate these substances as curatives if we hadn't gotten them from plants. Eric Duran, Park Naturalist, Russ Pitman Park, Bellaire, TX, 2009
I am practicing a crude form of horticulture.
June Woest, artist, 2009
Human Nature Political, by Dean Liscum, Free Press Houston, Aug 31, 2009
A Prescription for Tolerance
June changed her thinking about the war on drugs just a little during this installation. Her long time friend called her from jail during the exhibition, in tears. Her friend became a participant in HISD's push for Zero Tolerance and drug-sniffiing dogs found two Xanax pills in her car on school property. That makes it a felony conviction.
Beyond the obvious good of the doggies doing what they were told, June didn't think much positive happened for her friend's cause, until Lisa Gray, arts writer for the Houston Chronicle, spoke up and possibly changed a tide of public opinion with her article, Teachers Drug Charge isn't that Simple. June knew Mindy didn't do drugs. Mindy is a champion tennis player, HISD teacher of the year for 3 years, and she won't even take her pills for high cholesterol. For 30+ years June has known her. It is just more complicated than a politcally proscribed, Zero Tolerance.
Lisa Gray wrote an update on Mindy's return to the classroom and her highly unconventional return to school since her case was dropped without a Grand Jury date ever being set. Gray reports those kindergarten art students got a great lesson in civics in her essay, Ms. Herrick Shares Lessons From Jail in the Houston Chronicle.
SFBC (Students for the Betterment of the Community), HISD, Lamar & Bellaire High School students, Houston, TX
Medical Bridges Building the Medical Gap Worldwide), Houston, TX
Nature Discovery Center, Bellaire, TX
The Terrace, Retirement Living, Houston, TX
Contemporary Theology Class, St. Lukes Methodist Church, Houston, TX
Xavier Pharmacy, 4040 Broadway, Houston, TX 77087, (713) 645-3344
Texas Native Wildscapes, Houston, TX