Artist and community activist Rick Lowe is the founder of Project Row Houses (PRH), a neighborhood-based nonprofit arts and cultural organization in Houston's Northern Third Ward, one of the city's oldest African-American communities. PRH began in 1993 as a result of discussions among African-American artists who wanted to establish a positive, creative presence in their own community, using art as a foundation for revitalizing a depressed inner-city neighborhood. Lowe spearheaded the pursuit of this vision when he discovered an abandoned block-and-half of 22 shotgun-style houses in Houston's Third Ward, which presented the opportunity to pursue a new form of art. Over two decades, PRH's campus has grown from the original site to six blocks and from 22 houses to 40 properties, including 12 artist exhibition and/or residency spaces, seven houses for young mothers, artist residencies, office spaces, a community gallery, a park, and low-income residential and commercial spaces. Project Row Houses' programs and events encompass arts and culture, neighborhood revitalization, low-income housing, education, historic preservation and community service.
Lowe visited The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in September 2011 to talk with recent Pew Fellows about his work with PRH. He is also currently working with Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) on a Center-funded, community-driven revitalization project on Pearl Street, an under-used alley behind AAI's building in Philadelphia's Chinatown North neighborhood. Over the course of two years, Lowe will work with residents in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood to re-imagine how the alley can be transformed into a place where locals of varying backgrounds spend time together.