This post was originally published on Defender Network

By Aswad Walker

The Houston Museum of African American Culture’s hit exhibit, “The Jazz Church of Houston,” is going virtual.

Saturday, April 2 was the last day individuals could visit the HMAAC and experience the exhibit by local artist and radio personality Tierney Malone, in person. But not to fret. The plan was always to make it a more permanent reality.

The installation is moving to a 3D virtual interactive space on the HMAAC website as a living archive.

Malone said he originally created the exhibit years ago to meet two challenges.

“The first thing is, I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a museum that celebrates our amazing history in jazz, Afro-classical music, past and present,” said Malone. “But I’ve also heard many musicians that I’ve interviewed over the years on my radio show ‘Houston Jazz Spotlight,’ musicians like Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, you name them, who have lamented the fact that we don’t have a world-class jazz club. So, I created ‘The Jazz Church of Houston’ to address those two issues back in 2016 when I did the Project Rowhouse exhibit.”

Malone said interest and demand from the community caused him to keep the exhibit going over the years in various forms. Now, it will make its home on the web.

“This installation at the HMAAC was actually the largest exhibition dedicated to Houston’s jazz in history of the city that I know of. And, it’s going to be a virtual exhibition at HMAAC for perpetuity,” said Malone, who was born in Los Angeles, raised in Mississippi and based in Houston’s Third Ward.

Malone came to this decision after a conversation with HMAAC CEO John Guess.

“We felt that we had to find a way to have Malone’s work enlarged and made permanent for our audiences,” said HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr. “Through his labor and artistry we have taken ‘The Jazz Church’ to a level that makes it accessible to a broader public.”

“We need a space that celebrates that amazing history, because you can’t talk about jazz in America without taking about Texas. But, you definitely can’t talk about jazz in America without talking about Houston, Texas. I make that plain every week on my radio show, and I’m hoping that this exhibition hips the people who come through it to see. We’re not New Orleans, but we are the jazz capital of Texas.

The name “Jazz Church” draws its name from the Church of John Coltrane in San Francisco. Established in 1970, the church uses Coltrane’s music as an expression of worship.  At HMAAC, Malone pays particular homage to Houston jazz greats Arnett Cobb, Milt Larkin, Eddie “Clean Head” Vinson and Jewel Brown.

Malone, the visual artist and storyteller, uses African American history and pop culture to create mixed-media works that challenge contemporary culture and politics.

“The Jazz Church of Houston” is sponsored by H-E-B and HMAAC’s Board of Directors.