The last time I spoke with Houston artist and lighting designer Jeremy Choate, he was planning an installation for the exterior building of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, a project about which he was very excited.
This morning, I learned that Jeremy died suddenly Saturday night in Houston. Stopped at a red light on his motorcycle, a car running the light struck him. Jeremy was 33-years-old.
Deeply creative and exceedingly polite, Choate was one of those rare artists who enriched everyone with whom he made contact. He was one of the first persons I met when I moved to Houston nearly three years ago, and immediately he made me feel at home. A few months later I asked to interview him for a story in Houston Chronicle. He suggested we meet at The Catalina Coffee House on Washington Avenue, since he thought I should know where the best coffee in the city was roasted and served. When he arrived on his motorcycle, I was quite impressed. And the interview was unlike most discussions with artists. Jeremy spoke little about himself, wanted to know everything about me, and could talk endlessly about the properties and mysteries of light. His wisdom, creativity and open-mindedness were remarkable.
There was a certain nuance to his language which revealed much of his attitude. His resumé, for example, does not boast 15 years of experience, but rather 15 years of “experimentation.” He understood choreography deeply and served as resident lighting designer for many of Houston’s most prominent dance companies, including Suchu, Hope Stone, NobleMotion, iMEE, Revolve, and many others. He designed lighting for many theater companies and worked also with musical organizations, including Houston’s Musiqa and Mercury Baroque.
Jeremy worked extensively with sound artist Stephen Vitiello and was very proud of their collaborations. Four Color Sound was commissioned by DiverseWorks in Houston and exhibited as well at the MC Gallery in Los Angeles and The Project in New York. At Jeremy’s website, the piece is described as a “24-minute duet of Sound and Light composed by Vitiello and illuminated in four movements of color (Red Blue Green Amber) that immerse the viewer in a glowing meditation chamber of resonance.”
Also with Vitiello, Jeremy made …Something like Fireworks, a commission from the Davis Museum in Wellesley Massachusetts, which featured “synesthetic responses” between light and sound. The duo made The Sound of Red Earth, in which “light and source intersect to connect space and accompany field recordings from the Australian outback in two galleries at the Anderson Gallery in Richmond Virginia.”
Jeremy’s 2011 installation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art , Mass MoCA Power Plant, is on display until 2015.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the various deities are often visualized as being made of light, which suggests their purity. This is how I think of Jeremy, as a very pure being. I never discussed spirituality with him, and if he were here he would likely respond to this notion with his subtle, knowing smile.
The portrait above is borrowed from Fresh Arts/Spacetaker’s website. Images of Jeremy’s work can be viewed at his website, www.jercho.com.