Brite Force is an innovative new arts program founded by cultural entrepreneur and curator Yvonne Force Villareal, situated in the historical Brite House in the arts hub of Marfa, Texas. Each year, Brite Force will host artists in visits of various durations on the remarkable property, offering the opportunity to create within the famed town and creative oasis. Each residency will culminate in a public presentation that will take place on the premises, fostering a cultural exchange between leading international artists and the vibrant local Marfa community.
The inaugural exhibition titled Will Cotton: Marfa will be installed within the vintage interior of the Brite House in May 2022, coinciding with the third edition of the Marfa Invitational. “Brite Force is a personal passion project merging my career working in the art world and our own family history deeply rooted in Marfa dating back to the late 19th century,” says founder Yvonne Force Villareal. “What makes this opportunity so unique is the fact that this home has been passed down in my husband’s (Leo Villareal III) maternal side of the family for over a century. My hope is that the participating artists contemplate the history of the Brite House and explore the remote Big Bend region and channel it into their creations. When presented, this new contemporary art layer will deepen the dialogue with the past and bring forth an energized perspective.”
Throughout her career in facilitating artists' visions, Force Villareal has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of site-specific commissions, residencies, and exhibitions programs in unique settings. Welcoming all types of visionaries from poets to performance artists, Brite Force will become a home to the flourishing artistic community and amplify the Marfa art scene around the globe. With art studios built out of horse stables and vast landscapes overlooked by endless skies, the Brite House will continue to be a center of inspiration for generations to come.
Lonn Taylor (1940-2019), Far West Texas Historian
The Brite House in Marfa, Texas was built in 1917 by Lucas Charles Brite and his wife, Eddie. Lucas Brite was a pioneer Big Bend rancher, arriving in 1885 and camping on Capote Peak while he established a ranch of over 125,000 acres, which is still in the family. He became one of the region’s leading cattlemen, a breeder of champion Herefords and, in 1920, one of the founders of the Highland Hereford Breeders Association. In 1896 he married Eddie McMinn Anderson. They lived on the Capote Ranch until 1902, when they moved to Marfa and purchased a one-story, L-shaped adobe house on the west side of town from Eddie’s uncle, Robert Edward McMinn. In 1915 the Brites retained Marfa architect W.S. Beavers to remodel the McMinn adobe into the present two-story, 16-room house. Beavers estimated the cost at $16,728.60. Lucas Brite died in 1941 and the house was occupied by his widow until her death in 1963.
The first story of the house is adobe; the second story, which includes 8 bedrooms, is timber frame. The roof is constructed with galvanized metal tiles. The downstairs rooms, which include Mr. Brite’s ranch office, retain most of their original furnishings. There is also a guest house (The Casita) with a kitchen, bedroom, and bath which was originally built to accommodate ranch helpers. The house overlooks a pasture of the Brite Ranch on the west.
Lucas Brite’s great-granddaughter, Jane Crockett, and her husband, Robert Crockett, have cared for the house since 2008. Jane’s son, Leo Villareal III, acquired the house from the Brite Family Trust in 2014. Villareal and his wife, Yvonne Force Villareal, began the restoration of the house in 2015 by engaging architect Louis Yoh and interior designer Fernando Santangelo. Future plans include an outdoor living and recreation area and a studio for Villareal, an internationally known artist who combines LED lights and computer programming to create illuminated displays. Yvonne, a contemporary art curator, is developing the “Brite Force” for invited artists to contemplate and create work in dialogue with the site and Its surroundings. Each residency will culminate in an exhibition with the inaugural artist, Will Cotton, scheduled for May 2022.
The mission of the Brite House is to remain a family gathering place while also hosting select events and welcoming visitors who will enjoy and learn from this unique structure filled with treasures from the early years of Marfa and the Big Bend.
About the founder
Photo by Finalis Valdez
Yvonne Force Villareal is a public arts leader and cultural entrepreneur based in New York City and Marfa, Texas. Ms. Force has launched three significant businesses over the span of her public career in the arts which began in 1995 with Yvonne Force Inc., an art advisory specializing in building and managing private collections and foundations, backed in-part by the late Mr. Laurance S. Rockefeller. In 2000, Ms. Force co-founded Art Production Fund (APF), a non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing significant public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. Together with co-founder Doreen Remen, the leaders grew APF into an ambitious national program of outdoor installations that include: Ugo Rondinone’s "Seven Magic Mountains" in Las Vegas, NV; Elmgreen & Dragset’s "Prada Marfa" in Marfa, Texas. Expanding on their practice, in 2014 the duo established Culture Corps, a creative firm offering art consultancy, artist brand collaboration, and cultural programming services with a focus in the hospitality, entertainment, and real estate industries. Ms. Force graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1988 with a degree in Fine Arts, she serves on the Boards of Art Production Fund, White Columns and RISD’s President’s Alumni Advisory Council.
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