100 Creatives 2012: Tom Stell, Actor, Writer, Director, Obsidian Art Space's Head Honcho

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Tom Stell, a man of many talents
What He Does:
Tom Stell does a lot of creative things; most of them are specifically related to theater, but not all. He is a writer, director, actor and he also paints. Stell is also one of the reasons so much theater is produced in Houston; he is the Executive Director of Obsidian Art Space, which boasts a packed schedule of local theatrical performances as well as being named Houston Press' "Best New Arts Venue" of 2011.

Tom's acting and playwriting has also gotten him some street cred. He produced, directed and acted in his original full-length production Republic Day, which reviewer Jim J. Tommaney deemed "an ambitiously epic drama." Stell has acted and directed numerous works over the years, most previously in Big Head Productions' collection of shorts "And I Feel Fine."

Why He Likes It:
"Theater is the ultimate team sport," says Stell. Although he enjoys the isolated aspects to writing and painting, his juices get going when he is a part of a group of creative people who have come together to make art.

"Often people who have never been a part of theater do not realize how much creativity and problem solving go into the entire process. In every moment, actors and directors make choices about how to play a line. With every script there is just about an infinite variety of ways to put it on. Not only is each show different but every single performance is different. Every audience is a part of this same creative process. The exchange of energy between a cast and the audience is the magic of theatre."

What Inspires Him:
Like many artists, Stell is inspired by the creative process, his own and that of others.

"The dream of Obsidian Art Space," says Stell, "was to create an artistic asset for the community, a place where writers and actors could come together and make art. Co-founder Leighza Walker and I knew that if the Obsidian Art Space served the community, it would help us achieve our personal artistic dreams as well."

If Not This, Then What?
"It is difficult to imagine what I would do if I weren't in theater. Probably coaching youth sports, especially lacrosse or teaching in a more formal capacity. (I've done these on a volunteer basis on and off for years.)"

If Not Here, Then Where?
Stell doesn't want to be anywhere other than good old H-town (here, here!) and says that even though he has traveled across the world, he feels that Houston is his only home.

"I love the eclectic dynamism that drives the arts community. Every week some fresh artist has a new vision and says, "let's put on a show." The community comes together to make it a reality. It's an inspiring process. We just need more first-time theatergoers to get to the theatre."

What's Next:
"Our next step at the Art Space is to capitalize on our success to capture grants and donations so we can produce even more original works and make it even easier and less expensive for artists to achieve their dreams. Personally I want to act with more of the great directors in town. I want to write a musical and make a movie. I would like a show of my paintings at a prestigious gallery. What's cool is that all of this is possible because of the great community of artists here. In Houston you hear, 'Cool, let's do it.'"

More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder
Oliver Halkowich, Dancer and Performer
Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher

Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director
Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician

Matthew Detrick, classical musician
Travis Ammons, filmmaker
Florence Garvey, actress
Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker

Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder

Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist
Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist
JoDee Engle, dancer
David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher
Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor
Jessica Janes, actress and musician
Dennis Draper, actor and director

Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist

Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor

Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer

Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor

Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer

Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts

Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer

Wade Wilson, gallery owner

Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright

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