September 26, 2023

The Houston Museum of African American Culture Presents El Franco Lee II: Mid-Career Survey

The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is excited to present El Franco Lee II: Mid-Career Survey, curated by HMAAC’s Chief Curator Christopher Blay. This exhibition is the first solo museum exhibition of the Houston-based artist El Franco Lee II’s work. The exhibition opens with a preview reception on Friday, June 30, from 6-8PM and the exhibition will be on view through September 2. There will also be an artist conversation on Saturday, August 5 at 2PM.

El Franco aptly refers to his style as Urban Mannerist Pop Art as the bizarre and grotesque come together in his paintings in ways that feel illogical, but perfectly balanced. His compressed and flattened figures form grand tableaux, fueling, as Outkast puts it, “the art of storytelling.” In his paintings, El Franco bobs and weaves his way from historical figures such as the boxer Jack Johnson, through other Black icons such as Michael Jackson, Jordan, Tupac, and JR Richards. But it is his masterful chronology of Houston Hip Hop lore, specifically his depictions of the late Houston Rapper DJ Screw and his Screwed Up Click (SUC) that Lee is most known for.

This retrospective survey is a collection of 30 works created over the past 16 years of the artist’s professional career which developed from early childhood drawings  through his formal training at Yale University, a BFA in painting, and later an MFA, both from the School of Art at the University of Houston.

El Franco Lee II is a resident and native son of Houston, Texas. During his formative years in the public and parochial schools of Houston, El Franco’s artistic abilities were duly acknowledged by Houston Independent School District, the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston, Houston Livestock and Rodeo, and Glassell School of Art.

El Franco’s work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions including the Baltimore Museum of art’s The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, which traveled from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Other shows include Slowed and Throwed, at the CAMH in 2021, Gift of the Spirit (A partnership of JPMorgan Chase and Art League Houston); Project Row Houses – Houston, Texas; Angstrom Gallery – Dallas, Texas; Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC Public Finance Summit – Napa Valley, California; Contemporary Arts Museum – Houston, Texas; Romo Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; G Gallery – Houston, Texas; University of Houston Project Gallery; Blaffer Gallery – Houston, Texas; Yale University – Annual Art Barn Exhibit – Norfolk, Connecticut; and Diverse Works Gallery Art Space – Houston, Texas.

El Franco Lee: Mid-Career Survey is made possible through our generous sponsors who include The Stardust Fund, The Houston Endowment, Jones Walker LLP, H.E.B, Harrison Barnes Foundation,  as well as the Board of Directors at HMAAC.

Become a member of HMAAC Today! To become a member and enjoy the benefit of our Member Preview Reception before each exhibition, please click on the membership link in bio or visit our website at


The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning. HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC will bring to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. The museum continues to be a space where a multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future takes place.

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