ARTIST PROJECT: Occupy Tootsies

by Jack Ericksson*

Tootsies is Houston’s premiere Dallas-style women’s boutique, located in the non-historic West Ave shopping center on the very busy corner of Kirby and Wertheimer. Now a beacon of haute socialite living, the boutique began as a humble t-shirt stand; it is truly a local institution of the upper Kirby district in the affluent River Oaks community. I have always wanted to protest something. As a child of baby boomers, social activism/awareness was the closest thing I had to a rite of passage. That rite went unfulfilled, but the music, literature, and culture of the ’60s and ’70s protest generation have been ever-present. All I had was the fragmented vision of an idealized movement, a lurking nostalgia for something that I had never experienced.

I assembled a group of protesters, outfitted them with handmade protest signs, and gathered at the steps of this local institution, fulfilling the dream of idealized protest with the mostest. Beating on “bongo-drums” chanting “we are the one,” we picketed hard, we picketed strong, passersby honked and cursed, calling us communists and hippies, telling us to get jobs. As our protest grew the “temperature check” faction split off. A group from Occupy Houston began to protest our protest and I became the subject and the object of dissent.

— Jack Ericksson

*Jack Ericksson is a second-year MFA student at Columbia University.