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If I put all the names of the people who played a significant part in bringing "FIRE" to a conclusion, I would have to keep writing forever. It just turns out that way, you can't have a big art type thing without having the involvement spread itself and I am pleased that the involvement in "FIRE" crossed new boundaries.

I have to give primary responsibility for "FIRE" to Betsy Knight and to Margaret Prince, because they were the two who first saw the need, and the first to realize the far reaching effect it could have and I am forever pleased that they asked me to be a part. 

So now, the idea for "FIRE" IS SET. At this point it is only a concept and our greatest hurdle in bringing it into real was made by the Board of Trustees of the Contemporary Arts Museum by their response and their saying Yes. Yes, we are willing to step out; Yes, we are willing to take a chance; Yes, we believe in our own; Yes, we will do it. Yes, such a powerful word. How many times have artists heard No? Too many to count. So I say with all my heart that I hope this Yes will set a precedent for this Board and show them the rewards in being bold. I thank them for "FIRE."

Phase three, receiving work and installing it. Enter a cast of thousands. From one hundred participating artists who each brought friends to help. There were no salaries, their reward was in knowing that we are all a part of our great cultural system and that it will not be without each doing their own. I am very pleased at the depth of interest and the artistic talent that I had to draw from. It bodes well for our city and for our state.

In the formal arrangement of any system there have to be the nuts and bolts people, the ones who are there every day, lifting and moving, and moving again until the curtain is pulled. They are the staff of the Contemporary Arts Museum, the ones who get to work early and stay late, and no matter how hard the task can be counted on to say, "Yes, I can do it." So I give special thanks to Joan Baird, Ann Bunn, John Crossland, Mike Cummins, Mike Hollis, Carol Kelley, Elke Krause, Sylvia Mendez, Pat Pfeffer, Steve Suris, Susan Toney and Walter Vande Maele, for these were the ones who made the inside work.

I also would like to say that no cultural phenomenon can exist without help from the outside and this cultural phenomenon was no exception. It takes courage and faith to say yes and I have to say Texas' own Mr. Red Adair shows up heavy in courage and faith and in his willingness to  take a chance and say yes. So I thank you Red for your help and support, but mostly for being the person you are. 

And Eleanor Freed, whose belief in the arts is forever and for her willingness to say, "Yes, I am here and I will be a part."

And the Cultural Arts Council of Houston who is in the middle of it all, I thank them for their support.

I give special thanks to John Alexander, Frank Davis, Jim Harithas  and Rocky Hill, four artists who are always there no matter how far out I look, they are there, smiling and saying, "Come on, it is fine out here. Come on Suris, take the next step."

And most importantly, I thank Charmaine Locke, my friend and partner for life, for her tolerance and patience, and for her keeping my center intact. That allows me a great freedom of mind and I love her for it.

So now, let the creative fires burn and let us grow together. We are in it and we are of it. It is for us all.

Thank you for your help.

See you in the Blue, 

James Suris
James Suris

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