Joshua Gottlieb-Miller & Philip Karjeker — “The Art of the Spiel: Idols”


“Idols” comes from a larger project called “The Art of the Spiel,” an interview-based collaborative effort. I (Joshua) conducted interviews with 8 former co-workers who staffed welcome desks around the Menil Collection, an art museum in Houston. I helped cover the back desk, off and on, for almost 5 years.

I wrote poems from those interviews. Each interviewee contributed their own artwork: drawings, collage, music, writing, and more. Philip—my collaborator here—is a multidisciplinary artist and image-maker, and these drawings were made specifically during his shifts at the museum’s back desk. 


Joshua Gottlieb-Miller received his PhD and MFA in Poetry from the University of Houston, where he also served as Poetry Editor and Digital Nonfiction Editor for Gulf Coast. Joshua has published poetry, essays, scholarship, hybrid, and multimedia writing, and most recently he was a recipient of a 2023 Support for Artists and Creative Individuals Grant from the City of Houston and Houston Arts Alliance. His debut collection of grocery store poetry and interviews, The Art of Bagging, won the Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize from Conduit Books & Ephemera, selected by Bob Hicok. Joshua’s second book, Dybbuk Americana, is slated to be published in fall 2024, by Wesleyan University Press. He worked part-time at the Collection from June 2017 through June 2022. Joshua teaches at San Jacinto College, and lives in Houston with his wife and son.

Philip Karjeker (he/they) is a queer interdisciplinary artist, painter, and cultural worker of color based in Houston. He earned his BA from the University of Texas at Austin with Special Honors in Art History. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As an image maker, his work explores the intersection of their identities as a multiracial, interfaith, gender non-conforming person. Karjeker’s work history and artistic background span from arts administration and cultural work to art consulting and community organizing.