A new downtown hole-in-the-wall is making its debut at the foot of the city’s longstanding famous buildings. Among all the openings in the house now standing in the middle of Sam Houston Park, the most accessible one (ADA-certified) is at the end of the ramp pictured above. Cherry Moving was the first to add holes to the building: it inserted the more conventional windows after scooping up the 80-year old, 16-by-24-ft. single-story from the East End in order to resell it. The buyers: serial house tweakers Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, who perforated its façades and lined the bubbles with PVC piping to make them watertight.
You can see the piping’s light blue tint from the angle below:
The now-glimmering interior of the former house at 6822 Rowan Ln. in Sharpstown is open to the public as of this weekend, and will be for the next 2 months — up until the scheduled demolition of the heavily fire-damaged 3-bedroom structure. Demolition artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck (who these days sign their work as Havel Ruck Projects) recently converted the condemned building into another tunnel-through-the-living-room-style temporary art piece, though with much sharper lines than their previousInversion House. Last Saturday’s opening reception for the new place (which is actually called Sharp) is part of the October-November-straddling Sculpture Month Houston campaign (which is setting up promotional events for other art installations around town through November 19, if you’re interested).
The pentagonal hole in the front of the structure matches the outline of the knocked-out front windows, as seen in these pre-conversion-but-post-fire listing photos of the demo-bound house:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ART OF OBTAINING CITY PERMITS “When Havel Ruck Projects was commissioned to create ‘Fifth Ward Jam,’ it was under the premise that it was temporary (although 5th Ward CRC decided to keep and maintain it). We needed to obtain a permit to move the shack we used for the piece to the empty lot where it stands today. With the help of Fifth Ward CRC, we met with city permit people and discussed that we were not creating a dwelling, but a work of art. They said we needed a building permit to move the house. We said it was our desire that we did not need a building permit after moving the house because it was going to be made into a work of art. So, saying they never have done this before, they wrote us up a creative permit that deemed the house a dwelling while it was being picked up and moved, but it would be officially deemed an ‘art structure’ after it was on the site, thus allowing us not to need building permits to construct the piece. With a little education and persuasion, the permit people can be pretty accommodating . . . seems back in the day, us artists did stuff and then apologized later.” [Dan Havel, commenting on Saving Houston’s Unzoned Artistic Spirit] Illustration: Lulu
SAVING HOUSTON’S UNZONED ARTISTIC SPIRIT Glasstire’s Bill Davenport has a suggestion: “Its famous lack of zoning is one of the few things Houston offers artists that other cities can’t. It’s been a defining feature of the city, and one of its main attractions for artists for decades. But this isn’t happening anymore. Prosperity has put teeth into Houston code enforcement, whose numerous inspectors now patrol the streets, ready to red-tag any unconventional building activity.
It’s vital that we preserve a loophole for artistic expression on an architectural scale. What once was an opportunity created naturally by low property prices and underfunded city government must now be maintained purposefully if Houston’s unique character as a city of artistic entrepreneurship is to continue. As part of the new cultural plan, Houston city council should create an ordinance making an exception to the building codes for artistic projects.
Of course, there will need to be safeguards against abuse. No one wants to see sleazy builders putting up unsafe, substandard structures. I propose that the city create an alternative path to compliance for creative projects in art and architecture, in which building officials will approve structures on a case-by-case basis, by assessing them on their merits, rather than on whether they conform to the rigid conventions of the International Building Code.
Imagine the effect! If you are an artist or architect in San Antonio or Sri Lanka with a great, crazy idea, and you heard that, in Houston, projects like yours were welcomed as part of the city’s freewheeling culture, where would you go?” [Glasstire] Photo of Inversion by Havel Ruck Projects: The Decay of Lying
Sawzall-wielding housecutters Dan Havel and Dean Ruck have been carving up 3 condemned homes (from Midtown, the Museum District, and the Third Ward) to gather the raw materials for their latest exhibition, which opens tomorrow in the Art League of Houston gallery, on the occasion of their being declared the Art League’s “Texas Artists of the Year.” Collected wall parts will be stacked in a “bowl-like structure” in the complex’s main gallery (see photo above).
Sculptor Dan Havel sends in photos of the construction he and fellow demo artist Dean Ruck have been working on for months in a new pocket park at 3705 Lyons Ave. More than a month before its debut as the backdrop for a community concert (yes, that’s a stage poking out from the front), Havel says their project is “substantially complete,” though there are still a few more details to fill in, including stairs for the stage and some landscaping. Working from a ready-to-be-knocked-down house from a couple miles northeast at 3012 Erastus St., Havel and Ruck added, ahem, a whole lot of support to the interior, as these photos taken earlier in the summer show:
The City of Houston permitting office has worked its artistic magic: There’s a house now sitting on the lot at 3705 Lyons Ave. in the Fifth Ward that’s officially classified as a sculpture. Last week, it was just a run-down bungalow a couple of miles to the northwest, at 3012 Erastus St. At what point along its journey — which after several postponements finally took place last Thursday night — did the transformation occur? City officials and demo artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck can’t pinpoint it. But we’ve got a few photos of the move. Maybe someone can point out for us the exact moment the art began?
Sometime after 9 pm tonight — if rain doesn’t postpone its scheduled journey from 3012 Erastus St. in Houston’s Fifth Ward to a new home on Lyons Ave. — this abandoned house will become art. That’s not just the contention of Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, the two demolition artists responsible for the move; it’s actually detailed in the city permits they obtained for “Fifth Ward Jam,” a temporary public-art project they’re creating with funding from the Houston Arts Alliance. After Wooten House Movers set up the structure in its new location, Havel and Ruck will start tearing it up and reconstructing it. But the move is what will make it art — because the city says so. “The permit office had a hard time categorizing just exactly what to call our project,” Havel tells Swamplot:
Is it a house, is it a sculpture? Is it both? The black and white rules of permitting needed to be utilized. The best way to do that is to first call the house a structure in order to obtain the permits to move it. However, once the house is placed on the property, it ceases to be an inhabitable structure and will be transformed into a sculptural environment. So, somewhere along the moving route, whether it is half way between two sites or when it physically enters the new site, it will be officially categorized as a sculpture.
So when we reconstruct the house into a sculpture, we do not need a building permit because it is now a sculpture. Pretty funny logic, if you ask me, but it makes sense. The permit guys were certainly scratching their heads, but we got our permits.
Demolition artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck — sculptors of the storied Inversion project on Montrose Blvd. and last year’s householing Give and Take — are back at work hacking old houses again. Their next victim will be a cottage house they’re rescuing from the lot behind the Fifth Ward’s DeLuxe Theater at 3300 Lyons Ave. (The cat-like facade of that theater — pictured above — will be used to front a new music-history library and performing arts center for the Fifth Ward, but the rest of the building and the small farm of cottages behind it are being torn down to make way for the new building and a parking lot.)
Havel reports Drake House Moving is scheduled to tote the rescued house today 3 blocks east along Lyons Ave., to an empty lot on Capron St. That’s where Havel and Ruck will get to work building and carving a temporary sculpture out of it that’s due to debut in May.
And they have a special request for Swamplot readers: Got any used 117 siding you could contribute to the project?
The problem is that we are in dire need of old siding from any tear down houses out there. Just don’t know how to find ’em. Tear downs are all over the Fifth, but it’s hard to find the O.K. to go in and salvage without owner’s consent. Don’t want to get shot…
What do they want the siding for? Well, take a look at what they’re planning to do:
Demo artist Dan Havel sends in positive and negative preview photos of Give & Take,a sculpture he and partner Dean Ruck carved and carefully extracted from a dilapidated bungalow on West Cottage St. in East Norhill. The 30-foot-long egg-shaped piece they removed will be on display as part of a group show at the Contemporary Arts Museum featuring Houston-related work by various Houston artists. The exhibit, called No Zoning, opens this Friday.
That there’s some pretty bad Feng Shui going down in this commercial for Honda, which was filmed in Vancouver and shown on teevee and the web beginning last October. The man behind the wheel of the CR-V sure is driving some bad chi into the gullet of the far-from-the-prairie home at the end of the T-intersection, to the encouraging narration of Garrison Keillor. But isn’t the house kinda asking for it anyway, what with all that glimmering vortex-popping and all?
And gee, doesn’t the hole stabbing through the house look a heck of a lot like . . . that temporary sculpture that stood on Montrose Blvd. in Houston a few years back? Portal to another dimension? Naah — from here it looks more like a shortcut to Grant St.
HELLO FROM THE FIFTH Charles Kuffner spots demographic shifts in the Fifth Ward: “To interview the candidates in District B, I made several visits into the Fifth Ward, which is a neighborhood I can’t honestly say I’d been to before. One of these interviews took me past Fifth Ward Jam, which was cool to see. But what really struck me as I drove around was how close this all was to downtown.Gentrification and whirlwind change may not be a part of the Fifth Ward today, but I think it’s inevitable, and frankly is probably just around the corner. If you look at the neighborhoods surrounding downtown, it’s what’s left for redevelopment. The Heights, the Washington corridor, Neartown, the Museum District, Montrose, and Midtown are all pretty much built out — for sure there’s little if any cheap property available in any of them. EaDo and the Near Northside are getting there. But east of 59 and north of I-10, it’s as Gray describes it. If you’re a real estate developer, you’ve got to see the potential there.” [Off the Kuff] Photo: Robert Boyd
Showing at the Contemporary Arts Museum next May: a main-gallery exhibit featuring portions of a Houston home dissected and reconstructed by Houston’s favorite teardown artists. DD Demo, aka Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, has a collection of demolition artworks to its credit, but the pair’s most famous sculpted wreck was the 2005 funnel-shaped bungalow disassembly on Montrose shown here, which became popular enough for the Inversion Coffee Shop now on the site to be named after it.
Havel and Ruck’s CAM work, though, needs a willing victim: another home they can pick apart. The leftovers, Havel says, “could be visited as an off site space during the run of the show.”
Havel asks Swamplot:
Are there any developers/architects you or your members may know that may have a lead on a house? Preferably, it should be an older house, wood bungalow type with ship lap wall construction. We would like to secure a teardown soon that would be scheduled for teardown in June. This project would have high visibility in the press and would give owner/developer/architect press and exposure if they want it.
Couldn’t they just stalk a condemned house and do something like this on the sly?