06/13/16 10:15am

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou ParkArchitect Paul Kweton sends his idea for a multi-deck observation tower for Buffalo Bayou Park, adding to the list of unsolicited but interesting projects dreamed up for the public space. The plans and drawings show stairs spiraling continuously upward around a central elevator shaft, enclosed only by a giant net-like facade (as well as a smaller actual net preventing visitors from exploring the exterior of the structure).

Kweton has 2 potential locations in mind — the rendering above shows the tower on the lawn in Eleanor Tinsley Park, across the bayou from the now open Cistern (the long-defunct 1920s subterranean city water reservoir turned found-art piece and potential exhibit space).  The alternative spot is a little further west across Allen Pkwy., near the 1920s Gillette St. waste-incinerator site sold last year year for redevelopment into the Broadstone Tinsley Park Apartments:


Dreamt Up Near Downtown
04/25/16 12:30pm

Fulton at Cavalcade streets, Northside, Houston ,77009

Stare directly into the snapshot above from the corner of Fulton and Cavalcade streets, which now bears a sun-saluting mural echoing a loteria card. The painting is part of the mini mural series that began appearing on utility boxes across the southwest side of town last summer, at which time only 31 of the boxes were slated for colorful fates. The current count is closer to 60 murals (per the photo-laden interactive map available here); additional artists were recruited last fall.

While the majority of the completed projects are still concentrated between 59 and 288 inside Beltway 8, more than a dozen are now scattered north and east throughout the rest of the Inner Loop — with a few further north around Greenspoint, 1 beyond the Beltway to the west in Westchase, and another as far southwest as Missouri City. Here’s another recent addition to the collection in Aldine, next to the Shipley’s Donuts at the southwest corner of Airline and W. Dyna drives:


Blazing in Near Northside
03/04/16 1:00pm

Whitewashed Obama Mural, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, HoustonNew Reginald Adams' Mural of President Obama, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, HoustonAs polling dates roll through the country, the oft-transformed mural outside of the former Obama campaign headquarters in Midtown has been spotted sporting a fresh coat of background white. Allyn West, who first noticed the political banner’s changed stripes on Super Tuesday, sends this Disillusioned Thursday snapshot of the now-blanked wall. So far, the site has featured various incarnations of Obama: in the sky-gazing HOPE poster from Shephard Fairey, in a sunglassed hip-with-the-kids pose, and most recently in the above star-spangled baby-on-banner scene that first appeared in 2013.

The past murals have been the subject of political displeasure for at least one person, judging by 2 previous acts of similarly-angled paint vandalism:


State of the Mural
03/01/16 11:30am

Art Guys Situation #4, Wheatley St. at Pinemont Dr., Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, Houston, 77091

Here’s the southernmost end of the newest work from the Art Guys: the designation of an existing ‘designated natural area’ in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest as part of their series of situation sculptures. The grassy median strip along Wheatley St. between Pinemont Dr. and Tidwell Rd. is evidently one of the no-mow zones labeled by the city’s parks and recreation department that spurred complaints in 2011, when area residents alleged that newly planted trees had blocked sight lines and created hazardous driving conditions.  According to the city’s website, the zones are carefully placed to “help promote the natural regeneration of the urban forest.

As for techniques employed by the artists: per their other pieces in the series, the duo appears to have left the area alone. They have, however, provided GPS coordinates and a Google map to help visitors avoid losing their way.


Adventures on Wheatley St.
02/26/16 10:15am

Mecom Fountain, Main at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77006

A group called Friends of the Fountain has started an online campaign to raise $60,000 for reversing the recently-halted-after-all changes to the Mecom Fountain, at the roundabout confluence of Main St. and Montrose Blvd. near the entrance to Hermann Park. The group’s crowdfunding page says the money will be used to remove the limestone panels recently screwed around the concrete wall of the 1964 modernist fountain’s elliptical main basin, as well as to repair the concrete and to repaint. A member of Mayor Turner’s transition committee involved with the project also tells Swamplot this morning that around $25,000 of those funds will replace the grant money spent to add the panels in the first place.


In Reverse at the Roundabout
02/22/16 4:30pm

Rendering of Color Jam at Main at McKinney streets, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Here’s an idea of what the corner of Main and McKinney streets may look like in a few more weeks, as the installation of Jessica Stockholder’s Color Jam Houston proceeds. The above rendering faces south across the north-er of the 2 intersections between the Main Street Square light-rail stops, with its existing semi-neutral stripes and swirls joined by some brighter colors. Stockholder’s installation, modeled after a previous painting of the town for Chicago in 2012, is one of the Downtown District’s temporary Art Blocks projects intended to brighten up the area for the year leading up to the 2017 Houston-hosted Super Bowl and NCAA championship. The Art Blocks initiative also includes the 60-ft-tall Trumpet Flower that will lurk in the alley between One City Center and its parking garage.

A reader tweeted a photo of some of the first blocks of pigment, evidently maneuvered into place late last week:


Art Blocked at McKinney
02/12/16 10:00am

ROTHKO CHAPEL LIGHTING COULD GET REDONE WITH FUNDS FROM ONLINE CLOTHING AUCTION Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St., Montrose, Houston, 77006Reworking the Rothko Chapel’s lighting scheme is high on the wishlist of things to fund with proceeds from an online auction opening this Monday, David Leslie tells Cara Smith of the HBJ. While no specific plans to modify the space are set yet, the chapel’s executive director hopes changes over the next few years will help with “presenting the chapel in a holistic way that’s inviting, regardless of the day, time or lighting” — though Leslie also reflects that “the mystery of the chapel is that it does change with the light throughout the day, and it’s not static.” The auction is the brainchild of international socialite and chapel board member Lynn Wyatt, who will be putting some of her own high-end couture and art prints on the docket, alongside contributions from a few friends (including Wes Anderson, Elton John, and Tilda Swinton). Other items on the 1971 chapel’s maybe-to-do list: visitors services infrastructure for its 90,000-plus annual pilgrims, conference space, and some pool maintenance. [HBJ] Photo of the Rothko Chapel: Brandi Lynn via Swamplot Flickr pool

07/16/15 4:00pm

THE PARTS OF TOWN WHERE THOSE STREETCORNER MINI MURALS ARE POPPING UP Mini Mural by 2:12, Stella Link at Latma Dr., Woodside, HoustonIf you’re wondering where you can find more of those painted-over traffic signal control boxes —- like the one pictured here, which just appeared at the corner of Stella Link and Latma Dr. in Woodside — there’s a . . . website for that. UP Art Studio, the mural project’s instigators, has pics up of more than 2 dozen of the altered streetcorner cabinets colorfully transformed by artists so far, as well as an interactive map for scouting them out. The project is restricted (so far, at least) to the southwest part of town inside the Beltway. In all, 14 artists have been commissioned to reimagine 31 metal boxes. [UP Art Studio] Photo: 2:12

05/04/15 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ART OF OBTAINING CITY PERMITS Moving House for Fifth Ward Jam“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

06/05/14 10:30am

Kenan Ince Performing Rice, Ashby at Cafe Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy St., Montrose, HoustonRice U. math Ph.D. student, Boulevard Oaks resident, and poet Kenan Ince has been making the rounds of local open-mic nights with his brief ode to the as-yet-invisible but still-ominous spectre looming over 1717 Bissonnet St. known as the Ashby Highrise. The poem, entitled Rise, Ashby, begins with an epigraph clipped from a Swamplot story about the lawsuit that was filed by a few of the 21-story apartment tower’s Southampton and Boulevard Oaks neighbors last year. A video of Ince’s recent performance at Montrose’s Cafe Brasil (seen at left) has been posted on Youtube; you can read the poem — with its original, towering typography intact — below:


Rise, Ashby
04/07/14 12:15pm

Installation of Tree and Three Flowers Sculpture on Kirby Dr. South of Westheimer, Upper Kirby, Houston

Here’s an overhead view of the installation over the weekend of the 38-ft.-tall, 7,000-lb. sculpture by James Surls on the previously treeless median between West Ave and the 2727 Kirby condo tower on Kirby Dr., just south of Westheimer. Assembled from bronze and stainless-steel components, Tree and Three Flowers was commissioned by the Upper Kirby District; it’s meant to move in the wind. It’ll join other Surls public works in Houston — at Rice University, in Market Square, and at the Parks and Recreation department headquarters on Gragg St. The Kirby sculpture went in on this base:


Won’t Grow, but Will Move
02/04/14 10:15am

Statue of Chief Touch the Clouds, Reliant Arena, Reliant Park, HoustonThe Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last Thursday approved the sale of its 18-ft.-tall painted but weathered bronze statue of Chief ‘Touch the Clouds’ from outside the Reliant Arena to an Oklahoma City suburb — for $50,000. The statue of the Miniconjou chief, who fought alongside his cousin Crazy Horse at the Battle of Little Big Horn, was donated to the Rodeo 16 years ago by its sculptor, Dave McGary. Reports that the Rodeo was looking to offload the sculpture from its perch about 300 yards southeast of the Astrodome surfaced late last year, a few months after McGary died of liver cancer.


So Long, Chief
12/03/13 4:00pm

Statue of Chief Touch the Clouds by Dave McGary, Reliant Park, HoustonEven the art is getting out of Reliant Park: The bronze Miniconjou chief with outstretched arms that’s stood warily outside the Astrodome since 1998 will likely be skipping town soon and making its way to Oklahoma. The city council of the city of Edmond voted last week to spend up to $90,000 to remove the 18-ft. tall, 20,000-lb. sculpture of Chief Touch the Clouds from its stone base and transport it about 450 miles north; $50,000 of that amount is scheduled to go toward a “donation” to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for the privilege of extracting the artwork. Arizona sculptor Dave McGary, who gave the work to the Rodeo 15 years ago, passed away earlier this year at the age of 55, from a rare form of kidney cancer.

Former Edmond mayor Randel Shadid, who’s been eager to bring more public artworks to the municipality just north of Oklahoma City, tells the Edmond Sun that “a representative from Houston” had told him that the sculpture of a cousin of Sioux warrior Crazy Horse “has been maintained and is in good structural condition.” But the artist’s widow paints a different picture of how the sculpture’s been treated at Reliant Park: that it’s in bad shape and will need to be refurbished. “They never took care of it,” Molly McGary told a reporter from the Oklahoman last week. Edmond city council’s agreement to spend the money is contingent on the sculpture being in good condition.


Rodeo Astrodome Sell-Off
11/08/13 11:15am

The Art Guys say their van will be doing about 60 mph around the 38-mile-circumference of the 610 Loop this weekend, which means that in 12 hours of continuous driving, they should make something shy of 19 times around the Inner Loop — minus pit stops for gassing up and, uh, watering down. Then they’ll turn around and unwind for an additional 12 hours in the opposite direction. What are these guys driving at? Feel free to call the artists themselves while they’re on the road, using the number emblazoned on the side of the van (832-712-6207) if you’ve got questions about the project; they plan to start their 24-hour freeway adventure at 5 p.m. this Saturday from the North Shepherd entrance ramp.

Who’s footing the bill for such loopiness?


10/04/13 11:10am

It’s been 20 years since artist Rick Lowe and friends bought up that row of shotgun shacks on the 2500 block of Holman St. and transformed them — and much of the neighboring Third Ward blocks — into a lively community of art installations and performances, duplexes for low- to moderate-income residents, and architectural experimentation. The latest round of installations kicks off this Saturday.