Project Row Houses: Still Dusty After All These Years

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.


And one of those installations, by Lovie Olivia, seems particularly apt after 20 years of the Row Houses’ heavy use: She says that she will pick at and scrape away the layers of paint from the walls of the house at 2505 Holman and root around in the dirt surrounding it “until visible cues from the past . . . are revealed.” Who knows what she might turn up — but that’s kinda the point: “This house,” she writes in a description of the project, “assumes the function of museum, excavation site, lab, and stage.”

Photo: Allyn West

7 Comment

  • Lovia, there may be lead in those scrapings, so be careful!

  • I don’t think you can willy nilly scrape really old paint, you have to have a hazmat situation with environmental contamination mitigation in place. Dirty hippies.

  • While this place is cool, I was surprised to find it featured as a recommended attraction in a brochure my inlaws showed up with last Christmas. They had purchased a “Houston pass” that had tickets and discounts for key museums and touristy-things, and the brochure was included. I could not fathom what a tourist would find interesting about the place, unless you got some kind of tour (which was not mentioned) or literature on the history/function of the site. Just driving by it, it does not look that impressive or interesting.

  • Superdave, they typically have art installations in several of the row houses at any given time. You can just walk right in and check them out, just like you can with Diverse Works or Lawndale. So even if there is not an event happening, there is stuff to see.

  • The NY Times said in a 2007 article about PRH that it “may be the most impressive and transformative public arts project in the country.” Those “dirty hippies” created something amazing; art, public art, urban renewal, young mothers programs and housing, after school arts-based education, historic preservation, affordable housing, new parks, and so much more. It is 100% organic and constantly changing. I’ve had visitors from NY, Boston, LA, San Fran, and even London who knew of PRH and wanted to check it out on their visits.

  • A future installation might be to pull the baseboards and open up a few walls and display the contents of old rat’s nests. I’ve found some interesting bits in the many in my old house.

  • Has Rick received his “genius grant” yet. Because he deserves one.