05/08/13 10:00am

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.


06/18/12 12:27pm

Here’s a twilight view of a first test last Friday night of one of the new Light Garden sculptures installed a few weeks ago at the Washington on Westcott roundabout — in advance of Tuesday’s turning-on ceremony. Two of 3 LED light fixture assemblies by Houston sculptor Tim Glover are planned for the intersection, the “four corners” spot for native tribes from Woodcrest, Crestwood, Rice Military, and Camp Logan. The WOW Roundabout Initiative plans to raise funds for the third.


01/25/11 11:13am

The New York sculptor behind those new splashy welcome signs on JFK Blvd. outside IAH passed away over the weekend after a short bout with liver cancer. Dennis Oppenheim explained the inspiration behind the Radiant Fountains sculpture and light show to the Chronicle‘s Douglas Britt last August: It was a sign he had seen as a child from the Bayshore Freeway in Oakland, California, which featured an animated version of the famous Sherwin-Williams “Cover the Earth” logo.

It was the world globe and then a bucket of paint dripping on top of it, and this captivated me. I told them [the Houston Arts Alliance] quite frankly that I would be extremely satisfied if I accomplished something like that, because it really did capture the ongoing traffic. I also said that it would be nice if these works were so … whatever … that people would turn around and come back to see them again.

Video: Andrew Vrana

12/03/10 2:35pm

Backsplash from a stream of strange particles falling from the sky, or is that just some mucky stuff bubbling up from underfoot? Either way, what better way to say, “Welcome to Houston”? The night lights are now on at “Radiant Fountains,” the new collection of pipe-assembly sculptures by New York artist Dennis Oppenheim, commissioned by the Houston Arts Alliance, working with Houston Airport Systems — whose offices are nearby — under the city’s 11-year-old “percent for art” policy. Recently completed on JFK Blvd. near Rankin Rd., they’re meant to greet newly arrived passengers from IAH. Andrew Vrana from Metalab — the local architecture firm that coordinated the installation — captures an early glimpse of the splashy action on video:


04/27/10 1:03pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BRING THOSE TV CAMERAS TOO CLOSE AND ZZZZAP!!!! “It’s actually a bug-zapper to bring Wayne [Dolcefino] … he is attracted to the glow of money being spent on anything other than polyester suits and Golden Corral.” [PaxMcKatz, commenting on IAH’s New Welcome to Houston Sign: We Hope Your Splashdown Was Pleasant]

04/26/10 2:53pm

Newly arrived visitors driving along JFK Blvd. at Rankin Rd. will soon encounter a landscape-appropriate welcome to our marshy city after they land at Bush Intercontinental Airport: three 60-ft. pipe assemblies festooned with animated LED light arrays on cables. New York artist Dennis Oppenheim sees the lights as

representing a giant twenty five foot tear drop falling into a pool, creating the upward sensation of a splash, which rises to sixty feet and consists of a multitude of colored lights cascading and sparkling toward the top and beyond, emerging in bright, spherical globes; representing giant droplets.

No stuck-in-the-muds here! Andrew Vrana of local architecture firm Metalab, who’s coordinating the installation, tells Swamplot the sculptures will have an 18-ft. diameter at the base and a 50-ft. diameter at the top. He says all 3 should be in place and complete “later this spring.”

Metalab’s blog has pix of a few of the pieces:


03/18/10 12:50pm

President Heads above Mud at Presidential Park and Gardens, Waterlights District, Pearland, Texas

The property intended to be home to the Waterlights District — the proposed mixed-use shopping and eating extravaganzorama in Pearland — has been posted for foreclosure by its main creditor, Amegy Bank. The 1.9 million-sq.-ft. development was to feature condos, luxury apartments, office buildings, retail space, restaurants, 2 hotels, a conference facility, a “water wall,” and a Venice-like “Grand Canal.”

The site, off the Shadow Creek Pkwy. exit on the west side of Hwy. 288, has been marked for more than 2 years now by a curious semicircle of David Adickes sculptures, a preview of the development’s Presidential Park and Gardens. That park was to feature giant white busts of all 38 U.S. Presidents. But unlike Adickes other presidential suite, I-45’s Mount Rush Hour just north of Downtown Houston — in which each of the sculptor’s busts rests on its own podium — in the Waterlights grouping the 7 Presidents moved to the site appear from the freeway to be buried in the earth up to their chests, somehow managing to keep their heads above the often-times-soggy land around them. Yes, it was the perfect marker for a freeway-side development buried in debt and treading quicksand just to keep itself afloat:


03/03/08 10:02am

President Heads above Mud at Presidential Park and Gardens, Waterlights District, Pearland, Texas

A reader sent in a larger version of the above photo to the Brazosport News. It shows the first giant presidential heads in place at Pearland’s new Presidential Park. Eventually, the remaining 37-member contingent of very-white sculpted U.S. presidents will join them, and the surrounding swampland will be transformed into a lovely green space, separated from a new shopping, retail, office, and hotel development by . . . a watergate! For now, though, the scene sure does look like only a few presidential giants have managed to keep their heads out of the mud.

The winners of an online vote to select which five of sculptor David Adickes‘s giant busts should be the first to move to the park were Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Kennedy — even though more recent Oval Office residents had far better ballot position. But democracy has its limits: Richard Browne, developer of the adjacent Waterlights District, decided to include the statue of former president George H.W. Bush in the first group anyway. All six made their head-turning trip down 288 from Adickes’s First Ward studio on Presidents’ Day.

Missed your chance to participate in the online presidential headcount? A separate ballot asks you to select which chain restaurants you want to appear in the Waterlights District, though its unclear if polling has already been closed.

Read on for a sketch of the Waterlights District, and another view of ex-presidents keeping their noses clean. Plus: a dated image of President John F. Kennedy, cut out of our version of the photo above . . . because he was too far to the right.