10/09/17 1:30pm

Somebody carefully disassembled the recently installed quilting sculpture in front of the Bermac Arts Building at 4101 San Jacinto St. just south of Cleburne St. late last week, leaving behind a patchwork of colorful powder-coated-steel pieces on the former bus-stop platform next to the sidewalk. The 8-ft.-tall blue, orange, magenta, yellow, and metallic silver sculpture, called Quilt Peace, was erected at the site on September 20th. It was meant to remain there for 3 months — through next month’s International Quilt Festival at the George R. Brown Convention Center — before being moved to a different Midtown site.

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Street Art Taken Apart
09/29/17 11:30am

It may have been erected on a one-way northbound street in Lower Midtown, but this new sculpture now standing in front of the oak trees outside the San Jacinto St. entrance to the Bermac Arts Building just south of Cleburne was designed to flag down visitors from Downtown: Quilt Peace, constructed of powder-coated-steel, marks the entrance to the offices and exhibition space of the Community Artists’ Collective, where the Jubilee Quilt Circle meets twice a week to stitch works by hand or with the computer-controlled longarm flatbed stitcher onsite. “Quilt Peace is our tribute to the November 2017 International Quilt Festival at the George R. Brown Convention Center,” explains artist Michelle Barnes — who also happens to be the Collective’s executive director. “. . . We want to demonstrate our connection with quilting to the thousands of convention visitors.

Photo: Community Artists’ Collective.

Quilt Peace
09/27/17 1:00pm

If you’ve ever wished you could watch a wrecking ball go wild inside a convenience store, here’s your chance. A crowd gathered outside the former 4949 C-store at the corner of Bissonnet and Shepherd over the weekend to watch artist Trey Duvall’s kinetic demolition installation in action. The installation features wrecking balls connected to computer-controlled motors mounted on the ceiling wreaking havoc on what remains of the interior. Or, as Duvall puts it, “Two high-torque mechanized double pendulums . . . impact shelving systems, soda machines, retail racks, drink coolers, and walls to create an evolving and unpredictable landscape of detritus.

If you can’t stop by for your own personal evening viewing of any portion of the 15-day-long endeavor (it’ll be in action through October 6), there’ll be live-streamed video of the action available online. You can watch nightly from 6 to 9 pm from a link on the project website.

This video by Duvall shows some of the first blows:

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Watch the Wrecking Ball
07/21/17 10:30am

IN WHICH THE OWNER OF THAT MANNEQUIN-PACKED HOUSE IN RICHMOND ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY’S “I’m just trying to sell my house,” says the long-time artist resident of 4302 Colony West Dr. in Richmond (the mind-boggling contents of which sent no fewer than 10 readers scrambling to send the listing to the Swamplot tip line earlier this week).  “No, I’m not a hoarder. I could go down the list of things people are accusing me of. Yes, I own a weird business, but artists are weird, and if you find a normal artist [they’re] probably not a good one.” Those answers are all prompted by questions from Marcelino Benito, who toured the house this week for KHOU after the listing went nationally viral. The house and its contents have been viewed millions of times and have made the news in such far flung locations as St. Louis, MO, (where local station KMOV referred to its interior decor as ‘the stuff of nightmares‘) — in addition to being gawked at by readers of both the Huffington and the New York posts. As for what seems to be another burning question on the minds of some of the folks calling in with actual offers on the home — “Will you leave a mannequin for me?” — the owner’s answer appears to be a furrowed eyebrow or 2 and a “well . . . okay.” [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 4302 Colony West Dr.: HAR

06/23/17 4:45pm

The folks behind a newly-announced condo project called Mandell Montrose have recently stuck some signage on the lot at 2312 Commonwealth St., a couple of readers tell Swamplot this week. That property isn’t actually adjacent to either Mandell St. or Montrose Blvd., but it is almost directly between the 2; it’s also the site formerly slated for the cancelled Flats on Fairview condo midrise (which Paul Takahashi reports this week were called off due to construction cost issues, despite having met some sales goals). Takahashi says the new project will aim for 7 stories for a total of 24 units. And underscoring the split-the-geographic-difference theme, the Hyde Park project is being developed by Midtown Uptown Development Partners.

No renderings are out yet of the new plans, save for some probably-not-to-scale brick facade showing up on the background of the building’s sales website. (A physical sales center should be opening some time next month, however.) The rendered design of the cancelled Flats midrise, meanwhile, has found new purpose as part of a striking departure from the classic Houston scary midrise artwork vernacular:

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Mandell Monstrose
06/02/17 12:45pm


The partially ruined former Jefferson Davis Hospital nurses quarters at 1225 Elder St. — until very recently in the running for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places — was recommended for demolition at last week’s Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting following a public hearing the day before. The building, tucked west of the elevated freeway tangle where I-45 splits from I-10 near Downtown, would have joined the nextdoor former Jefferson Davis Hospital itself on the historic registry — instead, it looks like the structure will finally meet meet the ‘dozers after its long slow decline, accelerated by damage from a fire in 2013 that lead to last year’s semi-collapse.

Next door, the 4-story hospital structure (built in 1924, and replaced by 1938 with another Jefferson Davis Hospital where the Federal Reserve building now stands on Allen Pkwy.) cycled through various modes of use and disuse until its early 2000’s restoration into the Elder Street Artist Lofts, which serve as low-rent apartments and studios for artsy types. That redevelopment, of course, involved carefully digging around the dozens of unmarked graves turned up on the surrounding land, which beginning in 1840 had served as the second city cemetery (and as the final resting place for a hodgepodge likely including  Confederate soldiers, former slaves, victims of the 1860s yellow fever epidemics, people who died in duels, Masons, and a variety of others). The hospital’s name is still carved above the lofts’ entrance:

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First Ward Fire Damage by HFD
06/01/17 2:00pm

Construction started yesterday on the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, going up in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s former parking lot north of Bissonnet St. at Main. That’s the curvy-roofed structure itself visible in the rendering above — the drawing shows the expected view of the building from the rooftop garden of the already-under-construction nearby replacement for the formerly glass-covered Glassell School (whose underground parking garage opened up when the surface lot closed last week). Both of the new buildings were designed by Steven Holl Architects — here’s where they fall on the map, along some of the other big changes in the works for the Museum’s campus:

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Museum District Parking
04/14/17 6:00pm

THE EASTER BUNNY AND THE TAXMAN COMETH Amanda Parer's Intrude installation, 1600 Smith St., Downtown, Houston, 77002It doesn’t look like there’s too much rain on the schedule for Tax Day this time around, but Swamplot’ll be off Monday anyway, shoring up any potential leaks. Enjoy your weekend, whether it’s filled with hunts for Easter eggs or for that basketful of missing W-2s, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday for the regular real estate tomfoolery. Photo of Amanda Parer’s Intrude installation: Swamplot inbox

04/03/17 11:30am

Bus Shelter April Fool's Day, Bissonnet St. east of Montrose Blvd., Museum District, Houston, 77005

Bus Shelter April Fool's Day, Bissonnet St. east of Montrose Blvd., Museum District, Houston, 77005 Shots of Orwellian wall ornamentation and conspiracy theorist headgear were turned up by a reader’s surveillance of the Bissonnet St. bus shelter east of Montrose Blvd. by the Museum of Fine Arts early Saturday morning. The setup looks like one of the series of bus shelter makeovers purportedly planned around town by a vigilante redecorator — though perhaps because of heightened citywide gag tolerance spurred by April Fool’s Day, this round seems to have significantly outlasted the pre-dawn tiki hutch installed in front of the Public Storage on W. Gray back in February.

Eyes on the scene sent a few further monitoring reports on the decorations throughout the day, including notes of edits to the display from various passer-bys:

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Museum District Surveillance
03/22/17 4:30pm

Crane at under-construction Capitol Tower, Capitol St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Another shot of that crane that took to the air this weekend by the economy-stalled stub of Skanska’s Capitol Tower comes from a reader peering over the site’s parking structure from Rusk St. yesterday. (That’s the neighboring Chase Tower looming over the scene in the background.) Bank of America was outed as being in talks with Skanska about leasing space in the tower (which might add the bank’s current home in Bank of America Center to the list of recent abandonments of Downtown office towers by their namesake tenants). The other sign of life on the site this year was the addition of a street-level mural to the parking garage’s corner, which was dry in time for the Super Bowl last month:

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Sprouting Downtown