05/05/17 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN ALTERNATE ROUTE FOR CLEANING UP DOWNTOWN’S IMAGE  “Well, if the problem is defined as ‘Pierce Elevated drivers see blight’ — then one solution is to get rid of the blight; another is to get rid of the Pierce Elevated. It’s probably obvious by now which is more likely to happen.” [_,  commenting on Downtown’s Preeminent Dilapidated Hotel Tower Now Outfitted To Greet I-45ers with New Nametags, Fewer Window Panes] Photo of former Days Inn: Bob Russell

03/31/17 10:00am

Houston Raised Me Mural, Kingspoint Rd. at Kleckley Dr., Houston

Need even more evidence of Houston’s street-art surge? Or just want to compare pigment choice between school- or developer-commissioned and more opportunistic murals? Cameraphone photographer Marcos Antonio has been documenting decorated walls around town since last summer, updating his website with new posts frequently even since spreading word of it on Reddit yesterday.

His catalog is not as extensive (nor as detailed) as the one on Where + Wear + Well, but the site does include a map tie-in, and includes a few sites further from the Inner Loop, such as the wall near the corner of Kingspoint Rd. and Tanner Park Ct. above.

Photo: Marcos Antonio

A Mural Tour
09/13/16 1:15pm

Some of the bloggers and photographers at clothing and trendy-places-to-go blog Wear+Where+Well (based in but not exclusively on Houston) have pulled together a long list of the mural walls found around town, complete with titles, artist names, photos, and the interactive map above. The list is annotated with an eye for photography conditions, as well as info on parking and on the likelihood of “indigents asking for spare change” nearby. The authors say the list will be updated frequently; info on how to submit new spots you think should be included can be found at the bottom of the document.

Map of Houston murals: Wear+Where+Well

Mural Mapping
06/16/16 11:30am

HOUSTON’S ELECTRIFYING INSULT ART HAS ITS CRITICS graffiti at 1601 Alabama St.,  Midtown, Houston, 77004A roving Houston graffiti connoisseur issued a short but scathing review this week of the latest addition to the utility box at the corner of Alabama St. and Almeda Rd. via the automatic city complaint-filing app SeeClickFix. The user calls the scrawled proclamation ‘bad art’; the Midtown Management District says it’s on the case. The display, directly across Almeda from hammock-rich beer garden Axelrad, does not appear to be one of the coming-up-on-100 mini murals being placed on electrical utility boxes around the city by Up Art Studios. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of electrical utility box at 1601 Alabama St.: SeeClickFix

05/27/16 12:00pm

The Secret Group Comedy Club, 2101 Polk Street, East Downtown, Houston

The final episode of Simpsons-themed mural antics at the corner of Polk and St. Emanuel streets appears to have played out, now that the exterior walls of The Secret Group’s in-progress venue have gone dark on their way toward looking something like the shadowy rendering above. The transformation appears to have a deadline: the group has started selling tickets to shows at the new venue, with the first one set for June 22nd.

The space, at the Polk end of the developing 2-block East Village retail spot, will function as a full time bar in addition to hosting regular comedy and music performances. The rendering from Māk Studio appears to show a rooftop patio; the venue doesn’t currently plan to serve food, but that could change.

Rendering: māk studio

East Downtown
03/11/16 4:00pm

Obama Mural, Travis St. and West Alabama, Midtown, Houston

The president has just wrapped up his keynote speech at hippie-turned-techie-festival SXSW in Austin — but he’s been sighted all over the place today, including at the oft-redecorated corner of Alabama and Travis streets across the street from the Breakfast Klub. The newest mural was finished up last week in the recently whitewashed spot that has hosted various incarnations of Obama’s likeness over the last few years (and been vandalized several times).

Obama was also photographed earlier this afternoon at a Torchy’s Tacos in South Austin, where he reportedly ordered a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent before heading back to the motorcade:

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On the Trail
03/11/16 1:00pm

March 11th Mural at former Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston Heights

Update, 5 pm: Work on the wall is finished; this article has been updated with additional photos.

A reader catches more than a dozen folks in the act of dolling up the former post office at 11th St. with some giant hearts and numbers this morning. The building, which was recently given a Valentine’s-themed makeover on the opposite side by some likely-taller members of the Houston mural scene, has been getting romantic attention while waiting for MFT Development to go forward with plans to demolish the structure to build a lowrise retail and office complex.

In the interrim, MFT says they’ve set the art students of Hogg Middle School on the Heights Blvd. side of the building. Here’s another shot of the action, looking closer to 11th:

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Love All Around
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:

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State of the Mural
02/29/16 3:00pm

Mural at former Heights Finance Station Post Office, 1050 Yale St., Houston Heights

The recently dumped Heights Finance Station post office at Yale and 11th streets was treated to a makeover this month, as demolition looms on the horizon. If all goes as planned, the building will eventually be brushed aside to make way for the younger-and-likely-prettier Heights Central Station mixed-use shopping center headed for the site; until then, it’s playing canvas for some Houston graffiti artists, including Wiley Robertson (one of the usual suspects behind giant love notes spotted around town).

A reader sends a fresh batch of lunchtime snapshots of the mural, which seems to have been wrapped up in the last few days:

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Love Is In The Aerosol
12/01/15 9:00am

Mural at The Secret Group Comedy Club, 2101 Polk Street, East Downtown, Houston  
Mural at The Secret Group Comedy Club, 2101 Polk Street, East Downtown, Houston The evolving mural of Bart Simpson’s tragic fall in East Downtown (first into poorly spelled petty vandalism, and then into legal repercussions for same) has been updated several more times in the past few months, with some dark twists along the way. The mural is located on the outside of 2101 Polk St. — a building currently being transformed into a comedy club by The Secret Group, which hopes to open the space by the end of the year. The original progression is shown below:

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Comedy Club Goes Dark
06/25/15 11:15am

Western Facade of The Secret Group, 2101 Polk St. at St. Emanuel St., East Downtown

It’s not clear how quickly interior work is progressing on the planned comedy club and music venue in the former Malloy Register Company building at the corner of Polk St. and St. Emanuel in East Downtown, but notable changes have taken place to the building’s exterior since Swamplot reported on the project last month. The graffiti scene spray-painted onto the building’s western wall earlier this year, facing the I-69 overpass a block away (at top in photo above) has been updated to show police chief Clancy Wiggum — wearing an HPD shoulder patch — apprehending Bart Simpson, a stand-in for the site’s own tagging team (at bottom). Also added: the Twitter username for the Secret Group.

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East Downtown Building Funnies
05/11/15 4:00pm

2101 Polk St., East Downtown, Houston

Who’s been tagging the former Malloy’s Register Company building at the corner of Polk St. and St. Emanuel St. in East Downtown with Simpsons graffiti, an assortment of wheatpaste posters, and a TABC license application? The building’s future tenants, who bear the mysterious name The Secret Group. For now, The Secret Group has been arranging and promoting a series of comedy and music performances in various spots around town. But come November, the promoters plan to open up their own native bar, comedy club, and music venue in the building at 2101 Polk St.

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El Barto Was Here
10/31/14 12:15pm

Headed to that spooky Halloween “party” at 3015 Fuqua St. tonight all the kool kids are daring each other about today on Twitter? Here are a few things you should know about what might rank as one of Houston’s eeriest properties still standing, one complete with both its very own murder and a ghost video.

Our chilling tale begins in early February 2008, when the property was last on the market. Back then vandals held sway at the decrepit 11,640-sq.-ft. mansion in Minnetex Place. Was it Swamplot’s showcasing of the home’s skanky indoor pool, 5-acre lot, decorative graffiti, and grand, red-carpeted staircase that made it move? It had languished on the market for 7 months, but just 2 weeks later, the property sold — to an entity controlled by a pair of Houston investors. They snagged the 1950 mansion for just $265,000 — greatly reduced from its original $451,900 listing.

Since then, visiting vandals have been joined by a new, possibly otherworldly tenant.

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Fuqua’s Ghost?
01/07/14 10:30am

Central Square Plaza, 2100 Travis St., Midtown, Houston

Central Square Plaza, 2100 Travis St., Midtown, HoustonA new green-screened construction fence has gone up around the perimeter of the Central Square Plaza building at 2100 Travis St., a reader reports. But the barricades aren’t an indication of impending renovation or demolition work on the long-vacant property. They’re part of an effort to secure the buildings and keep taggers and other would-be occupiers out.

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Midtown Wrap-Up
07/19/13 3:00pm

So the site where the 21-story Ashby Highrise is going up appears to have been cleared now of the Maryland Manor apartments and bordered with a nice new fence, which appears to have been freshly tagged with some carefully considered — commentary? The reader who sends these photos suspects that the all-caps shout-outs to 2 of Houston’s most well-known towers showed up early this morning

Photos: Swamplot inbox