07/28/17 2:45pm

Workers who began removing windows earlier this month from rooms in the long-vacant 30-story abandoned hotel tower at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. haunting the southern reaches of Downtown have reached a critical height. Photos sent to Swamplot show that the systematic effort to yank off the fenestration of every room of the former Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel (it also spent time as a Days Inn, a Holiday Inn, and a Vedic school) have now reached the 13th floor above the structure’s parking garage. This now affords viewers above a certain height — from a neighboring office building, say, or driving along the Pierce Elevated — actual views through the building.


Acts as an Air Filter, Too
07/10/17 3:30pm

There appears to be some uh . . . work being done to a few of the (long-time-since-they’ve-been-rented) rooms at the former Downtown Days Inn building at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy., also known as Houston’s last remaining (for now) abandoned skyscraper. Look at the lowest level of windows above the parking garage in the top photo. See how the windows appear to be busted out —in a way that’s maybe somewhat different from how many of the other windows are busted out? A somewhat systematic regime of glass removal appears to be working its way up the building’s southern façade, according to a quick comparison of the shot at top, taken today, and this one, from a slightly different angle, taken almost exactly a month earlier:


Windows Ate
07/05/17 3:45pm

The Greater East End Management District is taking its latest graffiti-blasting weapon to the streets. In the video demo above, workers from the GEEMD’s graffiti abatement team are shown taking out the tagging on the limestone front of the Longhorn Building at 3176 Navigation Blvd. last month. The new equipment is a mobile blaster from Houston’s own Dustless Blasting, which uses a high-pressure stream of recycled glass and water to remove paint and other finishes.

The system is used primarily for refinishing cars and boats, but it appears to work rather quickly on graffiti too: Back in March, the manufacturer showed off this promotional vid for its own attack on another east-side site: the former Waddell Housefurnishing Company buildings on Sampson St. between Rusk and McKinney on the eastern border of East Downtown, slated to become the Sampson Lofts:


Dustless Blasting
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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.


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.


El Barto Was Here