WOAH, Much Bigger Than a Hole in the Wall

Dancers ranging through the 100,000-sq.-ft. former JCPenney at the West Oaks Mall — now known as the West Oaks Art House — “got pretty vigorous,” explains local art blogger Robert Boyd, who attended one of the inaugural performances in Houston’s newest, largest, and loneliest independent arts facility. One of them kicked the hole in the wall pictured at right. No grief from the free-range arts center’s laid-back L.A. landlord, though: “I kind of love the hole in the wall,” Pacific Retail’s Sharsten Plenge tells him. “It is like a souvenir of the energy that Suchu graced WOAH with.” (Yes, Plenge is an artist herself.)


“This may say something about how she plans to let artists use the space. Artists would no doubt appreciate the flexibility to figuratively (and literally) knock holes in the wall,” Boyd concludes. But he wants to know how much effort Plenge will be putting into drawing Houston’s arts community 22 miles westward, to the intersection of Westheimer and Hwy. 6. And whether WOAH will be “doing any collaborations with Toby Keith.” Keith’s new I Love This Bar & Grill at the West Oaks Mall will be only about a quarter the size of WOAH, but its sign will likely be bigger. And inside, there’ll be a 95-ft.-long guitar-shaped bar.

Photos: Robert Boyd

5 Comment

  • “But he wants to know how much effort Plenge will be putting into drawing Houston’s arts community 22 miles westward, to the intersection of Westheimer and Hwy. 6”

    So the assumption is that the only artists in the city are in the inner loop? That no artist are in west Houston?

    I guess Robert Boyd doesn’t really have his finger on the Houston art scene.

  • Slow down there kjb, Boyd is likely the most active writer about the art community in Houston, and I believe he is referring to the majority of people who patron art events and happenings as the inter-loopers wary of venturing out West.

  • I live in west Houston (in Memorial). But the point I was making was that artistic people (whether producers or consumers) are a bit easier to find inside the Loop than outside. This is fairly obvious. That said, there are obviously art-lovers and artists of all types in the suburbs–but they tend to be spread out. It’s harder for them to coalesce in a single place–and when they do, it’s usually some inside-the-Loop venue (because that’s where almost all the theaters and museums and art galleries are). If you are, say, a dancer living in the suburbs, you will still find that most of your institutional support is inside the Loop.

  • I would love to see this place make it and put a jolt of life into the West Oaks Mall, but I just don’t know if it will happen. There is a lot they have to clean out of that place and a lot of folks they need to keep out of that place before that mall will start to see some life in it again. Maybe with all that is coming into WOM that might be starting to happen, but what about smaller stores in there? Are they going to follow the likes of Toby Keith and take up shop there, who knows? Will the riff raff stay away knowing that the junkie stores could be, and hopefully will be on the way out, again who knows. I guess time will tell if all of this saves dying building or brings it back to life.

  • This isn’t exactly Cinco Ranch…we’re talking about the Energy Corridor/Memorial area here, not a nameless faceless suburb.

    I know inside the loop has all the attention, and often rightfully so, but the Houston City limits don’t end at 610 or even 8. There are a lot of these urban centers on the outskirts that get upturned noses from the elitists. I’ll admit, we’re not converting our old houses into packed lots of cookie cutter townhouses at quite the same rate as y’all are, but we still have our advantages out here:) Houston is a single City, not just a core and blank areas on the map labeled “here there be dragons/suburbanites.”