PUBLIC ART: A COMMUNITY TREASURE 3.
Statues, Murals, Memorials. Whatever the medium, public art is free and accessible to everyone.
3. Public art, in all its glorious forms, is a community treasure that enhances our experience of a place and our quality of life. It inspires a sense of pride and community and adds beauty to the environment. Public art reaches audiences outside museums and theaters and offers us a way to participate in the planning, design and creation of communal space. It creates a means of communicating ideas and sharing experiences in a changing, culturally diverse world. Public art reveals its meaning over time, rewarding repeated visits. It has the distinct ability to commemorate, memorialize and celebrate. It transports us, if only momentarily, out of our daily routine. Public art is for everyone and it is free.
For a city its size, Houston for years was very lean on public art. This all began to change when a percent-for-art program was established. In 1999, the City of Houston founded an ordinance mandating that 1.75 percent of qualified Capital Improvement Project monies be set aside for civic art. Soon after, the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) was officially formed through the merger of the Cultural Arts Council Houston/ Harris County, the Municipal Art Commission and the Civic Art Committee. The HAA now serves as a unified entity that will fund, advocate, preserve and promote the arts in the Houston and Harris County regions. For more on the HAA, see our interview with Jonathon Glus, president and CEO of the HAA, on the inside back cover. Today, Houston boasts a thriving public art scene supported by many proud Houstonians. More than 500 public works of art span more than 20 zip codes, and the range of our artworks is diverse. From some of the city’s creative mainstays to others off its beaten path, here we touch on a few examples of Houston public art:
TEMPORARY ART Temporary artworks, which are not part of the 500-plus works in the City of Houston Art Collection, have become more numerous in recent years. Although temporary, these pieces create lasting memories, such as the Funnel Tunnel, Blue Trees and the True North exhibit that was on Heights Boulevard. Note: The public art included in this article is only a sampling of Houston’s public art (art that is unexpected or that one simply comes upon when walking or driving). It does not include the art of our renowned museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Menil Collection, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Pictured on Pages 2 and 3: 1. The art in Houston’s airports is outstanding, such as Krista Birnbaum’s Roadside Attraction, located at William P. Hobby Airport. Photo by Nash Baker 2. Houston is home to numerous murals. Daniel Anguilu is one of our most celebrated muralists. His mural, Chavez no murió, is located in EaDo on St. Emanuel Street at Bell Street. Photo by Rich Sandman 3. Tree and Three Flowers by James Surls located on Kirby Drive in front of West Avenue. Photo by Ken Frederick.