Memorable and oh-so-colorful as well, yarn bombing has successfully woven its way into an annual event here in Houston. The start of this art movement has been attributed to Magda Sayeg, 37 and from Houston, who says she first got the idea in 2005 when she covered the door handle of her boutique with a custom-made “cozy”. The movement grew from simple cozies to the innovation of the “stitched story.” Yarn bomb installations are now found all over the world. A good deal of temporary art is planned in order to dress up Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl LI. Art Blocks Houston is a series of permanent and temporary art installations in the Main Street Square area that include Color Jam by Jessica Stockholder, Trumpet Flower by Patrick Renner, artist collective YesYesNo and a marquee that will rotate works by Armando Castelan, Jamal Cyrus, Giovanni Valderas and Nataliya Scheib. The George R. Brown Convention Center is undergoing a dramatic renovation and will feature two new monumental artworks. O’Connell+Creative Machine’s Wings Over Water will be installed outside, above the Fountain of the Americas. Ed Wilson’s hanging assemblage of perforated stainless steel birds and clouds will be installed inside and visible through the center’s glass wall.
PERMANENT PILLARS In addition to temporary installations, Houston shines with a wide range of permanent installations which speak to the many faces of the city. In 2013, smithsonian.com featured an article titled “The Amazing Public Art Deep in the Heart of Texas” which announced, “Houston has a healthy allowance for beautifying its streets and parks.” The article, which was referring to the city’s percent-for-art program, cited the public artworks featured on the facing page as the city’s creative mainstays.
THE ART OF HIGHER LEARNING Rice University and the University of Houston have outstanding public art collections, collections which the two institutions of higher learning hope will enlighten and further educate the city. Rice has a website dedicated to its public art (publicart.rice.edu) that features the following welcome: “Public art expands our capacity to perceive, understand and represent the world. Rice Public Art seeks to generate encounters with art that advance the culture of inquiry that characterizes our university. By incorporating site-specific works into our campus landscape and interior spaces, the program aims to challenge and inspire the community to imagine its work and lives from unconventional and potentially transformative perspectives. Rice Public Art works in collaboration with the Shepherd School of Music, the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA), the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) and the student organization Art Lab, among others, in an effort to broadly integrate our programming into the academic life at Rice University.” A jewel of Rice’s public art is James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. For reservations, visit www.skyspace.rice.edu. As early as September 6, 1966, the University of Houston established a policy which dedicated one percent of the construction costs of all future building projects to the acquisition of works of art. UH was undergoing an unprecedented building boom and believed a public art program would greatly enhance the campus as well as the prestige of the university. The university was the first state institution to establish a percent-for-art program and currently has one of the largest and most impressive university art collections in the country, which includes more than 500 works of art. The collection contains works by local, regional, national and international artists, across all forms of media and style. Visit www.uh.edu/uh-collection.
THE PARK-ART EXPERIENCE Houston parks feature notable and varied Luther King, Jr. bust in Bricker Park and Memorial in Buffalo Bayou Park
artworks — from the Christopher Columbus the Atropos Key in Hermann and the Big Bubble
statue in Bell Park, the Martin Park to the Police Officer in Buffalo Bayou beneath the Preston Street bridge. A detailed guide by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department can be found at www.houstontx. gov/parks/artinparks. The multi-platform, interactive guide is divided into three tour guides: Art in Parks: Buffalo Bayou/Sam Houston/Tranquility Parks; Art in Parks: Greater Houston Area; and Art in Parks: Hermann Park.
Discovery Green, a public-private partnership between the City of Houston, the Houston First Corporation and Discovery Green Conservancy (the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that operates and maintains the park) boasts exceptional permanent art such as Margo Sawyer’s Synchronicity of Color and temporary installations such as Bruce Munro’s Field of Light and David Graeve’s Bubbles. Pictured: Pachikadi and His Flying Friends, 2011, Elaine Bradford, Vinson Branch of the Houston Public Library. Elaine’s color palette for the gaggle of geese (not all are pictured here) was inspired by the Houston Zoo’s tropical bird habitat. The book, Pachikadi and His Flying Friends, is available for check out at the library.