Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lots of Art at the Houston Permitting Center

by Robert Boyd

After my last depressing post, I want to cheer readers up a little. I follow a blog called the Rockbridge Times written by artist Mary Margaret Hansen. You should put it on your RSS feed. She doesn't post frequently, but it's always good when she does. And this post from last week was an eye-opener.

The Houston Permitting Center on Washington Ave. is where you go to get all those pesky permits the city requires (although I think the city is working to put as much of that online as possible). When they decided to refurbish the old building, they hired Studio RED as the architects. I don't know if Studio RED hired Hansen to coordinate the art, or if the city did--in any case, Hansen was in charge of putting together a lot of art for the building, working closely with Studio RED. And it looks like it will be fantastic when it's done. Here's some of the art in progress:


The piece above is a Havel & Ruck mural.


Here is Gonzo 247 doing a mural for the parking garage (I think).


Geoff Winningham has some photos blown up and printed on metal. (Winningham was a professor of mine at Rice.)

There's lots more at Rockbridge Times. This project reminds me of Second Seating, a big installation Hansen did in 2009 where she also corralled a bunch of artists into doing their own bits. Hansen is somewhere between a curator, an impresario and a conductor for this. I can't wait til it's finished. As much as I would normally want to avoid the Permitting Center, this stuff will make it worth the visit.

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  1. Wow -- that is certainly an interesting and unexpected location for public art, but artists involved are all heavy hitters. Happy to see Geoff Winningham included. I used to give him a few Photoshop lessons waaaaaaaaaaay back in the day.

  2. The whole project seems crazy--in the best possible way! Maybe all public art for public buildings in Houston should be done this way.

  3. I agree. Civic art in Houston should all be done this way. Come and visit. The building is now open.