Saturday, October 1, 2011

Corporate Plop in Greenspoint

Robert Boyd

Pan has a day job, and that job is up in Greenspoint (a corporate office area/ghetto in far north Houston). Recently I became aware of three relatively new sculptures near my office.

blowing leaves at the intersection of Greens Parkway and Gears Rd

I don't know who sculptured this multicolor metal sculpture of blowing sycamore leaves. It is located at the end of a wide median strip on Greens Parkway. There are sycamore trees planted in the median--they look quite young, but give them a decade or two and they'll be lovely. Weirdly, this median is bounded by two massive empty lots. Lots big enough to build skyscrapers on. The area is full of low-rise campus-like buildings, mid-rise offices, and a few high-rises. So it could be that the leaves were put there by a real estate company or a business district to promote the empty properties.

blowing leaves at the intersection of Greens Parkway and Gears Rd

As a sculpture, it doesn't quite work. It is meant to suggest autumn leaves blowing, but because they all are physically connected to one another, you don't really get the sense of motion. Admittedly, the sculptor set up a really difficult task for himself. Aside from the failure to suggest motion, I'd say it's a petty nice piece of corporate plop. It isn't overbearing or self-aggrandizing. It's pleasing and welcoming--which I assume is the point.

Eric Ober, Time Piece, metal

Just down the road at the intersection of Green Parkway and Greens Crossing Blvd. are two pieces by Eric Ober. It's unusual that I know the name of the artist of a piece of corporate plop (I have no idea who did the leaves, for example). The works are rarely signed or labeled. In this case, I lucked out--I had seen Ober's work before at the Bayou City Art Festival in 2010.

Eric Ober, Body Language, metal

Time Piece and Body Language are more typical of corporate plop than the leaves sculpture. They are abstract and decorative. In this case, the sculpture is human scale. In fact, the two sculptures are surrounded by inward facing benches, which suggests that they are places where the workers at Honeywell and the other occupants of the adjacent building can take smoke breaks or lunch breaks. (Contrast this human scale with George Schroeder's mammoth Synergy in Westchase.)

None of these pieces will be remembered in the art history textbooks, but I like them well enough, and like that they are there. The motivations for plopping down some art in front of a business are complex, but I like that someone thought that art as a part of the business or business district would be worth having. On average, I'd rather have some art around than be in an art-free environment.


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