I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
The City of Houston is large and spread out in all directions. As of 2022, it is the 4th largest city in the United States. The only limit to its growth is the natural border of the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. It continues to grow by leaps and bounds to the north, west, and southwest and shows no immediate indications of slowing that expansion anytime soon.
Art galleries abound, and there is an art to suit just about anyone's taste and budget. This article will feature some outdoor art in public spaces in Houston's downtown region.
Seven Wonders by Mel Chin
One of the most significant art installations came into being as Sesquicentennial Park celebrated the 150th birthday of Houston. It is titled the Seven Wonders, consisting of seven seventy-foot-tall pillars created by artist Mel Chin. Many hundreds of Houston school children assisted in the creation of these pieces.
Each of the children selected was born in 1986 (the Houston Sesquicentennial date), and each child drew art representing one of the significant influences making Houston the city it has become.
These drawings represent the following:
- Technology, and
Selected for each pillar were 150 drawings. The children's drawings were transferred to metal panels using computers and laser technology. They were then assembled onto each appropriate tower and mounted on 30-foot brick bases. They glitter in the daytime catching reflective rays of sunlight and passing clouds, and, at night, they are illuminated from within, presenting a dazzling site.
The location is on the Wortham Center's backside, which houses the famous Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera. Buffalo Bayou waters ripple past these abstract sculptures and city buildings down below.
The Virtuoso by David Adickes
The Virtuoso sculpture is a signature piece in downtown Houston's theater district in front of the Lyric Center. This 36-foot tall, imposing figure of a cellist making music is distinctive. At the lower back of the sculpture are accompanying musicians. If one gets close enough, one can hear appropriate music being piped out into the open air and played for the enjoyment of people passing by.
David Adickes is a well-known artist in Texas. He grew up in Huntsville, a small town just north of Houston, and has emerged as an artist recognized nationwide for his larger-than-life sculptures of President's heads and more.
Anyone driving by Interstate 45 and passing by Huntsville is sure to see the imposing white 67-foot tall Sam Houston statue towering alongside the highway. It is a sight sure to impress not only because of its impressive height but also the likeness to that statesman who had so much importance in history.
David Adickes has created other significant and exciting figures dotting the landscape here in Houston and elsewhere.
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High Plains Drifter by Peter Reginato
High Plains Drifter won the Allen Center national sculpture competition, and installation took place in February of 1974. Its location is 333 Clay Street in downtown Houston, Texas. The artist who created it is Peter Reginato. He is a successful artist known for his abstract steel sculptures.
Recently this sculpture was relocated to Agnes Moffitt Park at 10625 Hammerly Blvd., Houston, Texas 77036.
Personage and Birds by Joan Miró
The sculpture titled Personage and Birds was created in 1970 by Joan Miró. It is an abstract sculpture consisting of painted bronze and stainless steel, and it is near the JP Morgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston.
Joan Miró's artwork graces many museums worldwide and is also in numerous private collections of people who can afford his prices. He has created unique, eyecatching colorful sculptures, and he also paints and creates works of art on paper.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, during the summer Olympics back in 1992, where we saw a vast collection of his works.
The Dancer by Marcello Mascherini
This sculpture was created by Italian artist Marcello Mascherini in the early 1950s and was donated to the City of Houston in 1955 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Straus. Her lively presence graces our downtown theater area.
The Dancer is a bronze statue in front of Jones Hall in downtown Houston. She has outflung arms as if she is twirling around with the folds of her dress expressing movement. She stands at seven and a half feet tall and is on a riser with plants below her feet.
This sculpture towers over the crowds of people who gather in front of Jones Hall before performances of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Pops Orchestra, The Society for the Performing Arts, and a myriad of other shows.
The Houston Ballet used to also perform in Jones Hall but has since moved across the street to the Wortham Center, where Opera performances also occur.
In Minds Sculptures by Tony Cragg
This fascinating duo of sculptures is in front of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. That is where Broadway shows, plus others, take place. It is at the corner of Bagby and Walker streets in downtown Houston, Texas.
The artist who created these sculptures is Tony Cragg. He was born in England and currently lives in Germany. He fashioned these large cast bronze pieces of art over a skeleton comprised of stainless steel. It must have been quite an undertaking, and it took two years to complete. It is dated 2001 to 2002.
The taller and skinnier sculpture weighs 1800 pounds, and the shorter stockier one comes in at a whopping weight of 3800 pounds.
Do you see images of faces in these sculptures? I can envision protruding chins, noses, foreheads, and even lips as I walked around and took photos of these sculptures from various sides.
House Sculpture by Jim Dine
This House Sculpture is one of three bronze relief sculptures created by American pop artist Jim Dine in 1983. This one, located in Houston’s Discovery Green Park, is dedicated to the memory of well-known Houston philanthropist Maconda Brown O’Connor.
She was the daughter of George R. Brown of construction company Brown & Root fame. Her dad eventually earned a small fortune from his business efforts. However, the values she learned from her dad, who did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth, were long-lasting.
She learned about hard work and giving back to those less fortunate, which became an integral part of the person she became. In later years Maconda Brown O’Connor acquired her doctorate in social work. She dedicated her life to working and improving the lives of children, including those in juvenile detention centers. Her imprint upon Houston’s city remains because of her efforts to aid children in poor and less advantaged circumstances.
The sculpture seems most appropriate as it incorporates work-a-day tools such as hammers, axes, and mallets. A wrench and other items are also in the design.
House Sculpture is in Discovery Green Park across from the George R. Brown convention center in downtown Houston. The address is 1500 McKinney St., Houston, Texas 77010.
Jean Dubuffet and Margo Sawyer Sculptures
In Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston is the Jean Dubuffet sculpture called Monument Au Fantome. When translated into English, it means Monument to the Phantom. Also, the Synchronicity of Color sculptures by Margo Sawyer is nearby. There is much more to Discovery Green Park than these sculptures, but I thought they were worthy of mention in this post.
Several bronze-colored reflective-surface balls are gracing the front of the Wortham Center in downtown Houston. I could not find any plaques identifying the artist. They certainly are distinctive and add to the beauty of this area.
Sculptural Effects in Downtown Houston
As I was photographing examples of sculptures in downtown Houston, I could not help but marvel at the sculptural reflections of structures reflected in the glass of many of the buildings and thought that it would be fun to include some of them in this post.
As the old saying goes..."Art is in the eye of the beholder." I see art in this form. How about you?
I hope you enjoyed this brief look at some of the sculptural sites in downtown Houston.
Downtown Houston, Texas
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Peggy Woods