Thursday, September 11, 2014

Take a big seat in Houston's Heights

            Houston gets a bad rap. Like L.A., it’s charged with having no culture, no soul, just a sprawling urban mass of concrete and strip shopping centers. Look deeper and you’ll find quaint neighborhoods, funky weird attractions and a few fabulous eateries, which is what we brake for.
            The Heights is one of those places. Located north of I-10 just outside downtown Houston and a few feet higher than sea level, the neighborhood was created by self-made millionaire Oscar Martin Carter at the turn off the 20th century. Carter saw an opportunity to build a Utopia, with an emphasis on education, progressive planning and entrepreneurship — not to mention a healthy community free of yellow fever scares. Today, that legacy continues with fun places to shop, great restaurants (breakfast at The Down House is divine) and wonderful architecture.
            One of the best places to see the Heights is to travel up Heights Boulevard, a large esplanade with lovely homes on either side and a “Scenic Right of Way” median from White Oak Bayou to 20th Street that sports a walking-jogging path and some weird-looking sculptures. Called “True North, Sculpture on the Boulevard,” this collection of outdoor art produced by Deep South artists includes a half-buried church (yes, we said church), giant lawn chairs and something resembling a silver paper airplane.
            The project was the brainchild of Gus Kopriva, owner of Redbud Gallery on 11th Street, and made possible through Houston Arts Alliance and City of Houston grants, along with private donations. You can read more about the art up close and personal, but we’re borrowing some information here from The Heights Pages, a neighborhood free publication, among other sources.
            Let’s start with the church by artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, who “repurpose architectural structures and remnants of no perceived market value into works of art” until the name of Havel Ruck Projects. The church, known as “Wildlife Sanctuary,” contains pieces from an old neighborhood church with small areas where bird seed lures little ones in.  
            Artist Paul Kittelson loves taking art to a higher level (his silver trees at the Houston Hobby Airport are exquisite!) and does so with “Lawn Chairs,” a bit too high to sit on, even for Texas. Kittelson also has pieces in The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Menil Collection and The New Museum, New York.
            Ed Wilson hails from Arcadia, Louisiana, (who let him in?) and has created “Folded Plane,” a giant stainless steel paper airplane that has found its resting place in the median.
            And there’s more, from a giant northward-looking dog titled “Pointing North”  by Carter Ernst to a green building supported by what looks like massive oars in “From the Hood to the Heights.” For more photos, visit
            The sculptures will remain through November 2014, but they are also for sale. If you can pony up between $5,000 and $28,000, these pieces of outdoor Houston can rest in your front yard.
            And if that’s not enough outdoor art, right now the Discovery Green park downtown is featuring a series of angelic bronze sculptures by Mexican artist Jorge Marín titled “Wings of the City.” These angelic figures with idealized male forms are meant to “spark dialogue around themes of desire, will and determination,” according to the web site. One of the sculptures is a pair of enormous bronze wings with steps in front to allow visitors to pose for selfies. Share your photos on our Weird South Facebook page and other social media, hashtag #wingsofthecity.
             The exhibition runs through Feb. 8, 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Great piece! Was along for the ride and really enjoyed this little known Houston neighborhood.