Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Great God Pan is Dead Speaks Again

Houston's local art blogger, The Great God Pan is Dead, just dashed off a very nice post about much of the art in the Houston Permitting Center.  Good to hear good things about this great collaborative effort. I'm waiting now to see what he writes about Dick Wray's four-story exterior elevator tower, the artist's only public work of art, ever, in his lifetime.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great God Pan Put Us In His Top 10

Just read Robert Boyd's post on his top 10 picks for best/most interesting art in 2011. The Houston Permitting Center and its artists made the list. See the whole post right here.
Kudos to all twelve artists. Here are photos of just a few of the artful interventions we made for this facility in which hundreds of people come and go every day. What a good job it was. Enjoyed almost every moment of it.

I also read on Swamplot that the Houston Permitting Center is doing well in the voting for one of this year's Swamplot Awards. More good news.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Time

And don't you think it's about time to change the building rendering on this blog's masthead so that Dick Wray's tower is part of the picture?


November 4 was Celebration Day for the twelve artists who created 'artful interventions' for the new Houston Permitting Center.
A year ago, these twelve artists took a first look at 1002 Washington Avenue, touring the construction site and then moving on to The Last Concert for margaritas. This time, we met in a building open for business.
We got to visit again with the folks who supported us through the process of making art for this very public and very green building: Houston Arts Alliance, Studio Red Architects, Manhattan Construction Co., City of Houston General Services and staff from the Mayor's office.
It did indeed 'take a village' to transform this 85 year old brick warehouse into a facility that houses 750 city employees and is now tracking for a LEEDs gold sustainability rating. The City of Houston aimed high with this project. 1002 Washington Avenue is unique in Houston.
Mayor Annise Parker joined the celebration with partner Cathy Hubbard and one of their daughters and daughter's best friend.
Yes, there were speeches, yes, there was time to meet spouses and friends of the artists and yes, there was wine and good food and yes, there was even a self guided tour brochure designed especially for the occasion.
Thanks to all who made the speeches and served the wine. Special thanks to HAA, Manhattan and Studio Red for underwriting the celebration.
Enough words. Here are the pictures.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten Years to Clarity: Houston Permitting Center

How satisfying it was this morning to see the Houston Permitting Center featured on Houston 20/20 Visions Ten Years to Clarity blog. Ten Years to Clarity's mission statement: "To provide a forum for creative visions for the next decade that will explore how development, environmental responsibility, housing, and transportation projects will contribute to a sustainable future for the City of Houston."

It's terrific to know that the 12 artists who created work for this new facility have contributed to Houston's sustainable future. Thanks to each for responding to the call to create work that would become an 'artful intervention in the functionality' of this unique city building at 1002 Washington Avenue.  

Artists for the project?
Dick Wray
Serena Lin Bush
Jesse Sifuentes
Kaneem Smith
Geoff Winningham
Metablab Studio
Havel-Ruck Projects
Agnes Welsh Eyster
Mary Margaret Hansen

You just might want to visit this facility. Soon. It's open to the public every day.  And ride the elevators to see art on all five levels.  Don't miss a thing. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

RED Zine: Focus on Houston Permitting Center

Just received the link to Studio RED's Zine devoted entirely to the Houston Permitting Center, a project for which they were lead architects and the galvanizing force promoting sustainability features that will become more cost effective with each season. Take a look at RED Zine.

More on the artful interventions soon. The City of Houston is compiling content on all aspects of the facility for on-line access. I am still collecting a few artist statements. May have to write a couple myself, just to make the deadline. How are there always so many loose ends in any project? Do I make these jobs up?
Perhaps I'd do well to bear in mind the sage advice which is signed with plexi-hands on level 2 of the building. It reads, "Fewer problems down the road, if you solve the issues today."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Havel and Ruck Out Do Chamberlain

When I was in New York a week ago, I spent a couple of underwhelming hours at MOMA. Very little was exciting, but I guess it might be hard to top the Matisse exhibition I saw there a summer ago. What I did see was an unassuming John Chamberlain sculpture in the middle of one of the galleries. And I thought to myself. "It's nice." I used to think Chamberlain was quite wonderful and yes, some of his work on display in Marfa IS marvelous, but this MOMA piece was simply 'nice'.
I thought about and compared this John Chamberlain piece to Dean Ruck and Dan Havel's 'Torrent' at the new Houston Permitting Center. An entire wall is overloaded with recycled, repurposed metals with enough energy to power a high wind. Funky beautiful details are strewn with abandon or calculation all over the place.I am not doing Dean and Dan's work justice with these photos. ' Suffice it to say that Torrent' should be on everyone's fall schedule for 'looking at art'. And just so you know, I heard someone say that the piece is 'John Chamberlain on steroids.' That is not an inaccurate statement. P.S. We spent time adjusting lights for this wall, but to little avail as you'll see if you visit any time soon. However, better lighting is coming and then the work should then begin to dance and wink as well as hold that wall. Get thee to 1002 Washington Avenue and take a look.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Installing Dick Wray's Tower

Hard to image, but I've not been in the Houston Permitting Center for over a week. Unprecedented. But I have business there on Wednesday morning, so I'll see if the artist's stainless steel etched plaques have been installed. That is one of the few 'last things' that need to happen in the building in order to say 'We're finished'. We are still going to work with Houston Arts Alliance on a brochure for the facility's artwork, but that looks like it will happen in September after everyone gets back from summer travels.
In the meantime, I'll share some images Charles Masterson and his crew installing the panels of Dick Wray's tower. Lots of reflections and late afternoon sunlight in the photos.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


At 5:00 this afternoon, for the first time, I showed a group of good friends this city building that has occupied me for over a year. They got to experience the lobby with its 85 year old concrete columns, brick walls and wide expanses and art by Metlab Studio, Havel Ruck Projects, Kaneem Smith, Jesse Sifuentes, Agnes Welsh Eyster and MMH. All of this is just in the lobby.
Steve Stelzer was still at work in the Green Building Resource Center and he very graciously talked about the information and opportunities he offers to builders, contractors and the general public.
We went floor to floor, looked out the windows at the top of the central stairwell, stopped to look at the art in each elevator lobby and pushed open bathroom doors.
I love the bathrooms and wanted everyone to see the tile work that circles each column and the dropped portions of the ceiling that punctuate the tops of those columns. The bathrooms are wonderfully detailed.
Everyone loved the green roof and they agreed that Jesse's mural is indeed reminiscent of a WPA project.
And my friends moved the chairs away from my 'Overheard' wall on level 3, so they could read every single word. I'll talk more about those chairs in another post. It's complicated.
I was disappointed to discover that this building is so energy efficient that Serena's monitors in the central stairwell were OFF when we looked down expecting to see blue skies and clouds. Guess the monitors are only on during working hours? What a pity.
We moved outside to see Dick Wray's elevator tower. I have to say that one needs to walk over to the Amtrak station to really see this piece. It looks so different with a bit of distance. At a distance, uou can see the faces and figures that become invisible up close.
I sure do love this building and I loved playing a part in its transformation. And it was fun to show it off to good friends. I cannot believe that I've not walked friends through this building until today. I suspect there'll be a few more of these tours. I know absolutely that these women will be spreading the good word about the facility's 'greenness' and public art.
I heard more than one mention made of the lobby as a potential venue for receptions for green groups, the Greater Houston Partnership and organizations like Houston Tomorrow. Receptions could be another income stream for the GBRC and would certainly bring in folks that might never, ever have cause to visit the building.
BTW, I handed in final paperwork today to Houston Arts Alliance. I also gave them the individual artist plaques to install. I think I am just about done with this job, except for more thank you letters with updates to donors and collaborators.
Thank you to everyone who came to see the building this evening. It's wonderful to be able to show it off and hear folks say that the whole place is terrific.
And it was also fun to move on to Beaver's for good food and conversation and that mulled cucumber habanero infused vodka cocktail.