Thursday, June 9, 2011

Houston Makes Creative Use of Recycled Materials

Glasstire ran a story by Carrie Schneider on May 20. Titled 'The Ten List: Houston Gleaners', Schneider's makes a great case for Houston as hub for visionary art made from recycled materials. She cites the Flower Man, The Beer Can House, The Brayer Room and Texas Art Asylum. You'll want to read the whole thing so click here. If it's true that Houston is such a hub, then the Houston Permitting Center is part of this picture. This 85 year old brick warehouse has been recycled and repurposed as the new home for all of the city's permitting and licensing departments. The old brick walls, concrete columns and rusty iron beams are all part of the ambiance of the new facility. And the building's civic art? Well, some of it has been crafted from recycled materials.
Dean Ruck and Dan Havel's piece for the new Houston Permitting Center could certainly qualify for inclusion in Schneider's 'Houston Gleaner's' list. The public will get its first chance to see their baroque and beautiful artwork later this month when the construction crews are gone and the building opens for business. Dean and Dan installed their work at the entrance to the facility's Green Building Resource Center, adjacent to the lobby. Couldn't be in a better place for sending an artful reuse and recycling message.
Funny to reflect how making art from recycled materials has propelled my life for the last four years. 2009's Second Seating was an exhibition that comprised a collection of dinner tables and chandeliers made from reused and repurposed materials from Houston's industrial East End.The exhibition was housed in the then-vacant metal building next to Irma's Restaurant on Chenevert and included an eight foot tall chandelier made with over 70 hand filigreed Clorox bottles strung on white tablecloths. (Yes, there is a Clorox plant in the East End.) I was lucky enough to peruse salvage metal lots at both Baker Hughes and Valero, where I found sections of oil drilling pipes and refinery pipeline parts that I converted into lighting fixtures. 2009 was a good year for scavanging.
I invited a half dozen other artists to contribute to the Second Seating. Three of those artists - Jesse Sifuentes, Gonzo 24/7 and Agnes Welsh Eyster - have now created work for the Houston Permitting Center. One thing does lead indeed to another.
I sometimes think that Second Seating led directly to this new job of mine, which is to bring civic art to the city's new very public space at 1002 Washington Avenue. In any case, it's good to know that Houston is a hub for recycled art. It sure makes sense in our over-consumered age to make art from the detritus of our lives.

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