Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Civic Art Matters

It's always helps to have contextual information about the subject at hand, so here is a link to Houston's Municipal Art initiatives. We are lucky indeed that in 1999, City Council passed an ordinance that designates 1.75% of specific project construction budgets be used to create and display civic art. Council certainly had the big picture in mind, no pun intended.
In a 2009 op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle, Houston Arts Alliance's Jonathon Glus gives his take on the importance of civic art in big American cities. I agree with him. It's important and ultimately income producing.
The good news right now is that throughout the new Houston Permitting Center, there is a lot of art to see and experience. Art truly in the public realm.
That being said, after watching folks in the building today, I have the sense that they are all very, very focused on their individual permitting processes and may not be taking in the surroundings at all.
Perhaps after a few trips, they'll begin to look around and see just what a cool building this is.


  1. I love the way art permeates this building--you've done an incredible job, and I can't wait to go back. It's true that folk there (employees and line-waiters alike) seem to generally ignore the installations and the textures of the reclaimed building, but that's not a big surprise--what percentage of people appreciate these types of installations, or art in general?

    I can't express my excitement at discovering different chunks of gold there this week, starting with the monitors in the entry space. There are two that you stand between while waiting to speak to the folk at the front desk; one says "permission to speak freely." The other has blue painter's tape over it. I had to wonder if it was a message from the artist or something else... I was saddened but unsurprised that it was just censorship, and that two of the meters will be modified. By the way, when I asked the ladies at that front desk about them, they said that they hadn't even noticed the meters. My take on the pair is here (you'll need n IG account):

    When I realized the "Overheard" wall was a work, I was again overcome. "How many folk will appreciate this?" I asked myself. It didn't matter. I felt special for having found it. And I've shared three shots of that piece on Instagram, as well, enticing friends to visit the site. If you've got a minute, here's a shot I'm particularly pleased with:

    I haven't found everything in the building yet, but I'll be back. Thank you for your work on this! And I suppose I have to thank some forward thinking art minded committee working for the City, as well...

  2. Thanks for visiting this remarkable new facility. Visit again and take the elevators to see work on each level, including the basement were we are still working on the last wall text piece.
    Yes, I agree, METLAB's cloud code is engaging and you discovered it exactly as they planned for folks 'find' it.
    Check out the Havel-Ruck piece in the Green Building Resource Center, Geoff Winningham's photo in the GBRC stairwell - a very zen space.