All artwork for the Houston Permitting Center is now complete. It's done. Every bit of it. Amazing. The rest of the artists finished their installations by mid-June, but I did not even begin on the basement corridor wall until late June. This last text intervention runs along 88 feet of basement corridor and was completed just yesterday.
For a long time, I've felt like that fairy tale cobbler whose children are the very last to get shoes. Turned out to be OK as HPD is not moving into their new offices off this long corridor for another week. It's still pretty quiet in the basement.
This past weekend, Robynn Sanders, she of art car fame, finished hand painting the last small section of the basement's 88 foot long corridor and then applied the protective 'green' top coat. I'd say that corridor is quite a piece of work.
Robynn spent several weekends tracing elaborate patterns of words on those 88 feet. Once traced, she filled in each letter or character with absolutely 'green' paint. She was not too happy with the thickness of 'green' paint. In places, it looks more like water color, but we decided that is just fine.
The story of this particular wall begins months ago when I contemplated a laser cut, powder coated strip of metal that ran the length of the corridor. A sort of ribbon or banner of recycling words in lots of languages. I thought that the very length of the piece would convey the message that it is always time to recycle, rethink, repurpose, reuse, refine, redo and on and on.
The first step was to create a list of as many English words that began with 're' as I could. Got almost 50 words within minutes. Made me want to go back to the Latin root and learn a little more about 're' words.
Somewhere along the way, I scrapped the idea of the long metal 'ribbon' of words and began to think about painted words. Kelly Musebeck of S.O. Creatives introduced me to Robynn Sanders and that was it.
Then, with my list of 're' words in hand, I looked for translators, so that we might have similar words in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabic. I wanted this wall to show the universality of the recycling message as well as the diversity of Houston. Significant populations in this city speak each of these languages.
Working with the translators was a joy, because each translator was truly interested in the project and genuinely pleased that their community would be represented on this wall. My thanks to Mary Cee for Vietnamese translations, Najwa Barazi for Arabic words and phrases, to Yat Chong at S.O. Creatives for Spanish translations and Dr. Richard Smith for Chinese translations. When I contacted Rich, he was in China on sabbatical. Isn't email wonderful? He sent the words back to Houston in a day's time.
Sometimes, it really does take a village. Gathering translations for this undertaking became an example of one of the wall's messages. Diversity, inclusiveness. We're all in this together. I like that. Hope to get all the translators together soon for a look at the corridor - and all the rest of the facility. Hope Robynn will be there too to meet the folks whose words she painted.
Here is the last section of the wall, the one closet to the reception area. All the words and characters here are about redoing, reversing, beginning again, starting over. Which of course means walking back the length the corridor to the elevators. Making something circular out of a straight line.I especially like that small Arabic character near the recycling logo. It's very simple, nothing long winded. It means, "Do it again." "Once more." Perfect.
It is also fun to know that Arabic is read from right to left, so the walk to the elevators is just fine for reading that particular set of words. Again, we are taking a straight line (that would be the corridor) and allowing it to become a circle of repetitive messages.
So there you have it. Thank you to all who contributed to this wall. It was a real collaboration. Thank you very much.