If you happen to be driving down Heights Boulevard and see Humpty Dumpty wearing fishnets and stilettos, don’t worry, you are not seeing things. Humpty is one of eight new sculptures that are part of the new Heights Boulevard sculpture project, curated by Gus Kopriva of Redbud Gallery and artist Chris Silkwood. It is also their last.
At a reception to kick off the new installation, Silkwood announced that they were passing the torch to the Houston Heights Association who will form a new subcommittee, under the leadership of Kenny Terrell, to continue it.
“Gus and I have curated this since its inception,” Silkwood said. “This is our fourth installation. At some point, it is time to pass it on to those with new ideas. The Houston Heights Association so clearly saw the tremendous benefit of the project. Since they were already our 501(c)(3) partner, it was a perfect opportunity to pass it on.”
While the installations have proven very popular, it took a lot to get the project off the ground. Kopriva utilized his contacts to recruit both artists and interest in the inaugural year. A grant from the mayor paid for part of the first years’ project and the rest was covered private funds. For the past three years private funds have covered the whole price tag.
The cost for this year is $25,000 which includes an artist stipend, site preparation and installation. The placement of the pieces stays the same every year – and is city dictated – due to the buried cables everywhere. There are eight pieces in total two to three blocks apart from the 400 block to the 1800 block.
The exhibit will run from mid-March through mid-December on a nine month temporary permit from the city, allowing the pieces to have a showcase for the Heights Spring and Garden show and during the Heights Holidays tours.
“It’s been a perfect time span for the exhibit,” said Silkwood. The pieces you might come across include “Above the Muddy Water,” a house on stilts lit from inside with LED lights from Randall Mosman; a fierce looking “Texas Horny Toad” by Dylan Conner; the enigmatic “Opalescent Order #24” by James Ciosek; a woman’s take on Humpty Dumpty by Yuliya Lanina; the dragon tail-esque “Mollusca” by Jon Clark; the “Knot Cubed” by Zak Miano, a metal “Flower of Life” by Nicola Parente; and the historic looking “Eagle Plane” by Noah Edmundson.
Silkwood said that sometimes artists propose an item from their existing inventory but more often come with drawings and specifications, and then create it once they get the green light.
The works are offered for sale after the exhibition with 20 percent of the proceeds going to fund the continuation of the project.
At the reception, Kopriva spoke to the group about his feelings on the importance of art – and the funding of art in Houston and elsewhere – quoting from favorite writer Kurt Vonnegut: “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”