Have you driven through Downtown Houston recently? I did the other day, and what I most noticed was the lack of people and traffic. Businesses are still there and need us, and getting to downtown for lunch has probably never been easier!
Not surprisingly, public art projects have evolved to reflect the unfortunate changes since March. Reflect may be the key word here as the art is in the windows and storefronts of recently vacated spaces. The new artworks are on view now.
The Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District) in partnership with UP Art Studio has installed a new series of public artworks by Texas-based artists along Main Street in downtown. As part of the Downtown District’s Art Blocks public art program, the strategic placemaking initiative WindowWorks transforms vacant and inactive storefronts with visual art to enliven the downtown streetscape.
“We are excited to be rolling out WindowWorks, a new program which fulfills a dual purpose: it transforms and enhances the pedestrian experience and supports our property owners by making vacant storefronts more attractive to businesses looking to open in downtown,” said Angie Bertinot, Downtown District’s director of marketing and communications.
“Also, during a time where people are looking for fun things to do outdoors, a self-guided tour is perfect, and while they’re here, we hope they’ll support one of our many local businesses.”
In December 2019, the Downtown District and UP Art Studio released an open call for Texas visual artists from all disciplines to submit designs. The presentation format has since shifted from utility cabinet wraps to vacant and inactive windows and storefronts. The program will initially focus on windows located on and around Main Street, with the possibility of expanding to other storefronts throughout downtown.
The 18 designs are featured on Houston Mural Map, a new online source for murals and street art installations throughout Greater Houston. The Houston-based artists include Dee Jon, Josh Ryan, Ibarracolor and Laurence Unger.
Dee Jon is actually two people – the collaborative duo of Dandee Warhol and Marjon F. Aucoin.
UP Art Studio is a Houston-based, civic art and placemaking consulting firm that facilitates art and design projects for urban and contemporary artists, communities, corporations and municipalities. The studio’s mission is civic pride through civic art, and they work on projects that educate, move and engage communities through public art. UP Art Studio was founded in 2012 by Noah and Elia Quiles, a husband-and-wife team passionate about public art.
To view Houston Mural Map, visit www.houstonmuralmap.com. For more information about WindowWorks, Art Blocks and related programming, please visit www.downtownhouston.org/art-blocks.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.