It’s difficult not to smile while driving east on I-10 when passing the “We Heart Houston” sculpture near the Patterson St. exit in the Heights. Since 2013, the colorful, 20-foot-tall work has been a great sight for those with pride in Houston. However, the sculpture’s days there are numbered.
The good news? Houston is getting a larger, more substantial sculpture touting our arts scene in its place. “Art is Everywhere Houston” is on the horizon, and promises to make an even greater impact.
The “We Heart Houston” sculpture’s new location is currently under consideration according to the artist, 89-year-old David Adickes. A prolific and treasured local sculptor, Adickes has numerous larger-than-life works to his credit including “Virtuoso” at the Lyric Center, the enormous President’s Heads, and the 76-foot-tall Sam Houston on display on I-45 in Huntsville.
Adickes is working with the Houston First Corporation to review options. Houston First is the agency charged with enhancing the quality of life in our city, as well as advancing economic prosperity, and the city’s image with the world.
“At first we thought we would move it in front of the Hobby Center on the slope of Buffalo Bayou,” Adickes said. “As people drove by, the skyline would have formed a backdrop for the piece. It was the perfect spot.”
Well, not exactly perfect, as it turns out. The portion along Buffalo Bayou chosen for the sculpture routinely floods. Decision-makers concluded that it was only a matter of time before a photograph of a half-submerged “We Heart Houston” sign saturated the internet – not exactly an image the city wants to project.
‘My next choice of locations is on the jogging path as it runs near Stude Park in the Heights. People could still see the sculpture from the street as they drive by, and it would lend itself to joggers and people in the park taking selfies. That’s another good solution,” stated Adickes.
Why the big move? Since the sculpture’s placement on Adickes’ 3,000-square-foot sliver of property along the feeder of I-10, a large town home development was constructed be hind the work. Then, another wall was built between the town homes and the sculpture itself. The aesthetics no longer fit, says Adickes
“Another reason we’re moving ‘We Heart Houston,’ is safety,” said Christine West, Cultural Programs Manager with Houston First. “It’s popular, and people want to stop and photograph themselves standing with sculpture, but it’s dangerous to do that where it is. There’s no parking along the feeder road and traffic whizzes by there. Houston First wants to place it where people and families can enjoy it without risk, and we can actively maintain it.”
Adickes solution is to replace the old sculpture with his new, bigger, 37-foot-tall “Art is Everywhere Houston” piece. The new work will include the same whimsical colors and celebration of pride as “Heart” and will stand up well against the wall and construction behind it. As it is taller than the existing 20-foot sculpture, it does not lend itself to close-up photos, and “Art is Everywhere Houston” will be visible to a greater number of commuters on I-10.
There is no current timeline for the switch-off. Logistics are a challenge. In addition to deciding where to place “We Heart Houston,” the 10,000 pound, concrete piece will require a commercial crane to lift it onto a flatbed truck for transport. In the meantime, Adickes is already sculpting its replacement. He may also have a few surprises in mind.
“You never know what may appear along with the new sculpture,” Adickes said. “You just never know where art will happen in Houston.”