By Sam Byrd
Houston, a city known for its endless freeways and towering skyscrapers, is also known for its diverse art scene. It makes sense, then, that we should expect to see some of that art spilling out into unexpected places, like on the sides of buildings, urban streetcorners or on highways. This short list, which only scratches the surface of the great street art in Houston, is a good way to get started if you’re looking for art in out-of-the-way places. Editor’s note: This is a great way to see interesting and unusual art and still maintain social distancing standards.
Art Reflecting Life
Arts District Houston has a major mural project in the Washington Avenue Corridor, which claims the highest concentration of working artists in the state. The five murals at the site engage multiple artists across various mediums to reflect what is unique about the neighborhoods that make up the Arts District.
One example is Royal Sumikat’s work, “Bringing Home With Us”, which is displayed along the south wall of the Henderson & Kane building on 715 Henderson St. It shows Mexican, African American, German and Italian women from the late 1800s to embody the neighborhood’s diverse history. The full list is at https://fresharts.org/arts-district-houston/
“Murals in communities have shown to increase business traffic, sales, community pride, safety and creative safekeeping,” said Executive Director Marci Dallas in a press release. “Establishing tourism destinations is a major priority of the state cultural district program. Our murals will create tourism attractions that highlight the distinct identity of the First and Sixth Wards and foster local cultural development.”
Miniature Art, Big Impact
There’s nothing more urban and boring than the gray traffic signal boxes dotting the city’s concrete corners. However, one person’s “blah” can become another person’s canvas, which is exactly what happened. UP Art Studio took on the task of turning these eyesores into something tied to its neighborhood and an Instagram-worthy art spot. What started off as a solo signal-box project expanded when the City of Houston got in on the act and allowed the studio to freshen up hundreds of boxes throughout the area. Go to minimurals.com/houston to see the map of boxes in the Houston area.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include one of Houston’s most recognizable and identifiable pieces of street art: Be Someone. The words, which appeared on Highway 45 in Downtown Houston, stand as a symbol of pride and something as unique to the Houston area as Gilley’s and NASA. Houston truly is the place where you can do anything you set your mind to, whether it be starting your own business, going into the energy or medical industry or raising a family. It’s a “can-do” city with heart to match. The “Be Someone” mural, in its two word testament to that spirit, serves as one of the most photographed images in Houston despite its location on one of the state’s busiest freeways. The mural is so beloved that when someone tries to deface it, the city rallies to clean and refurbish the original artwork.
We love the art’s message so much at Looper Magazine that we’ll be debuting our “Be Someone” section. The section features short stories about the people and faces—some known, and some unknown—that make Houston unique and add to its character. If you have an example of someone who is making a difference in the Houston community—or someone interesting and even quirky—that you’d like to share with the community, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
As we mentioned, this is only a short list, but the street art can be found on almost any corner as long as we keep our eyes open. Take a look around and share your thoughts—and photos—with us at email@example.com