Getting to the Bottom of Those Red Dots Around Montrose
"Anyone know about these red dots painted around Montrose," a poster recently asked on the local music forum Hands Up Houston. "Keep seeing them, have always wondered."
Courtesy photo The very first red dot, in rural Kansas.
The question included a link to a Google Maps street view of one Montrose-area dot. Another poster said he'd heard the artist painted the orbs while nude, a story that piqued our interest.
Art Attack has seen those red dots before, too. But for some reason they'd never really stood out in all the other weirdness that makes up the Montrose. But having never heard of the Red Dot Boys before that Hands Up post, we decided to do a little research and get to the bottom (pun intended) of the question.
The project is the brain child of former Houstonians Robert Ramos and Rick Carpenter, both artists. Several years ago, the two volunteered to help Rick's brother Randy with work on a farm Randy owned in Auburn, Kansas.
"I'm a painter," said Rick Carpenter. "Robert does multimedia and is a well-rounded artist. We didn't know each other well, but he came on the trip with me."
After about a week in the country, the duo was art-starved. During a beer run to the nearest town, they devised a plan to surprise Rick's brother.
"We were bored one afternoon so we said what could we do?" Ramos said. "We wanted to give his brother some visual art."
"In Kansas, a lot of the barns had advertisements painted on them," Carpenter said.
Randy had given Rick Carpenter a 53" steel hoop that had once been the frame for a surrey wheel. Carpenter, being a lover of round shapes, decided to use the hoop as a guide to paint a giant dot on his brother's barn.
"The only question was what color should it be," Ramos said. "Rick's brother's dog's name was Red, so that was pretty easy. We went to a Benjamin Moore store and found the brightest red we could find -- Carnival Red."
Back at the ranch, the men sent Carpenter's brother off on an errand, and proceeded to paint the very first of what would later become more than 100 red dots. When his brother got home, he loved the piece, and so it stayed.
"Nobody was supposed to see it," Carpenter said. "My dad got out the power washer -- he wanted to wash it off but my brother said no."
Pretty soon, "the whole town was talking about this red dot," Carpenter said. "A lot of people surrounded us, so we started painting a couple more and the reception was the same everywhere."