Please Insert Public Art Here: The Washington Avenue Edition

Categories: Visual Arts

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Memorial Loop Drive at Westcott Street (across from the 6600 block of Washington)

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Carl Guderian
Houston has plenty of public art around the city. Some pieces, like Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk over at the Rothko Chapel, have become touchstones for the art community. Others, like Luis Jimenez's Vaquero in Moody Park, were controversial when first installed but eventually became just another part of the cultural landscape. We think there are lots of empty spaces that could do with a free-standing sculpture or installation. Our first suggestion is a grassy, though woefully underused lawn at the entrance to Memorial Park (Memorial Loop Drive at Westcott Street). We recommend something along the lines of Joan Miro's Personage and Birds, scaled down slightly to fit the space, of course. We think it would make a wonderful welcome to the park.

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4000 block of Washington Avenue (next to the former Guadalajara Bakery and Tacos cafe)

Our next suggestion for new public art is at the 4000 block of Washington Avenue. The entire block is empty now except for a small, two-story building that used to be home to the Guadalajara Bakery and Tacos cafe (we're still heartbroken over the cafe's closing - sniff, sniff). We suggest turning all of the now vacant space into an unofficial park, with green lawns and a series of several low, long metal pieces such as Houston native De Witt Godrey's untitled welded steel sculpture (see right).

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Washington Avenue at Union Street

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The oddly shaped corner of Washington Avenue at Union Street has two distinct disadvantages. First, it's a sort of squared off triangle that isn't quite wide enough for a building. Second, dozens of power lines crisscross overhead. That means the space needs something relatively low to the ground. Something like The Great Adventure (Dolly's Ride) by Ann Armstrong (see right) that sits at the Houston Zoo would fit the bill (we would omit the little girl rider, but hey, that's just us). Dolly's Ride was donated to the zoo by the First Houston Doll Club in 1994.

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