I have been wanting to write about this piece for a while, but up until now a clear view of it has been obscured by parked cars literally ALL the time. So first thanks to Adam Foret Photography for finally grabbing a great shot of it this morning! This complex and b.e.a.utiful mural by Daniel “WEAH” Anguilu is located on the Park St. facade of BJ Oldies Antique Shop at 1726 Westheimer Rd.
Weah is a native Houstonian, prolific artist, and is fast becoming an Artful Dodgy regular. He started painting graffiti at a young age, inspired by his Mexican heritage to create increasingly large-scale murals on freight trains and walls - eventually making the transition in his own mind from graffiti artist, to artist, period.
Weah strongly believes in freedom of expression, saying in an interview that he "felt a need to use this expression to decorate public spaces". He uses house and spray paint to create complex geometric designs that seem to become more intricate and revealing the longer you stand in front of them. He cites Houston as a perfect city for muralists because of its open spaces and numerous business owners who support public art. In his own words, Weah's work is:
"a documentation of my life, my growth spiritually and my political views.... My work in public does not belong to anyone; it is part of the belief that society is in need of therapy. Public art can be used to educate, document events, express views and ideas, and also just for the sake of creating art. I'm pushing so that we can use or take back our space".
A noble sentiment indeed, and one that sums up the need for public art both succinctly and passionately. I would tell you to go seek out his works, but if you are a Houstonian, it's highly likely that you will stumble upon them by accident regardless. So keep on stumbling folks, that's all for now...
Well I went looking for art down Washington Avenue, and as you can see, I certainly wasn't disappointed. Washington & Silver Street is undoubtedly an area that could use some love, and here we see the impact that Street Art is capable of having on even the most rundown and neglected of urban landscapes - it's amazing what a splash of color will do isn't it?
This particular building is covered on two sides by murals by Weah, Arkohs, Angel Quesada, and Article. Each work was created separately, with the exception of a collaboration between Arkohs and Weah. All pictured works were not painted on commission but have lingered at this spot since 2014 so can't be too unwelcome!
On the Silver St. facade are two works by Phillip Perez, locally known as "Article". He began creating graffiti in the early 90s aged just 12 - at first illegally and later by commission. He now works commercially as an artist and maintains a day job doing in-house work for Home Depot, but his style still speaks of his rite of passage as a raw graffiti artist on the streets of Houston. Having met the man himself on several occasions, I can tell you that this is a guy with a real work ethic, I mean he is always hard at work. One of his latest mural will be unveiled on July 4th as part of The Mural Project @ CITYCENTRE, which incidentally will also feature some other big names on the Houston scene like Angel Quesada, w3r3on3, Scott Tarbox, Empire, Clear, and Mikie Homma.
On the Washington Ave. facade Daniel Weah Anguilu collaborates with Freddy “Arkohs” Guerrero. Arkohs' three-dimensional mask creates an interesting tension next to Weah's inherently two-dimensional piece, while co-ordinated use of color keeps the collaboration cohesive. Weah's wildly colorful works have roots in Cubism, Vorticism,and an overarching obsession with geometric patterns. Arkohs on the other hand is more accustomed to working with ink than paint, but he certainly looks at home here!
Last but not least, Angel Quesada's crazy, colorful, and surreal mural. Angel (who by the way is one of the first street artists that I have encountered that actually has a website!) works under the name ArtKungfu. He has been creating artworks for over 25 years, inspired by his self-professed mission "to create moments of beauty in an otherwise dull landscape". He cites his influences as Mexican artists Rufino Tamayo, Adolfo Best-Maugard, and other Latin American Artists, and you can always spot his works by his use of bright, repetitive, and flowing lines.
If you get the chance, go and check out this hidden gem - a true testament to the power of art to transform an urban landscape. Thank you to the awesome Adam Foret Photography for these photos too!
BRAND NEW MURAL ALERT!!
Here stands Dallas-based artist Michael Savoie in front of his very nearly completed mural on Elgin and Smith St. I was lucky enough to catch Savoie at work and get a little insight into his work before it has even been officially unveiled - lucky me. Shout out to him for being very gracious and accommodating in spite of being accosted by a flustered British girl fresh out of the gym and demanding that he pose for photos.
So a little background on this piece. Savoie was one of three winners of the 2014 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition, which for the past 5 years has partnered with media mogul Russell Simmons and his RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation to find the best mural artists nationally. The annual contest sees thousands of artists compete for a chance to exhibit at the Scope Miami Beach Art Show, and the top three exhibitors are selected to participate in the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Mural Project , where the artists have the chance to create a mural in their hometown. Just when you thought Gin couldn't get any cooler right? This year's winners were Michael Savoie (obviously), San Francisco Artist Kristine Mays, and New Orleans Artist Ti-Rock Moore, whose contribution is a particularly poignant dedication to the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Savoie's work has been featured on the hit show Empire and (somewhat randomly) the Real Housewives of Atlanta. He has a BFA from Burlington College in Vermont, but actually taught himself to paint after moving from San Francisco back to his native Texas. Savoie's background in graphic design, illustration, and particularly fashion are all clearly referenced throughout his works, and this piece is no exception. Surprisingly though, this is his first ever mural. In fact, according to the man himself, his largest works up to this point have been 66"x66" acrylic on canvases.
For the background Savoie swapped his palette knife for a paint roller, staying true to the vivid style of portraiture he calls "abstract realism" while blowing up his work to epic proportions. During our brief chat, Savoie said that he projected the portrait onto the wall rather than using stencil, and used spray paint to create the smooth depth of the figure, finishing it all up with a hefty amount of freehand detail. Did I mention that even with a day of rain preventing him from working, this mural was created in just one week??
Savoie's training as a photographer is evident in his striking handling of portraiture, while abstract backgrounds and a preoccupation with color make his work aesthetically appealing and just fun to look at in general. The trademark blindfold, a recurring motif throughout the artist's recent Blind Ambition series, is also present here, creating cohesion between his fine art and his mural work. It's an intriguing device that I think helps to separate his works from the standard pop art portraits that focus exclusively on physical beauty and pop culture figures. Savoie covers the eyes because he wants to remove the “who” and leave the “why”.
In his bio, Savoie writes that "The camera connects [him] with people, bringing [him] out of the studio and into nature, while the canvas isolates [him] in [his] own thoughts". Reading this while researching and writing about a mural that is inextricably connected to the outdoors, the public, and the urban landscape of Houston gives me an interesting thought. Savoie is a fine artist, thus this piece, regardless of the low brow connotations of Street Art, is fine art. Now fine art created in a studio, as Savoie suggests, can be kind of insular, whereas any type of art created outdoors has a more open quality- it reacts to its surroundings just as the people around it react to it. I made a point last week about Street Art and fine art being separated by a chasm of snobbery, and I think that organizations like RUSH, which bring fine artists to the streets and street artists to the gallery are making this gap a little narrower every day. I don't have much a point here, mind, but it's food for thought.
The mural's official unveiling will take place at its location (duh) on May 28th at 6pm. So go meet this lovely chap for yourself!
If you look really closely here, you can see a tiny little me jumping for joy in front of the BIGGEST MURAL IN HOUSTON. And yes, it really does warrant the name, this 11,000 square foot monster really has to be seen to fully gauge its enormity. Located at 2800 San Jacinto Street, Preservons la Creation (Let's Preserve the Creation) is a masterpiece of truly Texan proportions. French-born Sebastien "Mr. D" Boileau (the same artist that brought us the #biscuitpaintwall) and his company Eyeful Art partnered with the Texan-French Alliance for the Art's "Open Door" project and the Midtown District to create Preservons La Creation in 2014.
I have already mentioned Mr. D and Eyeful Art in a previous post, but in case you missed it, let's recap:
Mr. D was born in Versailles, France, and according to his bio, was inspired by the American graffiti movement of the 1970s and '80s to begin his artistic career at the tender age of 14. Following his migration from France, Mr. D founded Eyeful Art in 2000, and has established himself as a creative force to be reckoned with in Houston over the past decade and a half.
So, back to the matter at hand - The Biggest Mural in Houston. The piece is a modern twist on Michelangelo's most famous work, The Creation of Adam both in title and in subject matter, and depicts a God-like figure holding a can of spray-paint (clever right?). Boileau is no stranger to large-scale projects, as his "Love You Houston" mural in Midtown previously held the title of the largest mural in Houston at 5,000 square feet (until he beat his own record with this, of course). In an interview with Houston Chronicle, Boileau revealed that this project required 27 consecutive days of painting, two 65-foot boom lifts, more than 500 cans of spray paint, and 150 gallons of wall paint mixed with water to complete. UP Art Studio, who continue to represent Boileau to this day, said that the mural cost over $90,000 (raised largely through philanthropic giving) to make. A ton of work, evidently, but what's the point behind this gargantuan mural?
Well, there are many, actually. First and foremost, the mural is "intended to beautify, as well as to educate”, said UP Art Studio's Elia Quiles at the time of its unveiling. As I have mentioned before, Street Art is becoming an increasingly vital part of Houston's artistic identity. It is projects like this that continue to show how important the arts are in this city, while at the same time increasing traffic and civic pride in a somewhat dilapidated area. According to the Daily Cougar, the unveiling of the piece also helped to raise money for a children's hospital, so lots of win-wins there!
The title, Preservons La Creation is also a comment on the need to preserve and protect art, especially urban art which is particularly vulnerable to damage or removal (Boileau's own #biscuitpaintwall was defaced by taggers in 2014). Of course, there is always a little room for a little self expression too, despite the sheer size of the piece preventing any free-hand work. Boileau's own style mixes elements of Renaissance, Impressionism, and Urban Contemporary influences, a self-defined style he calls "Canpressionism" or "Urban Fine Art". The same poured paint seen in the #biscuitpaintwall is also present here, tying Mr. D's works together as a cohesive collection across a vast urban landscape.
All in all, the best summary of this piece came from a commenter on my first blog post on glasstire.com: "The giant god as graffiti artist is splendidly ridiculous, embarrassing, audacious (bodacious!), ferociously dumb, and awesomely Houston." Wiser words have never been spoken, now go see it!
Hungry for more?, You can watch an interview with the artist here.
The title of this is perhaps a little misleading. No, I'm not using (probably un-)fashionable slang to say that Houston's cultural scene is disappearing, or uncool, or anything else. Houston isn't going anywhere, a fact that is actually in some ways down to this very mural! Now you may recognize this one. Not only is it a now-famous landmark in Houston's Street Art scene, but it has also featured on my blog before (lots).
The Houston Is... mural was commissioned and sponsored by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2013 as part of a campaign to rebrand the city as a colorful, fun, and most importantly, YOUNG place to be. The initiative, dubbed the "Houston is Inspired Campaign", aimed (and still aims) to unite Houston's disparate artistic neighborhoods and organizations: The Museum District, the Theater District, Houston Arts Alliance, and Fresh Arts. Yes, there is still a long way to go in making Houston's cultural sector a cohesive whole, but it's come a long way in two years and you can thank initiatives like this for that!
Two years after its unveiling, this poster child (or should I say mural child...ha) for the Houston is Inspired Campaign still adorns the south wall of the Treebeards restaurant building in Market Square. The central words read "Houston is inspired, hip, tasty, funky, savvy", surrounded by psychedelic tendrils of color that seem to flow outwards from the mural, stretching beyond its concrete confinements to join the skyline above.
The artist responsible for this 3,300 sqft hallucination-provoking masterpiece is well-known local Street Artist GONZO247. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, GONZO247 said that he spent over a month (not to mention 250 cans of spray paint!!) on the wall. His work is vibrant, loud, colorful, and this is no exception. What I think I miss in this particular mural however, are those amazing throw-back references to the old-school graffiti tag style that are incorporated into the designs of many of his other works.
Unlike many Street Artists, GONZO247 is not a secretive guy. In fact, he's a very active part of the Houston community, and I don't just mean the Street Art community. He is well known as a teacher, collaborator, entrepreneur, and public figure. I mean, he has taught at Rice - "The Ivy League school of the South". Who, twenty years ago, would ever imagine a graffiti artist would be doing that??
According to an interview on travel site Visit Houston, GONZO247 has been operating in Texas for over 25 years. He is the founder, owner, and general advocate for the awesome Aerosol Warefare, an exclusive outlet for graffiti, outsider, and hip hop artists that, according to its manifesto, "blends art studio, exhibitions and urban art education into a vortex of creativity and energetic output".
On a personal note, I am intrigued to discover that the further I delve into Urban Art in Houston, the more I see that everything is connected in some way or another. The spider at the center of this carefully constructed spray-can web? Aerosol Warefare, without a doubt. I hope that I will discover the same kind of cohesion in other sectors as I continue to explore the city, but if not, I hope that this at least serves as a precursor to a Houston that is culturally and socially united.
Sounds like an interesting organization? It is! Go check it out, what are you still doing here anyway??
Now this is a good one. Located on the side of Numbers Nightclub at 300 Westheimer, this effortlessly cool mural was painted by local RAW Artist Rene Fernandez. Following the repainting of the building's exterior, Fernandez actually approached long-time Numbers Manager Wes Wallace about the project in 2014.
From left to right, the portraits are Trent Renzor of Nine Inch Nails, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, Blondie, Joey Ramone, David Bowie, Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Morrissey, Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Robert Smith of The Cure. Fernandez told the Houston Chronicle that each one took around two hours to complete, and the mural evolved in size and subject matter during its creation. The figures represent the musical history of the venue, which apparently hosted some of the stars during their rise to stardom.
Fernandez himself is a regular at the venue. A self-professed music junkie, he is certainly suited to the task of capturing the club's punk/goth vibe. In his RAW profile, the artist is even quoted as saying "My world, is lots of art, lots of music for fuel". As a self taught artist with no formal art education beyond middle school, Fernandez technical skill is surprisingly advanced. He cites Caravaggio and Salvador Dali as influences, and the presence of both permeates his works through his handling of light and their often-surrealist subject matter respectively.
Fernandez has exhibited in venues all over Houston, most commonly working with oil to create these quirky surrealist compositions with subject matter so bizarre yet so realistically rendered that they still seem to have a balance and serenity that can often be lacking in many surrealist artists' works. Obviously then, his Numbers mural is a little different to his usual work, but this in itself is not out of the norm. During his career, Fernandez has experimented with various media ranging from sculpture to silkscreening, along the way proving himself to be an incredibly versatile artist.
Follow Rene on RAW to keep up with his latest works and exhibitons, and keep an eye out for this incredible mural too!
As promised, let's move on with my top ten inner loop Street Art gems!
Collaboration among artists is a given in the realm of Street Art and graffiti, and while driving down Montrose I fell upon an interesting kind-of-sort-of series by local artists Ack! and Weah. I did my research, and although I was able to identify the artists at least (eventually), there is very little else to be found about these two.
What I can tell you is that they are both regulars on the Houston Street Art scene, and that this is not their first collaboration. In fact, they exhibited together in "The Boardroom" - The Art League Houston's first ever graffiti show, which featured their work alongside fellow Street Artist Raiko Nin. This was the first instance of the artists working together, so I can only assume that the exhibition was the catalyst for these murals.
The first pictured mural is on a wall perpendicular to Montrose, so you have to walk or drive around the side of W.K. Hill Awning Co. to see it in all its glory. It is very aptly named "Two Against One" by veteran art blogger Finijo but I can't find any evidence to suggest either of these gorgeous murals were ever formally named. The second faces Montrose, and features Ack!'s familiar cartoon-like characters seemingly fighting off Weah's fire breathing Chinese dragon-like creature - a collision of styles in the most literal sense..
Ack! is all over Houston, and it's not hard to see why. He has (very cleverly) built himself a brand. With his signature faces, vibrant colors, and exceptionally clean lines, you can spot his murals a mile off. Ack! hand-paints the majority of his mural works, proving that it is definitely possible to achieve those crisp cartoon-esque figures without the help of a stencil. In addition to his al fresco works, he has exhibited in numerous locations around the city including Glitter Karaoke, Art League Houston, and the Station Museum. His collaborations include murals with Eyesore and the incredibly awesome Michael Rodriquez (watch out for him in my Artist of the Week this month!).
Much like the great Banksy however, it proved virtually impossible to find out any more about the Ack! as a person, but I guess that's part and parcel of being a Street Artist. Even though the majority of "graffiti" in Houston is legally commissioned nowadays, I doubt that the temptation to be an illusive artist who only works underground, man, will ever cease to exist.
Weah, on the other hand, is a little more open. In an interview with Houston Makerspace, Daniel "Weah" Anguilu opened up about his influences as a painter and his day-to-day life - somewhat unusually for a Street Artist. Like many Street Artists however, he is insistent that his urban works "do not belong to anyone, it is part of the belief that society is in need of therapy". A noble sentiment indeed, and one that resonates with anyone who has a love of urban art.
Weah's works are wildly colorful and have roots in Cubism, Vorticism, and an overarching obsession with geometric patterns. His mural commissions are featured LITERALLY all over the city, including very notable institutions such as Texas Art Asylum, The Station Museum, and The Glassell School of Art. Now that I have begun to write about him, I think this is an artist I will revisit in more depth in the near future, so hold that thought...
Anyway, to wrap it up, here we see two very different styles that have come crashing together on common ground, and this is something that is happening more and more in the Street Art world. Traditionally, graffiti artists' idea of a collaboration was to grudgingly share space on the same railway bridge.. These days, much like the Street Art genre in general, the process is a lot more choreographed (and certainly a lot more above board). If the results of this shift are more incredible collaborative works like these, then I for one have no complaints..
Apologies for my appearance in the below pic - Maybe I was jogging, maybe it was just a Sunday... You'll never know....
The first Street Art piece i want to show you is actually one of my favorites, conveniently located at 1435 Westheimer, about thirty seconds from my house in case you're interested. The #biscuitpaintwall was created by the very talented French-born Street Artist Sebastian Boileau of Eyeful Art Murals and Design, more commonly known in the local art world as Mr. D. The piece is painted on the side wall of Biscuit Home, a cute and quirky furniture store. It was commissioned in early 2014 as a way to reflect the store's fun and original vibe, and in this is it certainly successful.
Eyeful Art was established by Mr. D in 2000 following his migration from France, where the Street Art scene is one of the most vibrant in the world. French Street Artists such as the well-known Invader have changed the face of urban art for everyone, giving the genre credibility and the sort of elegance that only the French can achieve. I mean, Invader studied at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts - the most influential art school in the world which boasts alumni like Degas, Millet, and Delacroix - this is not merely vandals making a mess of their cityscapes, they mean business over there!
I'm getting off topic, but the point is, we are very blessed to have our very own piece of the French Street Art scene here in Houston. Eyeful Art has been growing in success and coverage in the last decade and a half, serving both public and private sectors in its large-scale mission of urban beautification. Mr. D is perhaps best known for his 2014 project, The Biggest Mural in Houston, a fantastic and huge-scale (11,000 square feet!!) modern twist on Michelangelo's most famous work, The Creation of Adam that depicts a God-like figure holding a can of spray-paint - hold that thought though, i'll be talking more about it next week.
Anyway, if you find yourself in Montrose in the near future, I highly recommend checking out the #biscuitpaintwall. A great view, and even better selfies.
Photograph by my lovely and talented other half, Adam Foret
British-born arts blogger living in Houston, Tx. A mixture of Street Art, Fine Art, Installation, and anything weird and wonderful. Follow me if that sounds like your cup of tea.