TOP 10 PUBLIC ART PIECES IN HOUSTON
Pictured: Henry Moore, Large Spindle Piece at Buffalo Bayou Park, Allen Parkway
Photo: Debra Ham
This post was originally published on 365 Things To Do In Houston on August 26, 2016. As you all may or may not be aware, I worked with the website from 2016 to 2017 as a contributor to its arts section. You can visit my author page here. It was such a privilege to be able to contribute to the site. I learned to how to keep my ear on the ground and not sleep on the city's culture. Read my list below and learn about Houston's public art collection.
Explore art outside of the confines of museum, gallery, and institution walls with our list of top 10 public art pieces in Houston.
Houston is fortunate to play home to plenty of temporary and permanent public art installations in neighborhoods, airports, parks, and public buildings that contribute to the city’s identity.
Check out our list of favorite public artworks that are free to visit with our list below.
Top 10 Public Art Pieces in Houston
- Atropos Key by Hannah Stewart at Miller Outdoor Theatre – Sitting atop of the celebrated Miller Outdoor Theatre hill, influential artist Hannah Stewart’s Atropos Key is a local and memorable landmark that stands against the big beautiful Texas sky. The large bronze sculpture was commissioned in 1972 and serves as a monumental welcome to park visitors as they climb, sit, and roll down the hill. Click here for directions.
- Twilight Epiphany by James Turrell at Rice University – Start your morning or finish your day at James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace installation and catch a dreamy sunrise or sunset. Located adjacent to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus, the structure is equipped with a LED light sequence that projects onto the ceiling and through an aperture in the 72-foot square knife-edge roof just before sunrise and at sunset. Take a moment out of your busy day to reflect and embrace how the sky, light, and color transform one another. Click here to make your free reservation. Click here for directions.
- Synchronicity of Color by Margot Sawyer at Discovery Green – Discovery Green has plenty of fun to offer between workout classes, interactive public installations, concerts, a restaurant, and festivals. The list goes on and on, but nothing quite beats snapping a photo in front of Texas artist Margot Sawyer’s two-piece geometric installment of red and blue aluminum boxes. These multi-functional boxes, located adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center, also work to conceal concrete stairwells that lead into the Convention District parking garage beneath Discovery Green. Click here for directions.
- Down Periscope by Donald Lipski at the Waterworks at Buffalo Bayou Park –New York artist Donald Lipski’s 2015 installation, found directly above the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, allows park visitors to both see inside the majestic relic and also hear sounds that echo off the walls and 25-foot tall, thin concrete columns. Be on the lookout for temporary art installations within the Cistern as of January 2017. Click here to take control of the Down Periscope and explore the underground of Buffalo Bayou Park. Click here for directions.
- Large Spindle Piece by Henry Moore at Buffalo Bayou Park – Created in 1969 and given to the city of Houston in 1979, Large Spindle Piece is a large bronze sculpture by famed master sculpture Henry Moore near Allen Parkway at Buffalo Bayou Park. Inspired by his visit to the Vatican, the twelve-foot sculpture consists of abstract curves, hard points, sharp edges, and negative space. As one of the many respected public art pieces along Allen Parkway, the work sits on a large grassy area across the Federal Reserve Bank and offers viewers a breathtaking view of the Houston skyline. Click here for directions.
- Houston Police Officers Memorial by Jesús Bautista Moroles at Buffalo Bayou Park – Drive down Memorial Drive and take in the meditative Houston Police Officers Memorial by late Texas artist Jesús Bautista Moroles. Across a huge grassy lawn, the monument is a large-scale granite sculpture consisting of five stepped pyramids in a ziggurat design and offers a picturesque view of the Downtown skyline. Finished in 1990, the public work commemorates the sacrifices made by city police officers and honors those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Click here for directions.
- Tolerance by Jaume Plensa at Harmony Walk – Located at the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose sit the seven pieces by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa’s that make up Tolerance. You can’t miss the seven ten-foot kneeling human figures while you are stuck in traffic at the intersection, walking across the Rosemont Bridge or riding your bike through Buffalo Bayou Park. Installed in 2011, these sculptures are meant to celebrate diversity and are composed of stainless steel alphabet letters from many languages. Resting on rough-cut granite boulders, the figures glow at night creating a constellation of beacons. Click here for directions.
- Cloud Room Field by Christian Eckart at Hobby Airport – Next time you’re traveling to Hobby look up while bustling through security and take a gander at the 2015 addition to the airport. One of seven major new works for the airport’s recent expansion, Eckart’s colorful Cloud Room Field spans a massive 10 feet by 60 feet, contains 600 panes of dichroic glass in nine pastel colors, and casts reflections in opposing colors, perpetually changing as the viewer moves. It will never be the same work twice for anyone viewer or upon multiple viewings. Click here for directions.
- Radiant Fountains by Dennis Oppenheim at Bush Intercontinental Airport – Featuring an animation LED sequence with a total running time of 45-minutes, Dennis Oppenheim’s Radiant Fountains are made up of three 60-foot sculptures that radiate light against the skies and roadways. Finished in 2010, this iconic work welcomes motorists to the airport as they enter Houston. Each sculpture in the set is wrapped in animated LEDs that emit light up and down to create a spectacle of interplaying light. Click here for directions.
- Personage and Birds by Joan Miró at JP Morgan Chase Tower Plaza – Known to be the largest Miró sculpture ever commissioned, Personage and Birds sits directly outside the front entrance of the JP Morgan Chase Tower Plaza in Downtown. The large 35-foot steel and cast bronze sculpture by “the most surreal of all the Surrealists” has been brightening Downtown since 1970 with its representation of a woman with a crown of birds circling her head. As large as the artwork is, the sculpture seems as though it could take flight at any moment. Click here for directions.