Home > Article > Houston Artletter > Metro Mole part 2 2.22.07

At luchtime last Saturday I found my way to went to the second floor lobby of the HCC administration building for the public viewing of the proposals for the new Metro public art program.

The presentations, all on regulation 22×34" boards, were arranged on easels around the long room. Armed with bagel, coffee, checklist and blank comment forms, I set out to preview the shape of Houston to come. Some boards were slick, and some merely neat, but clearly the most important thing in a good presentation is BIG COLORFUL PICTURES.

Ann Stautberg went to the extreme: her board showed a selection of gorgeous natural textures without a scrap of text explaining how they were to be applied to Metro's projects (according to Stautberg, that's all in the written documentation accompanying the proposal, not on public display today)

Ann Stautberg's non-verbal textures

Dan Havel, whose presentation was featured in yesterday's Chronicle story about the event, was there. His kitschy giant anchor and chain piece is a strong contender. "I figured I had to go for the populist approach" he said. The Art Guys' laughing train station was funny, but the claim that the soft, intermittent laughter emanating from the station will "create interest without distraction or irritation" was even funnier.

Many of the better proposals were decorative patterns based on nature. Magnolia leaves, hummingbirds, ivy, butterfly wings, bees, raindrops and the like. Hardly challenging, but then, who wants to be challenged when they're waiting for a train?

The other low-challenge solution, also popular, was untramodern abstract. Beliz Brother's parallel orbits of curving blue lines, Francesca Fuchs' sequences of colored glass, Roberto Cervantes taffy-like bands of flowing bubbles, Denise Ramos' shimmering blue curtains and a half dozen others kept with the futuristic simplicity of the architecture, enlivening it with color.

At the bottom were proposals that took the local history and cultural identity themes too literally. Panels of didactic text, and inspirational messages seemed preachy and pathetic. Mary Lucking's cut-steel take on traditional papel picado designs was an exception, combining the decorative color the stations desperately need with culture-specific content.

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