We Texans have a contentious relationship with the sun. Every summer it kills us. We know that all too well, expect it, and see it coming from a year away. But we wouldn’t trade that blue sky and bold, blinding-bright, direct spotlight for anything. We dance with it, defy it, curse it, love it.
Growing up in Houston, I’ve always appreciated the sun’s annual activation through light and shadows of our surfaces, structures, and signs. Each spring—that all-too-brief time when the sun starts to shine in a few bright spurts but hasn’t yet begun to make being outdoors nearly unbearable and opening our eyes wide nearly impossible—this town begins to reveal an exhibition rivaling those in any of our art galleries and museums. Colors pop against each other. Structures pierce the blue sky. Degraded materials reveal complex textures. Drop-shadows create depth interplay with architectural flourishes and telephone lines.
Emerging amidst these illuminated color fields and intersecting shadows are countless hand-painted signs. All around us, unique paintings of tires, kitchen appliances, people, foods, animals, and collages of typography show themselves and remind us that this is quite literally an art town. Below are a few recent sightings of painted signs—glimpses from Houston’s grand gallery that I hope you’ll take as encouragement to get out and look around as the big light is turning on.