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Dinosaur Art in an Uptight Age

sugarland_dinoWacky yard art is not an uncommon sight to Houston’s inner-loopers and, when it’s taken to the extreme—such as The Orange Show or the Beer Can House—is treasured. So when Nancy Hentschel saw some large metal sculptures while on a trip to Arizona, she brought them back to her Sugar Land (a city just southwest of Houston) home and installed them in her front yard.

The problem is that Hentschel and her husband live in a subdivision called New Territory, with a homeowners association that regulates everything from paint color to grass height and the new sculptures, a T-Rex and velociraptor, are causing quite a stir. First reported by the local ABC news station, then picked up yesterday by USA Today, it’s a funny little story that appeals to both people that would say, “Dinosaurs in the front lawn? That’s just crazy!” and people that would say, “What’s the big deal? Suburbanites are so weird!”

“Obviously it does make a little bit of a statement,” Henstschel says, “and I’ve met more neighbors in the past 24 hours than I have in the 17 years we’ve lived here,” adding that the presence of the dinosaurs is about “creating a sense of community, and letting yourself roar.”

Kittelson_dinoIt’s just not as easy to install large dinosaurs as it was in the eighties. In 1986, Paul Kittelson received a modest $500 grant from DiverseWorks and fashioned a dinosaur out of old mattresses and other junk. Its glowing eyes startled drivers under the I-59 overpass at Montrose (there used to be an overpass instead of an underpass). The sculpture became a public phenomenon during its nine-month installation until it was set on fire by anonymous arsonists.

(Top photo: New Territory Homeowners Association Facebook. Lower photo credit: DiverseWorks via Houston Chronicle. Some info from Houston Alternative Art Wikipedia page, created by CAMH staff.)


also by Paula Newton
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2 Responses

  1. efitz

    I so remember that dino under 59. And Consolidated Arts Warehouse right across the street. I saw the 13th Floor Elevators on their “reunion” tour there, lol. Buteras down the street. Walking to Chapultepec in the snow in ’85. Fresh Paint. Perry House was one of my instructors at the Art Institute. Oh, those were the days.

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