This week marked the opening for Havel Ruck Projects’ Open House, a new interactive, temporary public sculpture set in the Heritage Society’s Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston. The art duo is Texas artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, who have been working on the piece since April. Open House was commissioned as a part of the Art Blocks public art initiative overseen by the Houston Downtown Management District.
To create Open House, Havel and Ruck sourced a small 1940s house that was originally located in Santa Fe, Texas. The duo had the building brought into Sam Houston Park, and then worked on it on site, using saws, drills, and other tools to cut holes in its walls. The holes were then crisply lined (or edged) with cut PVC pipes, meaning that though there are different sized holes in the building, there is a uniformity about them since they all derive their size from the diameter of available pipes. Havel and Ruck then collaged the interior walls of the house with vintage photographs sourced from thrift stores, friends, and family members.
Standing in the house gives the viewer two diametrical views of Houston, past and present: when looking out the front of the house you see the historical buildings of Sam Houston Park, including a house built in 1847, a cabin built around 1823, and a cottage that may predate 1858; and when looking out of the back of the house, you are confronted with the skyscrapers of present-day Houston.
Open House comes on the heels of Havel Ruck Projects’ other large-scale transformations of buildings in Houston, including their most recent project Ripple at Cherryhurst House, and their 2016 project Sharp. The duo’s installation/stage set Fifth Ward Jam is also currently playing host to Fifth Ward’s Fresh Fridays After Five Summer Music Series.
Launched in February of 2016, the Art Blocks program initially commissioned artists to turn the walkable site of Houston’s Main Street Square into a public art park of sorts. The first round of works installed by the program included a colorful site-specific transformation of a downtown intersection by Jessica Stockholder, an interactive piece by the collective YesYesNo, a new Funnel Tunnel-like piece by the artist collective Flying Carpet (Patrick Renner, Nick Moser and Kelly O’Brien), and the first iteration of the program’s Main Street Marquee series featuring Jamal Cyrus. Currently, Flying Carpet’s Trumpet Flower and a Main Street Marquee work by Jasmine Zelaya are still on view in Main Street Square.
Havel Ruck Projects’ Open House will be on view in Sam Houston Park through February 2019. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.