If you’ve cruised down Heights Boulevard lately, you’ve probably noticed some pretty creative art placed along the esplanade. Houston has always been home to some of the country’s most creative sculptors, painters, and artisans, and it’s always so fun to see their brilliant work on display! Keep reading to learn more about the TRUE NORTH 2021 project, the artists, and what you might take a peek at along Heights Boulevard.
About TRUE NORTH
TRUE NORTH’s mission is to display original works of contemporary art on the esplanade of Heights Boulevard for all residents and travelers to appreciate. By exposing more people to sculpture and the many ways works can be interpreted, TRUE NORTH hopes they can advance the understanding of various art forms.
The project began in 2013 when community leaders met to discuss expanding public art in the city by exhibiting it along the Heights Boulevard esplanade. It soon became clear that the art held economic value beyond the work itself. By further beautifying the Heights, organizers could help bring business to the area through tourism as well as foster civic pride.
The 60-foot-wide esplanade on Heights Boulevard is often called a “Scenic Right-of-Way” as it runs directly through the heart of Houston Heights. It was patterned after Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts, and was the site of Houston’s very first electrified streetcar system. Today, it is grounds for jaw-dropping architectural gardens, gorgeous mature trees, and a beloved walking trail. It’s also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from some of the best dining and shopping in Houston.
This temporary public art installation is organized by a team of volunteers alongside the Houston Heights Association (HHA). This is TRUE NORTH’s eighth display, and it includes unique sculptures by Texas artists like William Cannings, David Adickes, Danville Chadbourne, Cary Reeder, Julia Ousley, Bill Peck, Anthony Suber, and Jamie Spinello. A project of this magnitude requires multiple curators; this year, the project is co-curated by Linda Eyles, Simon Eyles, Chris Silkwood, and Kelly Simmons. Gus Kopriva of Redbud Gallery, a fine art gallery located at 303 East 11th Street, acts as engineering and project consultant.
TRUE NORTH is completely funded through private donations from individuals and local businesses who hope to see the growing art community in Houston flourish. Underwriters are thanked for their contributions with signage strategically placed along the esplanade. The official opening of 2021’s installation was March 15th, 2021, and the artwork will remain in place through December 15, 2021.
Sculptures are large enough to be viewed from the road by passing bikes and vehicles, and visitors can catch a closer view of the works from along the woody trails of the esplanade. Hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors feast their eyes on each installation, and the TRUE NORTH social media pages featuring innovative works of art are wildly popular. Just check out their Facebook and Instagram profiles for proof!
Why 2021 is Extra Special
With the pandemic forcing so many people indoors, there was little opportunity for artists to exhibit their work in 2020 and much of 2021. TRUE NORTH 2021 has provided Houstonians with a way to socialize outdoors, enjoy some fresh air, and appreciate art again. This project has benefited both visitors and artists at a very difficult time in Houston’s history, and it has touched everyone in a different way. To help fund next year’s exhibition and keep the tradition flowing, the artists have agreed to donate 20% of any sales to TRUE NORTH. How awesome is that?
Every year, we say to ourselves that the art can’t get any better, and it always does. We can’t wait to see the art on display in the future!
Artists You’ll See This Year
Eager to check out this year’s featured artists and their work? We’ve got the details here!
Cary Reeder – the 400 Block
Originally from Miami, Cary Reeder has been a Houston resident since 1996. She received her Fine Art education from the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Cary adores acrylic gouache paint, adhesive vinyl, and using color in imaginative ways. She teaches at Art League Houston and has received many accolades for her work!
Her installation “Treeodesic Dome” is a galvanized steel dome of geometric shapes decorated by colorful, hand-cut strips of translucent vinyl. Daylight casts gorgeous, colorful shadows on the surrounding areas, and the sculpture is fully-lit by solar lights at night. It reminds many viewers of stained glass and the constantly changing nature of life. You truly have to see it at all times of day to fully appreciate its beauty!
Danville Chadbourne – the 600 Block
With three installations on display, there’s much to see from Danville Chadbourne, a resident of San Antonio and former fine art and art history professor. Primarily a sculptor of wood and clay, his installations – “The Accidental Surrogate of the Literal Progeny,” “The Persistent Echo of the Haunted Night,” and “The Presumptuous Growth of Unconsciousness” – make use of stone to comment on cultural attitudes, nature, and time.
Jamie Spinello – the 800 Block
An Austin local, Jamie Spinello received her MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and has participated in numerous exhibitions across Texas, Louisiana, and beyond. Her work typically consists of ceramics, glass, and metals like aluminum, bronze, and silver. “Allochory,” her aluminum installation on the 800 block, was inspired by the seed pod of the Red Yucca, a plant native to central and west Texas.
William Cannings – the 900 block
Originally from Nantwich, England, Cannings’ art has been featured across the globe. He’s a professor of sculpture at Texas Tech University and has earned a lot of attention with his TRUE NORTH 2021 installation called “Stacked Pillows.” Made from flat steel welded together and then pneumatically inflated (don’t worry – we don’t know what this means, either), the sculpture amazes with its ability to make such hard materials appear light and fluffy.
Bill Peck – the 1200 block
Introduced to welding at an early age, Bill Peck finds inspiration in scrap metals that most other people would simply ignore. After attending college, joining the Army, and running the family business, Peck founded a local fabrication and design business dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind furniture, light fixtures, and creative art. After 35 years of business ownership, Peck now spends his spare time crafting sculptures. “Searching for Balance,” made of steel and adorned with automotive paint, is a reflection on the challenges associated with balancing family life in the modern world.
Anthony Suber – the 1300 block
Suber, a 20-year owner of a professional studio, has exhibited his work regionally and internationally and teaches fine art locally at the Kinkaid School. His work frequently explores religion, relationships, and narratives. “Ancestor,” a sculpture crafted from patinaed wood and composite material, reflects on childlike exploration, mysticism, and anthropology. Suber uses organic elements with great skill to convey man’s connections to history and the past.
Julia Ousley – the 1600 block
Art is not a first career for Ousley, who first received a B.S. from Baylor University in a medical field. After moving on to a successful career in architecture, she then earned her MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and became a full-time sculptor. Certainly, the path leading her to art was indirect, but her work incorporates her well-rounded background with ease. Her TRUE NORTH 2021 installation “Onward and Upward” uses CorTen steel to depict buildings and human forms. Her work frequently explores the intersection between the human body and condition, nature, and the manmade environment.
David Adickes – the 1800 block
An active member of the Houston art scene for over 65 years, Adickes is a storied world-traveler and professor of art at the University of Texas. His most famous area works are several dozen feet high – check them out in the Theater District and at Sam Houston University! “Three Colorful Friendly Trees” uses cast concrete over steel armature and acrylic paint to please the eye and pop in the beautifully-wooded esplanade.
View for a Limited Time
Remember, folks, these sculptures are only available for viewing until December 15th, so get out there and have a look before they’re gone! Be sure to drop TRUE NORTH and the artists a note on social media to let them know what you think.