Looking for Civic Art

After revamping the program, the Houston Arts Alliance is looking to step up the city's collection of civic art pieces. The group is looking to commission art pieces to be placed in seven public facilities including police stations and libraries. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Some of the pieces commissioned will be additions to existing structures. But Houston Arts Alliance CEO Jonathon Glus says artists will also have the opportunity to be incorporated in the public environment as a structure is being built. Glus says they are purposely using the term civic art, as opposed to public art which tends carry baggage with it.

"Fine artists feel like it is not necessarily the arena where the best work is done. They also feel like it's art by panel, too government managed."

To that end, the Houston Arts Alliance is holding two workshops with the first being this weekend. Glus says they want to share what the process involves and give artists an opportunity to apply.

"These are big budget projects so we have an opportunity to do some substantial work with artists at such a level in their career that often times it's hard to give them public art opportunities so not only do we have a number of projects that we're doing but we are able to work with very, well respected senior artists."

Case in point is Houston native and internationally acclaimed artist Bert Long. He is taking part in the initiative by doing a painting for the new Looscan Library in the River Oaks area. It will include imagery of great paintings from different periods.

"As well as a sea full of sharks of different species that the kids can then while they are in the library go and study Rembrandt and post-expressionistic movement, Picasso and the surrealist movement and a great white shark versus a hammerhead shark, etc. and find out about geology, biology and all of those things."

Long says the name of the piece is Art-Life meaning people should live art. Long says art should be made available everywhere for people to bump into as a part of everyday living. Alliance officials say Houston currently has about 400 civic pieces. Some of the places being included in the $1 million worth of new commissions include the Houston Police Departments Mounted Police facility, Public Works and Engineering on Sabine and the Northeast Water Purification Plant and Water Museum. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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