Arts & Culture

Art Is Coming To Houston’s Freeways And Skies

This spring, commercial ads on some billboards will be replaced by designs of local artists through the Sky Art project.

Known for its traffic, sprawl, and no-zoning, Houston is now putting art where its people are – on the freeways.

The Sky Art project was started last year by the Houston First Corporation to give local artists the opportunity to design works that celebrate Houston, and to feature them on billboards.

The idea came about through talks with Outfront Media, who suggested placing art on billboards that are not rented.

“They said, ‘Why don’t we do something fun that promotes Houston and looks great, and makes people feel good while they’re on the road?’,” said Christine West, cultural programs manager at Houston First.

Artists can submit any idea. It just has to feature the word ‘Houston’ in a creative way.

“We’re such a diverse city, we’ve got so much wonderful local talent here, and so it’s just a fun opportunity to help say that it in an authentic and really unique way to people driving by, whether they’re from the city or visiting,” said West.

Last year saw over 100 entries, with winning artwork placed in such locations as West Loop 610 near The Galleria and I-45 north of downtown.

Selected artists will receive a $1,000 honorarium. West also sees the project as a great résumé builder.

“It’s something a curator might find different on a CV of an artist.  Also, for any artist who might be interested in … applying for public art opportunities, this might be a doorway for them to experience what it’s like to work with another entity in that way … I think any opportunity for an artist to get their work out into the community, especially in a public way, is a great way to help them find exposure for more opportunities in the future.”

She added with a laugh: “Also, it’s just fun to drive by and see it, or tell your friends, ‘Hey, check out my billboard!’.”

West hopes the project might even inspire more creative commercial billboard designs in the future.

Artists can apply for free for Sky Art 2019 here.  The deadline is January 31.

Two to three entries will be selected and on display around the city, with locations to be determined starting this spring.

Listen to the complete interview with Christine West below:

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