Arts & Culture

Art Gallery Transforms Houston’s Bayous Into A Mini-Golf Course

The San Jacinto College South Campus Gallery brought the bayous indoors and transformed the space into a mini-golf course — with air conditioning.

A new interactive art installation at the San Jacinto College South Campus Gallery reenvisions Houston’s bayous as a mini golf course, with references to the city’s culture and landmarks scattered throughout.

It started with the idea of turning the gallery into a putt-putt course in an attempt to reuse leftover plywood and drywall.

“The first thing that we had to figure out was: we have this course inside of a gallery space, but we need to put some context around what the holes are going to be, what the course is going to be … What better identity to give it than the city we live in?” said Bradly Brown, gallery curator and art professor. 

“And I was looking at map of Houston and kind of realized that the bayou system is very reflective of a mini-golf course, so we based all the courses off of different Houston bayou systems.”

Using mostly found and recycled materials, Brown and a team of student artists, along with contributing artists Gao Hang, Iva Kinnaird and Gregory Ruppe, built Golf Coast, a seven-hole miniature golf course based on bayous such as Brays, Buffalo, Clear Creek, Sims and White Oak. The interactive environment also depicts the Houston freeway system.

“You can literally walk around and find where your house is, or you can identify downtown. We have the inner loop and the outer loop, and the bayous cross over the different sections approximately where they really are. So it’s a pretty legit map,” Brown said.

In creating the exhibit, artists discussed what stands out about Houston to each of them and how to capture it, whether it be wildlife, landmarks, cultural diversity or other issues.

“We’re trying to bring a very honest depiction of the city inside the gallery space,” Brown said. “So we’re not, you know, portraying it with rainbows and flowers everywhere, even though those things would be very welcome in the gallery space. But we also have things like recycled water bottles floating down the course to kind of talk about the issues we have with pollution in our bayous.”

Visitors can play a round, and are encouraged to add to the course by making their own flora or fauna – or anything that defines Houston to them – from recycled materials in the gallery.

Golf Coast runs through September 27, and will close with a tournament, at the San Jacinto College South Campus Gallery.

Editor’s note: The audio in this article originally aired on August 26, the date of the exhibit’s opening.

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Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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