Local Arts

Multi-mural art project in Downtown Houston aims to inspire social change

The “Big Art. Bigger Change” project is a a collaboration between a downtown economic development organization, a global arts nonprofit, an energy company and a Harris County commissioner.

Big Art Bigger Change Goce
Patricia Ortiz
Lula Goce’s mural on the side of the Republic Building, 1018 Preston St., is part of the “Big Art. Bigger Change” project in Downtown Houston.

In a world filled with sadness and sickness, Lula Goce wants people to be filled with happiness and wonder when they see her artwork.

The latest piece created by the Spanish muralist was unveiled Friday in Downtown Houston, covering one side of the Republic Building at 1018 Preston St. It depicts a Mexican mother with birds flying around her and cosmic images on her dress. The woman is holding a clay pot that's glowing orange with steam rising from its mouth, perhaps indicating it is filled with a powerful, healing elixir.

"I want to provoke good feelings," Goce said. "We are involved with seeing a lot of crises, a lot of sensationalism about bad things. We can see these things everywhere, mainly in cities, because people suffer a lot and there is not too much help for them. So this is something that can change the point of view – about beauty, about feeling good, to help and to heal."

Goce's mural is one of nine larger-than-life works being unveiled downtown this fall as part of the "Big Art. Bigger Change" project, a collaboration between Central Houston, Inc. and Street Art for Mankind, a global nonprofit that tries to provoke social change through art. The project was funded in part by TotalEnergies, a global company with a Houston office, and conceived by Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who represents the downtown area.

The non-linear collection of murals on commercial buildings covers more than 1 mile of downtown and was created to promote the sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, including green energy, human rights, social equity and education for all. Each mural is accompanied by a plaque with a QR code linked to Street Art for Mankind's free "Behind the Wall" app, which explains each piece and provides connections to local service organizations.

Big Art Bigger Chance Maclaim
Patricia Ortiz
The new mural on the side of the Scanlan building at 405 Main St. depicts a young boy riding a bike.

An art walk exhibiting the eight completed murals is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at 400 Main St. A related art fair will be held from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Main Street between Dallas and Prairie streets. Both events are open to the public.

"We're here to create big art and inspire people," Street Art for Mankind co-founder Thibault Decker said. "We believe in art for social change. We believe that art in general has the power to touch minds, souls and create a conversation. That's what we're trying to do."

A total of 10 artists from around the world teamed up to create the nine murals, including three from Houston: Bimbo Adenugba, Emily Ding and Ana Marietta.

Central Houston president and CEO Kris Larson, whose company is an economic development organization representing the interests of downtown, said it's possible that additional murals will be added next year.

"The overall health of any city's urban core is often linked to pedestrian vibrancy, and this campaign will give people yet another reason to venture outside and explore the neighborhood, block by block," Larson said in a news release.

Big Art Bigger Change Ding
Patricia Ortiz
Houston artist Emily Ding works on a mural Friday on the side of the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, 1300 Lamar St.

According to his office, Ellis came up with the idea for a walkable mural collection when he saw a mural last year created by artist Dragon76 on the side of the Hampton Inn Houston Downtown at 710 Crawford St. That artwork was created as part of the Zero Hunger campaign launched by World Food Program USA in collaboration with Street Art for Mankind.

Ellis then approached Central Houston about putting together an art walk, which spawned the "Big Art. Bigger Change" project.

"Each of these powerful murals engages us Houstonians as well as visitors to the city and newcomers like myself in grasping how climate change education and innovation can influence the wellbeing of our community and positively shape future generations," said Ole Hansen, the president of CEO of TotalEnergies America. "Let it be an inspiration to all of us."

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