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Arts & Culture

Houston’s Smither Park Is Looking For A Few Good Artists

It’s easy to find public art at outdoor parks around Houston. But have you ever wondered how it gets there? The process is underway on the southeast side.


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Picture of Dan Phillips
Amy Bishop
Dan Phillips in front of Smither Park’s 400-foot memory wall of mosaic panels.

It's not uncommon to see a few people working at Smither Park on the weekend. The green space, located near Telephone Road and the Gulf Freeway, was once an empty grass lot. Now, it's a folk art marvel.

On a recent weekend morning, a couple of volunteers are adding bits of colored tiles to the 400-foot mosaic wall running along the edge of the property.

Artist Dan Phillips drives in from Huntsville most weekends to check on the place and tend to the grounds. He was recruited by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art to be the park's lead designer.

"They asked me to dream my wildest dreams and then let reality beat us back into feasibility," Phillips says. "And so, that's what we've done. So I came up with a concept and we put the call out for artists... and they indeed came forth."

That was a few years ago, but they're not quite done, Phillips adds.

"We're putting out a call for commissions for all this flatwork on the south of the pavilion,” he said. “And then all the flatwork on the north of the pavilion is yet another commission."

By "flatwork" he's talking about the concrete pathway winding through the park, intended to be a giant mosaic. There are eight commissions in total, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000, which also include requests for sculptures. Their vision for the park is to embody the personality of the city.

"It's fun, because it's a little capstone – a little gemstone – of what Houston is," Phillips says. "It's vibrant and alive, just sputtering with artists and art activity, and people just simply celebrating life."

The deadline to submit proposals is by midnight, December 30th. It’s open to artists living in Texas. Click here for more information.