UH Moment

UH Moment: “Public Art”

It’s been a University of Houston tradition and commitment for more than 40 years.  Find out more in this week’s UH Moment.


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Public art has been a tradition at the University of Houston since 1966 when UH became the first state university to form a ‘percent for art program.’  One percent of funds for new buildings is dedicated to the purchase of art.  To date the five campuses in the UH system count hundreds of sculptures, drawings, photographs and prints in their public art collection. 

On the main campus there are no less than 260 pieces of art, like the Double Physichromie, created by Carlos Cruz-Diez of Venezuela, which was installed recently in front of the UH Welcome Center.

“He’s pretty well known for these apart style, multicolored wall like sculptures that are really meant to be seen passing by,” said Michael Guidry, curator of the UH art collection.  “The colors and shapes do amazing things when you walk by.”

Before commissioning an artist, Guidry and the Campus Art Committee consider the space the work will fill.  For example, before approaching Houston artist Randy Twaddle to create Shine and Rise for the Honors College, the committee considered the space, the students and the mission of the college.  The process was similar when the committee considered the Moores School of Music Opera House.  The result is Frank Stella‘s spectacular Euphonia.  One of the most photographed public art pieces on the main campus is Jim Sanborn‘s A Comma A installed in front of the M.D. Anderson Library.  The piece is made mostly of copper and bronze and is comprised of words and phrases from poems and novels, in different languages, from texts found in the UH library.

You can take a walking tour of the public art on campus.  Pick up a public art guide at the UH Blaffer Gallery or the Welcome Center for suggested tours, or visit http://www.advancement.uh.edu/arttour/.  

“This commitment to public art sends a message that the university really celebrates an art culture,” Guidry said. 

Public Art is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.  I’m Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.