Source: Houston Airports

  • Selections now enjoyed every day by thousands of visitors at Houston Airports

In the summer of 2020, Houston Airports and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) put out the City’s largest one-time call for art in the history of the collection. More than 670 submissions were sent in from all over the state, resulting in the acquisition of 74 portable works of art that are now being enjoyed every day by hundreds of thousands of visitors at George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports.

Under Mayor Sylvester Turner’s leadership, the advancement of this opportunity prioritized economic support for artists and art galleries state-wide, and this ambitious undertaking was coordinated to help meet the needs of those in the creative sector acutely and heavily impacted by global conditions in 2020.

The new artworks, all from Texas-based artists, include a wide range of artistic mediums including sculptures, photographs, paintings, drawings – even neon.

For the last six months, and with support from MOCA and partner Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Airports curator of public art Alton DuLaney oversaw installation of the new artwork and rearranged the entire collection of portable works at Houston Airports for the benefit and enjoyment of airport guests.

“This was a challenging but incredibly rewarding process,” DuLaney said. “Being able to include new additions within the context of our existing works has elevated the City’s Civic Art Collection at the airports to a whole new level.

“Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of bringing in these new works is that we were able to acquire notable artworks by beloved and legendary Texas artists such as Jesús Moroles, Bert Long Jr., Dorothy Hood, Gael Stack, and Jesse Lott.”

DuLaney said it also afforded Houston Airports the honor of introducing up-and-coming artists to the collection like Mich Stevenson, Alicia Eggert, Adrian Esparza, and Joyce Lin, showcasing the history of the Houston art world, as well as its future.

During the early stages of this art-buying initiative, MOCA published the results of its first-ever Equity Review of Houston’s Civic Art Collection which measured the City’s previous investments in public artworks, their artists, and the communities they represent. In so doing, the city’s Civic Art Program reaffirmed its commitment to building a public art collection for Houston that is truly representative of our city.

“Working on a project of this scale with information gathered through the Equity Review allowed for us to enact immediate change in how we consider acquiring artworks,” said Theresa Escobedo, who manages the Civic Art Program for the City through MOCA. “Our goal is to develop a singular collection of artworks for Houston which is representative of the unique character and make-up of our city and the peoples within it, often encountered for the first time ever by travelers at both of our international airports. This project enabled us to make headway in improving the diversity of our collection – in the artists we invest in, the artistic mediums we present, and in the subject matter the artworks refer to.”

To lift up the voices of each artist, MOCA launched a social media campaign to highlight each of the 74 artworks and their creators. The campaign provided artists the opportunity to share creative processes, practices, inspirations, and motivations for art-making.

When asked about her artwork and what the acquisition of her work meant to her, Texas artist Alexis Serio responded, “The painting Wanderlust is a metaphor for one’s desire to experience new horizons. Robust and dramatic clouds hang in the foreground, while a calming vista awaits in the distance. The viewer feels excitement, mystery, and wistfulness—emotions that are stirred when we dream of travel… The initiative behind this civic art investment is lofty and important. It is a lasting and meaningful action to support professional artists and to expand the public appreciation of art. I am honored that my painting Wanderlust was selected to be a part of this collection.”