The massive renovation project underway at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), includes three new signature art pieces, unveiled today by the Houston Airport System (HAS), and the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA), during a special ceremony.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, attended the unveiling, and focused on the Civic Art Program, that made the acquisitions possible. According to the Civic Art Ordinance – that defines the program – 1.75 percent of all qualified capital improvement projects, is reserved for art acquisition, professional restoration, and treatment.
Parker also praised the artists, “I am here to thank everyone who has been involved in the public art process, to salute the artists who have given a wonderful lasting gift to the City of Houston, and to our airport system that is once again a legacy, not only for Houstonians, but will be part of the face that we present to the world”.
All four artists attended the unveiling, among them, Italian artist Luca Buvoli, who actually moved to Houston temporarily, to oversee the creation, and installation of his artwork, Vector HH.
Buvoli’s artwork – which has not yet been completed – is a visually dynamic structure of a human figure, flying with open arms, and is to be suspended over the new escalator leading to the baggage claim area.
The unveiling ceremony – in the central concourse – featured enlarged photographs and renderings of the artwork. The three art pieces are meant to compliment the $250 million construction make-over underway at HOU, which includes a new central concourse, a redesigned terminal, and a dramatic new entrance to the baggage claim area.
“This construction project represents strategic planning by HAS to make sure Hobby Airport remains a jewel for the city, and maintains its ranking as one of the top performing airports in the world,” said Eric Potts, interim director of aviation for the City of Houston. Potts also noted that while the re-construction work is designed to enhance customer convenience and satisfaction, “we view these new works of art as extremely important, because they create a welcoming atmosphere for our passengers, while also providing a slice of Bayou City culture”.
The Civic Art Program is managed by the Houston Arts Alliance, which is headed by Jonathan Glus, the chief operating officer, who also attended the unveiling.
Glus commended the designers saying, “what is particularly special about these new additions, is that they truly reflect Houston, in that we have a young international artist, we have a well-established American artist, and we have a well-known, well-respected Houston artist team, to round out this collection”.
The work of art, Over Houston, by artist Gordon Huether, is featured in a national television commercial for Southwest Airlines – which is the largest air carrier at Hobby Airport. The work is a selection of abstract aerial photographs of Houston, transcribed into alternating hand-blown glass panels from Europe, lining the connector bridge walkway. Eight people worked more than six months – to create the design.
The airports’ gateway artwork - Take-off, by artists Paul Kittleson and Carter Ernst, is an enormous stainless steel bird’s nest, 30-feet wide, held 20-feet above the ground by three steel tree trunks, floating above a subtropical garden. The artwork, with its interwoven branches, re-created in industrial materials, is meant to reflect the spirit of Houston’s industries, working along the coastal plains. It is located at the Broadway entrance to the airport.
Pam Ingersoll, art coordinator for HAS, manages the art collection, including acquisitions, a wide-ranging selection of rotating temporary and cultural exhibitions, and a scheduled assessment and maintenance program.
Ingersoll thinks the traveling public will be pleased with the new collection, “they can come in to an atmosphere, an environment that will make them smile, it’s uplifting, it’s calming and just fun”.
Ten new art, and conservation projects for the Houston Airport System, have been completed, or are scheduled for completion by this summer.