Mini Murals Bring Urban Art Closer to City Streets
Houston’s urban artists continue to up their street cred.
Saturday the city unveils the first of 32 mini murals by 15 painters that will transform traffic control boxes at street intersections. Most of the artists started out creating illegal graffiti, a practice they’re now trying to help deter.
City officials hope the commissioned artworks, which total $48,000, will help save graffiti abatement costs.
The mini murals also bring public art to areas of the city that have been seriously under-served. The Houston Arts Alliance says only 35 objects in the city’s 546-piece civic art collection (not counting works at the airports) reside outside the Loop, where four-fifths of the population lives.
All but one of the mini murals will be in District K, where City Councilman Larry Green dipped into his office’s service funds to support the initiative. Green said the mini murals are “an exciting way to bring civic art to communities that don’t have much and also help provide a sense of community.”
The program was a good fit with his ongoing “Clean it up, Green it up” beautification campaign, which has also recently planted 2,000 trees. He also wanted to support area artists.
“Some of these artists are absolutely amazing,” he said.
UP Art Studio founder Noah Quiles, who proposed the project, sees the city’s 2,400 traffic control boxes as “blank canvases brimming with creative opportunity.”
Anat Ronen created the first mini mural at the intersection of Willowbend and West Bellfort Thursday, camouflaging an 8-by-4-foot utility box with a morning glory vine design.
Ronen wants to make the boxes disappear. She painted the vine as a kind of camouflage, “so it looks like a part of the greenery,” she said.
Sara Kellner, the alliance’s civic art and design director, hopes to expand the mini mural program in the fall, although private funding will be necessary.
Mini murals are “an incredible, quick and beautiful way” to get art into neighborhoods, she said. “It’s a high-impact, low-cost project.”
She expects the pilot murals to be complete within about a month.
Quiles is working with the alliance, the mayor’s office of cultural affairs, the public works department, the Brays Oaks and Five Corners Management Districts and the non-profit organization Fresh Arts.