Soaring over Houston: Jorge Marin’s Wings of the City exhibit


One reason I was eager to visit Houston last weekend was to see Mexican sculptor Jorge Marín‘s “Wings of the City” exhibit, which after months on display downtown at Discovery Green Park was ending on March 3rd. Nine of Marín’s bronzes — mainly life-sized male figures, many of them winged, atop rectangular pedestals or orbs — were placed prominently throughout the park, making for a pleasant, artful stroll despite the chilly, gray day.

Equilibrista 90 Monumental

The figures are wonderfully detailed and realistic but also mysterious: bird-like masks obscure some of their faces.

Detail of the man’s hair and the mask’s string on Equilibrista 90 Monumental.

Abrazo Monumental

When faces are revealed, they are filled with emotion, as with these embracing figures.

Abrazo Monumental contained the only female figure in the exhibit.

Angel Perselidas Monumental

This angel figure, masked like a bird, crouches in a relaxed but watchful pose atop an orb, looking down at you as you pass. His right forefinger, rubbed by passersby, gleams gold.

The ruined figure of El Tiempo, or Time, was elevated above the park on a central knoll.

With his head cracked open to the sky, his eyes come alive with a blank gaze — the sky as seen through his mask of a face.

Split Monumental is one of three gymnast figures, as opposed to the winged angels that made up the rest of the exhibit.

Hombre Universal Monumental

The third gymnast is a masked nude in a sphere of moving rings, reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Ironically, I’d heard about the exhibit due to a controversy about this piece reported by a Houston news station, in which a few locals complained about the artistic nudity in a park frequented by children. I can’t really imagine there was much controversy about this — I mean, have people not ever seen images of Michelangelo’s David? — especially in a city as large and multicultural as Houston, but you never know.

Bernardo Oriental Monumental

At any rate, we thought the exhibit was marvelous and were glad to have caught it.

The only non-figure piece in the exhibit was Alas de Mexico: simply a pair of framed wings atop a stair-stepped pedestal, clearly inviting you to become part of the exhibit yourself. The interaction between this piece and the public was delightful to observe, and of course we took turns posing too. My daughter makes a lovely angel or superhero or whatever one wishes to imagine of these symbols of power and grace.

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All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Keeping Houston weird at Joshua’s Native Plants

Shoehorned into a corner lot in the historic Heights neighborhood of Houston, Joshua’s Native Plants and Garden Antiques is a treasure trove of interesting plants and unusual garden art that you won’t find at every other nursery you visit. Despite a downpour that had me huddled under an umbrella last Saturday, I lingered over the eclectic inventory, pawing through bins of funky garden decor and admiring the variety of plants.

I loved the place. I have to point out, however, that the nursery’s name is a bit misleading. For one thing, I didn’t see a specialization in locally native plants. Instead the tables were packed with a world-ranging assortment: perennials from Australia, agaves from Mexico and the desert Southwest, succulents from Africa, tropicals from South America, Southern-adopted Asian natives, and grasses and trees from Central and West Texas, as well as traditional annuals.

If there was a table of plants native to southeast Texas, I didn’t see it.

Also, “Garden Antiques” might lead you to expect classical statuary, and there is some. But there’s also a crazy-wonderful collection of contemporary sculpture, funky yard art, Asian statuary, and, inside a cavernous warehouse, a mish-mash of architectural remnants, recycle-worthy junk, and old signage that Joshua, the owner, has found on buying trips around the world.

The owner’s eclectic tastes have made Joshua’s a funky Heights favorite and a place where you can find the perfect plant or ornament you never knew you needed.

One Southern native that caught my eye was a collection of baby longleaf pines. At this size they resemble a Dasylirion or Xanthorrhoea, don’t you think?

Here’s a bigger one. I love that foliage!

There were nicely potted agaves for those who don’t want to pot their own.

And cubbies of colorful pots and other small garden decor…

…like these fun monkey hooks…

…and carved Buddha heads, each one slightly different.

Amid the plant tables, Asian statuary…

…classical statuary…

…and modern sculpture — garden art for every taste and style.

I asked Joshua about these colorful, ribbon-like pieces, and he told me they are made by a sculptor from Galveston who got “Iked” out by Hurricane Ike and now lives in Houston.

‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia in a Southwest-style glazed pot

Inside the warehouse stuffed with all manner of garden decor, let the hunt begin.

Architectural remnants from Indonesia

London Underground signs keep company with a metal steer head.

These lighted circus signs might be fun in a cabana or on a covered porch.

Or how about these oversized panels, from India perhaps?

This would add an element of bohemian fantasy to the garden, wouldn’t it?

And here’s the man who treasure-hunts for Houston and has the stories to prove it, the nursery’s namesake owner, Joshua. What a fun place to poke around. I’ll definitely be back the next time I’m in Houston.

I’d love to have your vote in the Better Homes and Gardens 2015 Blogger Awards. Skip through to the Gardening category, select Digging, and then skip to the last page for your vote to be counted. You can vote as much as you like. Thanks for your support!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Sylvan silver: Paul Sorey tree sculpture shines in downtown Austin

One day a silver tree sprouted on a street corner in downtown Austin where nothing had grown for a year but piles of construction debris from the new Cirrus Logic building at West Avenue and W. 6th Street. I’d crawl past with one eye glued to the tree, craning my neck to see it, risking impatient horn honking from those behind me. Last week I finally managed to snap a couple of photos while hanging my head out the window at a stoplight.

When I Googled it I was surprised and delighted to see that it’s by Paul Sorey, the Washington artist who created Salmon Waves, a dynamic sculpture I admired at Seattle’s Ballard Locks a few years ago.

The 25-foot, stainless-steel tree is titled Fractal Tree, and it’s a “mathematically generated fractal: each part of the tree is an identical copy of the other parts, scaled and rotated in space,” according to the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Program (click for construction details). It was commissioned by Cirrus Logic as a gift to the City of Austin. How cool is that?

I’ve spoken about the tree to a few people who work in the area and was surprised to hear they’d never noticed it. It makes you wonder how much we all miss as we go about our busy days.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.