The Amazing Public Art Deep in the Heart of Texas

Houston has a healthy allowance for beautifying its streets and parks. See how it spends it

(Flickr user seabright hoffman)

Houston, affectionately nicknamed “The Big Heart,” is home to more than 450 public artworks, spanning the city’s parks, plazas and walkways. In 1999, the city established an ordinance mandating that 1.75 percent of funding for city capital improvement projects be set aside for civic art and its maintenance. The Houston Arts Alliance granted $3 million to 220 artists and nonprofit arts organizations last year, to create temporary and permanent sculptures, murals and large-scale installations. Here are 10 of the city’s creative mainstays.

Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain

Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain
(Flickr user Katya Horner)

The Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain, dubbed “the dandelion fountain” by locals, was built in Buffalo Bayou Park in 1978. It was designed by Houston architect and Rice University professor William T. Cannady, who was inspired by a similar fountain he saw in Australia. Multiple lacquer-coated bronze pipes jut out of the fountain’s core, spewing water in all directions. The pipes are all of equal length, a construction that gives the fountain its spherical shape.


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