Houston’s thriving mural art scene

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The Houston Graffiti Park on Leeland Street

If you walk through any neighborhood in Houston, you’ll find walls covered in murals. And it’s not by chance. Over the past decade, cities across the country, including Houston, have embraced the once-illegal art form to promote tourism, transform and connect neighborhoods, provide public spaces for artists, build civic pride, and spark conversation. Houston’s support for the street arts is evident in the upcoming citywide mural festival which will draw artists from around the world to the city, including Houston’s own.

Big Walls Big Dreams: Houston will debut on November 5. The festival is produced by UP Art Studio, a public art consultant and animator, which has been instrumental in bringing to life hundreds of murals and art installations around Houston, including the Mini Murals project. . Co-founders Noah and Elia Quiles originally started UP Art Studio 10 years ago to fill a gap.

“We saw that street artists needed walls, space, sources of funding and an organization behind them to help them get paid opportunities,” Elia said. The company also uses murals as a tool to improve communities and helps graffiti artists build careers as internationally renowned artists.

Elia credits partnerships with the City of Houston, management districts and other organizations with the growth of Houston’s mural art scene over the past decade. More than 500 local works of art have been created thanks to these partnerships, according to Elia.

“With their project funding and willingness to say ‘yes’ to some crazy creative projects, none of this would have happened,” Elia said. “Thanks to them, we have been able to pay our local artists hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for their work. It has made a huge difference, allowing our local artists to earn a living wage. »

Daniel Anguilu is another name that is at the heart of Houston’s street art scene. You can find his art all over the city, including Bcycle stations and Bush Intercontinental Airport, but his work has also been featured in galleries. Businesses, cities, administrative districts and more are now asking artists like Anguilu to beautify their buildings or create spaces where communities can gather.

In 2013, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned Mario E. Figuerora, Jr., or GONZO247, to paint the now historic “Houston is Inspired” mural, which has become a magnet for Houstonians and tourists alike. whole world. Houston is now home to more than 1,000 murals and art installations, according to the Houston Mural Map.

Houston is a downtown-inspired mural
Downtown Houston’s iconic mural. (Bryan Malloch)

“The civic and business community today understands that well-made murals provide economic benefits, such as attracting more investment, new jobs and increasing tourism,” Elia said. “Murals can create a visual representation of stories, neighborhood history, culture and identity. It shows that the places are loved – which also makes them safer and more inviting for business investment and just to hang out.

Recently, Central Houston Inc., Houston Downtown Management District and Street Art for Mankind launched “Big Art. Biggest change. Muralists from around the world, including three from Houston, painted a series of murals on nine downtown buildings focusing on social and environmental change.

“I hope they inspire the next generation to have meaningful conversations and believe in themselves and their society,” Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis wrote of the murals in a post on Facebook.

The Quiles also hope Big Walls Big Dreams, which originally launched in Miami during Art Basel, will inspire Houston and young artists. The festival will run from November 5-21 and will include public programming, community mural tours, art exhibits, workshops and more as artists paint approximately 60 large-scale murals in different pockets of the town.

Learn about Houston’s thriving arts and culture scene.

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