Let's Be Unreasonable

Houston's art crowd looks to show up L.A. with some "Immodest Proposals"

The Inversion installation at Art League's Montrose headquarters has been impressively turning heads lately. But in general, public art certainly lacks the "wow factor." In fact, most public art projects, like the Lyric Centre's awful giant cello, cry out to be vandalized.

But what if money were no object, and the means irrelevant? The Buffalo Bayou ArtPark and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County consider this question with the second annual "Immodest Proposals," an exhibition of unreasonable public art. The annual event asks local artists to think big and go for over-the-top ideas.

"It's sort of a ridiculous take on public art, where artists propose projects that can't actually be realized for financial reasons or simply the laws of physics won't allow," says curator Jason Kunke. "That's the art." Each artist is limited to a 24-inch by 36-inch format. The illustrations and renderings are printed out and mounted on presentation board in varying "boardroom pastiche." (Imagine someone in a suit with a pointer standing in front of their presentation making the case.)

"For example, Francis Trotter is proposing a gigantic outdoor theme park, sort of like Disneyland, but more real," Kunke explains. "The sky would be orange, and the bunnies and deer would be trained to come out and frolic with you. There'd be clearings where, when your wicked stepmother was being cruel to you, you could go cry."

This year, Houston artists are competing against artists in Los Angeles to see who can produce the most outrageous proposals and, in effect, decide which city has the better artists. In perhaps a peace offering, Houston art collective I Love You Baby is proposing a giant Y-shaped vacuum -- a smog disposal unit -- that will suck all the smog from both cities out to a facility at the North Pole. "It'll process the smog into a patented polymer," says Kunke, "and be made into various products like Botox replacements, acne cream, smog-sicles, even a possible fossil-fuel alternative."

 
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