They're creepy and they're spooky, they're whimsical and quirky, and this year's line-up of the Houston Weird Homes Tour is a color- and art-filled wonderland of visual delights.
Several of the stops are at real working art studios, including Sharon Kopriva's artist's haven in the Heights, where visitors will find skulls, bones, a desiccated cat and even a mummy once sent to the coroner in error. It ended up with a toe tag before it was realized the mummy was actually art. Alix Dunn's working studio also is on the tour, with wall-to-wall art, unpainted busts and plenty of odd angles.
We'll see a return of two favorites from last year's tour: Bonnie Blue's art house with art cars, flower-painted fence and giant mouse/rat/nutria sculpture; and Sue Shefman's Hippolotofus House full of — you guessed it — lots and lots of hippopotami.
Shefman has hippos embedded throughout her home, and the collection has overflowed to the garden. Also on the tour is Selia Qynn's "Secret Garden," which takes outdoor living and elevates it to the luxurious.
The self-paced, self-driving tour through Houston's weirdest and wackiest also includes stops at Kelly Amen's KGA Compound, folk artist Anne Reese Hernandez's portrait-filled home, and Rebecca Lowe's The House of the Tree.
David Neff, co-founder and CEO of the multi-city Weird Homes Tour™, tells us that Lowe has been working on these odd landscapes. "She built a Stay-Puft car; the best way to describe it is it's made out of marshmallows. She has a Stay-Puft mailbox, also made out of marshmallows," says Neff. "Weird, odd and bizarre stuff."
There's a bonus for visitors who make it to furniture designer Kelly Amen's compound. "We have almost a collection of apartments; three apartments right next to each other. "It just so happens he has a neighbor on the left and a neighbor on the right; they're both interesting and exotic. It's kind of a three-for-one," says Neff.
Some heavy-duty art collectors are on the tour, including Dirk and Susie Stronck, whose home has been dubbed The Journey Through Time House. "It's more about art through the ages. They've got Egyptian, mid-century, stuff from The Crusades," says Neff.
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Lester Marks, one of Houston's most formidable collectors, also is on the tour, but his home is viewable only for those who pony up for the VIP tickets. Marks has some truly amazing pieces, from a cryogenic Fidel Castro to floating eyeballs to tree people, and this stop offers a chance to view pieces taken off the market before they ever made their way into museums or gallery spaces.
VIP perks also include an exclusive after party at Last Concert Cafe, and last year's weird homes host Dawn Fudge is expected to attend. It's all for a good cause, too, as the tour is a social impact business with a community-minded mission.
"We take 10 percent to donate to affordable housing options," says Neff about their initiative to give a percentage of the proceeds to New Hope Housing. "That's our cause because so many of our homeowners are struggling to stay in their own homes." He says it's become more expensive for artists to live and work in some of the great cities such as Austin, Houston and New Orleans.
The 2017 Houston Weird Homes tour runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. October 7, with a VIP afterparty from 6 to 9 p.m. Children up to age 13 can attend for free; $30 to $50 for adults. See weirdhomestour.com for more information.