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Playful Colors Brighten Downtown's Newest Public Art Installation

Arcade, in all her beauty.EXPAND
Arcade, in all her beauty.
Photo by Ren Mitchell
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Discovery Green and the George R. Brown Convention Center are about to get a little cooler. Literally. A new art installation will provide both colorful beauty and some very welcome shade to the outdoor park and events hub.

Texas-based The Color Condition, a.k.a. the duo of Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger, is building three separate installations for the public area that will intermingle between the neighboring downtown attractions. The installation will consist of strips of tablecloths, shower curtains and painters’ drop cloths.

In the decision-making process, Discovery Green's and Houston First's selection committee kept two goals in mind: provide shade during the hottest months of the year and rev up for the robust fall season. Houston First operates the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Playful Colors Brighten Downtown's Newest Public Art InstallationEXPAND
Photo courtesy of Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger

"We wanted an installation that would have [a] longer shelf life, that could sustain the rain and could provide shade. So this ticked off all those boxes,” says Discovery Green’s Marketing Manager Ren Mitchell.

Also, it’s huge.

“We’ve got 400-500 feet of the installation that will hang from above,” she says.

The art installation, titled Arcade, is really a 3-in-1 package inspired by everyone’s favorite childhood games: Hopscotch, Double Dutch and Red Rover.

Playful Colors Brighten Downtown's Newest Public Art InstallationEXPAND
Photo by Ren Mitchell

Hopscotch uses Discovery Green’s loblolly pine trees to create a dense overhead passageway extending the length of Maconda’s Grove; picking up or “hopping” across the street, a mirroring installation will hang over The Wharf at Avenida Houston, which serves as the front porch of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The two sculptures will come alive at night with LED lights installed at the tops of the woven pieces, illuminating the colorful canopy.

Double Dutch will be suspended in a crisscross pattern over three lanes of Avenida de las Americas, between the park and the George R. Brown.

Red Rover skirts light poles across the entire front of the George R. Brown with punches of color, enticing park visitors to “come over.”

The public space is no stranger to art exhibits, but this is the first time both Discovery Green and Houston First have co-commissioned a piece and in a new and interesting way.

“We look every season to bring in an art installation that is jaw-dropping,” says Mitchell. “Because it’s lifted off the ground, it can be shared between our space and their space. You’ve got to see it to believe it. It’s shade, it’s space-making and it connects the two spaces.”

People of all ages can appreciate the beauty and fun of Arcade.EXPAND
People of all ages can appreciate the beauty and fun of Arcade.
Photo courtesy of Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger

The exhibit will be on display from next Thursday, August 17, through November 15. In true Houston style, the organizations have planned an event to welcome crowds to enjoy the art while it is here.

From 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, the area will host a celebration to invite Houstonians to enjoy the colorful display. Activities include live music, a workshop in which The Color Condition will teach guests how to make hats out of ordinary household objects, and a site-specific dance performance by Karen Stokes Dance Company. The event will conclude with a spectacular aerial performance off the George R. Brown by VauLT.

“We’ve got the whole evening programmed so people can enjoy the installation. We’ll have chairs in the street so people can look up and enjoy the installation,” Mitchell says.

As a matter of logistics, Avenida de las Americas will be closed to vehicular traffic during several points throughout the installation of Arcade, so that visitors may stroll the Avenida and enjoy the sculptures from street level. The Avenida Central Garage underneath Discovery Green will remain open. The street will be closed August 19­­ through September 4, October 6-8 and November 3-5.

Arcade will be on display August 17-November 15 at Discovery Green and the George R. Brown Convention Center. For more information, visit discoverygreen.com or grbhouston.com.

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