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Keep Houston Press Free
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Elaine Bradford's Elephant in the Room

The vogue for public art in Houston continues apace and even seems to be spreading to the suburbs, with Elaine Bradford snagging the commission for an installation at the Vinson Branch of the Houston Public Library. Bradford opted to fill the library's rotunda with a sitting elephant plus a gaggle of Canadian geese, each sheathed in a layer of Bradford's signature stripy crochet skins. The project is not officially complete, but an elephant in the room being what it is, visitors to the library can already see the animals in place and absorb the artist's vision, which, she told Art Attack, is to communicate "how exciting and different art can be."

The civic-minded Bradford has served on the boards of several local arts organizations, and over the years her sweater-wearing creatures have popped up all over Houston's urban art scene, but this time they're migrating to a new locale, and if Bradford has her way, finding a new audience in the process. "I think that public art is an amazing tool to help engage people who would never go into a museum or gallery," she said. "It is easily approachable and less intimidating, and hopefully inspires them to seek out more art in their lives."

Building on her previous piece The Museum of Unnatural History (for which writer J.D. Ho crafted a vaguely Wes Anderson-esque background narrative ), Bradford is working on a children's book based on the Vinson installation that will explain to us the exact nature of the relationship between this elephant and these geese. The book will be available at the Vinson branch and online, and more widely if the financials allow. The text will again be written by Ho (whom Bradford met when they were both working in the children's section of a bookstore, appropriately) and illustrated by Sketch Klubb's Rene Cruz, seen (in the video below) in a not-entirely-safe-for-elementary-school, or work for that matter, discussion of his Sketch Klubb activities.

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Sketch Klubb's Russell Etchen and Rene Cruz (2009)


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