It's hard to see it through the chain-link fence and advertising tarps that surround Market Square downtown, but Houston has received another piece of crappy public art. The brown lump you see above is actually a carved tree stump that's been removed from Galveston soil and installed at the new-and-improved Market Square, just west of the awful James Surls sculpture Points of View that's been uglifying the place since 1986. (When will they install it at a New Mexico rest stop where it belongs?)
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The lump is actually a dog lying down. It was carved by Clear Lake artist James Phillips from the stump of a live oak that was destroyed by Hurricane Ike. These stump sculptures are littered all over Galveston, and in their natural environments, they're charming examples of folk art, meant to symbolize survival and rebirth after a tragedy. Their context belongs to the community where they were transformed from dead wood into sculpture. Without that contextual identity, we're left wondering, "Which asshole city planner is the Clifford freak?"