Local Artist Bryson Owen Turns Christmas Upside Down at Brazos Bookstore

The story behind the Christmas tree with the Seuss-ian angles that is currently (and quite literally) hanging from the rafters at Brazos Bookstore is one of serendipity--and good customer service. "One day I saw a shopper, and approached him to see if he needed any help," explained Brazos Bookstore manager Jeremy Ellis. "We got talking, and discovered that we both went to Texas State University, and around the same time. When Bryson told me that he was an artist, I asked him if he'd ever seen this big, wooden sculpture that someone had erected on campus when we were there--it was these big wooden two-by-fours that exploded upward; it was the best thing I saw in school--and he told me it was his. And then when Bryson told me he wasn't doing a lot of art, I jumped at the chance to have him do something for us."

In his "real life," artist Bryson Owen works as a project manager at Greenway Plaza, but he was moonlighting over the weekend as artist-in-residence at Brazos Bookstore, where he and several assistants spent Saturday morning anchoring a ten-foot tall Christmas tree upside down through the ceiling. At its base--which forms the top of the sculpture at ceiling-height--the currently-untitled sculpture measures eighteen feet across; Owen constructed the tree from scavenged plywood and other reclaimed and repurposed materials, which he says is "always a goal" for him.

The idea for the tree, said Owen, was inspired by the idea of trees and their root systems. "I had only two parameters to consider [when conceptualizing the piece]," explained Owen. "Jeremy said it had to be Christmas-themed, and it couldn't take up any floor space--or better, no floor space."

Though he usually doesn't create works around "themes" like Christmas, Owen said he kept coming back around to the tree idea, and so he started taking his inspiration from some research on old root systems. "I wanted to take a kind of 'back door' into the Christmas theme," said Owen on Sunday afternoon, as he took a break from hanging Christmas ornaments (made from entire books, of course) from the branches of his sculpture. He's currently working on the star that will sit "atop" (underneath) the tree; look for that to be hung this week.

Still a work-in-progress, the sculpture has already made an impact on Brazos Bookstore customers, according to manager Ellis, who says, "We've had a lot of ooohs and aaahs, and that's the idea. We want to create something so cool, that you will want to come and see it; see it, and make it a memory like the one I have of Bryson's work from college. I see it as an important part of the Brazos Bookstore experience."

You can see Bryson Owen's sculpture throughout the holiday season at Brazos Bookstore. (PROTIP: Celebrate the holidays--and the art--on Sunday, December 8 at the annual Brazos Bookstore open house--from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Snacks, wine, shopping, books, and art--very merry indeed.)

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