Los Trompos is one of those public art installations that can be heard before it’s seen, as on a pretty day the sounds of excited children yelling, “push me faster” and “me next” can be heard while walking up to downtown’s Discovery Green®. Developed by Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, the 20 “spinning tops” are colorful, larger-than-life interactive pieces that require at least one to push and one to enjoy the ride.
Esrawe was born in Mexico City and Cadena was born in Sonora and now lives in Monterrey; the designers were inspired by childhood memories of traditional spinning tops. The pieces are sturdy and designed to survive the outdoor elements, using a thick woven strapping with a highly saturated color palette.
The colors and their combinations are found in the small towns of Mexico that use natural dyes for each region’s textiles and weaving. Dating back to the pre-Hispanic and colonial era periods, traditional woven fibers have been dyed with yucca, palm trees, lime and local plants and insects. Those familiar with the indigenous handcrafted textiles can identify the region by the colors; for example Oaxaca, which uses the cochineal bug, produces colors ranging from purple to yellow.
The tops themselves do remind the viewer of woven baskets, just on a much larger scale. Some are open on all sides so that the more adventurous can jump on and off the ride. Sit on the edge with legs extended, or lie on the flat surface and look up at the sky until dizziness sets in. The exhibit has been placed on the forgiving grassy area of the Sarofim Picnic Lawn in the event of any mishaps.
Other tops are fat or skinny, with woven sides and a small opening leading to a flat, circular area or a curved bench. These offer cocoon-like, intimate areas conducive to quiet talking, reading, or just connecting with new people.
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The installation is not just for children. As an adult rider with an adult pusher, the speed can get quite fast, rivaling some of the rides from Astroworld, but without the machinery, long lines or high ticket prices. Visitors can share their experiences using hashtag #LosTromposHTX.
The installation in Houston was made possible by a grant from the Kinder Foundation, with support from the Houston Arts Alliance, the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston and Weingarten Art Group. Designed to travel, this is its second stop; Los Trompos was originally created by the designers during their residency at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.
Beginning on November 27 and every Friday night during its run, Discovery Green has planned programming designed to interact with Los Trompos or Bruce Munro’s Field of Light. Friday Night Sights! kicks off with the original music of Two Star Symphony on November 27; different events are scheduled every Friday through March, including dance, spoken word, theatrical and musical performances.
Los Trompos continues through March 22, 2016, at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 713-400-7336, discoverygreen.com/lostrompos. Free.