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That Tree in the Side of Project Row Houses? It's Not Art

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In the current round of art projects at Project Row Houses, artist Rahul Mitra has filled his art house with colorful cardboard boxes and black-and-white wall drawings. But that gaping hole in the floor is anything but intentional.

During last Friday's storm, strong winds and rain caused a tree in front of 2515 Holman Street to uproot, bursting through the bottom front of the house and pulling up the floorboards inside in the process. The fallen tree also brought down part of the street's power line.

Despite the damage, on Sunday, the house was open to visitors. The tree's branches and parts of its trunk lay scattered in pieces on the sidewalk while the rest remained partly in the ground, partly in the side of the house. Since then, some of the debris has been cleared and the art house closed to the public. It will remain closed until the tree is fully removed and the floors are redone, said Ryan Dennis, public art director for Project Row House. It is unclear how long that will take. None of the other art houses were damaged in the storm.

Mitra is one of seven artists to take over the row of historic shotgun houses in the Third Ward, creating site-specific works that help achieve Project Row Houses' mission of using art to transform community. The Houston artist's contribution is called "Boxing Social Sculptures" and features an installation of painted boxes that hang from the ceiling and pile up on the floor. These boxes, says the artist, are meant to reflect the "social sculptures in slums and Favelas and in project houses." Additionally, Mitra has drawn people and other figures on the walls and draped a painted sheet across the middle of the space. The exhibition runs until June 23.

In other Project Row Houses news, downtown's Okra Charity Saloon has chosen the arts organization to be one of its four local charities for the month of May. Every drink you purchase gets you a vote towards the charity of your choice. The charity with the most votes at the end of the month wins 100% of the bar's proceeds for that month. If you're so inclined, you have until May 31 to change Project Row Houses' luck.

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