The Mural Project
Bringing Houston Arts To CITYCENTRE
By Elizabeth Anthony
Typically when Houstonians think about growth and construction, unsightly images of debris, huge cranes and construction equipment and horrific traffic jams come to mind. As well, few Houstonians consider traveling outside the loop to experience art and cultural events.
However, with its mission of “Bringing Houston Arts to CITYCENTRE,” The Mural Project is working to change our minds with an exciting display of the city’s best urban and mural artists. By creating a cultural trail of beautiful murals amid the growth of the shopping mecca, the hope is to extend urban art beyond Houston’s inner-loop.
The Mural Project is a series of short-term art installations that has repurposed unused advertising spaces and replaced them with 18 colorfully designed murals created by talented urban artists. Simultaneously, a further selection of artists have showcased their canvas works at Muir Fine Art Gallery and inside a variety of participating businesses throughout CITYCENTRE. A portion of the proceeds from the online and in-store sale of artworks will benefit the participating artists, as well as MD Anderson Children’s Art Project.
Children’s Art Project began with a volunteer’s idea to create a Christmas card from a child’s artwork. Today, through the sale of merchandise featuring designs created by young cancer patients, the project funds important programs for patients and families including the Child & Adolescent Life Program, Educational Programs. Camp Star Trails, and College and Graduate School Scholarships.
Through worldwide sales of young cancer patients’ original artwork featured on seasonal note cards and gift items, the project has returned more than $30 million to programs that benefit pediatric cancer patients and their families. The Children’s Art Project’s highest priority is ensuring young patients have opportunities to live a more normal childhood. Each year, the programs funded through sales touch more than 26,000 pediatric patients and families.
At CITYCENTRE, the general public was invited to tour the exhibitions included in The Mural Project and vote on their favorite. Both online and in-store designated voting locations were available from July 4-15. Over 1,350 votes came in online and via physical ballot boxes for “Best Mural.”
A VIP Event sponsored by Muir Fine Art Gallery was held on July 18 to thank the mural and group exhibitors for participating and showcasing their talents in the 2015 inaugural Mural Project @ CITYCENTRE. CJ Alvarez, gallery director and creator behind the project, announced the highly anticipated winners of the “Vote for Best Mural” contest. The top three winning artists will be featured in an exhibition with the Working Title “The Tri Artifex” at Muir Fine Art Gallery – Second story annex in the first quarter of 2016.
The results of the public vote are:
1st Place – Voted “Best Mural” – Verny Sanchez – “Howdy! Animal and Human in Glyph Connection” Sanchez is a Houston-based artist from Maracaibo (Venezuela). He studied graphic design at the Instituto de Diseño de Caracas in Venezuela. He has created his own Glyphs or “Glifos” (personal language), which feature heavily in his mural works.
2nd Place – Anita Varadaraju – “Houston Greenscape” – Varadaraju was born in Chennai, India in 1977. She is a first-generation American. Anita comes from a family of artists and has always painted since childhood. Moving to Houston ignited her need to make the passion for painting into a full time profession.
3rd Place – John Whaley Jr. – “Beauty That Lies Beneath” – Whaley makes paintings, photos, and mixed media artworks. His works often refer to pop and mass culture using written and drawn symbols, creating a world where lightheartedness rules and rules are undermined. Whaley currently lives and works in Houston.
Honorable Mention – Carlos “Empire” Alcaraz – “Winds of Transfiguration” – Alcaraz is a Houston graffiti artist with a wide array of styles and creative abilities. His colorful murals are displayed throughout the city and at venues such as the Station Museum of Contemporary art.
Honorable Mention – Mikie “Down” Homma – “Flow.” – Homma is 26 years old and has been living in Houston for 15 years. When not working as an autocad designer for an engineering firm, Homma expresses his imagination with art. He started sketching graffiti when he was 16 and is known in the urban art scene as “DOWN.”
For more than a decade, Muir Fine Art Gallery has been dedicated to “Making Houston the Arts Destination of the South.” Due to an increasingly diverse population and thriving industry, the Bayou City sits poised on the cusp of a cultural evolution. With the support of CITYCENTRE and participating local businesses, Muir launched The Mural Project with the intent to bring CITYCENTRE to the forefront of this cultural art explosion. The Murals will be on display at CITYCENTRE through the end of October and are now available for purchase. For more information visit themuralproject.wix.com/houston.