Public Art Blooms in Houston

James Surls Houston

It’s not often that a piece of public art of any consequence is added to a cityscape. The recent installation of a work by James Surls in the Upper Kirby neighborhood in Houston warranted a drive.

The 35-foot tall Tree and Three Flowers sculpture is unmistakably Surls. The pointed petals spiral out from the stainless steel stem, and once still and in motion.

Though it has an urban placement, it’s made to be seen by motorists. Surls set it against a blue sky. For pedestrians the sculpture is most easily seen from the sidewalks, against buildings. One of which is the 2727 Kirby high rise which houses the Jonathan Adler store.

Surls is known well as a Texas artist. He studied and taught in Houston, so there was ample reason to commission the work from a hometown favorite. Yet, Surls is part of a group of artist that have transcended lone star boundaries. Now a resident of Colorado, its hard to track all the institutions holding Surls work including LACMA and the Smithsonian.

Surls likened the base to a tall, slender female figure and told local reporters the structure is a continuation of his lifelong celebration of nature’s feminine aspects.

The sculpture cost $850,000 and was commissioned by Upper Kirby District, which hopes to place more public works around the neighborhood. It weighs 7,000 pounds, is hollow, which the artist says would help it move with the wind.

A large concrete base may not keep it from being hit by automobiles, but may provide enough luck to keep it from moving when it is hit.

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