Commute

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Client: Houston Downtown Management District

Location: Houston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Client

Angie Bertinoit

Houston Downtown Management District

Art Consultant

Lea Weingarten

Weingarten Art Group

Artist

Sarah Welch

Overview

The Main Street Marquee is a rotating art space on the façade of 901 Main Street in downtown Houston. The vision for this approximately 40 x 60-foot area is to share large-scale two dimensional artworks that enhance the vitality of Main Street. Commute by local artist Sarah Welch is rendered in the artist’s signature comic book style. It depicts two women in profile, sitting back to back on one of Houston’s commuter trains, each reading a different book. Through the train window is a glimpse of a classic Houston mixed-zoning neighborhood, with an auto shop and a home located side-by-side. Commute is both a nod to everyday life in Houston and a metaphor for the power of books to transport readers through time and space.

Goals

The Main Street Marquee projects are commissioned (usually semi-annually) as one of several sites in “Art Blocks”, an ongoing initiative of rotating art presentations downtown. For Houstonians who use light rail, Main Street Square (the Marquee’s location) is often the jumping off point for downtown destinations. Similarly, Houstonians who work downtown know Main Street Square as a pedestrian plaza, affording a change of pace and scenery from the office. Marquee selections fulfill the intent to share dynamic and accessible public art, while enhancing the diversity, connectivity and attractiveness of downtown. Artworks are commissioned from regional artists, printed on large vinyl strips, and adhered directly to the façade of a local business who is supportive of the arts – engendering one of many critical commercial/public art alliances.

Process

Close collaboration among the Main Street Marquee building owner, the City of Houston, and Houston Downtown Management District was essential to the success of this project and is likewise to the ongoing program. Open call submissions were reviewed by local arts professionals, arts enthusiasts and downtown stakeholders, then a selection was made based upon established criteria. The artist worked closely with E.H.Teasley Co, who executed the color matching, printing, and installation of the piece. Welch collaborated to alter the color and the overall composition so that her risograph print technique transferred as desired to the new monumental scale.