Portrait of Houston: It Wasn’t a Dream, It Was a Flood

Submitted by Buffalo Bayou Partnership

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Client: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Location: Houston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2014

Project Team

Client

Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Artist

John Runnels

Overview

Houston-based artist John Runnels’ recently completed the installation of this 22-foot stainless steel canoe sculpture supported by two corten steel trees at Buffalo Bayou Park’s Crosby Outfall, a major entry point to the bayou along Houston’s vibrant and bustling Allen Parkway.

Commissioned by Buffalo Bayou Partnership (the nonprofit organization spearheading the revitalization of the Buffalo Bayou Park – Shepherd to Sabine Project), this recent art addition to the park joins eleven other nearly identical sculptures located at various entry points and major destinations along the bayou, ushering visitors into the park and along the waterway.

Goals

Civic art is a major component of the Buffalo Bayou Park – Shepherd to Sabine transformation project. The park, currently in the midst of a $58 million dollar revitalization project led by Buffalo Bayou Partnership, is set to transform into one of Houston’s most iconic spaces, with enhancements to the park to include major destinations, natural landscaping, trails, lighting, water features, pedestrian bridges and new art for park users to enjoy.

“Portrait of Houston: It Wasn’t a Dream, It Was a Flood” is located at Buffalo Bayou Park’s Crosby Outfall, a major entry point to the bayou along Houston’s Allen Parkway. This structure, along with eleven other nearly identical sculptures located at various entry points and major destinations along the bayou, ushers visitors into the park and waterway.

The boats signify and symbolize a journey. Asking the question: where is the water? The structure creates a visual for visitors who see the portals and consider the potential for an experience. Visitors get a sense of the juxtaposition of the natural (the bayou) and the cultural (city skyscrapers).

Runnels wanted to pay homage to the population that have experienced the destructive force of water while also acknowledging the pleasures the still waters provide.

Process

Buffalo Bayou Partnership commissioned Runnels to design this piece in June of 2013, however the BBP and the artist have partnered on eleven other nearly identical sculptures along Buffalo Bayou. The installation at Crosby Outfall joins eleven other nearly identical sculptures (also designed by Mr. Runnels) project took countless man hours to complete and 2 weeks to install.