HOUSTON (AP) — Houston's efforts at self-promotion - remember "Houston. It's Hot!"? - have come and gone. Somehow, though, the Bayou City always looked for love in all the wrong places. Now, thanks to concrete sculptor David Adickes, the sprawling metropolis finally may have found some heart. Fittingly, it's beside a freeway.
Workers on Tuesday began erecting Adickes' newest creation, a multi-colored, 30-plus-foot-tall sculpture - "We (heart) Houston" - facing Interstate 10 East, just west of downtown.
"Why do it? Why not?" said the 86-year-old artist, whose best-known works include the giant statue of Sam Houston near Huntsville and the concrete cellist at downtown's Lyric Centre. "I've always been a Johnny Appleseed, putting up sculptures. If they're good, they're an asset. . I've always loved large letters, anyway."
Adickes' latest work, he says, takes its inspiration from the city-defining hillside letters overlooking Hollywood.
Assembling the sculpture, being erected on property the artist owns, will take several days. A formal dedication with Mayor Annise Parker and other dignitaries is July 12.
"I think it's going to have an interesting, welcoming approach into the downtown area," said Minnette Boesel, the mayor's assistant for cultural affairs. "I believe David's inspiration is the iconic artwork that has been developed for other cities, the "I Love New York" art by Robert Indiana. . His thought is to use artwork to welcome people into our city. It's on his property. The city does not own the statue or own the property."
David Thompson, co-founder of the "Houston. It's Worth It" campaign, suggested Adickes should erect twin towers, one bearing the legend, "We (heart) Houston," the other, "If Only Outsiders Did."
"We can't have 'We (heart) Houston,' because it's 'We (heart) New York,'" he said. "I can't believe it. I appreciate his effort, but it's a bit derivative."
Adickes says the work will feature concrete letters ranging from 5 to 9 feet tall. The words will be stacked vertically, separated by a 9-foot-tall heart.
The front surfaces of the artwork largely will be unpainted, but the sides will be a virtual rainbow. Letters comprising "Houston" will feature an array of colors; the heart will be red; the letters in "We," yellow. The statue will be lit at night. Adding to the spectacle will be two artificial trees, flanking the sculpture and featuring brightly colored foliage.
The artwork's site previously had been occupied by Adickes' statues of the Beatles, since relocated to his studio in the 2400 block of Nance. The Houston heart sign had been assembled at the studio awaiting completion of roadwork near its permanent site, he says.
The Huntsville-born artist says the new work reflects his affection for his adopted hometown, which, incidentally, he does not perceive as having been "insufficiently loved."
"We loved Houston," he says, admitting municipal strains have grown. "The traffic is worse, though. It's grown substantially. Have you noticed?"
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com