Arts

The Heart of Houston Takes Centerstage at River Oaks District — Walking “Huestone”

Icons of the City Get a Homage From Houstorian James Glassman

BY // 09.18.20

The Astrodome, NASA, Loop 610, Memorial Park, and, of course, Tex-Mex food are all synonymous with Houston. Now the most diverse city in the United States celebrates its history in the heart of River Oaks District, via five colorful installations showcasing memorable hotspots around the city. 

Houstorian James Glassman’s “Huestone” installation features 32 striking colored panels, each named after a specific part of Houston’s legacy.

For the project designed by The Matter Creative Studio, creative director Matt Johns teamed up with production designer Chantelle Adams to create a fun and safe place for the Houston community. Johns and Adams journeyed around Houston to find antiques to pair with Glassman’s colored panels.

“River Oaks District wanted to build a space to further activate the ‘Huestone’ because the original project was displaying Glassman’s final colors throughout the district,” Jonhs says. “The gallery is just one piece of a larger project. We thought it was important to put all the colors in one space so that during the summertime, in the heat of Houston, people can come inside the gallery and see the colors all in one spot instead of walking all around the district.”

The Glassman Connection

A fifth-generation Houstonian, Glassman currently works as an architectural project manager in Houston. In 2006, he founded Houstorian, a website devoted to telling the story of Houston.

The History Press published Glassman’s first book, The Houstorian Dictionary: An Insider’s Index to Houston, which lists people, places, slang, terms, events, books and more that make Houston special.

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Scrubs

“Scrubs” gives thanks to all the Health Care workers hard work during COVID-19
“Scrubs” gives thanks to the hard work of healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Houston houses the largest medical complex in the world, The Texas Medical Center. The installation “Scrubs” pays homage to the work of health care professionals during COVID-19. The flag is handcrafted by fashion and costume designer Marcus Pontello, who stitched together real scrubs from Houston Methodist and St. Luke’s hospitals.

The attention to detail on the quilt-like art symbolizes the blood, sweat and tears shed behind the scenes at hospitals during COVID-19. Red stitching spells out a personal “Thank You” to the healthcare industry.

Heights

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James Glassman’s “Heights” panel features a 100-year-old mantel from a Houstonian.

Glassman chose a calming lavender shade to represent the historic Heights neighborhood, which is located northwest of downtown, between I-10 and the 610 loop. Founded in 1896, it’s known for Victorian homes, old fashioned shops and top restaurants.

On their antique hunt, Johns and Adams found the perfect props for their “Heights” installation: a 100-year-old mantel from a Houstonian and a ceramic cat from the ’70s. Delicate teacups and purple feathers add the finishing touches to recreate a home in The Heights. 

NASA

Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake gives Houston the nickname Space City. Glassman chose a midnight-blue hue for the “NASA” panel. Resembling a workspace, the installation features a 1970s era desk with dated electronics and an old fashioned suitcase. This panel is one of  Johns’ personal favorites.

“NASA depicts a really diverse group of talent through the organization and shows the future of the world,” he says. “An African-American woman engineer was the spotlight at NASA’s most recent shuttle launch.”

Wes Anderson

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James Glassman’s bubblegum-pink panel depicts American film director, producer, and screenwriter Wes Anderson.

Bubblegum pink represents native Houstonian and pioneering director Wes Anderson. Anderson wears many different hats in the entertainment industry: director, producer and screenwriter.

He carefully crafts films that are quirky, comical and subtly serious. Some of his most popular are Rushmore, which was shot in Houston at St. John’s School, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

Astroturf

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James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright co-invented AstroTurf, which was first used in the Houston Astrodome.

What did Houstonians do when grass did not grow in the Astrodome? They invented it. James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright co-invented their own artificial green turf in 1965 and originally sold it as Chemgrass. The Houston Astros played on an AstroTurf surface. There are stadiums around the world that continue to use some version of AstroTurf today.

The exhibit is open at River Oaks District through this Sunday, September 20. For more information, check out the Huestone website.

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