Arts / Galleries

Inside Montrose’s New Interactive Street Art Wonderland — Hip-Hop Artist and Local Entrepreneur Unveil Playhaus II

Technicolor Delights Bring Some Immersive Dazzle to the City's Art Scene

BY // 01.07.21

Houston’s first interactive street-art pop-up gallery is here. Say hello to Playhaus II, a one-of-a-kind exhibit from founder and creative director Julie Gray and hip-hop artist Fabolous.

Located in Montrose at 1735 Westheimer Road, the Instagrammable paradise is an immersive experience that fuses street and contemporary art to create a unique style. It will be open for the next six months. 

For those who miss Houston’s once-thriving entertainment scene, Playhaus II could be a haven for hip art and fresh music. Visitors can even soak in the scene while relaxing in a BYOB hookah lounge. 

The original Playhaus was a pop-up that opened in the summer of 2019 in downtown Houston, showcasing installations and murals by nine Houston artists. Playhaus II is a revamped gallery that promotes artistic journeys.

“In any project I work on, I love to meet new people and learn artistic perspectives from them,” Gray tells PaperCity. “My partner, Shaun Turner, and I wanted to create a collaborative space to enjoy good company, music and atmosphere.”

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Playhaus II founder Julie Gray was born in Boston and spent a decade living in Europe, where she developed a deep passion for the arts.

Behind the Scenes at Playhaus II

You’ll begin your art journey in a lobby that has a sprawling rainbow ball pit open to people of all ages. “This place is named after a playhouse because whether you’re a kid or adult, you can play and be free from any judgments from the outside world,” Gray says. 

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The experience continues with a piece called “BLM,” made by Black Lives Matter activist and artist Arkan Ali. There’s a wall filled with the names of victims of police brutality, including George Floyd. On the opposite side, a massive collage showcases important moments in Black and civil rights history.

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You might want to get your cameras ready for the next display. A visitor favorite at Playhaus II is the Graffiti Hallway, painted by artist/designer Gino Vian. The neon room’s grungy technicolor feel transports you to the streets of New York City. Gray wanted to incorporate graffiti at Playhaus II because of her fascination with the style.

“A lot of people see graffiti as ugly, taboo and gang-related, but I think it’s quite the opposite,” she says. “As a kid, I would always touch and feel graffiti walls and was in total awe of the beautiful process behind it.” 

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Playhaus II also offers the chance to pick up a souvenir. Fabolous worked with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami to design merchandise featuring the artists’ iconic colorful smiley-faced flowers. But this time, the flowers are wearing a face mask. 

Houston’s new technicolor wonderland has already drawn visitors from Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, Atlanta and Georgia. 

Playhaus II, 1735 Westheimer Road, is open 3:30 to 10 pm Tuesdays through Thursdays, 3:30 pm to midnight Fridays through Sundays. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults, with kids under 3 free. Masks and social distancing are required.

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