Arts / Galleries

Taking a Houston Art Adventure — This Black Artist Creates Art in Neighborhoods Too-Often Ignored

The Prolific Reginald Adams' Powerful Works on Equality Will Make You Think

BY // 03.24.21

Checking out the work of award-winning Black artist Reginald Adams can be an adventure. It’s best done in a self-guided Houston public art tour. His projects all share a common theme: Equality for all. Most of his pieces celebrate important moments in Black History.  

Adams’ mosaic murals, sculptures and art installations are located in historic and under-served communities across the Houston area, around the United States and abroad. 

Over the past 20 years, Adams and his team of artists dubbed The Creatives have designed and produced more than 350 public art projects, including images of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Check out artist Reginald Adams’ work this weekend on a self-guided art tour.
Check out artist Reginald Adams’ work this weekend on a self-guided art tour.

 

Adams recommends beginning your Houston art tour of his work at his Freedmen’s Town Labyrinth.

Freedmen’s Town Labyrinth

Located at 307 Valentine Street, Adams’ Freedmen’s Town Labyrinth is a circuitous pathway intended for meditation and reflection for schools, churches, community centers, and other civic places. In 2014, Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church invited Adams to create a sacred space in the Fourth Ward. 

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“This project really changed my life, in the sense that it was my first public work where I immediately saw the positive impact it had not only on the individuals who helped me create it, but also on the community,” Adams tells PaperCity

Famous Murals

Moving on to Midtown, we come to three important Black figures in history. Adams’ Barack Obama mural illustrates the former president’s visit to Houston for the 2008 primaries. This work of art was a symbol of hope for Obama supporters. Directly adjacent to Obama’s mural is Adams’ portrait of Michelle Obama. In 2017, Adams painted this piece to commemorate the First Lady’s work with young girls through the Global Girls Alliance.

Lastly, you’ll see Adams’ most recent mural, I Can’t Breathe, painted last summer. The mural depicts George Floyd, one of the countless Black Americans who have lost their lives due to racial discrimination and police brutality. Floyd’s story — and tragedy of his senseless death — helped spark a nationwide movement. It’s fitting that this powerful work should in Floyd’s hometown of Houston.

In Midtown, Reginald Adams’ mural “I Can’t Breathe” depicts George Floyd, an African-American who lost his life due to racial discrimination and police brutality. (Photo by Reginald Adams)
In Midtown, Reginald Adams’ mural “I Can’t Breathe” depicts George Floyd, an African-American who lost his life due to racial discrimination and police brutality. (Photo by Reginald Adams)

All of these murals are located at the Black-owned community staple Breakfast Klub, located at 3711 Travis Street. 

Elements of Change

Next, we have Adams’ Elements of Change Monuments, honoring the legacy of four of the original founders of Emancipation Park: the Reverend John “Henry” Jack Yates, Richard Brock, Richard Allen and the Reverand David Elias Dibble. Located in the Third Ward at 3018 Emancipation Avenue, Emancipation Park is one of the oldest public parks in Texas.

Adams’ three-dimensional mosaic murals at Emancipation Park incorporate tribal designs including West African Adinkra symbols

Sacred Paths 

The last spot on the art walk is Adams’ Sacred Paths mural located in the Third Ward at Columbia Tap Trail. The mixed-media mosaic mural inspired by stained-glass windows in churches depicts eight Black activists, including former U.S Congressman George “Mickey” Leland, the first Black legislator to serve on the Senate-House conference Committee as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. You can find this mural at 3115 Blodgett Street.

Checking out Reginald Adams’ work in Houston makes for an art-filled, historical expedition. 

Houstonians can also look forward to Adams’ next project, coming to Galveston on Juneteenth. His mural will be located at the exact site where General Gordon Granger famously proclaimed by military decree that all slaves were freed in Texas on June 19, 1865— more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That freed more than 250,000 enslaved Black Americans in Texas.

To do it, Granger marched into Galveston with 2,000 troops. Now, Reginald Adams is making Granger and the critical moment the focus of his next work.

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