Arts / Museums

50 Years of University of Houston Art Showcased in Compelling New Book

Stunning Works Featured in "On Site"

BY // 12.17.19

As the University of Houston System stakes its claim as one of the seminal universities in the country to embrace and commission public art of diversity, significance and visual impact (the wow factor), a book that proves the collection’s cultural currency arrives.

Public Art UHS director and chief curator Dr. María C. Gaztambide oversaw the publication of the just-released volume, On Site: 50 Years of Public Art of the University of Houston System. Serving as essential guide to the ever-expanding nearly 700-piece collection housed across five campuses — the original University of Houston on Cullen Boulevard, as well as Clear Lake, downtown, Sugar Land and Victoria — On Site was published by Scala Arts & Heritage in time for Public Art UHS’ 50th-anniversary celebration in the fall.

Spanning the early days of Public Art UHS to today and detailing 42 works reflecting the depth and range of its holdings, the book is immersive and compelling. Beautifully photographed artwork imagery pairs with concise essays commissioned from curators, art historians and scholars to convey the importance of works by figures from art history, as well as those who have shaped Houston into a 21st-century art capital.

Featured are Warhol (the artist’s saucy Polaroids), Carlos Cruz-Diez, Alyson Shotz, Frank Stella, Nancy Graves, Mary Miss, and the under-known Pablo Serrano.

Frank Stella’s "Euphonia," 1997, at the Moores School of Music.
Frank Stella’s “Euphonia,” 1997, at the Moores Opera House, is one of the calling cards of the University of Houston System Public Art Collection.

Besides these nationally and internationally notable names, we’re acquiring On Site because the Public Art UHS collection also focuses on talents who reside in Houston.

That list is topped by the globally exhibited Trenton Doyle Hancock and also includes The Art Guys (whose work assumes greater meaning after the recent passing of Michael Galbreth); the intensely topical Vincent Valdez; retired UH professors MANUAL (Ed Hill and Suzanne Bloom), Gael Stack, Aaron Parazette and Floyd Newsum Jr.; Lawndale founder James Surls, who birthed the post-’70s art scene; UT Austin professor Margo Sawyer (whose abstract glass installation is one of the calling cards of the Victoria campus); and the late Luis Jiménez, whose border concerns and use of the language of sign makers, fiberglass and neon, argue for him as one of the greatest American artists of his generation.

On Site: 50 Years of Public Art of the University of Houston System, $60, through area booksellers and Amazon. 

Read more about Public Art of the University of Houston System here.

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