Real Estate / High-Rises

An Artful Tower — New Houston High-Rise Makes Gallery Worthy Works a Drawing Card

Inside the Crimson's Land of Art

BY // 07.27.21

Living among exquisite pieces of art is a rare experience that only certain serious collectors usually get to have, but for residents of a new Houston high-rise it comes with the building. It’s daring and unconventional for a high-rise to tout an ethereal art gallery sanctuary within its midst, but for the Crimson, it seems to fit.

Nestled near River Oaks District at 2220 Westcreek Lane, the 14 story Crimson opened last year and is home to 86 pieces of original art. The collection is carefully curated by Dallas-based interior designer Mike Mousel. Emerging artists featured in Crimson’s collection include Kimberly Moore, Gabriela Monterosso, Carolyn Brown, Winter Rusiloski, Michael Sanchez, Fred Villanova, Kenneth Schiano, Richard Crist and Neil Goodman.

Sculptures, paintings, prints and photography grace the lobby level and dictate the flow through the residence corridors, the gallery and leasing center. Mousel tried to tailor the collection to set a lush, sexy yet sophisticated tone and mood for a building with high-end apartments with rent for from $3,400 to nearly $10,000 a month (for the penthouses).

“The idea was to create a one-of-a-kind experience for tenants because it is a high-end luxury building,” Mousel says. “We wanted to do something that made original art stand out a little more. The tenants love it.

“They like to know that they’ve got something that’s not going to be everywhere else.”

Inside Crimson near the Orangerie Gallery, offering breathtaking views of Houston. No floor repeats artwork at the Crimson.

When you first walk into the Crimson lobby, your eye is immediately drawn to Carolyn Brown’s Flying Magnolia — a nuanced archival ink on paper that tells an embroidered story of a flower opening to light.

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“We both looked at this piece, and said, ‘That’s Crimson,'” Mousel tells PaperCity. “It kind of had this sophisticated, beautiful and wonderful color story to it. It wasn’t an abstract painting, like we’ve done so many times. It was neutral with a tiny bit of red in it, which is a wink to Crimson.”

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“Flying Magnolia,” an Archival Pigment Ink on Paper by Photographer Carolyn Brown

When Mousel began collecting for Crimson, he had an intuitive eye for what he wanted for the spaces within the high-rise, including the Orangerie, the Observatory, the bartender attended SKYLINE Bar, the library, sunroom, rooftop infinity pool and amenity deck with sweeping views of downtown Houston.

“I look for talent. I do think art should create a visual, hopefully interpersonal experience for you, ” Mousel says. “There’s a kind sophisticated air when you walk in Crimson. It’s very inviting visually.

Perhaps the most inventive finishing touch was Mousel’s collaboration with a cabinet maker to build custom stands for the sculptures. Each original piece of art on Crimson’s walls was procured from personal collections, emerging artists and fine art. In fact, the residences at Crimson are designed around the idea of providing linear wall space for a tenant’s personal art collections.

“I think you can look at a strong piece of art for hours on end because it’s different each time you look at it,” Mousel says. “What I love is when they (residents) can get that sense of satisfaction when they look at pieces.

“I met this sweet elderly couple, and they just loved all this artwork. They said it was what drew them to Crimson. They truly are enjoying this.”

A glimpse inside Crimson’s Orangerie Gallery. There are 86 pieces of original art on view, according to Crimson Curator Mike Mousel.

Mousel elaborates that he wasn’t just looking for painterly technique in an artist’s oeuvre, but he was also looking for exquisite pieces that move people.

“I look for things like this — incredible choices the artist made when they did this,” Mousel says. “The palette is good, the brushwork and mixed media is good. It has to move me. Sometimes a piece can move you to a very happy place and at other times it can have a melancholy to it.”

The Art of Houston

The project of creating a custom collection for Crimson was something that ignited Mousel’s imagination because of his affinity for Houston.

“Houston is such a melting pot, and we had to be careful to be inclusive of everyone in the area, ” Mousel says. “It’s hard to explain to someone what Houston is. It goes from high to low.

“It’s very sophisticated, very monied. It’s very international, and it’s also very laid-back.”

Mousel believes that what sets Crimson apart is the dedication to making art the aesthetic focus of the living experience.

“I think that a lot of people don’t expect that they will have that level of art in a building like this,” Mousel says. “What I’ve found is that the majority of people who are living in high-end buildings, they are traveling. They may have three or four homes.

“They just want a place to hang their hat, but they don’t want to do it in a generic building.”

It was the appeal of living in a dwelling with such an art gallery aesthetic that drew one couple, Angela and Mark Smith to this tower.

“We came over to look at Crimson — and we were looking at the units based on how we can consolidate our art collection and where all the pieces would go,” Angela Smith says. “After seeing that they had the art gallery upstairs, we said, this is the place for us. It was just a no-brainer.”

Crimson Library
Peering inside the Crimson Library. Sculptures, paintings and photography are carefully curated for each floor of Crimson

The couple previously owned a home in Tulsa and a town home in Houston, but decided to scale down to a more minimalist life of “less stuff, more life” at Crimson.

“It has transformed our life,” Angela Smith says. “When we were maintaining houses, there was so little time. When we lived in Tulsa, I got obsessed by gardening. I loved it, but it sucked my life away.

“Trying to worry about the A/C or doing any repairs, going back and forth, took a lot of mental energy. Now we don’t have any of those problems, and we live here and actually have fun on the weekends.”

Gracing the walls of the Smiths’ Crimson home are 40 pieces of artwork on view which the couple has collected over the years. The signature piece that distinguishes the couple’s collection is a Holly Wilson bronze.

“The Holly Wilson bronze piece, ‘Carried in The Wind ‘called out to us,” Angela Smith says. “When we bought that, that was like —wow, this is kinda crazy to do this, but we wanted to do it. We love it.”

Art serves the primary conversation piece in the couple’s new home. The Smiths’ collection is stacked salon style within their residence at the Crimson.

“We don’t have a TV in our house,” Angela Smith explains. “We literally just kind of look at our art.”

Each residence space is designed with the concept of providing linear wall space for residents’ art collections. There are 279 Residences, 6 Townhomes and 15 Penthouses within Crimson.

Simplifying their life by consolidating to one residence at Crimson was a liberating adventure for the Smiths.

“So many happy and interesting changes occurred when we changed our lifestyle and started focusing more on enjoying life as opposed to maintaining homes and properties,” Angela Smith says.

Crimson and Art

For Mousel, showcasing these commanding works of art to the residents of Crimson is a gratifying achievement of sorts.

“I try to have this thought: ‘What did I feel like walking through this space — through the gallery?’ ” Mousel says. “This level of clientele at Crimson deserves to have this aesthetic experience, and I think they appreciate it.

“For the rent prices, they should be getting fine art in their building. It’s just a part of it.”

Stunning view of downtown Houston from Crimson rooftop infinity pool.

Connecting the inspired with the extraordinary

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