For the third week of heART of Huntsville, participants were taken to Huntsville’s historic downtown to see parks, art, and fine arts at multiple locations, followed by a fine dinner at Carboneras.
Leading this tour was Linda Pease, the city’s long-standing public art authority. Pease isn’t an artist, but she has been behind much of the beautification of the community for the past forty years or so, and she offered an oral history of Huntsville’s art scene.
The tour began at Founders Park, on the southeast corner of 10th and University. This small park was created in the late 1980s at the springs that served as a meeting place between Huntsville’s founding father, Pleasant Gray, and the Bedias Indians. From the spring sprung Huntsville, as more settlers settled, business thrived, and civilization eventually flowered. The site recreates the springs with a small, shallow pond, and artists Monica Taylor and Larry Zink created statues of Indians at the site.
Taylor and Zink also contributed to the downtown area by assisting Richard Haas with his revitalization of the downtown square. Haas, an artist, informal architect, and unofficial “urban planner,” created 14 art works in the downtown area in the 1990s.
Perhaps the finest of these artworks is the three-part mural of Sam Houston on the east side of the Smither Building on University Avenue and 11th Street. This mural depicts Sam Houston in battle, with the Indians, and as gentleman of Huntsville, Texas.
Other key works include the faux Roman ruins, the mural of Leadbelly on Sam Houston Avenue, and the movie posters on the front of the Old Town Theater.
Speaking of which, the group also got a tour of this theater during a rehearsal of King Lear. Participants were able to explore the theater’s balcony…
Bruce Chabot, a professor at SHSU’s English Department, is the director of the play, and the production crew graciously provided some comped tickets to members of the first-ever heART of Huntsville cohort.
Another downtown treat is the Art Department’s “Satellite Gallery” at 1204 University Avenue. Here, art students and art alumni display their work for the public. Following a quick tour of this gallery, the group headed to the historic Cafe Texan, where Linda Pease shared more information about Richard Haas….
Interestingly, Haas has produced more than 60 exterior murals in his career, and more than twenty of them have been destroyed by the elements or, more often, by construction projects. But his work still exists around the world, in Fort Worth…
…in New York…
…and many other cities.
Interestingly, however, the largest concentration of his works is in Huntsville, Texas.
With help from the LEAP Center, Art Department, and the Huntsville Public Library, Richard Haas will be in town November 19th, 2015. He’ll deliver remarks on campus and at the Huntsville Public Library, where he has donated the studies for his Huntsville murals.