Is This Pocket of Adrenaline- and Art-Filled Parks Houston's Best Kept Secret?

Is This Pocket of Adrenaline- and Art-Filled Parks Houston's Best Kept Secret?

Photo courtesy

IN 2004, THE North Houston Redevelopment Corporation started using parks and art by top artists to reimagine the area. In 2022, the landscape is coming alive — and it just may be the city’s best-kept secret.

“I've always felt art is an important part of any infrastructure because it gives life to concrete and mortar,” says Executive Director Sally Bradford, who joined the North Houston Redevelopment Corporation in 2003, and at that time asked to add public art to every project it built – bridge, park or street reconstruction. A lover of art in all forms for many years, Bradford’s own paintings have been shown in galleries from coast to coast.

In the past six years, the corporation completed the 30-acre North Houston Complex, inclusive of Rockstar Energy Bike Park, Skateboard Park and Dylan Park, which is a playground designed to be completely accessible to children with all ranges of abilities. Skateboard Park has hosted the Australian Olympic winners for practice and had multiple visits from legendary American skateboarder-entrepreneur Tony Hawk. And skateboarding prodigy Jordan Santana — at just 17, she made the first-ever U.S. Olympic skateboarding team last summer — trains here.

And among all the half-pipes and adrenaline, there’s tons of art to be found — 30 pieces and counting, in fact.

The first commission was by the internationally renowned local artist Dixie Friend Gay, known for her lush paintings of the mysteries of nature and her “Houston Bayou” in the Terminal A-B lobby of IAH. The first mosaics were installed on Dylan Park’s Benmar Bridge, and her pieces soon graced the park entrance’s iron butterfly gate, a mosaic sign portraying the park name, and a sprawling arbor wall. The murals are childlike in design, with bright colors to encourage play and a focus on texture for the visually impaired.

'Blowing Leaves' and 'Folded Plane' by Kevin Box

And the most recent addition is by hall-of-fame skateboarder and artist Steve Olson. Olson sculpted Crossed Upside Down — a large pipe with a bronze skater rolling inside the loop — for the North Houston Bike Park, where he previously installed another epic life-size sculpture of a BMX rider doing a trick upside down on a pedestal, High Noon.

Beyond the tracks, “we created a pocket art park on Greens Parkway and Greens Crossing featuring art by Kevin Box, Eric Ober and Lee Littleton,” says Bradford, noting that the Corporation frequently scouts artists at the Bayou City Arts Festival. “Box created the wonderful Folded Plane sculpture we placed at the entrance to the Hilton Hotel on Greenspoint Drive and the Blowing Leaves piece on Greens Parkway.”

Bradford and the North Houston Redevelopment Corp will continue to add, renovate and beautify major capital projects — including parks, art plazas, pedestrian amenities, streets, bridges, lighting and educational facilities — to encourage new development and enhance the quality of life for area residents, employees and visitors alike.

“Art is life!” she reminds us.

Art + Entertainment
Duos, Trios and Teams: ‘Next-Generation’ Mother-Daughter Leppert Duo Debuts

Clare Leppert and Clementine, the Cavachon. Leigh Leppert and Benny, the Bernedoodle.

HOW DID YOU come together as a team? This fall, we are celebrating the introduction of an exciting real estate collaboration between Clare Leppert, longtime Houston Realtor®, and daughter Leigh Leppert. Clare shared a 20+ year real estate partnership with her mother, Bette Carpenter, until Bette’s death in 2016. Having worked solo for several years, Clare in 2021 was awarded Houston Business Journal’s No. 2 Luxury Realtor® in Houston. Leigh, who has been working in marketing for the past decade, has always shared a passion for real estate and watched Clare successfully balance family and career. We are excited to re-create the next generation of a mother-daughter duo at Compass!

Keep ReadingShow less

Orleans Seafood (photo by Becca Wright)

FORGET MARCH MADNESS — mudbug madness has arrived. Fans think the little critters taste like baby lobsters, so they can’t gobble up enough. Here’s where to hit for the most badass boils in town.

Keep ReadingShow less

'Alma's Rainbow'

THIS WEEKEND, FEB. 3-5, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Through the Lens of African American Women, a mini-festival of four films and one short, all directed by Black women. The lineup was curated by UH graduate Autumn Johnson, who interned with the MFAH film department last summer and produced the short film This is Real Life, which has earned 70,000 views and counting on YouTube. As Houston is home to such talented Black female film directors as Candice D’Meza, Lisa E. Harris and Brittany Bass, and this being Black History Month, the festival is timely and will resonate with anyone interested in great, independent filmmaking.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment