The City of Baytown Tourism Division is spearheading the newly created Baytown Public Art Program. Overseeing the program is the Public Art Visioning Committee comprised of members from the Art League of Baytown, Lee College Art Department, Sterling Municipal Library, Parks and Recreation Department, and the Baytown Tourism Division. These community influencers hold Baytown’s best interests at heart as they brainstorm and generate ideas for the public art program. Finding inspiration in Peter Kageyama book Love Where You Live, the committee’s vision for this program is to create emotional connections between residents of Baytown with their community, building on the mantra “love where you live,” in hopes this love will be contagious to everyone who visits Baytown.
The first phase of the program includes three mural projects at different locations along Texas Avenue. The Sterling Municipal Library’s mural Solitary Journey was the first completed mural by Armando Castelan. Located on the back corner of the library on W. Texas Avenue, this life sized book shelf is rich in color and vibrancy. The second completed mural is at the Art League of Baytown. The artist, Suzanne Sellers, used a trompe l’oeil painting style, which means “trick the eye”. This mural takes a flat wall and makes it seem as if you are looking right into an art gallery! Other portions of the mural feature Art Deco style flares that reflect the original architecture of the building.
The third project is the Umbrella Alley. Collaboration between several City departments and community partners made a beautiful place out of what was once an eyesore. In the beginning, the alley was filled with broken concrete and graffitied walls. Now, the Umbrella Alley is occupied with colorful umbrellas that swing back and forth in a whimsical limbo, casting dancing shadows along the alley walls and ground. The Lee College Art Department is working on the mural that wraps around the walls that focus on the ecology of Baytown. Even though the mural is still in progress, the images are starting to come to life as more and more paint hits the walls.
One of the goals for the public art program was that it would serve as inspiration for other community members to have art at their business. And it has done just that! Already a privately funded mural called Cruisin W. Texas Avenue has surfaced at Bay Area Auto Gallery on Texas Avenue. This mural is a blast to the past that features classic cars and noteworthy Baytown icons like the Brunson Theater and Fred Hartman Bridge.
The City of Baytown exists to enrich lives and build communities, and that is what is happening with this Public Art Program. These three art installations are just the beginning for the program. You can look forward to mini-murals on the traffic cabinets at intersections, interactive art, and more in the coming months!
The art pieces are at the following locations: Solitary Journey is at 1 Mary Elizabeth Wilbanks Ave; the Art Gallery is at 110 W. Texas Avenue; Umbrella Alley is at 124 W. Texas Avenue; Cruising W Texas Avenue is at 600 W. Texas Avenue.
Sabrina Martin is the City of Baytown Tourism Visitor Outreach Specialist.