Art Tour of Huntsville

The Huntsville Convention and Visitors Bureau proudly showcases various works of art in our community. The Huntsville Arts Commission enhances the quality of life in Huntsville by supporting, encouraging, and nourishing the cultural arts for our diverse community. This tour and many art projects are supported by the Huntsville Arts Commission.

1. A Tribute to Courage
(on Interstate 45, Exit 109 or 112: 5 miles south of downtown)

Towering 67 feet over the busy Interstate and pine-clad countryside, this monumental, one-of-a-kind work embodies the tallest likeness of any American hero. Artist David Adickes created the striding figure of Sam Houston from 60 tons of concrete and steel over a three-year period. Thousands of tourists and school children each month visit the statue of the great warrior-statesman and the adjoining Visitor Center.

2. Totem #1
(Town Creek Park beside City Hall)

This bronze sculpture by celebrated Texas artist and University professor Charles Pebworth reflects his interest in the universal quality found in totems. Its abstract design relates to the famous Indian totems of the American Northwest as well as African totems, especially in the head arrangement. The 9'4" x 5' work was cast in 1983 at the Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque, New Mexico and was installed in the same year at Town Creek Park.

  3. Trompe l'oeil murals
(North side buildings of the Town Square)

Splendid examples of an illusionary technique sometimes translated as "trick of the eye." These works by an internationally recognized artist, Richard Haas, include three large murals illustrating episodes of Sam Houston's life, plus superb architectural details of a bygone era. The Houston murals facing east on the corner of U.S. 190 and University Avenue rise approximately two stories to depicts "Houston as Colonned the Cherokee," "Houston's at Woodland Home" and "Battle of San Jacinto 1836." At the other end of the block, the elegant 19th century Gibbs Building displays remarkable architectural details in faux art style. (to view pictures of Haas's work go here)

4. The Source
(Founder's Park, 10th Street at University Avenue)

In a secluded corner of this park, beside a placid pond, a Bedias Indian man bears a string of fish home to a woman and child, realistic works in concrete - the Indian man by sculptor Larry Zinc, and the woman and child figure by artist Monica Taylor. A nearby plaque explains, "At the spring near this site, the founder of Huntsville, Pleasant Gray, met in 1830 with friendly Bedias Indians who lived nearby. A town developed in 1835 and was incorporated in 1845..." The abandoned spring was restored in 1990 and the sculptors placed at the site in 1994.

  5. Pleasant Gray Trading Post
(On North wall of office building facing Founders Park)

Measuring 6' high and 88' long, this acrylic mural by artist Larry Zinc and Challenge Program Students portrays scenes of pioneer times at the Trading Post. A family emerges from the deep woods in a covered wagon pulled by oxen...7 Indians and 2 frontiersmen barter and trade...2 women, 1 with a babe in arms, the other carrying a fowl for dinner, chat beside a log home...all amidst encircling forests.

  6. San Jacinto Revisited
(On side of office building on University Ave. between 12th and 13th streets)

Artist Julius Slaughter has represented various touring points in Sam Houston's phenomenal career in this acrylic mural, completed in 1984. The symbols include cannon, frontier-rifleman, the Texas flag, dome on the State Capital, and two icons of his Indian years, a black raven and tepee.

  7. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter
(Mural on west front of a commercial building in the 2100 block of Sam Houston Ave)

Composer of such blues classics as "Midnight Special, "Rock Island Love," and "Good Night, Irene/." Huddie Ledbetter got his nickname from his massive, muscular body, his sexual prowess, and his undiscriminating appetite. He served time in he Texas Prison System and Angola Prison in Louisiana, telling audiences he "sung his way out of both of them." He was once described as "the No. 1 man in the No. 1 gang on the No. 1 farm" in the Texas Prison System. He died in 1949 from Lou Gehrig's disease. Artist Richard Haas of New York muralized this powerful portrait of a controversial composer.

8. Double-Double
(In front of the University Theater Center)

"Move around it" advises Dr. Darryl Patrick, professor of art history at Sam Houston State University, "when you view the abstract sculpture. You'll find negative and positive shapes repeating themselves." You will also discover different perspectives of light and shadow playing over the curves and angles. An SHSU graduate, Michael F. Boles, created this concrete and fiberglass work, which measures 112" x 44" in 1977.

9. Sam Houston Centennial Statue
(In the quadrangle in front of historic Austin Hall)

Dedicated in 1979, this life-size bronze statue of the hero of San Jacinto graces the front yard of the oldest educational building (1852) in Texas still in use. It's the work of Houston artist Trace Guthrie.

10. Rainbow Walker
(next to Bowers Stadium on Bearkat Boulevard)

Wow! A sprawling, shining abstraction in 5,000 pounds of stainless steel, this 1980 work by Minnesota artist Ali Baudoin uses both brushed and polished metal to reflect sky, trees, earth, and surroundings, all in dynamic balance and tension.

  11. Statue of Athena
(In the Peabody Memorial Library)

One of the most powerful deities of ancient Greece, Athena had a split personality on a grandiose scale. The Greeks gave her dominion over five realms - wisdom, war, victory, the city, and civilization. Her subjects claimed that Athena emerged fully grown from the head of Zeus, the supreme deity of Greek mythology. The unknown sculptor sought to convey such qualities of power and character in the 8' tall statue given to the University by he senior class of 1912. An excellent reproduction of a Roman version of the Greek original, Athena's gaze directs the viewer's eyes tot he elegant architecture and artful trappings of the magnificent library, built in 1902 and restored in 1991. Details include a domed ceiling of pressed tin and 19 glowing stained glass windows. Today, the library serves as a repository of the University's historical documents, a fitting stage for Athena. (for visiting hours, call 936/294-3529 or 3699)

  12. Made in the Shade
(in front of Fire Station #2, 2109 Sam Houston Ave.)

This reclining figure by Huntsville artist John Stewart invites individual interpretation. It poses a head and an erect torso, but he reclining elements of the figures spur the imagination. Shade patterns cast by trees on the stark white form enhance the enigma. Produced in fiber cement and galvanized steel, 87" x 42" x 153".

  Works by Pebworth, Adickes, Et Al, in the Newton Gresham Library
(for visiting hours at the library call 936/294-161 or 1613)
This sleek massive library building contains dozens of notable artistic works for public enjoyment and study.

13. Mahogany and Metal Wall Sculpture
(by Charles Pebworth)

Here Pebworth, retired professor of art and a widely-known Texas artist, combines superb wood, semi-precious stones, and a medley of metals - brass, copper, stainless steal - into a masterful abstract composition about 12 ft. high, 9 ft. wide. A wall of flawless mahogany boards frames the carved and embellished inset. The wall wraps around a corner to provide a background for a life-size figure of General Sam Houston.

14. General Sam Houston
(sculpture by David Adickes)

This life-sized sculpture served as a prototype for the 67 ft. tall statue of the Texas hero and American statesman that stands on Interstate 45 at the southern entrance to Huntsville (currently being restored offsite).

15./16. Other Pebworth, Adickes Works

Another Pebworth sculpture in fine wood, semiprecious stones, and various metals, titled TOTENm rises from a stair landing serving the 4th floor of the library. Portrait of a woman with Carafe is an example of David Adickes' talent as a painter that won him international recognition.

17. The Thomason Room

some 1,800 works by the eminent artist and historian, John Thomanson (1893-1944) a native of Huntsville, attract artists, scholars of American and Texas history, and persons interested in Texana to this dedicated room. Exhibits of several hundred Thomason works change periodically.

18. Other Artists

Works by artists Harry Ahysen, Kay Thomas, Don O'Connor, John Payne, and Stanley Lea enliven various public areas in the library. An exhibition case displays a collection of mementoes in the colorful career of network news anchor Dan Rahter, one of the University's well-known alumni.

19. Christ
(south entrance to Catholic Student Center, corner of 17th St and Ave M.)

Partly abstractionist, partly representational, this 45" high cast iron assembly shows a shielded figure of Jesus, one hand upraised. Marianist Brother Melvin Moyer of Kirkwood, Missouri created the work in 1979.

  20. The Dreamers
(1604 10th Street)

Do faces intrigue you? Do you read soulful character or simple characteristics into actual facial features? If so, this remarkable display of faces, all contemporaries, could prove compelling. The 69 faces of individuals, from youths to the elderly, were cast in concrete relief from molds taken by artists Larry Zinc and Monica Taylot in 1995. The work is 4'6" tall and 20' ling. The nearby Cultural Center traves African-American history in the Huntsville and Walker County region.

21. Beauty and the Beast
(located at Huntsville High School at the west parking lot, 441 FM 2821 East)

With a fearsome Jurassic beak and the body of a bull, the "Beast" in this abstract sculpture threatens the "Beauty", who raises a thin arm in defense. (That's one person's interpretation.) Dallas artist Stuart Kraft created the figures of welded steel in 1981, assisted by high school students. It measures 110" in height.

22. The Athlete
(located at Kate Bar Ross Park near the Baseball Field Parking Lot - HWY 75 N.)

Is it a wide receiver signaling his quarterback for a game-winning pass? It is a gymnast stretching for the high bar? An enthusiastic fan doing "The Wave"? An outfielder rising to meet a flying baseball? Artist Stuart Kraft designed this figure with upraised arms in an open frame, 12' tall, 4'wide, and 1' skinny. High school students in art and welding classes translated his design into steel in 1987.

23. The Blessing Christ
(located in woods on north border of Oakwood Cemetery - Ave I & 9th Street)

In a virtually ideal setting for meditation or a moment's respite, this impressive bronze statue of the robed Jesus, in an open gesture of blessing, rises more than 7 feet above a base inscribed, PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU. LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID (adapted from John 14:27). On one side of the base is Sidney Lanier's poem, "The Trees and the Master." The statue derives from a larger original by Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), who created it in 1821 for a cathedral in Copenhagen. The Oakwood statue was dedicated in 1925 by a local family "in loving memory of our dear child, Rawler Rather Powell." (also referred to as "The Comforting Christ" and "The Christus"

  24. Old Huntsville
(inside West Hill Mall near the South entrance - 1600 Financial Plaza, HWY 30 W)

Six images representing phases of Huntsville's history appear in this acrylic 9'x40' mural by local artist Mark Robinson --the annual Walker County Rodea, the Texas flag, Sam Houston, The Sam Houston Memorial Museum, tye logo os Sam Houston State University, and "Old Sparky" -- the chair once used by the state prison system to electrocute inmates sentenced to death. (The real "Old Sparky" can be viewed at the Texas Prison Museum in downtown Huntsville).

25. Sam Houston Gravesite Marker
(located at the west entrance of Oakwood Cemetery - Ave I & 19th)

In gleaming marble, renowned Italian sculptor Pmpeo Coppini carved Sam Houston on his horse, flanked by allegorical figures of Victory and History, with an inscription by Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson: THE WORLD WILL TAKE CARE OF HOUSTON'S FAME. The Tombston was erected on April 21, 1911, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. Legendary orator William Jennings Bryan gave the dedicatory address. Houston's body lay in a wooden coffin crafted by Union prisoners from the Civil War for whom Houston showed special feeling. Key events in the hero's life, from birth in Virginia to his death in Huntsville on July 26, 1863, at age 70, are carved on the east side of the tombstone. Originally, the word Governor was misspelled in the inscription. It was then ground smooth and the word Gov'nor firred into the space. Another Coppini work of art is the Cenotaph at the entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio..

  26. Murals at Scott E. Johnson Elementary School
(U.S. HWY 190 E near city limits)

For many folks, a leading candidate for the most winsome work of art in the city is the Scott E. Johnson mural inside the entrance to this elementary school. Artist Lee Jamison, who completed the 28 ft -long tribute to the African-American educator in 1995, used a time-line of scenes to race his 101-year-long life of determination and service. The first figure in the time line is a 10-year-old barefoot lad entered school. The year is 1905. As the scenes progress, Johnson as an adolescent drops a sack of cotton (ie: leaves the cotton fields forever) to devote his life to education...World War I service in the U.S. Army interrupts his career plan...then comes completion of his college work and beginnings as a teacher...1945: a school principal, he looks intently into a new student's face ("Mr. Johnson was famous for showing deep interest in every one of his students," says current principal Barbara Skeeters)...and further portrayals of the educator and his surroundings, moving to the last figure in the time-line, a snowy haired centenarian at his 100th birthday party at the school. Students as Scott E. Johnson Elementary serve as models for the entire time-line. "Beautiful...remarkable...touching..." are typical comments by first-time viewers of the mural.

27. The Monument at Sesquicentennial Plaza
(HWY 75 N at I-45, Exit 118)

Huntsville's newest unveiling in its public art collection pays tribute to the Texans who have made the state's sprawling prison system one of the world's best in 150 years of fascinating history. The prison system began its work in 1848 with a prisoner population of three men, and has over 143,500 offenders today. The monument to the generations of prison system employees and officials rests in the center of a circular platform 76 feet in diameter. Rising 28 feet from its base, the monument of Sesquicentennial Plaza features a five-sided column studded with native river rocks. A Texas star cut from white limestone crowns the column. An elevated pool fed by fountains and ripples flowing over the river rocks holds five more Texas stars.

Memorial bricks, carved with names, historic dates, and inscriptions, lead to and surround the monument. Purchased by families, prison employee groups, corporate sponsors, and even past inmates, the bricks sometimes bear cryptic inscriptions authored by the purchasers. One brick reads "In Memory of Sanity". The memorials range in size and donations from $25 to $1000. Donated benches are $5000 and an engraved star at the base is $25000. Dedicated on Sept. 11th, 1998, the Plaza will open to the public as soon as a drive and parking are is completed. Meanwhile, it can be viewed from USHWY 75 N approximately two miles from Huntsville's downtown square.

For questions or comments contact Linda Pease.
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