There’s a sensational new attraction in Houston, TX, called Smither Park. Ruth & I went there to see the mosaics and loved both the concept and the place. The park is already a folk art masterpiece created by more than 300 artists. Far from finished, Smither Park is already a considerable neighborhood asset that is an increasingly popular gathering place.
We were lucky to find a young Hispanic woman there posing for photos as part of her Quinceanera. This 16 year-old beauty wearing a Mexican wedding dress gave me permission to take her picture, but I failed to get her name. We were lucky in another way. Smither Park’s artistic director was there and willing to talk to us about his project. Dan Phillips is helping to create a folk art treasure that is already a Third Ward and East End asset which will not only endure but will only get better as it moves toward a kind of completion.
Part of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, a local nonprofit that sponsors a couple of other local attractions, half-acre Smither Park is already a folk art delight that incorporates colorful, often glittery recycled materials in fanciful mosaic figures that delight everyone who comes to see them. Dan told Ruth and me about some of the novel ideas that have emerged. A new feature will involve kids of all ages responding to riddles. Dan told me that this “will be launched in a year or two” and will be known as “Gotcha”. The riddles’ solutions will be hidden in the park. Children created tiles have been used in clever ways, like in the step below.
Stephanie Smither, who died recently, created this park near the University of Houston along with Dan Phillips as a tribute to her husband John who supported self-taught artists. Both Stephanie and John, who died in 2002, were board members of OSCVA and big community supporters. Stephanie and Dan have created a truly unique park experience.
Go see it if you travel to Houston. Don’t wait until it’s attracting larger crowds as a major tourist attraction in this vibrant Texas city.