Houston has been keeping it weird long before other cities got on the 'weird pride' bumpersticker bandwagon. In fact, many Houstonians find great beauty and comfort in the weird and celebrate the loveliness of the unusual in all part of their lives, especially in their most private spaces — their homes.
On Saturday, October 7, the second annual Houston Weird Homes Tour will unlock the purple-painted front doors and ornate garden gates of some of the city’s strangest abodes. The self-paced, self-driving tour allows aficionados of the artfully abnormal the chance to explore the homes owned by some of the city’s most acclaimed artists and collectors who have turned their residences into oasis of aesthetic oddities.
But before setting off on the journey across the city and into the bizarre, we offer a preview of the nine homes – and one extraordinary bonus for VIP ticket holders – to whet your weird appetite.
The Lester Marks Collection
Filled to the ceiling, sometimes quite literally, with modern and contemporary art, Lester Mark’s West U home resembles nothing so much as a private museum. You’ll have to purchase a VIP level $50 ticket to peek into this extensive art collection, but even if that pass didn’t also include entrance into the after party at the Last Concert Cafe, a rare view into the home of one of the top 100 art collectors in the U.S makes leveling up worth the price.
The Marks home contains small gallery spaces and a studio, but even the bathroom overflows with brilliant artworks.
The doll art gets an excellent view of what’s for dinner at the Marks house.
The Secret Garden Home
Head off the beaten path to Spring Branch for the three quarters of an acre wildness of Selia Qynn’s home and backyard, certified by the National Wildlife Federation backyard habitat program. With two aviaries, a pond, bog, small waterfall, and beehives there’s plenty of urban wilderness to explore.
Qynn proves that good tie fences make good neighbors especially when those neighbors fly in for a chat.
House of the Tree
No tour of Houston weird would be complete without an art car artist and Rebecca Lowe’s Heights home and Map of Space and Time car certainly prove art can and should permeate all the surfaces and interiors of our lives.
Lowe first began transforming her home into a weird art refuge in 2006 with her mailbox. The painted tree grew later and keeps on spreading its painted limbs reaching for the sun.
The Art House
Another iconic art car artist and the one-and-only Women Who Rock painter Bonnie Blue has created a home that exudes fabulousness just like its owner. Oh, the famous and infamous faces you’ll see inside and out as you say hello to all the rock stars inhabiting Blue’s home.
The Artist's Haven
Texas artist Sharon Kopriva finds a place to call a weird home at her studio connected to Redbud Gallery, owned and operated by Sharon and her husband Gus Kopriva. Her creation of two and three dimensional works, often using papier-mâché and found objects, have garnered her national and international acclaim.
Visitors might find solace and a mum ear amid her sculptures influenced by Kopriva's research into pre-Colombian cultures in Peru and her examinations of her personal Catholic faith.
Weird Home organizers chose three of the homes in the Dakota Lofts for the tour, making the historic building a kind of weird epicenter of downtown.
First up, interior designer and artist, Kelly Gale Amen filled his loft with his functional art furniture, pictorial essays, contemporary sculptures and tribal artifacts from around the world.
Along with furniture Kelly Gale Amen designed himself, visitors can view photography of other pieces of his functional art designs ceremonially set ablaze.
The Journey Through Time House
An Egyptian sarcophagus headpiece greets visitors to Dirk and Susie Stronck's home, but the mummy case hangs as only one of a multitude of ancient weird art and objects that have crisscrossed time and the globe before finding their home in the 21st century in the Dakota Lofts.
Centuries seem to know no boundaries as African tribal statues, 16th and 17th century prints, pre-Columbian artifacts and religious relics, including one of the original Lutheran Bibles, lay, stand and hang beside modern paintings a sculptures.
The Stroncks know how to provocatively display and layer their art and decorative objects in the best weird home fashion.
The Working Studio
Melding work and home, in one space, also in the Dakota Lofts, artist and Houston native Alix Dunn creates and lives amid her own paintings as Greek and Roman-style busts look on approvingly.
Born and raised in Houston, the bayou-shaped natural world of her childhood continues to influence Alix Dunn’s artwork.
The Hippolotofus Home
The winner for the most ardent hippopotamus supporter in Houston, if not the world, Sue Shefman resides in a hippo heaven on Earth, a home, garden and driveway dedicated to an animal we’d argue the most magnificently weird of the megafauna. This stop on the tour filled with over 2,000 pieces of hippo art, memorabilia and collecting objects was such a favorite last year, Weird Homes had to include it on the lineup for 2017.
The Portrait House
Another Houston artist who has turned her Heights home into a canvas/private gallery, Anne Reese Hernandez paints portraits of the people, places and pets she’s encounter over the years. See the many portraits that make up this unique Houston life in the Weird Home Tour.
10 percent of all the proceeds will be donated to New Hope Housing, a local affordable housing nonprofit whose core purpose is to provide life-stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing for people who live on very limited incomes.