In recent years, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, the quirky nonprofit that puts on the Art Car Parade, has turned to big celebs of yore like Dan Aykroyd, local heroes like Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt and linebacker Connor Barwin and major players in philanthropy like the incomparable Lynn Wyatt to usher in the decades-long tradition.
Yet for the 26th installment of the procession of colorful clunkers, organizers have chosen a coterie of Houston artists of international repute whose creations carry the spirit of the city.
That would be John Alexander, Gertrude Barnstone, James Surls (awaiting final confirmation) and The Art Guys — Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing — will be at the helm of the two-hour parade, set for 1 p.m. on May 11 along Allen Parkway.
Who are these folks?
"These five individuals have been avid supporters of not just the Orange Show and its 31 years of programming, but also of many other cultural and artistic institutions throughout Houston and beyond, and they represent an important piece of our city's heritage,” Marilyn Oshman, Orange Show founder and chairman of the board, tells CultureMap. "We are excited to use this platform to honor them while at the same time exposing their lasting legacies to the public, who may not be as familiar with their work."
Collectively, each member of this assemblage of cultural attachés holds a zesty wedge of the overarching attitudes of the Orange Show and the Art Car Parade.
Paintings of John Alexander are part of the permanent holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Beaumont-born artist, whose landscapes and Expressionist style have been mused by such wacky themes as a cat he lost in a divorce battle, was a mover and shaker in the art scene in the '70s. As he rubbed elbows with Jim Harithas, a seminal figure in the history of the Orange Show Monument, and James Surls, his connection to the parade is strong.
At 87 years old, sculptor Gertrude Barnstone is an icon of the city's history. She was an instrumental force in doing away with segregation in the Houston Independent School District in the '60s, was married to Howard Barnstone, one of the architects that contributed to the construction of the Rothko Chapel, and remains a loud voice for environmentalism and human rights.
The Art Guys have a way of blending ridiculousness with Realism such that their collective work questions anything that societal norms may take for granted.
Collectively, each member of this assemblage of cultural attachés holds a zesty wedge of the overarching attitudes of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts and the Art Car Parade — and Houston.