It's a banner season in Houston as the Downtown District has launched a unique beautification program that highlights poetic sayings from Houstonians past and present, everyday residents and national celebrities with local roots.
Around 575 colorful banners with quirky words of wisdom about what it means to live in Houston are currently being installed on utility and light poles in downtown, including Main Street, the Theater District, Minute Maid Park, St. Joseph Medical Center and City Hall, and along Louisiana, Smith, Milam, Travis, McKinney, Lamar and Dallas streets.
The series, which includes words by Beyoncé, Jesse H. Jones, Z-Ro, and Neil Armstrong as well as local students and literary notables, seeks to present the Bayou City as an energetic destination that values creativity, diversity, and individuality, offering commuters and passersby a patchwork of thought-provoking and quirky messages that encourages them to muse on what it means to be a Houstonian.
Some of the best quotes come from students. “And for quesadillas I would trade a skyline,” writes fourth grade student Caoilin. Author Melissa Studdard writes, “Concrete lush as cream filled eggs.”
The concept was developed by Houston-based design, art, and communications atelier Core Design Studio principals Fiona McGettigan and Alan Krathaus who came up with the idea of “Figurative Poetics” to fuse stylized Houston imagery with poetry on the banners.
“Collectively, the text reveals Houstonians as humorous, with a hint of cynicism that’s punctuated by a positive outlook,” McGettigan says. “Most definitely, the messages show that locals have a pure, honest love for the city.”
The duo, along with editing assistance of Miah Arnold of Grackle and Grackle Literary Studio, tapped into Houston’s robust literary scene to come up with slices of poetry, quotes, and lyrics juxtaposed with images of life in downtown Houston on the banners. Among those taking part are poet laureates Gwendolyn Zepeda and Robin Davidson, youth poet laureate Andrew White, Inprint executive director Rich Levy, Texas Monthly executive editor Mimi Swartz, and authors Chitra Divakaruni and Sarah Cortez.
Core Design Studio also worked with Writers in the Schools, Inprint Poetry Buskers, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.