Houston is a strange city. On the whole, it isn’t the ‘prettiest’ city, but lately, there are so many initiatives to make Houston a more beautiful city, whether it is building green space, planting gardens in unexpected places, restoring historic buildings or finding mini murals where you would least expect them. The city is crisscrossed with electrical wires cutting through the sky and big gray boxes that are holding all those wires sitting on the streets. They aren’t attractive, but that has been changing, thanks to Up Art Studio and the Mini Mural project.
We first noticed a painted box when we were driving along South Braeswood. There was the most beautiful painting on the box. We thought maybe a graffiti artist had come during the night and secretly painted it, and we were thrilled. It became a game to find the ugly gray boxes that had been painted and to see what they looked like. We found several more, and these mini murals are works of art. The truth is, we hadn’t thought much about how they were getting there, but we feel the graffiti art enhances our city in so many ways and provides beauty that is immeasurable, so we started to dig deeper into the mini murals to find out more.
Mini Murals is a project that reimagines traffic signal control cabinets, or those ugly gray boxes, as blank canvases brimming with creative opportunity, inviting artistic expression for all to enjoy. We believe that collaboration matters and this project personifies collaboration. Mini Murals is directed by Elia & Noah Quiles of UP Art Studio, who serve as the project manager, and a diverse advisory board of Houston researchers, marketers, advocates, and arts leaders. On top of that, Mini Murals has the support of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the City of Houston Department of Public Works & Engineering, Houston Arts Alliance, City Council Member Larry Green, District K, and Brays Oaks and Five Corners Management Districts. But, that’s not all, because Mini Murals is Mini Murals is sponsored by Fresh Arts, a nonprofit arts service organization, and has the support of:
- City Council Member Larry Green – District K
- The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
- Department of Public Works and Engineering
- Houston Arts Alliance
- Brays Oaks Management District
- Five Corners District
- Plutonium Paint
Artists of the Mini Murals
The collaboration of the Mini Murals project is outstanding, and the original goal of bringing this to 31 ugly gray boxes is coming to fruition, and we are sure will be expanding, because why wouldn’t it be? After all, when you drive by these works of art, you can’t help but smile. The 13 urban artists that have been commissioned to participate in this pilot program are outstanding.
2:12 – He transforms mundane, trivial landscapes around us into art. Where an empty wall existed, now becomes a gateway to his imagination, a glimpse of his artistic expression. You can see his box at Stella Link and Latma.
Alex “Zu” Arzu – Born in Germany and the son of immigrants knew he wanted to be an artist. His tattoos and his murals continue to receive recognition and awards, and he is a local favorite. His boxes can be spotted at West Airport and Bob White and West Airport and South Gessner.
Ana Maria – Known for her Humanoid creatures, she contributes to the local art scene with community work, murals, and group exhibitions. Her box is located at Stella Link and South Braeswood.
Anat Ronen – A Houston based self-taught artist, born and raised in the State of Israel. She has completed more than a five hundred larger and smaller scale murals on highways, commercial spots, schools, churches, and in private homes throughout the Houston area and beyond. She has completed several mini murals, which can be found on the 6800 block of South Rice Avenue, Richmond at Rogerdale, The Houston Zoo, Hiram Clarke at South Main, West Fuqua at Hiram Clarke, South Braeswood at Buffalo Speedway, South Gessner at Creekbend, and West Bellfort at Willowbend.
Dual – A constant presence on the street and a fixture in the Houston art scene since 2005, DUAL has also pursued a formal art education, and his work has seen more than its fair share of gallery walls. His bold lines and fresh colors are a break from the everyday monotony of life in the city—a taste of urban subculture, whether you asked for it or not. His box can be seen at West Belfort and South Post Oak.
Gabriel Prusmack – Has been painting with aerosol cans on found objects for the past twelve years, and his graffiti-influenced work is usually the kind of art that either gets you into trouble or is seen to be unique and eye- opening. His box can be seen at Chimney Rock and West Belfort.
Jessica Guerra – a Houston-based artist whose art is free flowing yet includes repetitive designs reflecting influences from both architecture and nature. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally. Her boxes can be seen at West Bellfort at South Gessner and West Bellfort and Hillcroft.
Lee Washington – Giving life to non-traditional items, he is determined, dedicated and disciplined to be the best person and artist he can be. His box is located at South Braeswood and Braesridge.
Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau – Born in Versailles, France, Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau was influenced by the American Pop Art and Graffiti movement of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. His signature style is known as “Canpressionism” a neo-impressionist style primarily done with spray paint and street art techniques. His boxes are located at North Stadium at Old Spanish Trail and Holly Knight at Knight.
Pilot FX – One of the few highly recognizable graffiti artists from Houston, he has been focused on developing highly attended graffiti and street art events in Houston to showcase the hip hop culture of Houston and collaborate with hundreds of artists who paint together at different art events all over the world. His boxes are at South Gessner and South Braeswood, West Orem at White Heather, Chimney Rock at Gasmer, West Bellfort at Cliffwood and West Bellfort at Bob White.
Shelbi-Nicole – Originally from Oklahoma City, her paintings evoke feelings left behind by a dream, an emotion, or a memory without being limited to the particular details of the event itself. Her boxes can be found at West Fuqua at South Post Oak, West Bellfort at Buffalo Speedway and South Post Oak at Tidewater.
w3r3on3 – Paints just for the love of art. He was introduced to graffiti at the age of 14 and has since then established a unique and distinguishable three-dimensional style, which often illustrates movement. His box can be found on West Fuqua at White Heather.
Wiley – As a graffiti artist in the streets of Houston, his work often engages a positive stream-of-conscious doodling-style that embraces pop culture, colors of the 80s, and never-dying, happy, pattern-filled worlds. You can find his box at West Orem and Croquet.
Find The Mini Murals
Looking for something fun to do on a gorgeous day on a weekend in Houston? How about setting out a map and finding the mini murals! Take some pictures and then put them on your Instagram or Facebook pages. Be sure to hashtag #minimuralchallenge and let us know you are taking the challenge by tagging us as well! You can find us on Facebook at @J-Vibe and Instagram @JustVibeHouston. If you aren’t already following us, please do!