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May 24, 2018 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The Art of Ups and Downs

MFAH Glassell School of Art, Brown Plaza. Cranes over museum construction. Houston skyline towards Medical Center complex. (Image, all rights reserved, copyrighted, NO permissions granted)

Come fly with us: 3 cranes, the national birds of Houston seen from roof top garden. Houston’s skyline towards Medical Center complex.(Not downtown) The cranes hang over the foundation of the MFAH’s next expansion. We used to park under the trees in that space, then dash across the street to the main museum building.(Image.©)

Life is a Möbius.

Baffling. Alien, if you’ve new to it.

Just as baffling and alien to those at the end of their line, the ones who have seen too much.

Probably only the very young and very old have any comprehension of it at all.

Houston Skyline southwest from the roof garden. On the very far right just above the treelike, Rice University's football field's light poles can be seen. ( Image. All rights reserved, copyrighted, No permissions granted)

Houston southwest skyline from the roof garden. No, that’s not downtown. On the very far right just above the tree line, Rice University’s football stadium light poles can be seen.(©Image)

We were unsure at 5 yrs. Walking carefully over the polished parquet floors.

Been warned by parents to behave.

Trying not to rattle the sheets of paper as big as we were.

“Sit.” (Oh, relief. We could do that. Crossed legged on the floor.)

Only to have the nervousness to return as boxes of new crayons were handed to each of us.

The big white pages spread out like picnic blankets across the gleaming impressive floor.

“Go ahead. Draw.”

A wave of quiet anxiety – uncertainty – drowning us.

One tiny voice, “But what if we color off the paper and it gets on the floor?”

Unable to breath, we were.

“Oh, we won’t worry about that. This is your museum, your floors.

“I’m sure you’ll be as careful as you can, but if it accidentally happens, we’ll just clean it and it will be fine.

This is you museum. Everything in it belongs to you and you belong here.”

Set free, we set our crayons to work. Museum owners at such a young age.

MFAH. architecture. Up the ramp to the roof garden. ( Image. All rights reserved. Copyrighted, No permissions granted)

Up to the roof garden. On left is the triangle roof of an air-conditioned tent put up over part of the plaza for the event. It was some 98F that day. New plants on ramp seemed to be thriving anyway.(©Image)

MFAH. architecture. Down the ramp. The plaza to the right (Image. All rights reserved, copyrighted, No permissions granted)

And down the ramp. The new plaza on the right. The trees in the middle are shading the sculpture garden. No, not the downtown skyline. It’s behind us.(Image ©)

Over the years, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston has grown – with growth actually outpacing many of us who attended the Saturday art classes as kids or wondered behind teachers on school field trips.

We struggled up the big steps of the original classical building which grew up and out (Caroline Weiss Law Building), then over to a new towering building (Audrey Jones Beck building) connected by a tunnel with fabulous light art.

We thought it couldn’t get any better.

The Glassell School of Art moved into their new studios across the street recently. (Facebook page here)

Last weekend was the big reveal of the new building, plaza, and performance stage. The Cullen Sculpture Garden which has been redone acts as a gateway to the Brown Foundation Plaza, and the BBVA Compass Roof Garden with couches and a fabulous view.

MFAH sculpture."Cloud Column" (1998–2006) by Anish Kapoor, rear; and "Bird (Oiseau)" (1968) by Joan Miró (Image All rights reserved, copyrighted, NO permissions granted)

Oh, I know Chicago’s annoyed. Seriously. You’re not the only place with a Kapoor sculpture. Reflective silver “Cloud Column” by Anish Kapoor and Joan Miró’s “Bird (Oiseau)” (Image.©)

The MFAH art collections are quite extensive and a pleasant surprise to new residents.

Major traveling exhibits are frequent – and crowded. Currently hosting: Naples’ Michelangelo and the Vatican, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur of India’s Rathore dynasty, and Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait among others. Something for everyone.

MFAH architecture. Sculpture garden path leading to main building. ( Image. all rights reserved, copyrighted, no permissions granted)

Wander this sculpture garden path, it will lead you to the main building across the street where the parquet floors are.(©Image)

As one of the museum “owners”, I’d be happy to invite you over anytime. 

(Except maybe in August. We never invite anyone we like to visit Houston in August).

The museum has great AC and the shade of the sculpture garden makes it a popular spot to sit after visiting the food trucks. That rooftop deck does have a nice afternoon breeze and should be spectacular this fall.

Let me know and we’ll slip into one of the museum’s Sketch in the Galleries days. Crayons and paper. (We know you’ll be careful.)

Drawing on,

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

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  1. Ally Bean / May 24 2018 6:50 am

    Art is cool, and if the AC is on during the summer, it’s even cooler. 😎


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 24 2018 7:20 am

      I suspect the AC is why mom took us to the museums frequently in the summer. The MFAH offered free or practically free lessons Sat. mornings for any family able to get their kids up and there fairly early. I loved stretching up those steps – felt so honored to be a kid allowed in such a formal place (which is was back then – Carnegie Library style architecture.) Now the school has events for kids as young as 3 and classes for all ages. Hope they have as wise a lady going around whispering to all the little ones, “This is your place”. Opens a world, opportunities, and balance. Thanks for stepping up with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  2. easyweimaraner / May 24 2018 6:50 am

    I would like to be there once… I specially like sculpture gardens… wish I had one …


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 24 2018 7:13 am

      The sculpture garden was designed from the beginning to feel like a retreat from the loud concrete city. Dogs allowed – ’cause who doesn’t know cool if it’s not a dog? Thanks for trotting over to chat

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres / May 24 2018 6:57 am

    Happy to see you included the Bean, and happy for the reminder that a trip into Houston can be worth the hassle!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 24 2018 7:11 am

      It’s happened. With all the construction and new people, you can’t get anywhere. Despite the heat, we were determined – and surprised how many others were. This will be a fabulous place once the heat breaks. (How about wandering in around Oct?) I’ve missed the sculpture garden and happy it’s back and so nice again.
      (Gulf is busy already. Fun Fun. Once again time to consider a generator)
      Thanks for chatting it up with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Carrie Rubin / May 24 2018 8:16 am

    Looks like a wonderful place. Thank goodness for the arts. The world would be dreary without them.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 24 2018 8:28 am

      Whether people subscribe to the positive thoughts yields positive returns or not, it might be well if everyone made an effort to turn towards some good, uplifting events. Don’t have to be Pollyanna (does anyone know who she is?) about life, but narrowly dwelling on negative, the ugly, and harmful aspects of life repeatedly and most of the time is counterproductive for individual health and society as a whole. (No wonder so many kids feel hopeless and desperate.)
      It’s summer – the time for growth for all living things. Tiny steps up are better than none. Thanks for the smiles!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kate Crimmins / May 24 2018 9:22 am

    Looks pretty cool (in a fascinating sense rather than weather). Sounds like they did it right!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Curt Mekemson / May 24 2018 11:40 am

    A charming story, Phil, of a young person being introduced to art. I was always coloring outside the lines. I might have fit right in. One thing you can get from large cities is some great cultural centers, if the city and its inhabitants are so inclines. Seems like they are in Houston. –Curt


  7. LordBeariOfBow / May 25 2018 12:08 am

    Museums are very special places for me ( I’m still a registered volunteer guide, at my favourite museum in Sydney) I love them.

    But I was quite old before I found them,

    My years 4 – 10 were somewhat disjointed,

    How lovely to be told when you’re 5 years of age, that this museum is yours; what a knowing person to have thought of that message for the children,


  8. ShimonZ / May 25 2018 4:23 am

    A masterpiece, my dear philosopher. The dignity you lent to the babe and the old felt as sweet as mother’s on my back. Truly, the world was a lot scarier when I arrived, but the awe is still there.


  9. Beth / May 27 2018 12:08 pm

    I may take you up on this invitation soon. My good friend April and I have been talking about visiting the museums there, and as they say (they say so many things), there’s no time like the present! I call dibs on the perwinkle crayon!


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