Neighbors aren’t too jazzed about 70-foot saxophone statue planned for Houston park – Chron

May 12, 2022 by No Comments

The proposed installation of a famed 70-foot statue of a blue saxophone isn’t quite carrying a tune with a handful of neighbors in the southeast Houston neighborhood where the public art could potentially live. 

Bob “Daddy-O” Wade’s giant artwork “Smokesax” drew onlookers for two decades while outside the now-shuttered Billy Blues nightclub near the intersection of Richmond and Fountain View—a “landmark” of its time until it was disassembled and placed in storage in 2013, according to Molly Glentzer in the Houston Chronicle. That’s where the sax has sat ever since, while the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art—which took ownership of the sculpture from businessman Phil Kensinger in 2012—raised funds to have it refurbished, moved and installed in a new permanent location. 

Plans to find an enduring site for the piece have been in the works since it was removed in 2013. However, just last fall the Orange Show started making moves to place the art piece just south of Fonde Park, where the park meets the Brays Bayou greenway trail—a gateway from the miles-long trail to the beloved park in southeast Houston, a little over a quarter-mile from the Orange Show’s headquarters along Munger Street. 

Artist Bob Wade looks at his Smokesax that he built as it is removed from its home at 6025 Richmond, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Houston. The 70-foot-tall structure is constructed out of car parts, oil field pipes and a surfboard, as well as an entire VW Beetle that forms the U-joint at its base. It’s being moved to the The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art to incorporate it into their portfolio of art preservation projects would ensure that this important piece of Texas folk art be taken care of for future generations.Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle

At its base, Smokesax will overlook a new pedestrian plaza that also includes a performance stage, seating and bike racks. The sculpture will actually face away from the street and toward the trail, offering weight to its intention as a pedestrian amenity. 

“As the first piece of public art on Brays Bayou, the sculpture’s new location, as well as its sheer scale, will inspire Houstonians to gather and create for many years to come,” said Tommy Ralph Pace, executive director of the Orange Show. 

Attitudes from representatives within the Fonde Civic Club aren’t as enthusiastic. Karina Blest, president of the club, told City Council members Tuesday that the organization is decidedly against the project under the guise that there wasn’t any public input in deciding Fonde Park as the location, also lamenting there could be parking problems in the nearby neighborhoods from people driving in droves to see the art piece. 

Blest also claimed the installation was part of a scheme by the Orange Show to completely “appropriate” the city-run Fonde Park, a falsehood echoed on the civic club’s website that Blest and company are using to sway residents against the project. The …….



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