04 August 2014

No. 2: Go to the Orange Show

No. 2: Go to the Orange Show

First: The Back Story

The Orange Show Monument in Houston is the creation of one man, Jeff McKissack.  His goal was to honor the orange, healthy eating and hard work. He did this by building a  "maze of walkways, balconies, arenas and exhibits decorated with mosaics and brightly painted iron figures. "  *  

Orange Show Entrance
It wasn't painted orange because someone told 
Mr. McKissack "orange wasn't a very good color."

McKissack was born in 1902 and had many jobs including trucking oranges, welding in a naval shipyard and delivering the mail in Houston.  He never married but did propose once to a woman. She turned him down and after that he decided he could not afford a wife and never tried again. (Poor baby.) 

A conglomeration of wheels, metal birds, and mosaic tiles (with sayings meant to encourage healthy living and the love of oranges) makes up the show.  Started in 1956, Mr. McKissack worked alone on his project until he died.  He opened his exhibit to the public in 1979 with the anticipation that 90% of the U.S. would want to come. When the crowds failed to appear, he quickly went downhill and died 7 months later. (Again, poor baby.)

 The wheels were a big theme.

Mosaic sayings, tile work, lots of welding.

The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art is the foundation in Houston that runs The Orange Show and also keeps the Beer Can House open. The Big Guy and I went to that before his 21st birthday.  One man covered his entire house and yard with beer tabs and lids.  Because, why not?
They also organize the Art Car Parade, which was No. 3 on my list to visit. Cars turned into visions of art.

Our Experience:

So anyway, last Thursday morning the Big Guy and I went exploring the mazes of the Orange Show. I was totally inspired by all the mosaic sayings tiled into the walls. I was also a little bewildered by the fact that the whole place was supposed to be honoring the orange. It didn't seem to have too many orange references....but maybe that was just me.

 The Big Guy admiring Mr. McKissack's handiwork.

 Loved these mosaic hearts.

Isn't this bit of mosaic tile work sweet? 

Afterwards we wandered down to Smither Park that is under construction at the end of the street. It is also part of the Orange Show foundation. Being built in honor of John Smither, a supporter of folk art and the Orange Show, the park has a wonderful back wall of mosaic tiles anchoring swings, a pavilion and a giant fish grotto. It's going to be magnificent once it is done.

 I found my throne! 
Can't wait until it's finished. 

 A mosaic bunny with sharp pointy hair. 
Not a park for small children!

Isn't he wonderful? 
A mosaic clam.

The Take-away:

I am always intrigued by people whose passion inspires them to create.

Jeff McKissack found a way to channel his passion and energy into an homage to the orange and healthy living..
John Milkovisch, the creator of the Beer Can House, found a way to insulate his house, recycle his beer cans and - bonus!- create a fabulous work of folk art when he started nailing beer can tops rather than tossing them.
Jim Bishop of Bishop Castle in Colorado (I visited here) took his abundance of rocks and knowledge of welding and built himself a true castle.
Passion. We could all use more of it.

(Also, welding seems to be a very useful talent if you want to create a giant work of art!)

No. 2 marked off the list.

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