All it takes is one glance around Houston to find that the streets of our vibrant city are surrounded by colorful and meaningful street art. Traffic boxes at intersections are now canvases of inspirational and beautiful art and creative opportunity, and brick walls have been transformed into murals of expression and local culture.
The Importance of Urban Street Art
Street art is not only a great way to get outside and appreciate local artists, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with parts of your city. Aside from turning a dull wall into a beautiful canvas for the imaginative, Houston’s vibrant murals are a reflection of the neighborhood and local culture. At times, they can also reflect protest, struggle, and political movements.
Make a day of exploring the city’s street art to help you connect more with our community and the voices within it. Inspired by graffiti, which ranged from personal author tags to grass-root political guerrilla campaigns, street art has always been a reflection of the people on the streets. Morphing into the art we see today, sometimes there is a clear message and sometimes it’s just a beautiful depiction of a local artist’s imagination.
The Heights and surrounding areas have a lot of history, and its streets have been through many changes throughout the years. A constant flux of diversity, cultures, and people have made the Heights and nearby neighborhoods rich with art and expression.
If you haven’t taken some time to enjoy the free art scene that Houston has to offer, here is a list of the Must-Sees, right here in our Heights neighborhood. Here are a few of our favorite outdoor art works, in no particular order.
1. Greetings From Houston
Location: 3601 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007
The colorful, post-card style Greetings From Houston mural adorns the wall of Gelazzi Gelato at 2601 White Oak. It features iconic images associated with our city’s past and present, from oil derricks to the Space Shuttle, alongside classic western motifs. On any given Saturday you will probably find a line of people waiting patiently for their turn to take a picture in front of it. This mural is conveniently painted on the side of one of our favorite gelato places in Houston (as if the mural wasn’t enough to tempt you).
2. You Are My Sunshine
Location: 1948 Rutland St, Houston, TX 77008
The You Are My Sunshine wall is just one of several street art works featuring a message of positivity and encouragement. It’s simple, cheerful, and always brings a smile to our faces. And it’s right near 19th Street on the outside wall of Thread, a very trendy store for baby gear and baby furniture. Right nearby are Casa Ramirez, Vinyl Edge Records, and Big Blue Whale (toy store), which are all great stops.
3. I Love You Wall at Harold’s
Location: 350 W 19th Street, Houston, TX 77008
This one is probably our favorites, and not just because it’s painted right on the side of our building! This mural represents the unconditional love that we have for others and for our city. We love Houston and the neighborhoods in it—and the diversity that our neighborhoods represent. Said in various languages, this wall really represents a love for our city’s diverse backgrounds. Grab someone you love and stop by the “I Love You Wall.” And while you’re here, stop in and tell us hello! If you really love this artist’s work, the artist Shelbi Nicole will have more of her artwork featured at Circa Real Estate for the month of August. Other places you can stop in while at this wall include Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room, Emerson Rose, Torchy’s Tacos, Eclectic Home, Coda, The Heights Theater, and The Lift… And more!
4. Gorillas for Houston Zoo
Location: 602 East 20th Street, Houston, TX 77008 (side of Jenni’s Noodle House) & 2198 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007 (facing Catalina Coffee), photo by Houston Bucketlist
Michael Rodriguez was the artist behind the beautiful Houston Zoo mural at Jenni’s Noodle House, right on 20th Street in the heights. One of five murals in Houston, this project is to promote the gorilla exhibit at the Houston Zoo. A large purple ape stares out onto the street with green eyes, and the cityscape in the background shows Houston’s skyline.
This beautiful and colorful mural by Sebastien Boileau (“Mr. D”) is right off of Washington Avenue, nearby Catalina Coffee. Splashes of color surround a drawing of a Gorilla to promote the upcoming gorilla exhibit at the Houston Zoo. It is also one of the five commissioned murals in Houston. The 15-foot-tall ape is just outside of the heights, in the Old Sixth Ward historic district.
5. The Polka Dot Wall
Location: 6521 N Main Street, Houston, TX 77009
Another favorite wall by our featured artist this month, Shelbi Nicole, is located right in the Heights on Main Street. The “Polka Dot Wall” is painted on the wall of a cute boutique called Haute Dimensions. If you love her art, don’t be shy to come by our office and see her latest (and unseen) art collection!
6. The Rail to the Sea
Location: 1502 Sawyer Street, Houston, TX 77007
A beautiful painting by Janavi M. Folmsbee was a creation partnership for the City of Houston through “Leadership Houston Class XXXIV” and the Washington Avenue Arts District. The project was called, “See Houston, Love Houston, Be Houston,” and represents the diverse and dynamic arts community of the First Ward. Artist Janavi has lived in several countries and diverse cities, and the inspiration for this mural is drawn from that background of travel and her love of the sea.
7. “Para Mi Gente”
Location: Yale & 13th St. Houston, TX 77008
Translating to “For My People,” this beautiful mural is by Ignacio E. Sanchez, or, “El Nacho.” This marriage of the United Farm Workers flag is full of color, geometric designs, and obvious passion for his culture. It only took ten days for the artist to complete, which is a remarkable artistic feat. Right on Yale and 13th Street, El Nacho says that the wall is “dedicated to all of the hard workers out there.”
8. Blue Line Bike Labs
Location: 3302 White Oak Drive, Houston, TX 77007
Blue Line Bike Labs is a local business that encourages making connections in our community, from hosting Wednesday Night Rides every Wednesday at 7pm to the Ice Cream Ride at Happy Fatz on Saturdays. They commissioned a great mural on the wall of their business by a local artist named “Shreddi.” The mural portrays skeletons riding bikes – a symbol of the people who will ride bikes as long as they’re alive (and perhaps a bit after that, too).
9. Heights Mural
Location: 721 E 11th Street, Houston, TX (facing East)
This gorgeous Heights mural is by Wiley Robertson at James D Owens & Associates. While you’re enjoying the mural, head on over to Someburger for one of the best burgers in Houston, or enjoy a sit-down meal at Ruggles. Second Cup Coffee has some great brews and Dacapo’s has been serving the Heights pastries and sweets for more than 20 years.
10. Mural Art at Winter Street
Location: Winter Street Studios, Houston, TX 77007 (Winter Street Studios). Photo by Vincent Fink.
There are so many beautiful murals to see at Winter Street, we would be remiss to mention them just because they are on the other side of I10. A quick drive over will lend you sights to murals such as:
Lady, Fox, and Bear – Michael Rodriguez
Snakes – Daniel Anguilu
Spring Scene – Michael Rodriguez
Owl – Pilot FX
Blue Circles – Arts District Houston
Geometric Man & Deer – Vincent Fink
These are just a few of our favorite pieces of Houston street art, but there are tons more that we love! Visit Wear Where Well’s blog for a lovely interactive map of all the street art in Houston, which is updated frequently.