THE GEORGE R. BROWN CONVENTION CENTER HAS REALLY STEPPED UP ITS PUBLIC ART GAME. NO LONGER JUST A WAREHOUSE FOR OTC AND TRADE SHOWS AND INDUSTRY MEETINGS, THE CONVENTION CENTER IS EXPERIENCING NEW LIFE AND YEAR-ROUND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WITH RESTAURANTS, EVENT PROGRAMMING AND A STRONG FOCUS ON PUBLIC ART INSTALLATIONS (CHECK OUT CULTURAL PROGRAMS MANAGER CHRISTINE JELSON WEST ON PAGE 66). ALONG WITH DISCOVERY GREEN AND AVENIDA HOUSTON, IT’S BECOME THE CULTURAL HUB OF THE EAST SIDE OF DOWNTOWN.
One person playing a part in it: artist SHANE ALLBRITTON, shot here in front of her Earth & Skyline, which portrays images of Houston environments from various altitudes that are conflated into an abstract composition combining imagery of multiple days, weather conditions, seasons and times of day. From a distance, the overall mural reflects a lively, vibrant impression of Houston’s various elevations from bayou images near the bottom, merging upwards into images of city life and nature, and further upwards into the Houston skyline.
Houston-based Allbritton has a degree in fine arts and 20 years of extensive work designing interpretive spaces and interactives for numerous museums and visitors centers – around the country and around the world, in addition to her own personal art. A partner in the firm of RE:site with fellow artist Norman Lee, Allbritton bridges the disciplines of visual communication, art and experience design. Her collaborative work with Lee spans a range of projects from comprehensive environmental graphics to art installations, including large-scale murals, donor recognition systems, wayfinding, media design, suspended art, sculpture and painting.
You think you’re busy? In addition to her personal work (and answering RFPs and RFQs for RE:site), you may know her name from two other recent projects: a col- laborative show at Art League Houston called Suspended Memory with her husband Peter Bernick-Allbritton that ran through July, and a massive public art installation via RE:Site at Texas State University entitled Vessels.
The well-reviewed Suspended Memory included a series of installations that explored the ephemeral nature of memory, and continued her fascination with the dynamic process of how memories are stored and retrieved in the brain as encoded fragments, expressed as distorted photography. Through time-lapse techniques, they represent the passage of time, rendering them unrecognizable yet familiar.
Meanwhile, over at Texas State University in San Marcos, in partnership with architecture studio METALAB, Vessels features water jet cut stainless steel forms that poetically depict both leaves and canoes. Long sculptural oars reinforce the vessels metaphor and position forms above viewers, creating dynamic shadow patterns that change throughout the day. The forms are arranged in a path-like configuration to suggest both leaves and canoes navigating along a water current, evoking the Texas State University students’ journey.
A sweeping light sculpture evokes an abstracted motion blur effect, con- tinually changing color in a moving gradient. At a distance, the piece is a work of public art, drawing in the viewer with a bold, dynamic visual gesture that is integrated with the vestibule site. On a more intimate scale, the work reveals an interpre- tive timeline exhibit that tells the story of Hobby airport.
Speaking of journeys, Allbritton acknowledges she’s come a long way in the past few years. “I did odd jobs while pushing forward – freelance design jobs to pay the bills, but now when I call someone to collaborate, they’re excited. They’re ready to take on something crazy and visionary with us – as long as it works structurally and doesn’t kill anyone. That’s important. ”