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Art Car Parade

Art Car Parade has been canceled

Some inevitable sadness from the inbox:

Dear Friends,

As one of the city’s largest and most iconic annual events, the Houston Art Car Parade has celebrated the artist in everyone for each of the past 33 years, showcasing hundreds of mobile masterpieces designed and created by a vast array of trained and untrained artists, student groups, non-profit organizations, and anyone with a spark of creativity and “the drive to create.” It has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Art Car artists and artist teams and has become an important and inspiring art program for many schools across the Greater Houston area.

Due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the restrictions currently in place by the City of Houston and Harris County regarding public events, the Board of Directors of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art has decided to cancel the 2020 Houston Art Car Parade. This will include all events associated with Houston Art Car Parade Weekend scheduled to take place April 16-19, including the Main Street Drag, the Sneak Peek at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, The Legendary Art Car Ball, The VIPit Experience, and the Houston Art Car Parade Awards Ceremony.

A message from Orange Show Founder & Chairman Marilyn Oshman:

“While canceling this year’s events was a difficult decision, we remain absolutely committed to supporting and highlighting this unique and exciting form of art. To that end, plans are already underway for a city-wide Art Car celebration event to take place this summer, featuring many of the incredible Art Cars that would have participated in this year’s parade.”

The event’s date and location will be announced in the near future, and information will be found at www.thehoustonartcarparade.com.

We wish to thank those those patrons who have purchased tickets to any of the events that will be cancelled. If you are a ticket holder, expect to hear from us shortly regarding your purchase.

In addition, the organization is suspending entry and tours of its two Houston folk art landmarks The Orange Show and The Beer Can House until further notice. Smither Park remains open from dawn to dusk, though we encourage practicing social distance when in public. Up-to-date information about their re-openings will be made available at www.orangeshow.org.

We are grateful for our sponsors, community partners, supporters, and incredible community of artists who have been a part of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art family over the years, and look forward to bringing back the Houston Art Car Parade Weekend in 2021. If you would like to make a fully tax-deductible donation to the organization and help us to produce this event as well as continue the restoration and maintenance of three of the city’s important folk art environments The Orange Show, The Beer Can House and Smither Park, click here.

I mean, no one should be surprised by this. But we can all be sad. And we can look forward to that the future celebration.

Robinson Warehouse, eight years after

From the Free Press Houston Worst of 2014:

What once was there

WORST WASTE OF SPACE: CORNER OF ALLEN PARKWAY AND MONTROSE

In 2006, The Aga Khan Foundation purchased the massive swath of land at the Southeast corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose. This sprawling piece of property is centrally located, is adjacent to some of Houston’s most beautiful natural landscapes, and could serve so many important purposes.

For nearly 10 years, there have been rumors that this property would be developed into one of the largest mosques in Texas, and I am excited for the controversy that will most definitely ensue once that begins to happen. But that said, having such a huge property with huge potential stay dormant and fenced off in the interim is a missed opportunity.

If I had my way, folks would be allowed to play soccer there, a massive urban garden could be temporarily installed, and the space could serve as a rad destination along the Art Car parade route.

It was just before Thanksgiving in 2006 when I first noticed the demolition equipment out in front of this old, abandoned warehouse at the aforementioned corner. It had been a sad bit of urban decay for as long as I’d been aware of it, and as I obsessively documented over the ensuing two months, it vanished, leaving behind a large green field and the promise of something that would eventually be built. For awhile, the space – which goes all the way from Allen Parkway to West Dallas – was open, and was used a few times as parking for the Art Car Parade. Now it has that ugly hurricane fence around it – presumably, for liability insurance purposes – and Lord only knows what its future might hold. I’ve never heard a peep about its status in all this time.

Personally, I like author Omar Afra’s vision for the space, but there are plenty of other possibilities as well. Just about anything would be better than the unusable nothing that is there now. I wish there were something the city could do to entice the current owners to either do something with it or sell it to someone else that will.

Art Car Parade to move to April

Adjust your calendars accordingly.

The 28th annual Houston Art Car Parade is now set for April 11, 2015, The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, producers of the annual Houston Art Car Parade Weekend, announced today.

This year’s past parade was May 10.

In the past festival goers had expressed that that rain, heat, and humidity in early May dampened the fun of the parade, which sees hundreds of cars driving through downtown Houston decorated to the hilt.

“Securing this date in April for the Houston Art Car Parade is a dream come true. To be able to present the parade then will allow for a greater audience including those who could not or would not brave the heat in May,” said Don Mafrige, Jr., Orange Show Center for Visionary Art Board President-Elect and Chairman of Houston Art Car Weekend.

College graduation and wedding season sometimes caused conflicts for those wanting to attend the parade festivities.

Here’s the press release from the Orange Show about this. It does get hot, no question about it. I don’t know how much cooler it will be in April, but it will be less likely to be 90 degrees, and that’s about as good as it gets without risking genuinely un-parade-like weather. Hope this works out as well as everyone wants it to.

Parking Panda

Interesting

Parking Panda, an online parking reservation system, launches Tuesday in Houston and Dallas. The site’s already up and running, taking reservations for lots around many area venues, including Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center.

The concept is pretty simple: Go online, find the parking lot you want, based on price and location, and reserve a spot. In some cases, Parking Panda co-founder Nick Miller said, people can even reserve a select spot.

In places where parking can be problem, like around a Texans game, having a guaranteed spot removes the hassle of hunting around or timing your arrival to find a close enough spot. Even if you’re ten minutes late, the spot is there waiting for you.

In Washington, D.C., where Miller said the company has seen one client use the service 125 times in the past year, the use is branching out beyond major venues to include parking around museums and entertainment districts.

That could be where things head in Houston, too, he said. Take the crowded Montrose corridor or Washington Avenue, where the city recently enacted strict parking rules. Before heading out for the night, someone potentially could find a spot ahead of time and leave the car there for the evening.

[…]

Major events and large parking garages aren’t the only places touched by the technology gains in parking. Though the bulk of the business is commercial lots, Miller said Parking Panda has some spot sellers who are, essentially monetizing their driveways.

“We have people who are making a couple hundred dollars a month,” he said.

Not everyone has a driveway worth renting, but for those in high-density areas, or near offices, the opportunity is out there.

The larger point, Miller and others say, is cities have finite space to store cars. If someone who lives a block or so off Westheimer is commuting downtown, someone in Sugar Land who works off Westheimer may be willing to rent the vacant driveway during the day to guarantee a spot.

I guess this is our week for vehicle-related innovations. It’s an interesting concept, and you can see what they have available for Houston here. I’m thinking the rent-your-driveway option might be quite appealing for events like the Art Car and Pride parades, if one lives in those areas. For that matter, I’m thinking some of my neighbors who live close to White Oak might check this out – if people are going to be parking in front of their houses anyway, they may as well make their driveway available and earn a few bucks for it. What do you think?

Saturday video break: Art car parade!

Today is the famous Art Car Parade here in Houston. It’s one of the most fun events in town all year, and one of the things that truly makes Houston what it is. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, here’s a brief intro. First, one of the more spectacular entries from recent years, the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir:

You really have to see it live to get the full effect. Next, a man who drives his art car around every day:

If it’s the same guy, I once took a defensive driving class from him a few years ago. He’s not the only person I know whose art car is also his everyday transportation. We get our hair cut at Venus Hair, and if you ever visit there, you’ll see Miss Venus’ “Hairse” parked in front. Finally, a short video of some of the entrants from last year’s parade:

If you heard Mayor Annise Parker’s “Not My Job” segment on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” back in February, you can see the giant chicken car that she mentioned early in this video. Someone ought to show it to Paula Poundstone, she was rather obsessed by the idea of a chicken car during the taping.

So there you have it. Now you need to see it for yourself next time.

Vote today

Today is Election Day for many places in Texas. They’re electing new Mayors in Austin and San Antonio, along with the regularly scheduled municipal elections in those cities and others. Here in Houston, it’s showtime for the District H special election. I’ve cast my vote already, since I prefer early voting. If you haven’t done so, the polling places are here, and if you don’t know what precinct you’re in, go here. And when you’re done, go to the Art Car Parade as your reward. Happy voting!