While Houston has tons of great art galleries and museums to see artwork, there are also many places in and around town where you can go about your daily business and see great pieces of art. Whether they are photographs, sculptures, paintings or other art forms, you can find your favorites all around town, even in the least expected places. Take an art tour of Houston without setting foot inside a museum by visiting the places on this list.
Bush Intercontinental Airport
2800 N. Terminal Road
Houston, TX 77032
Believe it or not, Houston’s “big airport” is host to multiple pieces of artwork by local artists. The artwork at the airport can be viewed in and around the entire airport complex and inside all of the terminals. Keep an eye out for moonwalking cows, fountains made entirely of lights and a mural of one of Houston’s many bayous. This artwork is free to see, but some of the pieces that are beyond security require you to have a plane ticket and are best viewed when you travel to or from the airport.
Taste of Texas
10505 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77024
This restaurant has been a steakhouse tradition for many since it opened in 1977. While the artwork is not made by local artists from this century, you will find a full museum’s worth of Texana artifacts throughout the restaurant that chronicle the state’s history, including the critical role the Houston area played in winning Texas independence at the San Jacinto battlefield. This restaurant is so filled with genuine Texas history artifacts that groups of fourth graders from local schools are given tours of the restaurant by the co-owner, Nina Hendee to discuss Texas history. The tours are for school groups only, but you can still see the artifacts and art yourself whenever you visit the restaurant for its famous Texas fare.
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Houston Public Library
Julia Ideson Building – Central Branch
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Tx 77002
The Houston Public Library regularly has art and artifact exhibits at its many branches. For instance, now through October 19, 2013, the central branch in the Julia Ideson building will be showcasing artifacts from the Houston Symphony’s past 100 years in its “Fine Tuning – Celebrating 100 Years of the Houston Symphony” exhibit. You can see old photographs and more from the Symphony’s history. This is just one example of the many exhibits held at the library. Check Houston Public Library’s individual branch pages from the library’s main website to see which exhibits will be held near you and when they will be available for viewing. As with all library programs, these exhibits are always open to the public and free of charge. You don’t even need a library card to see them.
Inversion Coffee House
1953 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006
This coffee shop gets its name from the iconic piece of outdoor artwork right next door. The inversion art piece that once could be seen from Inversion Coffee House looked like a house that had a tunnel opening inside it. Though the original inversion house is gone, the same artist has another project very close by called “Funnel Tunnel.” Inside Inversion Coffee House, you can see even more artwork on the art wall with its rotating pieces of work from local artists. The baristas at Inversion will create latte art for you in your cup if you desire with designs that range from flowers to three-dimensional cats. If your local art definition includes the products of culinary artists, wait around for lunch time when local food trucks park in Inversion Coffee House’s parking lot.
2604 Dunlavy St.
Houston, TX 77006
Brasil is an artsy coffee shop if ever there was one. Modern artists from around town display their works on the walls of this place, and musical artists make frequent appearances at the stage. While Brasil was the leader in coffee bars when it first opened in the 1970s, today it is also a full-service cafe with breakfast, lunch and dinner available as well as the coffee it is known for. Many of the foods and drinks served at Brasil are made from locally sourced products to ensure that when you visit this cafe, you will be supporting the local economy in more ways than one. Don’t worry if you don’t see a large sign out front when you visit. There isn’t one, but the smells of freshly brewed coffee should guide you in the right direction.
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Crystal Hessong ia a freelance writer and a lifelong, fourth generation Houstonian. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.