The Beauty Box


One normal afternoon last fall, artist Robert Hodge glanced over at a building on Dowling St., in Houston’s Third Ward where all but two walls remained. There was simply the concrete foundation, the wall of the building next door, and the boarded up entrance. The area is adjacent to Dupree Park and had become a convenient place for night-dwellers to use the restroom. He had seen the abandoned area before, but today the thought of using the space for an art project emerged.

Make the abandoned space into an outdoor public installation illuminating a particular time in an average Third Ward home. Robert brought this idea to me, and with the help of my Grandmother (RayMama), who lives in Studewood, on the Northside of Houston, Texas, we had a model by which to go by.

The next part was finding the the furniture, and all the “nick-nacks” you would see in that house. BJ Oldies (RIP) an antique shop on Westhiemer got our furniture ball rolling, with a china cabinet, and a dining room table. Nick-nacks, came from any place we saw something that fit. A glass donkey, a black cherub, or a karate trophy, all would work.  The wall art seen in most Third Ward homes is random, aside from family photos, and the always present white Jesus. Most of the wall art in the Beauty Box is recreated to have that same feel.

The question now remains, how will the “environment” treat the Beauty Box. The sun will be relentless, along with the occasional summer rain. What will the many vagrants Dupree Park attracts think about a couch, dining room table, and chairs so near to them? How will the community treat an outdoor time capsule?

The opening for the Beauty Box is Friday July 5th, from 7pm – until.  In the future (hopefully) there will be artist talks, round table discussions, and other public events, but it is contingent on the “environment” and their behavior.

For more on the Beauty Box go here. Here is some of the wall art:

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