August 18th, 2010

Houston Street Art: The Stencils

Monday we took a look at some of the wheat-pasted street art around town. The fantastic thing about the scene is how much change it goes through, day-to-day and week-to-week. Before, I just thought that I was ignorant to the fact that all of this was around. Today, I can assess that the street artists have been pretty active as of late.


After a stressful day yesterday, I took to the streets to grab some photos to clear my mind. Give Up has been busy. The above razor blade stencil is on the back wall of Cactus Music [Portsmouth at Sandman] that I took a while ago. But there are new wheat pastes all around the Montrose area by Houston’s most well-known street artist. Seriously, they’re everywhere.


After seeing the Give Up stencil, it inspired me to head out on my second ever street art hunt. Let me tell you something. When you set out in a car trying to find something in no place in particular, you’re not necessarily the best driver in the world. Luckily, I didn’t have to drive too far to find this piece by Coolidge (I refuse to write the name in all-caps even if that’s how it’s supposed to be). The Boston Terrier ready to pounce on unsuspecting pedestrians has been a particular favorite of mine since I used to own one (a dog, not a pedestrian) [Kyle at Richmond].


The Boston was my favorite until I heard that Coolidge was using dinosaur stencils. Those obsessions you had as a kid between four and eight years old never leave. Now, if Coolidge did a Triceratops stencil, I would chop the wall down and carry it home. Settling for a T-Rex isn’t so bad, however. This piece went up mere days after the Houston Street Art: A Photo Essay column on a wall that was documented [Westheimer at Yoakum]. I know you’re reading, Coolidge… All the cool kids are…


Now before you say, “really, another Coolidge piece?!” let me warn you. This isn’t the last one. We’ve got five more to go. This piece has seen its last day. It has met it’s fate by way of paint roller. Though, someone told me that a new stencil has been found in the same location [Washington at Montrose/Studemont]. It’s a battle between artist and “the man.”


Traveling east on Washington Ave a couple dozen blocks, you’re going to have to make your way off the affliction-beaten path to find the above piece. About a block south on Kelly, you will find this head-scratcher of a stencil [Kelly near Washington]. The best title I could think of was “I am the Walrus” as the man vaguely resembles a Hasidic version of Paul McCartney and that’s definitely a walrus. I can tell because it says “walrus” right next to it.


Heading back down Washington to Sawyer and making a right toward the Heights, we come across yet another Coolidge stencil (I told you there were more). Just south of the Taylor/Sawyer/Crockett intersection, this T-Rex faces the Northbound traffic. And, as luck would have it, we’re just a short few blocks away from one my favorite walls in Houston and the scene of our Photo of the Week from August 6th.


I have been out to this location two more times since the original, night shoot. Surely, the residents of Summer Street are sick and tired of seeing my car pull up and park in the gravel excuse for a driveway. Double Brontosaurus (all the way) reaches up toward the Houston skyline. It deserves a second photo, don’t you think?


Well, you don’t get a say. Here’s a second shot [Summer Street between White and Henderson]. Originally, I was planning on adding the photograph from my evening shoot, but I’ll spare you. That’s why there is the link in the last paragraph.


Even though it seems like I’m a Coolidge junkie, that’s not necessarily the case. I’m convinced we’re actually best friends, traveling the same routes day in and day out, hence the multitude of photos. The works that evoke more thought, like the one above, are really my favorites. Who is the artist? Who is in this stencil? Why is it numbered? Is there a litany of numerical stencils I’m missing? King Biscuit, with its mural (which made its way into our Where’s Pauldo contest), is home to this piece [White Oak between Beauchamp and Morrison].


On 19th Street, in the Heights, you’ll find an even more creative way to get a few questions asked. This 2:12 bolt-up stencil is right in front of Venus Hair [19th Street at Ashland]. Why leave your work to the mercy of the weather and see your wheat paste peel off the wall? Some cold, hard steel will help you out. Given, you have to trust that some enterprising art collector doesn’t want to show up with some heavy-duty bolt cutters to remove your work. Not that I’ve have thought to do that…


Not even a half step away, an unknown artist has left a message. I do love me, but thanks for the reminder.


The running crowd isn’t left out of the hunt, of course [Heights Blvd between 18th and 17th]. This piece from an unknown artist adorns the support for a bench’s canopy on the Heights Avenue trail. A less than suitable close-up was taken with my phone. I’m a fan obvious depth of field. What else can I say?


As you can see, we’re following more of a “follow the bouncing ball” approach with this columnĀ  instead of the scatter-shot “this is here, that is there and this was back yonder” confusion of Monday’s column. So, take Heights down to 6th Street, take a right and then take another right on Yale for my favorite Coolidge work (only two more left, enjoy them while you can). Number 5 can be found peaking out from the boarded up window. If you’re not a fan of Short Circuit then we probably shouldn’t be friends [Yale near 6th Street].


Making your way down 6th Street toward Studemont, there are a couple more pieces left for your enjoyment [Arlington at 6th Street]. Coolidge has tagged twice, one on either side of Arlington.


But the mystery was left for a piece by an unknown artist on this same intersection…


Surely, this couldn’t have been the original intentions. Why are only the head and whatever this being is holding buffed out? A quick look at o texano’s photo stream and we can figure out what the piece once looked like. But that doesn’t solve the who and why of the culprit and motive of this vandalism [Arlington at 6th Street].


We’ll end this column with a piece that’s practically off the map of the others. This stencil by Cutthroat is on the Southeast side of town. There’s a glorious little spot near the corner of Dumble and Polk for you hunters out there. One day I’ll make it back to that side of town for some day-time photography, but maybe you have some better shots already. Please, share.

Have a look at the high res, uncropped originals in our Flickr set.

Submit your own to The Loop Scoop Photogs group.

And, especially, enjoy your drives, walks and bike rides around town.

[NOTE: I believe if you can just embed your photos below for all to see if you use the html code. If you want, try it out and show off your shots.]

— Paul


Alexxx — Wednesday, August 18, 2010 11:26 am

Paul –

I am always looking for someone to hunt street art with for the Facebook page dedicated to Houston Street Art.

Send me an email if you want to go out together and check some stuff out.

Vanessa — Wednesday, August 18, 2010 5:41 pm

Great article Paul! <3

jeff — Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:40 pm

the terrier is at kyle and richmond, not kelly and richmond. great finds!

Paul — Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:02 pm

Yeah, what Jeff said.

Kyle, Kelly… they’re all the same. Right?

megan — Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:24 pm

the stencil on KB is the same artist that did Pussy Political Power..

psydecheaux — Thursday, August 19, 2010 2:09 pm

hey paul, you can see more of my work on the corner of taft & fairview, on the southeast corner. the jose guadalupe posada cavalera smokin a stogie, walkin with a cane. be on the lookout.

Paul — Thursday, August 19, 2010 2:33 pm

Consider me in transit as soon as the end of day whistle blows.

Katherine — Saturday, August 28, 2010 10:56 am

Cool…I’ve just recently started finding these pieces, and started to wonder “who is this Coolidge character?” This makes me want to go in search of the others you’ve found…glad to know someone’s keeping track! :)

ultrasound technician — Monday, August 30, 2010 10:20 am

found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

laanba — Saturday, September 4, 2010 10:32 pm

Thanks for these two wonderful posts on Houston’s street art. I hope to get out soon and photograph many of the pieces. I wasn’t sure how I would find them, but it seems that I just need to get in my car and drive.

holly — Sunday, September 5, 2010 9:26 am

i *heart* coolidge. was just about to write on my blog about all these stencils. you never saw the sea turtle, huh?

Bailey — Sunday, October 3, 2010 8:01 pm

I love Coolidge’s elephant on Shepherd at either Memorial or Kirby, can’t recall which, and I saw a phoenix (I think) on Shepherd closer to the north loop.

Kat — Monday, January 31, 2011 5:22 pm

We went to see the Coolidge art work, but someone has painted over them. What happened? Very disapponting. We looked in a number of different locations, but some has destroyed ALL of them. Obviously a hater.

keeble — Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:38 pm

Kat – this is why you don’t post locations of things when you see them.

Crazystick — Tuesday, July 30, 2013 4:22 pm

Story goes.. apparently Coolidge was caught by the law enforcement. They considered his work vandalism. The city was going to throw the book at him. He cut a deal where he promised not to create more art and has dropped off the art scene. I believe some of his works are still around. Hardy and Nance studio off hardy I believe has one on the side of the building. I wish there was a map to where all his art is. I wish the city could grant Coolidge a permit to do his art anywhere. He is one of Houston’s premiere street artists.. Would they muzzle Banksy overseas?. We are fortunate to enjoy such great works. I miss them…

If anyone knows of anymore still around please post!

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