Hey Houston! Are you ready?
The annual Art Car Parade is this weekend, and if you don’t know what that is, it’s time you experience this very important part of being a Houstonian. Really, it’s about as much a rite of passage as your first heatstroke of the summer.
The Art Car tradition started with The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art – which, like I’ve said before, is a supremely under-loved Houston treasure, and one of my favorite venues. In 1984, the first real Houston-area art car – the “Fruitmobile” – was auctioned off in the annual Orange Show Gala to raise money for the then-young organization. After this, “art cars” starting popping up all over the city, and became a part of the strange and beautiful Montrose sub-culture when, in ’86, several of them featured in the New Music America Parade, which wandered down Montrose Boulevard and ended at the dedication ceremony for the MFAH sculpture garden.
It became apparent that a trend was catching on. In 1988, the Orange Show organized a parade of 40 art cars in conjunction with the Houston International Festival – and thus the first official Houston Art Car Parade was born. Since then the parade has grown hugely – now over 250 art cars participate in the parade each year, with over 250,000 people in the audience. And the parade isn’t the only attraction anymore – the Art Car cult-followers have made it into a weekend-long affair. Now, you can go to the Art Car Ball (word is it’s the Cr@zIeSt party of the year) on Friday night, the Art Car Sneak Peek on Saturday, and the Parade proper on Sunday. I’m also proposing, for next year, to add an Art Car Pancake Brunch and Art Car Group Afternoon Siesta.
Another thing that’s changed over the evolving years of the Art Car Weekend: it’s not just cars anymore. You’ll see bikes, scooters, roller blades, unicycles and wheeled things that don’t have names. You’ll probably see some four-legged things as well. You will definitely see some things that you’ve never seen before.
My suggestions for the parade: dress comfortably, bring sunscreen, and hydrate. This is a mid-May afternoon in Houston we’re talking about, guys, so come prepared. And keep an eye out for me and the rest of the Culture Pilot crew rolling down Allen Parkway on our decked-out bikes.
Friday, 7 PM
The Orange Show Monument