Found! A Tom Otterness Sculpture in a Suburban Mall

by Corinna Kirsch on June 18, 2015 · 2 comments Blurb

tom otterness crop

Tom Otterness made a sculpture called “Free Money” for the Market Street mall.

I found some weird-ass public art in The Woodlands. This is a master-planned community about 30 minutes north of Houston, Texas, developed by the Howard Hughes Corporation. It’s a wealthy suburb, perhaps best-known outside of Texas for its one time resident, the rapper Chamillionaire. He moved out when he could no longer afford the mortgage on his $2 million mansion.

No art museums exist in this ‘burb, but there is a ton of public art, typically characterized by sculptures of majestic deer or children leaping through air. There’s also a Tom Otterness sculpture in an open-air mall depicting a smiling couple dancing on a bag of money. It suits the community’s demographics well: a 2015 report by The Woodlands Development Company states that 57% of residents have a household income of $100,000 or more; for the most part, that comes from a single-income, as 51% of new residents have stay-at-home spouses.

A little less fitting is the John Ahearn sculpture of a grocer carrying oranges on the back of his scooter outside the upscale Woodlands Market grocery store. (That’s a scene straight out of New York, not Texas.) Another version of this sculpture shows the same man, but smoking a cigarette. I guess that version wasn’t sanitized enough for the suburbs.

John Ahearn, "The Orange Man Statue." Photo courtesy of Semathes.

John Ahearn, “The Orange Man,” installed 2004. Photo courtesy of Semathes.


RobertWBoyd June 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Scarface (of the Geto Boys) lived in the Woodlands as well. So that’s two black people!
Given the relative lack of places to see art (whether commercial galleries or noncommercial spaces) in the distant suburbs of Houston, it’s up to malls to step up!

Corinna Kirsch June 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm

True. It’s better than nothing!

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