21 06 2011



The discovery of a luxury loft next an vacant lot with sunflowers and an old house was to good to pass up. The text is three stanzas from a previous poem, the site is Silver St. near the corner of Edwards St. I had a second window installation, with a new poem, but unfortunately it was taken within 24 hours. Se la vie.

(Also, apologies to Becky Harlan to stealing your window idea.)




Translated [Pt. 2]

21 06 2011






A couple weeks ago I set up my translation the first stanza of raulrsalinas’ “La Loma” (the poem on my first sign project).

This is an empty lot on Crockett St. near the intersection of Silver St.



The Tire Dump, Redeemed

26 04 2011

The tires, as I had mentioned, were removed in less than 24 hours. I was disheartened, and had counted it as the third project (of six so far) to have been removed.

But then, on my walk to Gano Mission Center on Wednesday morning, I saw them in huge pile the adjacent field (behind the vine-covered fence you can see in the photos). And all the people of the land rejoiced. The next day I decided to just roll with the punches, and rearrange them in their new location.

Wait…that’s not a for sale sign… (New Vacancies Installation)

8 04 2011

This week my last sign piece finally saw installation. Digging into Houston’s rocky soil was a huge barrier, but I finally settled on an abandoned lot on Spring Street, a block and a half from our house. The spot is next to Mallalieu Methodist Church and in view of two luxury loft clusters.

(click for larger image)

The Vacancies project started with observation (seeing the landscape, listening to stories) and with play (writing and painting, putting poetry where it “doesn’t belong,” ie, a for sale sign). This poem underwent an interesting transformation from three stanzas about undeveloped land in my hometown (Rancho Cucamonga, California) to a six-stanza meditation on the vacant, abandoned lots in the First Ward, and the wave of new construction, where new lofts are being built for and purchased by young, wealthy urban professionals. After this piece, the next few move away from the real estate sign mimicry — although I may return to it. New directions are coming. Stay tuned.

Vacancies Part I (b)

15 12 2010

The second installment, using a sign I [Matt] found in an overgrown lot, installed in an empty lot next to a row of Urban Living lofts. (see the description of these pieces)

Vacancies [A Public Art / Text Experiment] Part I

10 12 2010

This week my teammate Becky Harlan and I posted the first of a series of public art/text collaborations in our neighborhood, as we are trying to think through and experiment with what artistic production and language looks like in public, especially in our strange context.

The First Ward is undergoing a wave of change headed by gentrification. From our time observing the landscape and listening to our neighbors, the vacant lot has become one of the clearest symbols of this change. There are dozens of vacant lots which were once homes or businesses, most of which are being purchased by developers to build luxury lofts for young downtown professionals. The vacant lot, to me, embodies the tensions of transition, ownership, and identity, and also happen to be a site mediated by text (that is, the commercial text of a real estate sign). Adding creative language [poetry] into the visual format of the commercial sign was a way to stand within this space a both a means of protest and play.

My hope is that this will be to engage both the older, generally poorer residents of the neighborhood, and the incoming residents of the new lofts into a deeper thought about their neighbors and place they reside. Already, as I was putting up and fixing the sign, this piece has led to strong, passionate response from two long-time First Ward residents.

The text here is  from “La Loma” by Raul R. Salinas (an Austin-based poet), placed on an already existing blank sign on the corner of Goliad and Crockett Streets. Crockett is one of the busier streets in the First Ward, and this lot also happens to be the site of a life-time First Ward family’s home that was demolished within the last decade.