Following the cultural traditions set forth for The Woodlands’ community by founder George P. Mitchell and his wife, Cynthia Woods Mitchell, The Woodlands Arts Council (TWAC) in partnership with The Woodlands Township, continues to add to the impressive collection of public art in our community.  In 2015, TWAC began a program to seek artists and designs for permanent Art Bench installations along The Woodlands Waterway. There are now 20 art benches that provide a unique combination of form and function along The Woodlands Waterway and in Hughes Landing on Lake Woodlands.

This Fall, four additional benches will be revealed, bringing the total to twenty-four. TWAC puts out a Call to Artists, then the Art Bench Committee narrows down the choices to three semi-finalists based on the designs and their suitability for the chosen sites. The final selection is made by the underwriters of each bench. Here are the finalists and underwriters for each of the four sites:

Site #1 – Located at the base of The Woodlands Waterway water wall near Riva Row Boat House:

Artist:  Gaston Carrio, resides in Houston, native of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Winning Design: “Mystical Senses”, an art bench sculpture that is an open invitation to the infinitely magical experience of nature and the circle of life, surrounding one in complete sensory immersion.

Carrio creates abstract paintings and sculptures and has been honored previously by the Art Bench Committee in 2018, when two of his works were selected: “Proud Souls”, a glorious, metal-winged sculpture, and “Unmasked Symbiosis”, a sleek, candy red abstract.

Underwriters:  Amy Cope-Gibbs & Jon Gibbs

Site #2 – Lower Town Green Park near the turning basin on The Woodlands Waterway :

Artists:  Michelle Old, Stacy Moore, Kevin Giuseppetti, The Woodlands, TX

Winning Design: “You Are LOVED”, uses words that carry great emotion to create a memorial bench with a playful feature celebrating the life of the underwriters’ son.

Old, Moore and Giuseppetti, siblings who work together at the regional architectural firm, Kirksey Architects, draw on their experience with built projects to bring their art bench to life. Each collaborator has a different role in architecture.

Underwriters:  Debbie & Sparky Gullo

Site #3 – Located on the Southside of The Woodlands Waterway across from The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion:

Artist:  Kyle Thornley, Revelstoke, BC, Canada

Winning Design: “The Texas Dawn Water Lily” was inspired by the Dickens family’s vision of the native splendor of the ecosystem combined with the urban reality of Waterway Square. Thornley captures this vision through natural symbols of interdependence, the cycles of life, and our stewardship of lands and waters.

The vision of the art bench project aligns clearly with Thornley’s goals as an artist – art that evokes a meaningful connection to others; a relationship with the natural setting as inspiration for creative expression; and art that is intentional, people-centric and holistic.

Underwriters:  Heather, Shin & Seth Dickens

Site #4 – Located on top of the hill behind the Montgomery County South Regional Library:

Artist:  Daniel Hornung, Tucson, AZ

Winning Design: “Penstemon” was intended to create a destination that allows people to appreciate the subdued surroundings of the site. Hornung’s design uses color and whimsy to remind people to slow down and savor the beauty of nature around them.

The artist’s objective is to create public art that is relevant to the community and resonates with the environment. Many pieces of his public art are located in Austin and Arlington, TX and in Arizona.

Underwriters:  Doug & Beth Grijalva

“We are looking forward to unveiling these spectacular new designs this fall,” said Dr. Maria Holmes, President of TWAC’s Board of Directors. “The Art Bench Project is an initiative that our organization is extremely proud of. We thank all the artists who submitted designs, our generous underwriters, and The Woodlands Township for partnering with us by installing and maintaining the art benches. They are an important addition to The Woodlands’ impressive collection of public art.”

To see photos of all 20 Art Benches, download a map of the locations and read more about the artists and their inspiration, visit www.thewoodlandsartscouncil.org/p/programs/art-bench-project.

The Woodlands Arts Council is the producer of The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, an award-winning juried arts festival normally held each spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Festival has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18, 2020 along The Woodlands Waterway and in Town Green Park. The popular VIP Art Dash Party is set for Friday, October 16, 2020. All safety and health requirements mandated by the state of Texas will be in force during the festival events. To purchase tickets, visit www.thewoodlandsartscouncil.org/events/2020/the-woodlands-arts-festival.

Like all non-profits during this challenging time, donations and sponsorships are needed to continue The Arts Council’s events and community programs. To join Friends of the Arts Council and the hundreds of volunteers needed during the festival, visit the website at www.thewoodlandsartscouncil.org.