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Thursday, June 1, 2023


‘Double Physichromie’ moves to new home near Arts District

Double Physichromie

The “Double Physichromie” sculpture was moved from its location near the Welcome Center Garage to near the Graduate College of Social Work after it was restored over the summer.  | Billy Talbert/The Cougar

An art sculpture titled “Double Physichromie” has been relocated between the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and the Graduate College of Social Work, where it will pave the way for more public art pieces to come.

Originally installed outside the Welcome Center Parking Garage in 2009, nearly 10 years of exposure to the elements has caused the piece to need some cleaning and conservation, said Maria Gaztambide, director and chief curator for Public Art of the University of Houston System (PAUHS).

Its take-down earlier this year allowed our art conservator and his team to take the work apart, remove calcium deposits from irrigation sprinklers and resurface and re-paint its nearly 2,000 individual elements to ensure longevity,” Gaztambide said. 

The piece was originally created by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. It was restored over the summer by art conservator Robert Marshall at a warehouse in Kemah, according to a UH news release.

The new location allows students to walk around the sculpture and experience from a multitude of perspectives. 

This visual phenomenon of shifting shapes and sizes wasn’t even possible at the Welcome Center,” Gaztambide said, “and we are thrilled to capture it at the new Arts District.”

Additionally, the relocation allowed them to raise the work 20 inches off the ground as Cruz-Diez originally intended it, Gaztambide said. It was only four inches off the ground at the Welcome Center Parking Garage.

Gaztambide said the efforts of PAUHS over the past few years have been to prepare for their 50th anniversary in 2019.

Starting next year, we will kick off an exciting temporary Public Art program at Wilhelmina’s Grove, as well as related programming and public outreach events,” Gaztambide said.  “We are looking forward to beginning to plan new permanent commissions at all campuses in 2020 and beyond.

When asked about the restoration and relocation of more pre-established pieces, Gaztambide said they are looking into working on more pieces already in the University of Houston Public Art Collection, particularly the relocation of certain sculptures at all five campuses. It’s all part of an ongoing beautification and enhancement project by PAUHS.

The process has made us think more critically about existing artwork locations, as well as allowed us to identify opportunities for other potential re-sitings,” Gaztambide said.

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