Skip to main content

Houston's Must See Under the Radar Art Experiences

Published Jun 09, 2021 by Melissa Fox

art wall

Visitors take selfies at Montrose Paint Wall Mural

Houston is known internationally as a mecca for both performing and visual arts. “Newstonians” and visitors alike know to head to the Downtown Theater District and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for amazing art experiences, but many do not realize just how deep art runs within the city’s culture.

The region is home to hundreds of institutions and local artists dedicated to artistic expression. Houston’s nonprofit arts and culture industry is so robust that it is a large driver for the region’s economy, generating over $1.1 billion in total economic activity

Here are just some of Houston’s under-the-radar art spaces and experiences to help you begin your journey into the city’s world-class art scene. 

The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art 

The same local art treasure that puts on the world-famous Art Car Parade every spring also offers year-round programming that promotes its mission to educate the public on local visionary folk art. 

The Orange Show Monument is an immersive, architectural folk-art piece that includes an oasis, a wishing well, a pond, a stage, a museum and several upper decks. The monument’s creator, Jefferson Davis McKissack, was a local artist and postal worker, who constructed the structure using concrete, brick, steel, as well as objects he found around Houston such as gears, tiles, wagon wheels, mannequins, tractor seats and statuettes. 

Learn more about the Orange Show Monument and the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art’s other eclectic art experiences, including Striker Park, a vibrant “art park” and Houston’s famous Beer Can House (yes, a house made of beer cans). 

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, or the CAMH as locals call it, is dedicated to presenting the best and most exciting international, national, and regional art of our time and documenting its role in our modern society.  “In times of rapid change, artists see the way through. We know that by trusting artists and working to expand their agency in the public realm, meaning will shine through,” Hesse McGraw, Executive Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum explained in his Director’s Note

As a non-collecting institution, the CAMH hosts six to eight revolving exhibitions each year from internationally recognized artists. Each exhibit is accompanied by a publication, designed for use by scholars, as well as the general public. The museum also hosts lectures, educational programming and events throughout the year. 

Learn more about the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
 
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft was founded to advance education about the process, product and history of craft, and they do just that by exhibiting works of art that are made of primarily craft materials, including clay, fiber, glass, metal, wood and recycled materials. While strolling through the halls of HCCC you will see the full creative process. 

HCCC is also dedicated to giving artists a place to work and create in the artists' studios in the museum’s Resident Artist Hall. The in-house artists share their love of creating with the general public while also educating them on their craft.  "What is so particular to the cultural community of Houston is its incredible richness and depth," said Perry Price, HCCC Executive Director. "Yes, we have world-class encyclopedic art and science museums, a zoo, opera, ballet, and symphony, but we have an abundance of arts organizations large and small, focused and eclectic, well known and yet to be discovered that, when combined, make Houston arguably the most dynamic arts community in the nation. And we are proud that Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is right in the middle of all of it, helping to champion the makers who make our field so compelling and connecting the public with the role of craft in our lives."

Learn more about the HCCC. 

The Lawndale Art Center

The Lawndale is a contemporary art center that engages Houstonians with exhibitions and programs that explore the social issues of our time. Located in Houston’s historic East End, the Lawndale serves as a gathering place to experience art and ideas. Through its exhibitions and The Big Show, an annual area-wide survey show, the Lawndale has introduced many up and coming artists to the wider public. 

Learn more about the Lawndale.

Houston Museum of African American Culture

The Houston Museum of African American Culture's (HMAAC) mission is “to collect, conserve, explore, interpret and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations.” Since opening its doors, the HMAAC has been the most visited African American cultural asset in Houston. 

Learn more about the HMAAC. 

The Station Museum of Contemporary Art 

The Station Museum of Contemporary Art is a forum for local, national and international artists that reflect the cultural diversity of Houston. Through its exhibitions, the museum is committed to showcasing how art plays a critical role in society. The Station also presents film screenings, musical events and lectures that inspire a deeper dialogue and encourages the public to become actively aware of the lives of others.

Learn more about The Station. 

Houston Street Art  

Walking around the streets of Houston can be an art experience all its own. Houston is home to a multitude of awe-inspiring murals. While ever-changing and developing, these murals aim to inspire, educate and show love for our beloved Bayou City. Exploring the streets to seek out street art is an excellent way to explore Houston’s vibrant neighborhoods and learn more about the different cultures within the most diverse city in the nation. 

Discover Houston’s Murals with this interactive map

Learn more about Houston's arts and culture and what's like to live in the nation's fourth largest city

Related News

Living In Houston

Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July in and Around Houston

6/17/22
An increase in temperatures, snowball stands and a patriotic high all mean it’s almost Independence Day. Houston and surrounding suburbs have plenty of ways to celebrate America’s birthday. From fireworks shows to parades, there’s no shortage of family-friendly ways to enjoy the holiday.  Bellaire Celebration of Independence Parade & Festival The City of Bellaire will kick off the day with a parade (featuring the Children’s Bike Parade) followed by a festival on the Great Lawn and Loftin Park in Bellaire Town Square. The festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude at 1 p.m. There will be live music, entertainment and a wide variety of food vendors to choose from.  Galveston  Fourth of July Drone Show  What says Fourth of July better than grilling out and watching fireworks? Drones on the beach! For the first time ever, Galveston will put on a drone show for the Fourth of July. Hundreds of drones will come together for a 12-minute show with 12 custom formations. Expect to see patriotic images, island favorites like birds, sea turtles and fish as well as plenty of fun surprises.  Houston Shell Freedom Over Texas  For the first time in three years, Houston’s signature Fourth of July event will return to an in-person format. Shell Freedom Over Texas will include six hours of dynamic festivities including live music from artists such as Sawyer Brown and Clay Walker, an all-American kid zone, an opportunity to meet an astronaut and, of course, fireworks! Independence Day Fireworks  CityCentre will host an evening of entertainment from 7 to 11 p.m., including a 10-minute firework spectacular at 9:30 p.m.  Kingwood  July 4th Family Games Festival This unique celebration of America’s birthday will include game challenges and a kid zone with a bounce house and slide! Games include giant Jenga, cornhole and giant Connect 4. Join in on the friendly competition starting Monday, July 4 at 3 p.m. in Town Center Park. The evening will conclude with a patriotic musical laser light show. Click to expand Celebration of Freedom in Pearland Pearland  Celebration of Freedom  All ages are welcome to participate in the Celebration of Freedom in Independence Park. This event, which will feature live music, food trucks, rides and attractions, begins at 6:30 p.m. with fireworks at 9 p.m.  Sugar Land  Red, White and Boom Celebrate Independence Day at The Crown Festival Park with plenty of patriotic activities to partake in, including carnival games, rock walls, sports inflatables, trackless trains, a firework display and more. The Woodlands 2022 4th of July Parade: Stronger Together Before watching the sky light up at night in red, white and blue, catch the annual South Montgomery County 4th of July Parade: “Stronger Together” in The Woodlands. This 1.3-mile parade will take place in Market Street Monday morning at 9 a.m.  For more information on ways to have fun all summer long in Houston, visit our Living in Houston page or follow us on Facebook or Instagram using the handle @LiveWorkHou.
Read More
Living In Houston

'Town Square' Project Aims to Reinvent Memorial City Complex

5/24/22
The traditional American mall is changing from coast to coast, with some shopping centers facing the wrecking ball while others are being reinvented to meet the evolving needs of 21st century urban and suburban communities. Here in Houston, developers are redeveloping some malls as mixed-use commercial districts. At Memorial City near Gessner and Katy Freeway, real estate development firm MetroNational recently revealed plans to reimagine the massive 300-acre site that includes Memorial City Mall. The company will start with construction of Memorial Town Square, a 27-acre, 190,000-square-foot mixed-use project that will include local and national boutiques, innovative restaurants and health and wellness services.  Memorial Town Square aims to set the tone for a new master plan at Memorial City that will eventually include a much denser urban experience with residential units, a new office tower, coworking spaces and more. Completion of Memorial Town Square is expected in 2025.  Developers say Memorial Town Square will strive to improve the way people in the area come together, with lush landscaping, walkable streetscapes and an iconic town square vibe. Centered around expansive green space, the project will offer a variety of gathering spots crafted for lively and low-key get togethers. Visitors will experience art, entertainment, and events within a relaxed yet vibrant communal hub. "MetroNational has been working towards this day for more than 25 years," said Jason Johnson, President of MetroNational. "Memorial Town Square was designed for the community with the hope that they would one day consider it a part of their daily lives - hence the name.” Memorial City isn’t the only mall getting rethought. Baybrook Mall has served the residents of the Clear Lake/Friendswood area for decades, but in 2016 the mall got a major upgrade with an outdoor lifestyle center adjacent to the existing structure. A wide assortment of restaurant concepts and boutique stores centered around an open lawn for events and performances has reinvigorated the center that’s now drawing a new crop of new shoppers and diners. In total, the Baybrook expansion added more than 500,000 square feet to the development.  Back in 2017, Houston’s iconic Galleria shopping debuted $300 million in renovations that added a luxury “jewel box” complete with a number of high-end restaurants and retail concepts. The expansion aimed to elevate the already popular Houston shopping complex.  Learn more about living in Houston.   
Read More

Related Events

Demography

Houston Facts

The Greater Houston Partnership's Research team will provide an overview of Houston Facts, an annual Partnership publication that provides information on the Houston region. For this event, each member of the…

Learn More
Learn More