Sit and soak it in: New art benches unveiled at Hughes Landing in The Woodlands

By: Kim Kyle Morgan, Woodlands Online
| Published 10/16/2018

Artist Gaston Carrio stands in front of his art bench 'Unmasked Symbiosis'
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THE WOODLANDS, Texas – The Woodlands Art Bench Project at Hughes Landing continues to roll out a phase-by-phase project that unveils functional works of art.

"When people walk by and see these benches, it impacts them," said Deb Spiess, The Woodlands Arts Council board president. "They're also a nice place to sit. It's not just a traditional bench -- they're unusual for a bench because they're artistic. People relate to art. We believe in the impact of public art."

Six new benches were recently unveiled at Hughes Landing. Two of those benches are from Houston artist Gaston Carrio.

Originally from Argentina, Carrio gave up a career in architecture to become a fulltime artist after moving to Houston in 2012.

Proud Souls by Gaston Carrio, underwritten by Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center

"It's overwhelming to see the benches on site," Carrio said. "You get a much better understanding of the scale of the bench when you have the landscape surrounding it … the buildings, the water … it's a beautiful location."

Carrio said The Woodlands mantra of "live, work and play" was a large part of the inspiration process.

"I'm trying to bring all of those terms into my artistic pieces," he said. "I used the color red in 'Unmasked Symbiosis' because it's a color that makes me feel connected, just like in my paintings. It's a strong color to use."

Canadian artist Owen Dixon, a sculptor and metal worker, unveiled his bench "Quercus." Dixon originally trained as a welder in Ontario, and went on to receive a Fine Arts degree in Halifax. He uses salvaged objects to create art.

Dixon's bench is underwritten by Jeff and Deborah Coburn of The Woodlands.

"Our love affair with The Woodlands began in 2003," Jeff said. "We raised our daughters here. This bench is a modern take on nature and that's why we really liked it."

The first phase of The Woodlands Art Bench Project was completed in 2014. Theresa Terrell, Art Bench Project commitee chair, said with the unveiling of Phase 3, there are now 20 unique and functional art benches have been installed throughout the community.

"The process to get to get to where we are today begins with identifying underwriters and bench locations, and putting out a call to artists," Terrell said. "From there our committee reviews all submissions. The underwriter ultimately selects the bench that's installed at their site."

The additional three benches unveiled at the event:

  • "Resolute" by Paul Reimer, underwritten by The Dorman Family in memory of Matt Dorman
  • "The Woodlands Windo-O" by STEREOTANK, underwritten by Michael and Vicki Richmond
  • "Why Sit When You Can Play" by The Urban Conga, underwritten by the Alex and Sharon Sutton Family

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