Enhancing Communities Through Public Art

Public Art UH Enhances Multiple Campuses and Diverse Communities

From sculptural gestures to works on paper, the University of Houston system boasts one of the country’s most impressive art collections. Public Art UHS enriches multiple campuses and diverse communities through the collection, temporary exhibitions, outreach and programming.

This fall, two new acquisitions will join the collection: a layered work by artist Kendall Buster and a site-specific Grove Commission from Jorge Pardo for Wilhelmina’s Grove.

University of Houston

The University of Houston is home to a diverse collection of art, from monumental sculptures to small-scale works that decorate the halls of student residences. The university also hosts a number of art exhibitions throughout the year, including an annual Master of Fine Arts graduate show.

Public Art UHS is one of the largest curated university art collections in the country. Its prestigious collection enriches the lives of the University’s students, faculty and staff while reflecting and connecting its unique communities.

In 1966, the Board of Regents established a policy dedicating 1% of construction costs to the purchase of artworks for campus buildings. That policy was formally adopted by the Texas Legislature in 1969 and became the model for state universities nationwide.

UH Arts District

The UH Arts District strives to be a hive for artistic and academic life, embracing the creative process as a portal to innovation and excellence across all areas of the University. In its inaugural year, the District has launched an array of new initiatives to advance UH’s mission and position as a national leader in the arts.

The art collection has grown to more than 700 works since UH became the first public institution in Texas to formally allot one percent of construction costs toward artworks, according to PAUHS. Today, the organization serves the needs of students, faculty and the community through a broad range of exhibitions, research, education and outreach.

The Arts District is a great place to find off-the-beaten-path public artworks. Check out our Arts District Map to find your next art adventure.

Permanent Collection

The Permanent Collection is the core of a museum’s holdings. Acceptance of art into the Permanent Collection guarantees its storage, insurance and preservation for perpetuity. It is also the foundation of temporary exhibitions.

The museum’s 3,000-piece Permanent Collection features works on paper—including one of the largest collections in America of prints by 17th-century French printmakers Jacques Callot and Claude Monet, drawings by artists such as Rembrandt Peale and John Singer Sargent, paintings by George Inness and William Prendergast, and sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, Robert Indiana, and Victor Vasarely.

The Permanent Collection is also distinguished by its strength in art of the Rocky Mountain West. Works by western artists including Rudy Autio, Fra Dana, and Edgar Paxson are complemented by contemporary Native American art by Jim Denomie, Percy Bull Child, and Gloria Emerson.

Temporary Collection

A new exhibition model that promotes, exhibits and distributes artworks already purchased directly from artists, the Temporary Collection is a daring way to support Ed Video’s programing opportunities. 100% of ticket sales will go directly to supporting the 70 local, national and international artists participating in this exhibition.

Collective temporary exhibitions often focus on a single artistic movement and include works from similar or previous movements in history to show their impact. These exhibitions are sometimes called thematic.

Public Programs

Public programs are a critical way for galleries and museums to reach new audiences, build community engagement and demonstrate the importance of art in a region’s cultural vibrancy. They offer meaningful cultural experiences that make people feel, think or act in new ways and can transform the visitor experience at your museum or gallery.

The Program team manages a sizable Percent for Art portfolio and works closely with public, private and community partners to commission outstanding enduring artworks that reflect Idaho’s unique culture in its communities. Citizens play a critical role in the process from project identification through artist selection and fabrication.

Our staff is always happy to discuss questions and concerns about the program. Please contact Stephanie Johnson. The Public Art Network offers an online Directory of information about public art programs throughout the United States.

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The Birth of Abstract Expressionism: The Groundbreaking 9th Street Art Exhibition

The 9th Street Art Exhibition

A group of artists, led by Leo Castelli and backed by a generous financial backer, overcame external recognition from official institutions to showcase their work. Despite their differences, these painters became united by the communal spirit of art as an obsession and vocation.

Eleven artists took part in the 9th street art exhibition, five of whom—Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell—would later receive international fame.


The 9th street show brought together the most important artists of postwar abstract expressionism to exhibit their work together. Many, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, would soon become “art stars,” commanding large sums of money and international attention. The other participants such as Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, and Grace Hartigan, however, remained mostly unknown.

Despite their camaraderie, these were some of the most competitive artists the world had ever seen. They feared favoritism or politics could skew the show’s outcome. Even so, the resulting exhibition was a critical success.

In hindsight, it’s hard to believe the artists in the Ninth Street Show weren’t aware of each other. Yet, when the show opened on May 21, 1951, it was the first time these artists had all shown their works alongside each other. Leo Castelli had requested they contribute smaller paintings because of limited space, but Mitchell brought an exuberant abstract canvas nearly six feet square.


Presented by the Katonah Museum of Art and inspired by Mary Gabriel’s acclaimed book Ninth Street Women we celebrate these five female artists Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Perle Fine, Grace Hartigan and Helen Frankenthaler. These artists, united by a communal spirit and a rejection of institutional recognition were able to overstep the constraints placed upon them and expose their work to the world. The result was the launch of Abstract Expressionism and the shift in the centre of modern art from Paris to New York.

Curated by future famed gallerist Leo Castelli, the exhibition was a game-changer. These iconoclastic painters and their works embodied the ideal that art is a vocation unbounded by money or fame. Their shape-shifting overrode careerist strategies, and their rejection of stylistic purity was the antithesis to the norms of art criticism. Today their legacy lives on as an enduring act of artist solidarity. In an age of inflated commodification and banal ideological agendas their spirit is an important reminder of what true serious art should be.


The 1951 show rewrote the rules of art in New York. Its success paved the way for the postwar era of Abstract Expressionism. It also ushered in a new generation of painters to international fame. But what is often overlooked are the women artists who made up this cutting edge group.

Among them were Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, artists who were not only part of the Ninth Street Show, but would go on to receive worldwide acclaim as modern art icons. But for many of the participants, the upcoming exhibition was their first taste of commercial success.

Some of the most controversial issues surrounded the way in which the exhibition was hung. The artists were a competitive bunch and some feared favoritism or politics. Others were concerned about the amount of space that was available in the gallery: who would be upstairs and who would be downstairs?


The 9th Street Art Exhibition brought together a cutting edge ensemble of New York artists that would soon become the mainstays of museum collections and art history textbooks. Although these artists were well aware of each other – some like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Ad Reinhardt already had established names in the underground art scene – they were not known to the general public at the time.

Leo Castelli acted as the show’s curator, but the artists did the rest. Due to the clamor to participate, each artist was only allowed to exhibit one work.

Five of the women who participated in the 9th Street Show – Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell – went on to have major international careers, with their works collected by major museums and included in ever-expanding bibliographies. Mary Gabriel has recently published the acclaimed book Ninth Street Women to chronicle these pivotal figures who changed the course of modern art.

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