The Fund for Public Art is a permanent reserve to ensure ongoing art exhibitions in Hermann Park. Art in Hermann Park has a long history, dating back to the Park's early years with the installation of statues of civic leaders and historic figures. While important, these "classics" can often seem less engaging than more contemporary works.
Whether ranging a few short months to a number of years, modern and contemporary art in Hermann Park began in 2010 with an installation by French artist Bernar Venet. Monumental in scale, his works set the stage for a decade of engaging exhibitions. Venet was followed two years later by conceptual artist Ai Weiwei; his internationally acclaimed Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads appeared on the shores of McGovern Lake in 2012.
The popularity and press associated with these two exhibitions launched a major public art initiative called Art in the Park, which was part of Hermann Park’s centennial celebrations in 2014. The series ushered in a wave of installations still discussed today. Houston philanthropists and art experts joined together to create an assemblage of works large and small, showcasing a diverse group of creative forces in contemporary art, notably Trenton Doyle Hancock, Orly Genger, Sharon Engelstein, Patrick Dougherty, Yvonne Domenge, and Louis Bourgeois.
Demonstrated by widespread enthusiasm for past exhibitions, Houstonians remain hungry and enthusiastic for public art; Hermann Park's Fund for Public Art was thus born.
A centerpiece of Hermann Park's enhanced and expanded twenty-year master plan, the Commons gives public art pride of place in dedicated "art zones" next to Fannin Street.
These dedicated zones give a previously non-descript area of Hermann Park a new identity and draw. For many coming from the north side of the Park, these zones will mark the entry into the new area. Visible from Fannin Street, the artwork announces the presence and activity of the Park to people driving past.