Houston, TX – The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, one of the country’s premiere folk art organizations, announced today that it will be acquiring “Smokesax” – the much beloved 70’ tall blue saxophone that for the past 20 years has made its home at 6025 Richmond, near Houston’s Galleria area. Built by legendary Texas artist Bob Wade as a special installation for the now-defunct Billy Blues Bar & Grill, the Smokesax is constructed out of car parts, oil field pipes and a surfboard, as well as an entire VW Beetle that forms the U-joint at its base. While the oversized instrument was fully restored just three years ago, the current property owners, Kensinger Properties Ltd, Joe Jaw-Horng Su, and Angela Trent, believe that allowing the Orange Show to incorporate it into their portfolio of art preservation projects would ensure that this important piece of Texas folk art be taken care of for future generations.
With a mission to preserve, promote and document visionary art while creating a community where artistic expression is valued, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art’s Executive Director Lynette Wallace believes that this acquisition fits perfectly into the organization’s purpose. “We are thrilled to have been chosen to receive this fantastic and much beloved symbol of Texas’ creativity from one of the state’s most influential contemporary artists,” said Wallace. “We look forward to permanently installing it on the Orange Show’s property and adding to the colorful artistic community in Houston’s East End.”
While the piece of art itself was donated to the non-profit, in dedication and memory of Phil R Kensinger, the costs for transportation and installation will total more than $40,000 – a majority of which they are hoping to raise through private donations and public support. “There was a tight turnaround from when we first got word about the Orange Show acquiring the Smokesax to when we would need to transport it to its new home,” said Bob Schultz, Orange Show Board President and local real estate developer. “Because this was not part of our long-term budget, we are seeking creative ways to fund the project and hope that the city of Houston will rally around our efforts.”
The saxophone will be removed from its current location starting on Thursday, February 28th at 10am. The process to remove the massive piece will take a full day. Then, Smokesax will begin its 13-mile journey from Richmond Avenue to Munger Street. Artist Bob Wade will be overseeing the entire removal and transportation. Once at the Orange Show it will be housed in the organization’s warehouse until an exact location has been chosen for permanent display.
Now in its 31sr year, The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization based in Houston, TX with a mission to preserve, promote and document visionary art environments, provide opportunities for the expression of personal artistic vision and create a community where that expression is valued. The Orange Show owns and operates The Orange Show monument, The Beer Can House and Smither Park, as well as produces the Houston Art Car Parade – the world’s oldest and largest event of its kind. Funding is provided in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Brown Foundation, Houston Endowment, Wortham Foundation, Silver Eagle Distributors, United Airlines and Marilyn Oshman, as well as private contributions, in-kind support, and volunteer assistance. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art is a member of Fresh Arts. For more information, visit them online at www.orangeshow.org.