The largest mural in downtown Houston, and in all of Houston, is currently a work in progress on the north-facing wall of a parking garage at 1415 Louisiana Street. The artist Christine Finley started on March 21 and expects to finish the work, titled Sky Dance, before the end of April.
The parking garage services the WEDGE International Tower. The CEO of the WEDGE Group discovered a similarly themed mural Finley had done in Los Angeles and commissioned her for the Houston project upon meeting her. Sky Dance funding comes from WEDGE and the Downtown District.
Sky Dance depicts a trio of ballerinas in mid-leap. The primary background color of the design gleans sky blue and sets off the surrounding wall against the clear blue sky that surrounds the parking lot on most days as well as the many skyscrapers that enclose the area. The painting encompasses 30,000 square feet.
Louisiana St. runs north, and bordering Milam St. runs the opposite direction. Southbound drivers have approximately fifteen-seconds to view the wall from the perspective of their drive — that’s three second per ballerina.
Free Press Houston talked with Christine Finley at mid-afternoon on a sunny day last week. “The sunlight is intense during the morning hours, but around one-o’clock the sun goes behind the wall,” says Finley, who works six days a week on the mural.
Finley lives mainly in New York City and Rome, Italy, but has done installations in New Orleans, Austin (a Wonder Woman wall mural at last year’s SXSW), and now Houston.
“The sky blue has a high vibrancy,” notes Finley. The three leaping figures add diversity “and femininity to the downtown landscape.” On the day we spoke to her, Finley was detailing one of the faces strapped onto a crane while another crew was outlining shapes using a suspended platform.
Finley took inspiration from dancers at the Houston Ballet, and designed her stencil based on those ideas, but she concedes that once the painting was in progress many factors changed how the project progressed.
In one scenario, Sky Dance reflects off the windshields of observing drivers, but there’s also “the reaction of people in suits who wander past and start taking selfies,” says Finley. Indeed, even as we were talking in the parking lot pedestrians were stopping on the sidewalk to snap photos.
The artist intends to put her Instagram tag “iamfinley” on the bottom left hand portion of the wall where it has the longest visual imprint from commuters on Milam St. The mural can be best viewed from nearby skyscrapers and especially the parking garages that border the lot. The artist also has a team using a drone to take photos that chart the ongoing development of Sky Dance.
Finley has enjoyed her stay in Houston ,but the hours involved have prevented her from journeying far from her host hotel.
“I did get to the Rothko Chapel, and it was wonderful how the outside light filters in and depending on the brightness or the clouds of the day it changes the perspective of the paintings,” says Finley.
The colors of the installation will be preserved by the fact that the sun only shines directly on it during the morning hours. Finley hints that the hashtag #skydancehou has the most prominent following, but allows that “there’s so many tags and who knows what will become the main meme when the mural is completed.”