We’re not sure how we missed the announcement of this cool exhibit at Denver International Airport (DEN). But if you’re passing through DEN this month, be sure to take a moment to visit the Colorado Clay exhibit near the A-Bridge checkpoint.
Visual Artists at Work at IAH & HOU Airports
Houston Airports owns one of the country’s largest public art collections. Now it has an Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program.
During a three-month-long residency, visual artist and educator Jaymes Earl will work with textiles at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Visual Artist and educator Mathieu JN Baptiste will paint at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
Houston Airports will provide each artist with an easel, a workstation, and a monthly stipend to cover their art supplies. And the traveling public will get to see artists at work. Both artists will be working in prominent spots in the airport and, to maximize interaction with travelers, they’ll be doing much of their work in the evenings and during weekends.
“As air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels and with these artists in the airports during the holidays, our travelers will have an extraordinary experience to enjoy art and culture without ever having to leave the airport,” said Alton DuLaney, Curator of Public Art for Houston Airports.
Alton DuLaney, Director and Curator of the Public Art Program for the Houston Airport System, was kind enough to meet me for a tour of some of his favorites. You can see the full list, with photos, in our story for The Points Guy site.
But I’ve pulled out a couple of my favorites here.
The Houston Airport, which operates both IAH and Hobby Airport (HOU) owns more than 350 works of art, one of the largest public art collections in Texas. Art curator DuLaney is a proponent of displaying as much of the collection as possible. So if you take a walk in any direction at the airport you will spot art. Some of it you’ll love. Some of it you may not care for. But all of it adds to the experience of being at the airport.
Countree Music (the ‘tree’ image above), is one of the first works purchased for the airport back in 1991. It is in Terminal A and was created by singer-songwriter Terry Allen. He also created the terrazzo floor surrounding the tree that depicts a map showing Houston as the center of the world. Pick a spot to stand on that floor near the tree and listen: there’s an original soundtrack of 16 songs recorded by Allen with the help of various musicians, including David Byrne from the Talking Heads.
The Terminal A Connector Gallery is both filled with art and is a great spot to avoid the noise and hustle of the airport. Here, away from the gates and the overhead announcements, you’ll find 20 vitrines filled with new and existing artwork from the collection- sometimes in the same display case.
For example, Fiesta Dancers by Luis Jimenez is paired with High Flying by Larry Schuekler. “Both sculptures explore the joy of dance from two different cultural perspectives,” says DuLaney.
Stay safe, stay sane, and pay attention to the gifts you put in your carry-on bags.
TSA officers may ask you to unwrap a package if they need to get a look at what’s inside. That can be slow you down, of course, but it could also spoil a holiday surprise if the gift you’ve carefully wrapped is for one of your traveling companions.
One suggestion – offered in the TSA Travel Talk below – is to pack presents in gift bags so that checkpoint staff can look at the contents without ruining a great wrapping job.
But Alton DuLaney, who happens to be both a world-famous gift wrap artist andHouston Airports’ public art curator, isn’t a fan of gift bags.
“I feel like gift bags are a little lazy when you’ve gone to all the trouble to find the perfect gift for someone,” he told us in a pre-holiday interview. He offered a few more creative, TSA-friendly, wrapping alternatives.
One idea is to use a box with a lid and wrap the bottom of the box and the lid of the box separately.
“That way you can open the box to show TSA what’s inside. And when you get to where you going just tie on a ribbon and you’re ready to give the gift,” said DuLaney.
Another option is to put gifts in decorated tins or containers that can be easily opened and reclosed at the security checkpoint.
“You can also wrap gifts in clear colored or printed cellophane. And that way TSA can still see what’s inside as well.”
On Monday, December 20 from 9 am to 3 pm, both Hobby Airport (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston will be hosting free gift-wrapping stations. DuLaney will be at Hobby Airport but says he’s carefully trained the teams that will be staffing the tables at both airports.
Many other airports around the country will be offering free gift wrap stations during this busy travel week as well. Some will be collecting donations for local charities, so tip generously and take the opportunity to do some last-minute shopping at your airport. Those stores could really use your business this year.
The Harmony in the Air performing arts program at IAH presents live concerts in Terminal A, Northside Atrium, and in Terminal D, near gate D8.
Concerts are scheduled Monday through Friday and include classical, jazz, pop, and International music. See the IAH website for schedule and concert times.
3. The IAH Yoga studio
IAH has a yoga studio for passengers in Terminal A, near Gate A3.
4. Shopping at IAH
We’ve picked up some great souvenirs in the shops at IAH
5. The Inter-Terminal Train at IAH
All five terminals at IAH are connected by an above-ground automated people-mover (the Skyway) and the underground Subway, which dates to 1981 and runs on a circuit that makes a curving and somewhat amusing round-trip every 18 minutes.
As of September 2020, the subway was undergoing some major repairs, so the video below may be the closest you’ll get to this unusual ride for a while.
The Inter-Terminal Train at IAH has a great backstory.
In the late-1970s a Disney executive who traveled through IAH on a regular basis became irritated with the unreliable tram system then operating between terminals. Not long after, a Disney-made people mover opened at IAH.
That’s why Mickey Mouse was on hand for the subway’s opening day.
Did we miss one your favorite features or amenities at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)? Be sure to leave a note in the comment section below.
Looking ahead: Will we ever be able to travel again? And, if so, what will that be like?
Will we ever be able to travel again? And, if so, what will that be like?
No one knows for sure, but an interesting group of travel experts is going to talk about it on October 7-8 during the online Travel 2021 Summit.
I am on the agenda talking about what airlines and airports are doing to make travelers feel safe now and what air travel may be like in the future.
PHL’s book exchange box and the seating area in Terminal A are made of reclaimed wooden pallets. The books are “take one, leave one” and come from passengers and from airlines that donate books left onboard airplanes.
Do you have a favorite airport bookstore or book exchange? Share you tips in the comments section below.