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'Soaring in the Clouds' artwork dedicated in Houston

Associated Press Associated Press 12/11/2016

HOUSTON — An $830,000 cloud and birds sculpture at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston has been dedicated two years after a dispute over who should create the art.

"Soaring in the Clouds" was dedicated Thursday, according to the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2eJTTep ).

Artist Ed Wilson said he's pretty happy with the artwork in the high-profile space. The mobile — fabricated of perforated stainless steel — is featured in the convention center's new Grand Lobby and has been promoted as a tourist destination.

The bird sculpture forms in colorful, shifting light. It is supposed to celebrate the city as a flyway for winged creatures. With 14 layered "units" and 300 elements total, the mobile drifts subtly as it catches air currents.

The mobile is part of Houston First's $175 million project to create a new and vibrant "front door" for the city.

Houston earmarks a small portion of funds from major civic building construction for art.

Wilson's commission stirred controversy in 2014 after the Houston Arts Alliance, which managed the project, awarded the artist an $830,000 contract — then rescinded it, claiming the announcement was premature. Wilson later again won the job.

"Public art is messy, and public process is messy," alliance CEO and President Jonathon Glus said. "That said, public process worked. It's a beautiful, extraordinary piece made by a Houston artist."

Wilson said with the convention center's three-story atrium and 92-foot tall ceiling, creating art in the space was a challenge.

"That puts you in some sort of rare territory, to prove that you managed a budget like that and delivered," he said. "I think I have delivered a good finished piece and did it in a timely way."

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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