In 1926, municipal efforts to shape communities across the country by regulating the types of construction, developments and businesses in district zones were made constitutional. This became national practice and thus, the process we know as zoning was born. However, there was one major city that voted down this idea time and again, adhering to the more eclectic mixed-use approach; this city was none other than our very own Houston, Texas. Since then, Houston has grown into the fourth largest city in the United States and this ‘no zoning’ mentality has spread into all aspects of the city. Patrons now see opportunity where there would be obstacles in any other surroundings.

In 2009, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston held an exhibit focusing on the idea that, because Houston has no zoning, art does not have to be confined by physical or creative bounds. The works and ideas shared in the exhibit, No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston, were eventually documented into this book. Each of the artists shared their creative process on how they not only produced expressive art forms, but also brought an artistic vision into every Houstonian’s daily life. Artists in Houston have taken a ‘don’t-fence-me-in’ attitude toward where and how their art develops, ultimately influencing their unique creative process. Removing the bounds and restrictions of what art can be will yield opportunities for a more organic and creative experience. Art is no longer experienced in the confines of walls, such as a museum or a gallery. Rather, it is “discovered” on the side of the road, in the parks and recreation areas, and in some cases, your own backyard.

No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston not only works to argue this point about Houston arts and artists, but provides compelling documentation of their work through fantastic photography of past art exhibits and current artists. This book provides a glimpse into what the artists in Houston are doing and how their impact on the city can inspire others to push the envelope on public art. Most importantly, it showcases Houston as not only a diverse city, but as a canvas celebrating its unique sense of art.

On a related note, the staff of BRAVE had the pleasure of attending the No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston exhibit last year. For those interested the visit is fondly documented here.

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm
[above] Signed book by artist Dan Havel

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

Book Review: No Zoning Artists Engage Houston by Brave Architecture Houston Texas Architecture Design Firm

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