This is part two of my series on Houston Field Trips, highlighting unique places that you (and I!) should visit, whether you live in Houston or are visiting for the first time. I’m including a few ideas for teaching kids on the run, which is how I do things. You can read the first in the series, about the Houston Beer Can House here. This post is all about the presidential heads from David Adickes at Sculpturworx.
One of the first times I visited New York City with my friend (and New Yorker) Lydie, I really wanted to go see the Statue of Liberty. I’m not generally very tourist-y, but this was a must on my list. We didn’t actually get out to the island (I think it was closed), but we went where we could see her and stood in the park and shouted, “Hello, Lady!” like Andre the Giant does in The Princess Bride. I also bought a fake Rolex out of a suitcase for $20. That’s neither here nor there. The point is: I like talking to statues.
Whenever we drive east out of Houston, the boys and I always say, “Hi, heads!” to the giant presidential heads along I-10 near where 45 splits off. The embarrassing thing is that I’m not sure who all the heads are, other than knowing vaguely that they are presidents. So you can imagine how embarrassed I felt in this giant parking lot full of heads.
I think it’s time to crack open the books and learn who these guys are again. Except my main squeeze, Lincoln. I always used to love visiting him in DC at his home in the memorial. On my 21st birthday, rather than doing some typical debauchery-bar-crawl thing, I was with four friends, waving up to Lincoln.
Visiting Adickes Sculpturworx Studio is very odd (and amazing). You’ll drive up to this parking lot that looks like it’s in some industrial warehouse district, yet yards away from a Target and Chick-Fil-A. You’ll see the artists’ studios (there are a number housed and working in the building), but also this odd gravel and weed lot full of beautiful…heads. My friend Karen was visiting and had requested we go here. I had never even knew it was there. For shame!
I absolutely loved this. I loved that you don’t have to pay admission, that no one is telling you not to touch the heads, and the reality of how amazing these sculptures are, down to the details in the ties.
Some of them are in disarray, which is neat because you can get a feel for how they were constructed. You can read more about David Adickes and his sculptures and current projects on his site.This is a fabulous spot for photos as well. Go check out photographer Ashley Ann’s visit and a neat tutorial on using perspective in photos.
Ideas for Field Trip with Kids
-Talk about the presidents and the branches of our government.
-See who can name the most presidents.
-Take iphone or digital camera photos of each head and have your child identify them at home.
-Observe how the sculptures are constructed. Talk about sculpture as art and what it might have been like to create these pieces of art.
-What are some of the details that make these sculptures unique? Why do you think the artist chose these details for those particular presidents?
-Create your own busts at home using clay or paper mache or another medium. Let your child choose who they want to create.
-Visit the studios inside. What different styles of art do you see? What is your favorite and why?
-What might it be like to be a full-time artist and make your living creating all day?
-How would you describe the differences between the Beatles sculptures and the presidential busts?
I loved this place and can’t wait to return with my kids. I think they’ll have a blast running around this parking lot, talking to heads. Maybe we can learn (and re-learn) the presidents together.