Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Orange Show

Our first choice to kickoff our Local Tourist Challenge was a visit to the Orange Show ( located on 2402 Munger Street. 

According to the staff, Jeff McKissack (1902-1980) interviewed with Thomas Edison in the late 1920's.  While Edison recognized Jeff's brilliance, he did not hire Jeff because he believed that he would never amount to anything.  As a way to "stick it to Edison" Jeff wanted to create a brilliant idea.

Jeff wanted to build a place that  90% of the population of the US would want to visit. 

He had big dreams for such an unassuming space.  The Orange Show is made almost entirely out of found objects that Jeff collected his entire life, and its main purpose is "to encourage people to eat oranges, drink oranges and be highly amused".

The place is tucked away in the middle of a residential neighborhood just off of the Gulf Freeway, near Telephone Road.  As you are driving up this road, you see the bright colors and shapes peering up, screaming to be seen.  And, see it you should if you want to check out one of Houston's weirder sites.

Notwithstanding the (before his time) health message, to me, the Orange Show looks like a colorful, abandoned playground from the 80's.

There are profound sayings from some of history's greatest luminaries sprinkled throughout the space.  It feels as though those sayings are intended to give this whimsical location a bit of maturity.

In all truthfulness I don't know what this guy was thinking when he envisioned that 90% of the population would want to visit this location.  However, I must say that there were a few people touring the area while we were there, so maybe Jeff was on to something?

The place has managed to stay afloat because it caught the attention and the pocket books of local art enthusiast / celebrities, including the likes of ZZ Top, who formed a non-profit foundation to preserve the Orange Show.  In 1984, the Foundation commissioned the "Fruitmobile" recognizing that the art car, "a medium for self-expression, is a mobile visionary art site."  This led to the first annual Art Car Parade.  Since then, the Art Car Parade has grown exponentially, now attracting participants from around the world.  Maybe Jeff's dreams did become a reality...

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic Houston landmark and a great summary of its eccentric origins!