Images From A Car

August 20, 2009

IMG_1806We leave at 5.30 knowing that traffic will slow us down, yet hoping not too much, in order to make it on time to our 6 o’clock  appointment. Valencia (in Venezuela) is a little town of  900,000 people that sits in a valley, and has only one freeway that resembles Allen Parkway more than it does 610. But instead of finding the hellish traffic overwhelming, I discovered a few gems for the drivers’ eyes only. As we reach the highway entrance cars approach from all directions. The left turn we need to make seems impossible, given the abundance of cars coming from ahead. The intersecting vehicles come from the right and the left and seem to think the red light is merely decoration, while honks become the perennial soundtrack of the trip. We swerved through the cluster of cars and made it to the 20 mph traffic on the highway. The highway’s 3 lanes have been converted into 5 since here we use the shoulders as the other fast lanes.

But among the chaos, horns and cars I was distracted by something that we lack here in Houston. It is here when I realized the overpass we are driving through has been turned into a giant Mondrian mosaic. I lived 17 years in Valencia and never had there been as many great highway related art as there is now. Such great finds of horses taking up entire medians and statues of Bolivar adorning the entrance of a pedestrian crosswalk. There was a great wall tiled with the Venezuela flag placed right as the highway elevates around the mountain and the many murals that cover the walls of the underpasses with landscapes, history passages, and abstract designs.

IMG_1803The 45 minute trip turned pleasant and almost into a hunt for the next piece of entertainment. what would be represented in the next mural? which design will the columns be wrapped in? and what will the next statue we’ll pass be? then I think of having to drive to Katy, which takes the same 45 min, yet most of the time all I want to do is fall asleep at the wheel. Granted, our highway is smaller and has other unique attractions, like the chips n’ peanuts sellers, and the kids that sit on the edge if their highway adjacent homes with their legs dangling over the speeding cars. But we can make this work in Houston too. There’s always enough space for art in the places that we consider dirty and unusable.

Even 10 days later as I head to the airport I found murals adorning the tunnels’ entrances and sculpture parks located on the residual space of a cloverleaf intersection.

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