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Partying with the Big Heads

Written by , published January 6, 2010

The January issue of Texas Highways includes a feature about the oddball attractions of sophisticated Houston. As a native Houstonian, I enjoy recalling those quirky sites. Of course, I'm living in Austin now, where, luckily, there's no dearth of "quirky" here.

Mt. Rushour Heads

Still, the Houston feature brought to mind a particularly oddball moment, in relation to one of the noted attractions, sculptor David Adickes' Sculpturworx Studios.

Adickes is known for the giant Sam Houston sculpture in Huntsville and other creations like "The Virtuoso" sculpture in front of the Lyric Centre building in Houston's Theater District. It wasn't until I had an office in the Lyric Centre that I realized there's actual music coming from "The Virtuoso." It's impressive, but I digress.

One year, I was invited to a party called The Big Head Ball, hosted by Adickes. I didn't know if I should expect huge egos, but the buzz was that it would be a blast; and it was.

On my way into the party, held at his Sculpturworx Studio, there was a woman outside, doing a balancing act atop a white horse. She was dressed in a green, grass suit and hat, welcoming guests and looking like a Magritte painting in action. I knew I was in for a fun evening.

The studio, nestled in an unassuming and drab section of warehouses, was a large space lined, along the walls and in random spaces, with the big head sculptures in various stages of completion, all still much taller than me. I was fascinated to see the progressive stages of Adickes' works, especially since his looming Sam Houston statue was an integral part of the Texas landscape for me. It was a key landmark in my family's travels as I was growing up. Isn't it for everyone who drives that way?

The setting itself was surreal. Now, on to the guests!

This Big Head Ball turned out to be an opportunity for guests to don whatever whacky or big head they could. I saw huge hats, masquerade masks, scary and funny heads, even Jack-in-the-Box "CEO" Jack. So much creativity played out in those above-the-shoulders costumes. The tables were decorated with skulls and assorted representations of heads. The woman in the grass suit, now inside, doled out performance art for us; running in place, flailing arms and moving along with her projected video prop, all to the sounds of Laurie Anderson. Again, I thought of Magritte.

The rest of the details from that evening have since faded, and I don't know if Adickes does that party still, but it was certainly an experience, and one of my favorite odd nights in Houston.

Even though his studio isn't open to the public, it's still worth it to drive by and take a gander at those giant heads. The next time I do, I can say, I partied with those guys, once. :)

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