Patrick Medrano Sculpture in Houston’s “True North” Exhibit

Updated on March 30, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano
"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano | Source

“True North” Sculpture Exhibit in Houston

This unique ark-like sculpture, circa 2014, had the title “From the Hood to the Heights” by Houston artist Patrick Medrano. It was a part of the temporary “True North” sculpture exhibit found on the Heights Boulevard esplanade along with the seven other sculptures by other well known Houston artists.

These sculptures were between 4th and 18th street just north of Interstate 10. They drew enthusiastic crowds of visitors along with residents who regularly exercise and walk their dogs in this scenic area.

My hubby and I enjoyed strolling the wide esplanade one day, and I was busy photographing all of the sculptures from various angles. Other people were doing the same and seemed to enjoy this public art display in the heart of the old Houston Heights neighborhood.

"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano
"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano | Source

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Do you remember that old song? I remember singing that nursery rhyme song with my family when I was a youngster...often over and over again!

The oversized paddles exiting from the openings of the proportionately smaller building sitting atop the oars is a whimsical piece by artist Patrick Medrano.

It reminded me of taking a rowboat out on Okauchee Lake in Wisconsin as well as one in Minnesota many years ago. I felt the freedom of moving through the gentle lapping waves of pristine clear water by propelling the boat forward using my energy to move the boat in this direction or that. Of course, the rowboats were open and uncovered, unlike this roofed sculpture.

Why Was This Exhibit Temporary?

There is a nine-month limit currently in place for art displays on Houston city properties. The planning for the"True North" sculpture project took place well in advance and had to be approved by various city entities before it was installed. It was on display until November 4, 2014.

Other Artists Were Exhibiting in "True North." They were the following:

  • Dean Ruck
  • Steve Murphy
  • Paul Kittelson
  • Ed Wilson
  • Lee Littlefield
  • Carter Ernst
  • Dan Havel

All of the exhibits in this “True North” exhibit were for sale. The prices ranged from $5,000.00 up to $28,000.00.

In case any of the sculptures are still available, here is the number to call for inquiries: 713-854-4246.

"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano
"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano | Source

Patrick Medrano

Reading about the artist Patrick Medrano is fascinating. Unlike some of the other artists who had their work displayed in this same exhibit, he has no formal art degrees to tack onto his name. This lack of a degree in art has not stopped this innovative artist from having his art shown in various Houston galleries as well as internationally.

His art has taken him to such places as Panama, Peru, Greece, France, and Turkey, among other places.

Katy Anderson & Patrick Medrano

Patrick Medrano teamed up with his wife and fellow artist, Katy Anderson, who primarily uses photography as her medium. Together they have collaborated on works that involve film, sculpting, painting, animation, and 3D works. Some of their work is influenced by puppeteer work as well as music and dance.

Fodice Foundation

Patrick Medrano and Katy Anderson established the nonprofit Fodice Foundation in 2008. They are planning to do renovations to an old East Texas stone schoolhouse built by the WPA in 1938.

The school was utilized by blacks who had initially been slaves before the Civil War. After desegregation, it was abandoned, and the buildings had fallen into disrepair. The location is in an area just outside Lovelady, Texas, which is approximately 45 miles northeast of Huntsville, Texas.

Medrano’s and Anderson’s dream is to establish a site where artists will be able to live and work and exhibit for periods of two months in a residency program. It will house up to 6 artists at one time. Their foundation will also create an attraction drawing people who are interested in seeing all types of art, including live performances, which will aid this somewhat impoverished part of Texas.

I look forward to visiting there someday.

"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano
"From the Hood to the Heights" sculpture by Patrick Medrano | Source

Ark or Schoolhouse?

After reading about this schoolhouse renovation, I am now looking at this sculpture with different eyes.

Is this sculpture rather an artsy rendition of a schoolhouse instead of an ark such as the one built by Noah?

Are the oars representing the massive job of taking this schoolhouse project of the Fodice Foundation through deep waters from initial idea to fundraising efforts and navigating through to completion? Or did the artist think of something completely different?

What is the “hood” meaning in the title? What do you think?

Row boat oars Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Row boat oars Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

© 2020 Peggy Woods


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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      13 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Christy,

      Yes, this particular sculpture could have various meanings. I am glad you enjoyed reading about it. Thanks for your comment.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      13 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      How interesting to think about the symbolism. Very thought-provoking, Peggy.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      I like your explanation the best of any I have heard or thought about myself. Good thinking!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 months ago from USA

      I see the three oars on one side representing elementary, middle and high school then bachelors, masters, and doctorate decree or equivalent on the other side — the height or pinnacle of educational achievement. It looks like a one room school house. Education is the one thing no one can ever take away from you. It can lift you up out of poverty. My own parents know this. The oars symbolize the lifting.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for speculating about the meaning of this sculpture. Whatever the artist meant, I like it.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 months ago from Massachusetts

      What an interesting piece of art. It does look like a school house, which makes me agree with Lorna's interpretation of rising from humble beginnings to lofty heights. Perhaps the oars represent the work needed to ascend from the lowly hood to the lofty heights? Certainly fun to speculate. You have such interesting sites in Houston.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      Only the artist knows for certain what the meaning of this sculpture portends, but it is fun to speculate. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Lorna,

      Your interpretation of this sculpture could be what the artist thought when he created it. Yes, the school is a beautiful idea for artists to help perfect their craft.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      What an interesting sculpture. I guess the meaning is open to interpretation. I wouldn't have thought schoolhouse until I read this article.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      4 months ago

      An interesting read and what an unusual sculpture. Perhaps the hood could mean from humble beginnings to great heights. I love the idea of a school such as this, giving artists an opportunity to grow. Thank you for sharing Peggy.


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