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

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

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

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

“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

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

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

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


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2020:

Hi Dale,

I can understand why the sailor in you would be attracted to this sculpture by Patrick Medrano. The oars are a significant part of the artful creation.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 21, 2020:

It might be the sailor in me talking but I have to say that it certainly grabs both your interest and your attention.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2020:

Hi Christy,

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

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 22, 2020:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

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

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 01, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2020:

Hi Bill,

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

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 01, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

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.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 31, 2020:

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 on March 31, 2020:

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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