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Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is the city’s designated local arts and culture agency.



Houston Arts Alliance


“I call it Big Pink,” artist Ed Wilson says.

Wilson, the artist whose large-scale steel sculpture will add a striking element to the George R. Brown Convention Center, isn’t referring to a work of art — at least not in the traditional sense.

The whimsical moniker nods to the creativity in the design of a powerful invention that will be responsible for crafting his 60-foot hanging sculpture commissioned by Houston Arts Alliance on behalf of the Houston First Corporation. The work is a mobile of metal birds and clouds — a massive art piece that swirls in an organic turbine-like shape as it soars toward the center’s ceiling.

Imagine having to forge multiple sheets of perforated stainless steel into seemingly buoyant cloud formations that appear weightless. Imagine if those cloud units measured upward of 15 feet in length. Now imagine what it would take to craft numerous of these shapes repeatedly — by hand.

Are your arms getting tired thinking about this?


“I am putting together a crew to help me with production,” Wilson says about his approaching artistic workout. “But still, the physical force required to manipulate the metal over and over again is too much.”

Wilson considered using pneumatic hammers. Except that they are loud and very difficult to control — aside from the fact that there were none in the market that could handle the job.

Like any resourceful creative personality, Wilson decided that the only way out of this conundrum was to design his own power tool — a big hydraulic press that measures seven feet by four feet. Wilson, who lives in a gated commune with other artists in Independence Heights, had only to walk across the street to find the perfect partners to build his instrument.

NSM Industries fashioned Big Pink as a “c” shape with a dome on which the metal will rest. A piston on top will push the metal sheets down on the dome, leaving the desired indentation. The rest is akin to rinse and repeat.

As to why Wilson decided to paint the hydraulic press pink, he says it’s all about having fun.

“When is the last time you’ve seen a big power tool painted bright pink?” he jokes. “Never, and that’s why I did that. You have to have a sense of humor.”