Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) has announced the return of its signature Traffic Signal Control Cabinet (TSCC) Mural Program, which has been on hiatus for a year. The program was launched in 2015 as a method to cover and prevent graffiti while also creating opportunities for artists.
Since the program debuted, more than 900 murals have been painted by a range of artists across the Greater Houston area. The mini murals trend has been part of a larger mural boom, both in Houston and beyond, focused on beautifying banal elements of civic life. Other initiatives have included the recent Big Art. Bigger Change. mural festival in downtown Houston, a call for art to decorate parking meters, and the city’s commissioning of artists to create vinyl wraps for recycling trucks. While many people across the city have embraced the new abundance of urban decoration, some (including a few Glasstire writers) have been less enthusiastic about the initiatives.
In a press release, Mayor Sylvester Turner commented about the resuming of the program, saying, “I am delighted to see the Traffic Signal Control Cabinet Mural Program back. I am excited to see the new murals that will be painted across the city. These murals not only delight the senses of our residents, but also add to the unique character of our neighborhoods. They are part of what makes Houston an Art City—a cultural mecca filled with works of art for all to enjoy.”
UP (Underground Planet) Art Studio, a Latin American-owned organization founded by Houston artists Elia and Noah Quiles, has been a longstanding partner with the city on the TSCC Mural Program. Beyond the mural program, the studio has been a part of a number of other public art initiatives, including the Asphalt Art Initiative in Gulfton, a community in southwest Houston, (2023); the Montrose Rainbow Crosswalk (2017); and the studio’s annual Big Walls, Big Dreams mural festival.
Last week, the City approved a new contract with UP Art Studio, through which 20 new mini murals will be created in the city. With a focus on areas that have been historically underserved and that lack public art, four murals have been planned in each of the following neighborhoods: Fort Bend Houston, Magnolia/Manchester, Kashmere Gardens, Sunnyside, and Alief/Westwood.
MOCA has opened an inquiry form for artists and/or sponsors to submit their TSCC Mural Project ideas for consideration. Artists must have a proposed location for the mural and have a sponsor. Click this link to see additional examples of mini murals throughout Houston. For more information about the TSCC Mural Program, visit the Cultural Affairs Office website.