Midtown Park, Houston, TX

The nature-inspired mosaic in Midtown Park has been recognized nationally as one of the Best Public Art Projects by Americans for the Arts. This honor is determined by public art experts in the only national program that awards public arts projects.

The aptly titled ‘Wild Wonderland,’ created by local artist Dixie Friend Gay, is a perfect encapsulation of the wildlife native to Houston–in the first twelve inches above ground level. Friend-Gay is nationally renowned for her depictions of the natural world, and this installation does not disappoint. Viewed from a distance, the realistic detail is impressive, but the closer one gets to the wall, more appreciable the level of complexity becomes.

Wild Wonderland: 2018 Smalti glass mosaic mural 12′ x 63′ Midtown Park, Houston, TX
Fabricated with Mosaika Art and Design Studios – Dixie Friend Gay, Artist

Landscape Architect: Design Workshop, Inc

Mural Artist: Dixie Friend Gay

Photography: Brandon Huttenlocher / Design Workshop, Inc


Planning Process Award, Parks & Natural Areas – Honorable Mention, H-GAC (Houston-Galveston Area Council) Development of Distinction Award - Open Space Category, ULI Houston Development of Distinction Award - People's Choice Award, ULI Houston Honor Award, ASLA Texas

"Houston’s Midtown district once suffered with an inhospitable urban environment and a lack of amenities beyond bars and large apartment buildings. As part of a larger renaissance in the City of Houston to reclaim and enliven vacant and public spaces to improve the quality of life for all its residents and businesses, a public-private partnership was formed to revitalize a 6-acre "superblock" in the Midtown district. Today Midtown is more walkable, sustainable and connected. With the recent completion of Midtown Park, the once under-used lawn is now the three-acre centerpiece of the larger park system, activated with a performance pavilion, trails, marketplace, two restaurants, an arts garden, dog park and social game courts. Bayou-inspired water features bring nature to the city to provide respite and sustainable water management – all built on top of a public underground parking garage. Midtown Park is an early demonstration project for the ongoing development of a greener, more walkable Houston that proves that high-quality public spaces are a crucial ingredient for successful, livable cities.
Design Workshop
Inspired by photographs from the artist’s own backyard, stars of the mosaic include a many-tendrilled passionflower blossom, pipevine swallowtail butterflies, an impossibly realistic bumblebee, and (of course) a green anole lizard–complete with his swollen, red throat. A towering mushroom even reveals its intricate gills like a dancer twirling her skirt. Keen gardeners will note the delicate native blooms, a deep purple oxalis, and subtler details in the dense undergrowth of this intricate work.Not only visually stunning, this mosaic is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, made up of over 800,000 individual pieces of glass painstakingly hand-cut to size. The piece spans an area 12-by-63 feet and took many months and five sets of hands to install.
The wall in Midtown Park was particularly challenging because it doesn’t have a lot of right angles in it, Friend Gay said, so to get accurate measurements, she and her team had to take laser measurements. In designing the mural to fit the 12-foot by 63-foot wall supporting a berm, she also had to take multiple expansion joints into account. The project demanded careful planning and calculating. “It has to look like the image flows beyond that gap,” she said. “I designed it so that each panel between expansion joints would be a whole narrative that would read as a single image by itself.” The artwork continues to be cared for and enhanced to ensure the best viewing experience for visitors to Midtown Park with the installation of JEDI RECESSED lighting by Targetti and stone trim surrounding the mosaic.Source: MidtownHouston.com Photo Credit: Hall Puckett Photography
JEDI RECESSED A complete range of linear fixtures ideal for lighting large architectural surfaces. Available in a wide range of sizes, performances, and optical effects. Available in both projector and recessed versions.

JEDI Recessed