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HIDDEN GEM: Smither Park

The work of the more than 300 artists who helped create Smither Park is on display in several nooks, along the memory wall, in the pavilion and in the amphitheater.

HOUSTON — Chances are, even if you’ve never been to this week’s Hidden Gem, you’ve seen pictures of it on social media. Smither Park is one of the most photographed places in Houston.

"It’s Houston’s first art park," shares Jonathan Beitler with The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

At Smither Park, the normally mundane is ornate: Tables, pillars and light poles are all covered in mosaics. Even the sidewalks are works of art.

"It has an essence of Gaudi with the diversity and colorfulness that is Houston," Beitler says. "It is built by the people for the people."

And it’s still very much a work in progress.

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"We have artists coming out here every weekend who are continuing to adorn the space with mosaics," adds Beitler.

They're using all kinds of materials to create those mosaic, from shells to dishes to stones and beyond.

"Basically, anything that people are discarding, we’ve taken and incorporated it into the sculptures here," Beitler says.

Smither Park is maintained by The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, a nonprofit that serves as a hub for Houston’s folk art scene. It’s the same group that organizes the Art Car Parade and operates the iconic Beer Can House.

The work of the more than 300 artists who helped create Smither Park is on display in several nooks, along the memory wall, in the pavilion and in the amphitheater.

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"It’s certainly a focal point of the park," says Beitler of the amphitheater. "It allows us to have concerts, movies, poetry readings, dance performances. We do a whole slew of programming throughout the year."

The park is open from dawn to dusk every day.

"Have a picnic. Bring your friends. Bring your phone. Take some photos. And really enjoy this piece of beauty right here in Houston," Beitler encourages. "It’s absolutely a hidden gem."

Brandi Smith on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Do you have a hidden gem we should check out? Let us know by emailing Brandi Smith at bsmith@khou.com!

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