The Art Guys®
12 Events is a series public events executed by The Art Guys at various locations throughout Houston over the course of the year 2013.
Date: Friday, March 22, 2013
Description: The Art Guys selected something gathered from the cardinal points of Houston (the extreme north, south, east, west street locations)
Definition (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1970) The four principal points of a compass; north, south, east, and west
Explanation of parameters/criteria Our use of the term “Cardinal Points” is not completely accurate to the traditional definition. The traditional definition is directional (adverbial?). “Cardinal Points” was an attempt to locate specific positions, i.e. fixed actual geographical points. Therefore, the parameters/criteria we used for “Cardinal Points” was thus:
The northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost locations (points), latitudinally and longitudinally speaking, of the City of Houston where the extreme outer boundary (city limits) intersects the nearest city street.
To determine these locations, it became evident to us that we first needed to clarify exactly what is the “City of Houston.” The term and definition of the “City of Houston” is ambiguous and the use of this term depends of a number of criteria. After research and discussion with individuals of the City of Houston Planning and Development Department, the “City of Houston” definition used for “Cardinal Points” was determined to be the most inclusive definition; that is, the areas of the City of Houston known as “limited purpose areas.” (*see notes and explanations below by Nicole Smothers of the City of Houston Planning and Development Department) We chose to use locations at or on public streets because some areas of the City of Houston include private or inaccessible areas. This allows anyone to visit the points we selected.
*Explanation of the “City of Houston” by Nicole Smothers, via email, of the City of Houston Planning and Development Department:
"There actually are two City of Houston city limits. The full or general purpose city limit boundaries include all land the city has annexed over the years and that are entitled to all of the services the city provides. They are also taxed at the in city rate for those services. The limited purpose city limits are areas that the City of Houston has annexed for limited purposes. These areas are in water utility districts with whom the city has an agreement. The terms of each agreement can differ, but usually, the city provides a service to the annexed portion of the water district, and an extra penny of sales tax is added in the commercial areas of the district which is split between the utility district and the city. As part of the agreement, the city agrees not to annex the area into the full purpose city limit for at least a term (usually around 30 years).
When we speak of the city limits, we are usually speaking of the full purpose boundaries.
Technically the residents in the limited purpose areas can vote in mayoral and council elections but they cannot vote in bond elections or other elections like the drainage fee since they would not be subject to paying for them since they are not inside of the full purpose city limits. The residents in the limited purpose areas are counted in the census as well. The catch is that there are virtually no residents in the limited purpose areas since the city almost exclusively annexes commercial areas only (we carve out the commercial areas instead of annexing the entire utility district in most cases). Every once in a while we will get an apartment complex or the use of a lot will change from commercial to residential so there are a few residents but not many at all. There are a few special cases where we have annexed the entire district such as in the Summerwood area. This was a special case and the service we provide is fire suppression. Normally we provide something much less expensive like the fireworks ban. It’s also worth mentioning that at the end of the term of the contract the city has the option to annex the area for full purposes so it’s not really considered a part of the city yet if you think about it that way."
On Thursday, March 21, The Art Guys met with Rupesh Koshy, City Planner, at the City of Houston Planning & Development (P&D) Department to verify the “Cardinal Points” locations and to clarify ambiguities of the north and east locations. He explained that the city limit boundaries around the ship channel are based on the center of the ship channel (Buffalo Bayou) from surveys, plats and information made in 1913. No updates of city limit boundaries around the ship channel have been conducted since then. He also recommended researching and obtaining a copy of City Ordinance 63-1219: Radial Strips for further clarification.
Everyone we spoke with at the City of Houston Planning and Development Department told us that they had never been asked the question of what the extreme north, south, east and west boundaries of Houston is.
City of Houston information and contacts:
Nicole B. Smothers, JD, CPM
Suzy Hartgrove, Information Officer
Rupesh Koshy, City Planner
City Ordinance 63-1219: Radial Strips City of Houston
My City Maps and Apps
City of Houston My City Map Viewer
The “Cardinal Points” of the City of Houston
List begins at north location and proceeds counter-clockwise
North: southbound entry ramp from Woodlands Parkway onto I-45
West: Westheimer Lakes Drive north of FM 1093
South: Bay Area Boulevard north of FM 528
East: Bayway Drive at West Road south of Park Street
“Think deeply of simple things.” – William Dunham, mathematician
Research, discussions, plans and decisions for “Cardinal Points” were conducted over a period of several months beginning in 2012 and continuing through the completion of the project itself. Although described as an “event,” we think of it primarily as sculpture or a sculptural gesture. The essence of the work employs fundamental qualities of sculpture: material, manipulation (placement/displacement), space (location), time, etc. Data gathering and recording played an important, if not paramount role. The choice of ordering the procedure as progressing in a counter-clockwise direction was arbitrary. The selection of each object or material from each location was determined intuitively at each location upon arrival. There were no predetermined selections.
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