Welcome to the Crowdsourcing Mornings segment! Every weekday morning, Geek Alabama talks about and features one crowdsourcing project from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others. The hope with Crowdsourcing Mornings is to feature and help a project be successful and reach its fundraising goal. Please enjoy today’s featured project!
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Cleveland Turner was an incomparable artist in Houston’s historic Third Ward. His home was his art and he brought joy and color to the neighborhood. Though longtime residents still recall his sunny presence around the community, his life’s work has been destroyed and there is little to honor him today in the neighborhood. This project will correct that by creating a monument in his honor, inspired by his unique approach to life and art.
Help us build FLOWER TOWER: an 18-foot tall sculpture of bicycles, plants and flowers in the middle of a landscaped garden featuring original artwork from local artists in the heart of Third Ward.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1943, Cleveland Turner came to Texas as a teenager in 1962. After struggling with homelessness and alcoholism for many years, Turner was hospitalized in 1983 after being found nearly dead on a sidewalk. During his five-week stay, Turner had a dream of, as he described, “This big, pretty thing going around and around like a whirlwind, all colors, like in outer space, with people watching.” With that, Turner vowed that if God could keep him sober, he would turn that vision into a reality. Riding around Third Ward on his bike adorned with flowers, Turner became known by neighbors as “Flower Man.”
On his bike rides, Turner collected discarded items, incorporating them into the found art display he created at his home. The ever-growing display filled his yard, covered his house and brought color to his corner for the neighborhood. After a fire destroyed his home in 2003, the community pulled together to relocate him to a new home on Francis St., which he once again turned into an ever-growing, one-of-a-kind art installation. He remained on Francis St. for the rest of his life, adding to the work piece by piece.
Houston mourned the Flower Man’s passing in 2013. Though efforts were made to memorialize the house, it was deemed uninhabitable due to unsafe mold contamination. The decision was made to raze the house, and Project Row Houses organized Flower Man Day on February 7, 2015. This included remembrances, community art activities, and a bike ride marking the day the house was demolished.
While folk art spaces across the city are known to tourists today, the loss of Turner and his work represents a loss for the city as a whole. Turner was a friendly, creative presence who encouraged me on my own artistic journey. Without fail, each time we talked he made sure to mention that his brother’s first and middle name mirrored my own in reverse. It delighted him each time.
When he passed, I led a team in designing a special float in his honor for the following Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many of the items for the float came from his abandoned home. The larger-than-life sculpture of Turner was encased in the same varieties of plastic flowers that decorated his bike when he was alive.
Today, the lot where Turner’s home once stood is now empty, missing the life it once held. Project Row Houses has secured a grant to revitalize the lot and approved the Flower Tower proposal.
Help us make the proposal a reality and build the FLOWER TOWER, a sculpture featuring 10 bicycles and 20 flower baskets. In collaboration with acclaimed Houston artist Patrick Renner, the sculpture will stand 18 feet tall. Baskets will be filled with a mix of drought tolerant plants, plastic flowers and other decorative blooms. The fence surrounding the sculpture will be brightly painted and adorned with an assemblage of found items from the neighborhood and elsewhere, a nod to the iconic fence once surrounding Flower Man’s home. The fence on the east side of the lot will be shared with House of Tiny Treasures, which will tend a small garden in the area. The fence on the north side will provide access to local businesses, including Kindred Stories and Gulf Coast Cosmos Comics. On the west side, visitors can learn more about Cleveland Turner’s life and work and sit beside the garden to view an original mural created by Houston artists.
The project has been granted $10,000 from Houston Arts Alliance. Additional funds are needed to purchase materials, pay for fabrication, fund local artists and create special programs for the neighborhood and visitors.
As of August 15th, this project has raised $11,600 of their $35,000 goal. This project has 7 days left to raise the $35,000 or it will not be funded. For a pledge of $20, you will get behind the scenes updates. For a pledge of $50, you will get a t-shirt. To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/phillippyle2/the-flower-tower-0?
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