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An immersive and experiential three-month art installation pays tribute to Apollo 11
The site-specific installation was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission which put mankind on the moon on July 20, 1969. Courtesy of Alejandro Montoya.

HOUSTON, TX.- As part of #SpaceCityMonth, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, River Oaks District – Houston’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination – has partnered with the internationally renowned Contemporary Arts Museum Houston to create Skywaves. Formally debuting on July 20, the majestic art installation will traverse the air space above the mixed-use development’s streetscape for three months. The public piece will offer a reflective, multi-layered sculptural element, constantly changing in its interaction with air and light.

“We saw this as an opportunity to blend the many parallels in the art and fashion worlds with human exploration,” explained Rosalind Shurgin, CEO of Festival Companies, which manages River Oaks District. She added, “Witnessing the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s ability to transfer key elements from varying creative disciplines to achieve these stunning, immersive results has truly been an incredible experience.”

Constructed from 25,000 square feet of BoPET – the same highly-durable and versatile polyester film designed by NASA in 1964 for space blankets and now more commonly known as Mylar – Skywaves consists of over 4,000 hand-cut flags. The pieces are an ode to the first United States flag planted on the surface of the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin upon landing at Tranquility Base. The installation will drape over a section of the district weaving into an indoor space for an immersive art experience.

The wave-like patterns created by the Mylar film will help the installation effortlessly float in the sky. Thus, the Skywaves name is both a literal and figurative reference point pertaining to its form and function as well as its cultural touchstone.

In addition to the many months of planning, a team of 15 intrepid artists has been working eight hours a day for four days since June 1 to assemble the piece.

“The opportunity to partner with the River Oaks District in producing a dynamic, experiential celebration of the lunar landing’s 50th anniversary has been an honor,” noted Kent Michael Smith, CAMH Director of Communications and Marketing. He further emphasized, “Contemporary Arts Museum Houston—celebrating its own milestone of 70 years this year—has a proud and vibrant history of cultural and community partnerships across the Greater Houston area. It is perpetually rewarding to find new and engaging ways to bring the creative process out of the museum galleries and into the community we call home.”

With its presence through mid-October, Skywaves will also mark another important date in space exploration, forever tying Houston to otherworldly endeavors. On September 12, 1962, then-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy delivered a speech at Rice University in Houston’s Museum District that served as a prominent public declaration of the United States’ intent to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

Kennedy’s words now echo in eternity: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Skywaves is symbolic of JFK’s mantra of going to the moon and pursuing other goals “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Soon, Skywaves will be on full display at the River Oaks District, and all those who are curious in nature about the world and the infinite universe beyond are invited to experience it firsthand.

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