Nonprofit to preserve Houston's iconic blue saxophone

  • Nonprofit to preserve Houston's iconic blue saxophone

    The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art will acquire


    It’s hard to miss the 70-foot-tall blue saxophone as you drive down Richmond Avenue.

    Its name is Smokesax, and it has been at that location on 6025 Richmond for the past 20 years. But Wednesday, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, a local folk art organization, announced it is going to acquire the oversize horn, which is made out of car parts, oil field pipes and a surfboard, as well as an entire Volkswagen Beetle that forms the U-joint at its base.

    The big brass was built by legendary Texas artist Bob Wade as a special installation for Billy Blues Bar & Grill. It was fully restored three years ago, and the current property owners, Kensinger Properties Ltd., said they wanted the Orange Show to ensure the piece would be preserved for future generations.

    The saxophone will be removed from its current location at 10 a.m. on Feb. 28. The process to remove the massive piece will take a full day. Then, Smokesax will begin its 13-mile journey from Richmond Avenue to Munger Street. Artist Bob Wade will be overseeing the entire removal and transportation. Once at the Orange Show, it will be housed in the organization’s warehouse until an exact location has been chosen for permanent display.

    While the piece of art itself was donated to the nonprofit in dedication and memory of Phil R. Kensinger, the costs for transportation and installation will total more than $40,000 — the majority of which the organization is hoping to raise through private donations and public support.

    “We are thrilled to have been chosen to receive this fantastic and much beloved symbol of Texas’ creativity from one of the state’s most influential contemporary artists,” Orange Show Executive Director Lynette Wallace said in a statement. “We look forward to permanently installing it on the Orange Show’s property and adding to the colorful artistic community in Houston’s East End.”