The Art of the Development — Midway’s Innovative Program Brings Creative Color

Teaming Up With Local Artists to Invigorate Mixed-Use Projects

Heather Staible

February 2021

Where some people see a blank wall or an empty space, someone else sees potential. Lots of colorful, interactive potential.  The team at Midway, the Houston-based real estate development company behind CITYCENTRE, Kirby Grove, GreenStreet, Memorial Green and much more, certainly sees that potential.

Midway owns mixed-use properties across Texas and showcases innovative art from local creators at each location. The result is thoughtful artscapes, designed to connect the community to each development. These centers are not just places to eat and shop. They become canvases too — and often morph into colorful play lands where creativity reigns.

Art may not make the world go round, but it sure helps build a place where you’d want to linger.

Public art has been at the heart of Midway’s vision for its properties for almost a decade, with the earliest pieces of the Midway art initiative installed at CITYCENTRE in 2012. Bob Bacon’s permanent sculpture at CITYCENTRE set something of a new standard for public art installations at Houston developments — and the Midway team hasn’t looked back.  

Midway’s portfolio includes GreenStreet in downtown Houston, Kirby Grove at Levy Park, CITYCENTRE in West Houston, Century Square in College Station and the upcoming mega East River development that touches both Houston’s 2nd and 5th Wards. Art is an integral part of the design process at each Midway development.

“We start the investigation and exploratory process for each project's art within the underwriting phase of development,”

Photo Credit: Shannon O'hara

Shannon Bedinger, Midway’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, leads the team of passionate art enthusiasts who are deeply invested in implementing a distinctive vision that fits each space.  

“One of our art program’s unique features is we start the investigation and exploratory process for each project within the underwriting phase of development,” Bedinger says. “Sometimes we are planning for several years out. While other times, we take a blank wall and turn it into a beautiful opportunity for the community to connect with our places and the surrounding built environment.”

In addition to seeking out local artists, Midway often collaborates with Weingarten Art Group for art curation and project management services. Art is obviously not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and each wall, courtyard and corner of a property is thoughtfully considered for its potential art impact and outreach.  That same philosophy extends to the artists. Authenticity matters, and the Midway team is intentional in its pursuit of local artists.  

They enlisted artist David Maldonado for the East River project located at the intersection of Jensen and Clinton at the intersection of the Historic Fifth Ward and East End. Maldonado spray-painted the piece on-site over a two week period, using six shipping containers as his canvas, creating a vibrant trilogy of Houston centric symbols and landmarks.

This is no small art showcase.And it’s leaving an immediate impression about East River before the first building is even constructed on the massive site.

“It’s really incredible to see the reaction,” Bedinger says. “The size and magnitude of the mural is breathtaking.”

Photo Credit: Shannon O'hara

While Bedinger and her team continue to curate exhibits as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that accessible art is more important than ever. That truth propels them as they move forward.

“As people are slowly coming back from the pandemic, they want something they can engage with,” Bedinger says. “It’s exciting to think about — post-pandemic and how we can create opportunities for them to engage with art.”

Art At Play, Enlivening Any Day

Take a stroll through GreenStreet in downtown Houston and you will find a full array of rotating art exhibits designed to delight and inspire. The “#StickTogetherHOU” work by H-Town artist Robert Hodge aggregates thousands of Post-it notes with local heroes’ names submitted by the public. Local artist Donkeeboy’s astronaut mural created in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing is a blue-hued space trip to the moon and beyond.

The newest GreenStreet installation called “Collect It For The Culture III,” features more than 30 Texas-based artists selected by artist and curator Robert Hodge in the areas of sculpture, photography, painting, film and installation.

Midway’s Century Square development brings the work, play and stay lifestyle to College Station with a variety of restaurants, shops, a hip, cutting edge hotel (The George) and yes, art at every turn. From the “Howdy from Aggieland” Instagram-famous mural by Kathy Hammond to Instaland, a 1,396 square-foot space with six magical photo worthy sets, there are numerous opportunities to take selfies. Or just take a moment and absorb the works.

Photo Credit: Shannon O'hara

There is no right or wrong way to interact with the art.  

Look for an emphasis on more interactive exhibits coming to Midway properties in the future.

Bedinger is looking for artists to revolutionize a space, with a focus on creating art in unexpected places. “

Art provides a way to connect with a place in a new way, and at Midway, we continue to strive to create communities that allow visitors to connect to their environments through collaboration and participation,” she notes.

Expect the unexpected? It’s all in a day’s work for the art-savvy Midway team.