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In celebration of its 10th anniversary, True North, the annual sculpture exhibition along Houston's Heights Boulevard, has once again joined forces with some of its early artists to showcase their captivating works. Over the years, True North has prided itself on promoting and representing a diverse range of Texas-based creatives, featuring a remarkable 74 artists, each unique and distinct.

As a tribute to this milestone achievement, True North has collaborated with acclaimed artists Joe Barrington, Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw, Dan Havel, Paul Kittelson, Sharon Kopriva, Patrick Medrano, Dean Ruck and Ed Wilson, all of whom have been a part of True North's dynamic journey since its inception.

The project's first installation was a true spectacle, leaving the community in awe of the eight sculptures that seemed to have appeared overnight on the esplanade of Heights Boulevard. As the years have gone by, anticipation for the next installation has grown, with the community eagerly awaiting each project's return after its three-month hiatus.

At True North, the team has taken great pleasure in facilitating these extraordinary displays of art and hopes that they will continue to spark conversation, inspire wonder, evoke joy and encourage a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

Donna Bennett  |  Gus Kopriva  |  Dean Ruck  |  Chris Silkwood  |  Kelly Simmons

Joe Barrington

"It always rains in Vicinity"

Born from two previous generations of welders and metal workers, his father gave him his first welding hood when he was two years old. Cutting, welding and bending steel was in his blood and naturally evolved into a discovery of art. Known for works drawn from a lifetime of living in rural Texas, people, animals and folklore are all integral parts of the stories he shares with the viewer. Barrington says, “I think the best stories always involve humor; therefore, humor finds its way into my work.”

Born, raised and, until 2022, his home and studio in Throckmorton, Texas, he recently moved his sculpture, architectural steel business and home to nearby Albany. Barrington’s public art can be found in the Rio Grande Zoo, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Hall Office Park, Frisco, Texas, Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman, Montana, Plum Creek Park, Frisco, Texas, the City of Stamford, Texas, National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Old Jail Art Center, Albany, Texas, Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas, Texas Tech University Public Art Collection, Lubbock, Texas, the City of Fort Worth, Texas, a monumental stainless steel Bulldog for Heights High School (the school’s mascot—commissioned by Spark School Park Program, Houston) and numerous private collections.

Joe Barrington has participated in well over 50 juried, invitational, one man and group shows, including the sculpture project’s 2015 exhibition, with his delightful sculpture, “Sock Monkey.” Barrington’s kinetic sculpture for True North 2023, “It always rains in Vicinity,” is created from found objects, fabricated welded steel and paint and depicts a soaring water tower, dotted with Vietnam-war-era graffiti and circled by a weathervane of ravens, for the fictional town of Vicinity—a place where meteorologists often predict rain. Barrington says, “In the last few years, the idea of using the raven as messengers in my work has become more prominent. Ravens are very social birds, with interesting interactions, and symbolize mythology and folklore in numerous cultures throughout history.”


photo by Katy Anderson

Joe Barrington's "It always rains in Vicinity" for True North 2023

Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw

"Street Cred"

On the Texas Commission for the Arts, Artist in Education Roster, Dorsey-Outlaw enjoyed extended residencies at The Community Artists’ Collective and the Austin Children’s Museum and was the first artist in residence and community liaison for The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Education Department. As founder of Cultured Pearls Creative, she is a certified enrichment instructor, and as a member of Young Audiences of Houston, she facilitates school residencies from Harris to Matagorda Counties.

An artist and educator, native Houstonian (Lamar High School and University of Houston alumna) and early True North artist with her beautiful mosaic sculpture “Blood Relations,” Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw is known for her colorful and intricate mural works. Dorsey-Outlaw’s True North 2023 installation, “Street Cred,” is eight “old style street post” depictions, in crossroad formation, made of multi-color glass and ceramic mosaic, Hardie and treated wood. Each post bears words from song titles and lyric extractions that reference streets or roads. She says, “The embrace of a community’s cultural gifts is what binds the roots of its people in celebration and motivation. Music has always been a catalyst for that.” Dorsey-Outlaw’s hope is to celebrate common connections that kick up the dust on the soundtracks of our lives as we weave in and out between them.


photo by Katy Anderson

Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw's "Street Cred" for True North 2023

Dan Havel


Born in Saint Peter, Minnesota, Havel earned his BFA from Southwest Minnesota State University and MA from Minnesota State University. He was an active member of Houston’s underground art scene in the 90s and has been an artist and art educator here for over 30 years (28 of those at St. John’s School). His works have been shown at Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Dallas Contemporary Art Center, Project Row Houses, FotoFest Houston and Green Project, New Orleans.


Havel and Ruck began Havel Ruck Projects in 1994 for the purpose of recycling abandoned architectural structures and remnants into much-examined works of sculpture throughout the City—including “Architectural Euthanasia” for Houston AIA, “No Zoning” for the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, and the renowned “Inversion” on Montrose Boulevard for Art League Houston. Havel and Ruck were also named 2008 Artists of the Year and awarded National Recognition to the Best in Public Art Projects by AIA Houston and inducted into the Houston Artist Hall of Fame by Houston Fine Arts Fair in 2015.

An inaugural artist in 2014 with his thought-evoking sculpture “Wildlife Sanctuary” (salvage from a razed Heights area church—a statement on the neighborhood’s concerns about historic preservation—and a haven for wildlife), Dan Havel—named 2014 Artist of the Year by Art League Houston, along with Dean Ruck, as Havel Ruck Projects—returns for the project's tenth anniversary exhibition. Havel’s True North 2023 sculpture “Cascade” continues his ongoing series of work that explores the visual, scientific and social concepts behind Leonardo da Vinci's "Deluge" drawings that reflected da Vinci's personal lifelong fascination and research into the world of hydrology. The Deluge drawings seek to capture the hidden structure of water’s power—reflecting a cinematic moment of natural catastrophic chaos, creating storms and floods that physically confront and reassemble the geometric order of the human world. Havel says, “...with memories of Hurricane Ike’s obliteration of the Bolivar Peninsula, I am aware of both water’s beauty and its destructive ways. As we all confront global warming, the message is all too apparent. It is my hope that the visual impact of the work will inspire its viewers to work toward a more sustainable world that works with nature, not against it.”


photo by Katy Anderson

Dan Havel's "Cascade" for True North 2023

photo by Katy Anderson

Paul Kittelson
"Wild Horses"

Named AIA Houston Artist of the Year in 2001 and serving on the faculty of UH School of Art since 1992, Paul Kittelson’s surreal 2014 work, “Lawn Chairs,” was perhaps the most photographed installation in the history of this sculpture project. His True North 2023 sculpture “Wild Horses,” inspired by roadside cutouts and the great American West, is a colorful collision of contemporary kitsch. Channeling the unbridled energy of Houston, these intersecting horses represent a quilt of cultures drawn together with centrifugal force. Kittelson says, “The carousel of movement and pattern spins the mind’s eye, bucking against time and tradition. It is the energy of rush hour traffic with the skin of an art car. It is a contemporary equestrian monument set on a boulevard of Victorian homes.”

In his “itchy acres” studio in Houston, Kittelson creates works in a multitude of media and large-scale public art projects which have been exhibited in numerous national and international museums and galleries. For over 35 years, he has engaged the larger public audience through temporary site-specific works and community-based projects. He has also completed several large-scale permanent installations that have become Houston landmarks, such as “Bayou Beacons,” in collaboration with Rey de la Reza Architects—30’ tall stainless steel torches marking the edges of Buffalo Bayou as Interstate 45 crosses the waterway—and “Take-off,” in collaboration with Carter Ernst—a 30’ tall stainless steel bird’s nest at Hobby Airport. Born in Wheaton, Minnesota, Kittelson received his BFA from University of California and MFA from University of Houston. His works are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Menil Collection, Houston, New Museum, New York City, and Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont.


photo by Katy Anderson

Paul Kittelson's "Wild Horses" for True North 2023

Sharon Kopriva
"Snakes and Ladders"

Back for the project’s tenth anniversary, Art League Houston’s 2001 Texas Artist of the Year and Houston Heights native Sharon Kopriva was part of the second True North installation in 2015 with her multi-media sculpture “Marcella,” an homage to Marcella Perry—a businesswoman and powerhouse in the 70-80s whose behind-the-scenes activism paved the way for the Heights community we enjoy today. Sure to captivate the imagination and memory of young and old alike, Kopriva’s True North 2023 sculpture "Snakes and Ladders"—made of cane, waddles, coiled tube and paint—is inspired by the children's board game of the same name which had its beginnings centuries ago in India. The historic version had its roots in morality lessons on which a player's progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes). Its basic, more G-rated concept was introduced in the United States in 1943 by Milton Bradley under the name of “Chutes and Ladders.”

For more than thirty years, Kopriva has worked in both two and three-dimensional media. Her visual journeys have taken her through investigations of Pre-Columbian cultures in Peru, a lengthy examination of her Catholic faith, and finally, to a convergence of formal religion with the encroaching light of the green forests in the Pacific Northwest where she has redefined and connected her personal spirituality forever with Nature.


A Reagan [now Heights] High School grad, Kopriva earned her undergraduate degree and MFA in painting from University of Houston and maintains studios in the Houston Heights (Redbud Arts Center) and Hope, Idaho. She has permanent collections in The Menil Collection, Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, and Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas. Kopriva has served on the boards of Kienholz Foundation, Texas Sculpture Group and Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.


photo by Katy Anderson

Sharon Kopriva's "Snakes and Ladders" for True North 2023

Patrick Medrano

A multidisciplinary artist, Medrano cultivated his natural and intuitive artistic talents in Victoria, Texas, from an early age. His works reflect a “whimsical darkness” to the world around him—enticing the viewer to seek a deeper meaning. Following an unmovable belief in an artistic vision all his own, Medrano’s journey has taken him to museums and galleries throughout the U.S., Lima, Peru, Paris, France, and Athens, Greece. In his creative space at Hardy & Nance Studios in Houston's historic Downtown Art Warehouse District, Medrano has participated in ArtCrawl Houston since 2003, and fantastical imagery was on full display in his wistful installation “Serendipitous,” featured in the 2022 multimedia invitational exhibition “Blue Norther,” sponsored by Redbud Gallery at Site Gallery Houston—an alternative art space housed inside 34 rice silos.

Patrick Medrano’s 2014 sculpture “From the Hood to the Heights” was part of True North's inaugural exhibition, and he returns now for the project's tenth installation. Medrano’s 2023 sculpture, “Io" (one of Jupiter's four moons, pron. "eye-o") is an 18-foot tall, figurative work created using wood, plaster and paint. Based on a Peruvian Hairless Dog* of the same name brought here from that country and much-loved by Patrick's dear friends Gus Kopriva, Sharon Kopriva and Tanja Peterson, the sculpture is influenced by the mental therapy a companion animal can bring. A Heightsite himself, Medrano says, “I have always been inspired by the Houston Heights and the love for animals that is felt here. I want to bring a sense of joy and community with this sculpture.”

*The rare breed was immortalized by pottery makers on ceramic vessels dating back to A.D. 750—discovered in the tombs of the ruling elite and nobility of ancient Peru.


photo by Katy Anderson

photo by Katy Anderson

Patrick Medrano's "Io" for True North 2023

Dean Ruck

Originally from Hamden, Connecticut, Ruck has lived and worked in Houston since 1987. He attended South France Studio Program, Cleveland Institute of Art, Lacoste, France, and earned his BFA from University of Colorado and MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. Ruck’s works are in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and the City of Houston, including “Big Bubble,” in Buffalo Bayou, and “Torrent”—a 20’ wall made from local scrap metal, created for the City’s Green Resource Center. Installations in 2022 include “Vernoculus” for the eccentric art bar, notsuoH, in Houston’s historic Market Square, and “Succurro Square” for Succurro Retreat Center in New York State. His art has been exhibited at Kemp Center for the Arts, Wichita Falls, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, DiverseWorks, Houston, Old Jail Art Center, Albany, Rudolph Poissant Gallery, Houston, Arlington Museum of Art and Project Row Houses, Houston, to name a few.


Ruck and Havel were also awarded 2008 Artists of the Year and the National Recognition to the Best in Public Art Projects by AIA Houston and were inducted into the Houston Artist Hall of Fame, Houston Fine Arts Fair, in 2015. Of their many public installations, most Houstonites remember the traffic-stopping “Inversion” on Montrose Boulevard—turning two dilapidated cottages seemingly inside out.

An inaugural True North artist with his “reflective” 2014 installation “Ourglass” (and now a member of the True North Team), Dean Ruck—named 2014 Artist of the Year by Art League Houston, along with Dan Havel, as Havel Ruck Projects—has always had a fascination with cycles that things and people go through. He says, "I observe flow. I've also had an interest in 'heavy trash day' and what people dispose of and how it can be of value to others, or how it can be repurposed in a creative way.” Inspired by this theme, with a nod to Constantin Brâncuși’s Endless Column series, “Brancouchi” is a totem of discarded furnishings he collected along the roadsides of Houston, standing as a symbol of the detritus of our disposable society. Ruck’s paint patterns applied to the surfaces of the pieces reference recognizable works and pop culture, including Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock, with a dash of “The Partridge Family” and a playful twist on the sofa and matching artwork.


photo by Katy Anderson

Dean Ruck's "Brancouchi" for True North 2023

Ed Wilson

Wilson was born in the small town of Arcadia, Louisiana, earned a BFA in sculpture from Louisiana State University and MFA from University of Houston. His work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, including the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Mönckskirche, Salzwedal, Germany, Portikussi, Franfurt-Offenbach, Germany, Art League Houston, McAllen International Museum, Flight Gallery, San Antonio, Redbud Gallery, Houston, and Artscan Gallery, Houston. Among his many permanent public sculptures is the extraordinary “Soaring in the Clouds”—a stainless steel work spanning the entire 100-foot width of George R. Brown Convention Center’s atrium and dipping 65 feet from its 92-foot ceiling.

Among the first True North artists in 2014 with his wildly popular sculpture “Folded Plane,” Ed Wilson divides his home base and studio work among Houston, Berlin, Germany, and Hope, Idaho. Wilson says of his stainless steel work created for True North 2023, “This sculpture is titled “Cyclone” (Etymology. Noun: modification of the Greek kyklōma wheel, coil, from kykloun to go around, from kyklos circle). The title refers to the method of how the piece was made and to the form resulting from this methodology. The sculpture is literally what happened when I took a 700’ strip of metal and coiled it around and around on itself. It’s a simple idea that has yielded an elegant and complex form.”


photo by Katy Anderson

Ed Wilson's "Cyclone" for True North 2023

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