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Outdoor Sculpture in the Medical Center

by Alethea Drexler, archives assistant
It’s been a long week and–guess what?–I’m still going through slides.  I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about the ways in which plastic can deteriorate after a couple of decades.  Did you know that something can be sticky and greasy at the same time?  Go figure.  I need to start collecting examples and write a post on archival nightmares.
I won’t stoop to Fear Factor tactics this week, though.  It rained today and I’m in a good mood, so let’s look at some art instead.  The Medical Center has quite a number of outdoor sculptures, if you know where to find them.  This collection is by no means complete.
1. Rose Van Vranken[1], “Flame”, 1991.  Outside of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center[3].
Am I the only one who thinks that M.D. Anderson has the best slogan ever?  “Making Cancer history.”


2. “Wave of Life”, 1952, Wheeler Williams[4].  This Art Deco trio is in front of the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Main Building, and was carved from a single block of limestone.  It came with the building when it was purchased in 1974[5].
"Wave of Life"

3. “Celebration”, Gary Lee Price[6].  At the Ronald McDonald House[7].  Price seems to specialize in whimsical, child-oriented subjects.

4. George Hermann[8], circa 1980-1981, Lonnie Joe Edwards[9].  George H. Hermann is in Hermann Park.  I had a bit of trouble tracking down the artist, and I’m not sure yet that I have it right, but I found a number of older references from Texas Monthly magazine that placed a sculptor by that name “familiar with metal techniques”[12] in central Texas.  A Google search turned up a Lonnie Edwards in Salado[13], which is between Austin and Waco in what could reasonably be called “central Texas”.  This 2007 Webshots gallery[14] appears to be of Mr. Edwards’ workshop; notice the sculpture of the girl and her horse.
Update: Ah–a picture of Mr. Edwards and some of his work, with a reference to George Hermann[32].
"George H. Hermann"

5. “Pranath Yama”, 1978, Mark di Suvero[15].  In front of Baylor College of Medicine‘s[16] Michael E. DeBakey Center for Biomedical Education and Research[17].  Di Suvero’s Bygones[18] (1976) can be seen at the Menil Collection.
"Pranath Yama"

6. “A Symbol of Excellence”[19], 1976-1977, Theodore H. McKinney.  McKinney and his daughter were both patients at the Texas Heart Institute.
"A Symbol of Excellence"

Here’s Dr. Denton Cooley with the indoor version:
Dr. Denton Cooley with wooden heart

7. “Prometheus Unbound”, 1972, Pat Foley[21].  Prometheus[22] with his broken chains stands out front of The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research[23], inspiring patients to throw off their handicaps.
"Prometheus Unbound"

8. St. Anthony.  This was in the walkway of the former St. Anthony’s Center, which was founded in 1898 as a home for the elderly  by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word[24].  This mid-century building[25] has apparently been renovated into apartments.
St. Anthony

9. Michael E. DeBakey, M.D.  This bust, which sits (or sat, at the time this picture was taken) outside of Methodist Hospital[26], was commissioned by Lilian of Belgium[27] after DeBakey operated on her husband, Leopold III[28], former King of Belgium.  This website[31] says it was sculpted by Georges Muguet and erected in 1978, although the fact that they spelled his first name wrong and left the “s” off of “Georges” makes me think that some follow-up research is in order.Michael E. DeBakey, M.D.
Works consulted:
[1] Rose Van Vranken website.
[2] Rose Van Vranken exhibit page, The Marian Library, University of Dayton, Ohio.
[3] University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
[4] Wheeler Williams on Wikipedia.
[5] Texas Medical Center papers, IC 2, Series 1, box 19, image #70; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center; Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library; Houston, Texas.
[6] Gary Lee Price website.
[7] Ronald McDonald House, Houston.
[8] George H. Hermann, Handbook of Texas Online.
[9] Art by ZIP code, City of Houston.
[10] Texas Monthly, December 1975.
[11] Texas Monthly, February 1976.
[12] Texas Monthly, December 1983.
[13] Google maps.
[14] Webshots, alicefulbright, “Salado April 2007” album.
[15] Mark di Suvero on Wikipedia.
[16] Baylor College of Medicine, Handbook of Texas Online.
[17] Baylor College of Medicine, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery.
[18] The Menil Collection, the Menil Neighborhood.
[19] Texas Heart Institute.
[20] Texas Medical Center papers, IC 2, Series 1, box 19, folder 6; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center; Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library; Houston, Texas.
[21] Little, Carol Morris, A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas, University of Texas Press, 1996.  Out of print, but it’s on Google Books.
[22] Prometheus on Wikipedia.
[23] Memorial Hermann Healthcare, The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research.
[24] Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
[26] The Methodist Hospital.
[27] Lilian, Princess de Réthy, on Wikipedia.
[28] Leopold III of Belgium, on Wikipedia.
[29] Texas Monthly, April 1979.
[30] “The rich, famous, sought out DeBakey’s Help,” Houston Chronicle, Sunday, July 13, 2008.
[31] Michael DeBakey,
[32] Lonnie Joe Edwards image pages.