"Jeff McKissack created The Orange Show in honor of his Favorite Fruit"
Houston postman Jeff McKissack created The Orange Show in honor of his favorite fruit and illustrate his belief that longevity results from hard work and good nutrition. Working in isolation from 1956 until his death in 1980, McKissack used common building materials and found objects — bricks, tiles, fencing, farm implements — to transform an East End lot into an architectural maze of walkways, balconies, arenas and exhibits decorated with mosaics and brightly painted iron figures.
When McKissack died, Houston arts patron Marilyn Oshman formed a non-profit foundation to preserve The Orange Show. The 21 original donors represent a diverse cross-section of Houston -- Dominique de Menil, Nina Cullinan, members of the legendary Texas rock band ZZ Top and East End funerary director Tommy Schlitzberger. In 1982, the restored site opened and newly hired staff began to integrate The Orange Show into Houston's cultural life through a wide variety of programs. Artists, musicians and literary figures that make Houston their home bring depth and dimension to programs, and give the public immediate access to creative thinking.
Programs focus on the Orange Show's ability to make basic elements of art tangible and accessible. Dynamic events involve at risk youth in community enriching art projects -- to date 28 murals have been created under Orange Show auspices. A library and archive document visionary artists and environments. Outreach programs encourage the public to participate in the creative process; among the most successful of these is Art Car Weekend.
In 1984, The Orange Show Foundation commissioned the Fruitmobile, recognizing that the art car; a medium for self-expression, is a mobile visionary art site. This led to the first annual Houston Art Car Parade, co-sponsored with the Houston International Festival in 1988. The parade has grown into Art Car Weekend, attracting participants from around the world and including a series of events that celebrate this art form.
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art has become Houston's hub of folk art activity with nationally respected programs. The Orange Show site is at the center of these programs, a living example of how individual vision can dramatically enrich community and culture.