Photography by: Victor Chelf Source: Flickr
What is likely the largest (non-playable) saxophone in the world, was moved last month. That’s right, according to a February 28 article in the Houston Chronicle, Houston’s famous Smoke Sax, was disassembled and moved 13 miles to its new home at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.
The sculpture, made of a VW shell and several hoods, as well as other car parts, oil field pipes, and a surf board, no longer suited the current owners of the restaurant. Luckily for art lovers, they offered to donate the sculpture to the Orange Show Centre for Visionary Art, rather than selling it for scrap.
Smoke Sax was created by artist Bob Wade of Austin, Texas. Wade originally made the unique piece of folk art approximately 20 years ago for the nightclub, Billy Blue’s. After the club closed, the building stood empty for years,and the sculpture was neglected, as well as vandalized. Three years ago, Smoke Sax was restored to what we see today: the big, blue saxophone sculpture that once again stands proudly against the blue Texas sky.
Smoke Sax’s move, estimated to cost over $40,000, was overseen by Wade himself. It was expected that the disassembly alone would take the better part of a day. Just how the Orange Show Centre for Visionary Art is going to pay the $40,000 bill was unclear, because it wasn’t in their budget. That said, apparently the move had to be done quickly, and the offer was too good to refuse, so according to the Orange Show’s Board President:
We are seeking creative ways to fund the project and hope that the city of Houston will rally around our efforts.
Source: 70-foot saxophone “Smokesax” is on the move, by By Molly Glentzer, Chron, February 28, 2013
On the website TexasEscapes.com, artist Bob Wade had previously expressed other hopes for Smoke Sax. On a page last updated in December 2008 (before the sculpture’s restoration), Byron Brown writes the following:
…Somewhere in Houston, outside of a defunct bar called Billy Blue’s, a towering, two-story saxophone made of found objects (one piece of which is an upside down VW bug shell-a favorite tool of Wade’s) waits patiently for a return trip to Austin. It is Wade’s hope and dream (he calls it the final stage of his “legacy”) that this last piece of extravagance can find its way to a spot near Waller Creek in Austin. The city is renovating the entire area and has agreed to place the sculpture in a predetermined space. All that is needed is someone to help get it there. As Wade stated, “If only I could get this done right here-I could almost say ‘OK. Now I’m happy.”
Source: Bob Wade, by Byron Brown, on TexasEscapes.com
Despite Smoke Sax not coming to Austin, I hope that Wade is happy that his sculpture will be preserved. I have for years been fascinated with this piece of saxophone art, and have written about it, or have mentioned it in a number of articles over the years ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
I was extremely pleased when it was restored 3 years ago, and can only imagine how it felt for the artist to see his piece of art come to life again after years of neglect. To have it now find a home where it will be truly appreciated, must be a big relief.
Hopefully someone will eventually take some photos of Smoke Sax in its new location. I’m sure it will be a little while yet, before it stands proud against the blue, Houston sky, but what a sight that will be.
…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info,
you should check it out too.There’s lots there!