THE SMOKESAX, c. 1983
Bob Wade's "Smokesax" is a towering blue saxophone made from Gulf Coast oilfield pipe, a Vokswagen Bug, beer kegs, surfboards, hubcaps, lights, and cattle feeders, and is one of the best examples of Wade's larger-than-life artistic style.
Originally commissioned by prominent businessman Phil Kensigner for his Billy Blues Bar, Wade's "Smokesax" served as an important Houston landmark for over 20 years in its previous location along Richmond Avenue.
In 2012, the Kensinger family donated the monumental sculpture to the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, citing the organization's long standing commitment to preserving Houston's cultural icons The Beer Can House and The Orange Show.
Now, we are honored to announce plans for the new permanent home for Bob Wade's "Smokesax," and the creation of Kensinger Plaza located along the Brays Bayou Greenways Trail. As the first piece of public art along Brays Bayou, the sculpture's new location, as well as its sheer scale, will inspire Houstonians to gather and create for many years to come.
BOB "DADDY-O" WADE
For more than 40 years, Bob "Daddy-O" Wade built whimsical outsized public art that nodded to the Texas culture of "bigness." Bob Wade, who passed away in 2019, helped shape the 1970's contemporary counter-culture art landscape. He is well known throughout the country for his artwork, including his 40 ft. long iguana sculpture "Iggy," now in the Fort Worth Zoo, and the world's largest cowboy boots in San Antonio.
Wade's works have been exhibited at The Whitney and are in the permanent collections of The Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and many others.
BUILDING KENSINGER PLAZA
In Honor of The Kensinger Family
Kensinger Plaza will be a newly constructed feature along Houston's Bayou Greenways trail system, located on Brays Bayou, just minutes from University of Houston, The Orange Show Monument, and Smither Park. Kensinger Plaza will serve as a gathering spot and resting place for our community, as well as a cultural beacon for all who use the trail system. Kensinger Plaza will be the new permanent home for Bob Wade's "Smokesax," and will also include a stage for performances curated by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, benches, and other amenities.
Honoring the Kensinger Family Legacy
Stuart and Angie Kensinger spent their lives growing a loving family with their son, Philip, and giving back to Houston. Angie coached and mentored the most successful lacrosse team in the country at St. John's School. For 22 years, "Coach K" built up young women in a program that was profoundly more than a lacrosse team; it was a loving community who supported and valued each other and whose generations of players still remain close to this day.
Stuart's commitment to Project Row Houses and Camp For All, illustrated his life-long passion for helping communities thrive. The Kensingers understood that public art and gathering places create opportunities for neighborhoods to grow and flourish.
In 2012, when the Kensingers donated "Smokesax," they requested that the sculpture carry a dedication to Stuart's father, Phil Kensinger. To honor that commitment, Kensigner Plaza will be a monument to their legacy as community builders, as well as express the depth and emotion over their tragic and untimely loss.
DONATE TO THE SMOKESAX
Support the new Kensinger Plaza and permanent home for "Smokesax" - one of Houston's most iconic landmarks!
To donate by credit card, fill out the form below - or if you prefer to send a check, CLICK HERE to download our printable form.