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Houston’s Art Car Museum to Close in April Following Founders’ Deaths

Houston’s beloved Art Car Museum, affectionately known as “The Garage Mahal,” will permanently close its doors on April 28, marking the end of an era shaped by its visionary founders, Ann and James Harithas. The museum’s closure was confirmed through a statement posted on its website, indicating ongoing discussions with local and regional arts organizations to uphold its legacy and mission in the future.

The museum’s fate had been uncertain following the passing of its founders, with inquiries about its future met with silence until the recent announcement. However, Jonathan Beitler, director of communications for the Orange Show, reassured that the closure would not impact the upcoming Art Car Parade scheduled for April 13.

Established in 1998 by the Harithas power couple, the Art Car Museum quickly became a cultural icon in Houston’s alternative arts scene. Situated at 140 Heights Blvd, the museum’s distinctive scrap metal exterior, designed by renowned art car artist David Best, adorned the landscape with spikes, spires, and hubcaps, reflecting the innovative spirit of its founders.

The Harithases, influential figures in Texas’ art community, also spearheaded other notable institutions, including the now-defunct Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston and the Five Points Contemporary Art Museum in Victoria, Texas.

Houston’s association with art cars traces back to Ann’s groundbreaking exhibition, “Collision,” at the Lawndale Art Center in 1984, igniting the city’s fascination with unconventional automotive art. Over the years, the Art Car Parade grew into a spectacular showcase, featuring hundreds of creatively adorned vehicles, emblematic of Houston’s vibrant cultural tapestry.

Despite the closure, the Harithases’ enduring legacy persists through James Harithas’s Art Car Manifesto, advocating for individuality and creativity amidst societal norms. As Houston bids farewell to the Art Car Museum, it celebrates a profound chapter in the city’s artistic evolution, guided by the visionaries who dared to defy convention and embrace artistic freedom on the open road.