No “Blank Canvas”: Public Art and Gentrification in Houston's Third Ward

Willie Jamaal Wright, Cameron “Khalfani” Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Public art and urban renewal have become integral to reconstructing urban landscapes. In this essay we assess how these two spatial practices converge and diverge in the historically and predominately Black community of the Third Ward in Houston, Texas. The essay examines the work of MF Problem and the Black Guys, two Black artist collectives based in the Third Ward. We argue that their public performances critically engage the spatial processes of gentrification and ghettoization in their neighborhood. Furthermore, these performances indicate a unique spatial imaginary held by Black artists that privileges the use value associated with long-term residents’ views of public and private space over the potential exchange value rooted in urban renewal projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-116
Number of pages28
JournalCity and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


  • Black Geographies
  • Gentrification
  • Houston
  • New Genre Public Art
  • Texas
  • Third Ward


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