Houston’s ‘Orange Show’ Art Environment Started With Fixation On A Fruit

Jeff McKissack used to truck oranges to farmers’ markets across the Southeast during the Great Depression. When he moved to Houston years later, he erected a monument to his favorite fruit, with found materials.

By Michael MarksMay 9, 2019 1:43 pm

During the Great Depression, Jeff McKissack trucked oranges to farmers’ markets across the Southeast. Years passed, McKissack moved to Houston, and oranges stayed on his mind. He wanted to build a permanent monument to his favorite fruit, and so, for 25 years, he collected scrap materials like roof shingles, bricks, canopies and wagon wheels, and cobbled them into a space he called “The Orange Show.”

In an interview with McKissack from the 1980s, he said the Orange Show was “built mostly out of junk,” and that he thought it was “one of the most beautiful shows on Earth.”

Today, The Orange Show still stands near Interstate 45, not far from the University of Houston. Pete Gershon wrote a book about Houston art, including McKissack’s creation, titled “Painting the Town Orange: The Stories Behind Houston’s Visionary Art Environments,” and he says McKissack became fixated on the fruit and was also a proponent of health-conscious living.

“He was kind of an early adopter, coming out of the 70s, of looking at this more healthy kind of holistic life, and it was just so important to him that he dedicated his entire life to building this monument,” Gershon says.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What The Orange Show looks like

– How McKissack wanted his creation to be an entertainment destination

– Why The Orange Show still exists decades after McKissack died

Written by Caroline Covington.