The Heights has a lot of unassuming heroes--like the graffiti buster who helps restore the neighborhood or the woman who selflessly tends to the roses on Heights Blvd.
There's another unassuming hero at the corner of Euclid and Norhill, diligently piecing together a beautiful and intricate community bench in her front yard.
Elena C. Wortham, an artist from Mexico City who has been living in The Heights for more than 15 years, decided to create a community bench in her front yard to encourage folks from the neighborhood to stop by and enjoy the view of the park.
In Mexico City, Elena explained, many of the homes have large walls around them. However, once you enter through the gate, you are welcomed wholeheartedly. In the U.S., by contrast, many of the homes don't have any walls out front. However, there's like an "invisible barrier" that keeps neighbors from visiting each other.
The bench is her way to build community. All are welcome to use it for comfort, rest, and connection. In the time I spent talking with Elena, I found exactly that. I learned about the history of her home, her grandchildren, and other public art projects she's undertaken throughout Houston. I even got a tour of her home and studio--two stories of natural light, bookshelves, and a studio nestled in the backyard garden.
The bench mosaic is made from leftover pieces from Elena's previous projects. She uses cookie cutters to obtain the circle shape, and her grandchildren have contributed specific animals.