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UH Remembers Legendary Artist Frank Stella

Creating and Installing “Euphonia” at UH Brought Joy to Late Artist


The legacy of artist Frank Stella lives on at the University of Houston, despite his passing. Stella died Saturday.

in 1997, the Univrsity of Houston System commissioned Stella to create “Euphonia,” a colorful collage of abstract imagery and patterns. Over the course of seven months, he worked with dozens of local artists, including UH students, to create the largest piece in the UH System public art collection.

Located within the Moores Opera House, “Euphonia” spans over 5,000-square-feet and is one of the largest works he ever produced.

“It really makes the space. Frank was totally right about that,” said Beth Robertson, former UH System Regent and philanthropist, who was a friend of Stella.

This immersive artwork took months to complete. Robertson said the community involvement with “Euphonia” brought Stella real satisfaction—that it was created to be experienced and shared.

“It was the community involvement — the PUBLIC part of public art — that really excited him. Because of its immense scale, he and his colleague Earl Childress engaged many artists at UH and Houston in its production, including two ‘public’ days when the community could add a bit of paint here and there. And now it is seen and enjoyed by all of these wonderful music students and patrons of Moores Opera House,” added Robertson. 

“The joy of sharing this work and the fact that the Houston arts community was so involved in this and took part in it, I think, makes it even that much better.”

Stella’s career spanned six decades. Before turning 25 years old, Stella’s work was recognized for its innovations. Beyond paintings he was prolific in the use of mixed media and nonconventional geometric canvases. Throughout his career he exhibited at many prestigious galleries and museums, some of which even helped define the world of art in the 1960s. Now his work is held in collection and shown across the world.

“Frank Stella truly left an extraordinary legacy for the University of Houston with his monumental work ‘Euphonia,’” said Rachel Mohl, executive director and chief curator of Public Art for the University of Houston System. “The mural stands as a testament to the artist’s pioneering innovations and collaborative spirit.”

Stella’s “Euphonia” is unlike any other project, not only in Houston but in the world, and is an important addition to public art on both the University campus and in the city of Houston. It lives on as a city-wide collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum, The Menil Collection, The Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County, the Blaffer Gallery and the Moores School of Music Society.

Alison de Lima Greene, the Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston commented: “Frank Stella is among a handful of painters who can be rightly described as having changed the course of art in America. His dazzling “Euphonia” murals for the Moores School of Music distill his brilliant command of color, light and space, as he engaged with a complex architectural program to create an immersive art environment. You walk in, and your spirits soar.”

Stella was honored at UH in 2018 during a celebration marking the 20-year anniversary of “Euphonia.”

“It doesn’t look 20 years old to me,” Stella quipped at the time. “I look 20 years older.”

Frank Stella was 87 years old.

(L) Portrait of Frank Stella (R) photo of instracacies of his work on Euphonia
Frank Stella's "Euphonia" in the Moores Opera House an important public art project both for UH and the city of Houston.
Image of Euphonia on the dome of the Moores Opera House lobby.
Euphonia spans the dome of the hall as well as the oval catwalk within the music hall.

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