HOUSTON (Stephen Wiltshire, 2007)


This image was painted in 2007 by Stephen Wiltshire, who has a lot of paintings in pen and ink. He has a very special way of painting and a particular talent for drawing lifelike. The painter was diagnosed with autism when he was a child and he painted the cityscapes he observed briefly before. He only used his mind and used his drawings to communicate with the world. This style is really accurate, known over the world and held in a huge number of collections.

This work of art belongs to the city’s collection of the author who also paints buses and animals and it is painted by pencil. We can see the signature of the autistic painter in the bottom right where his name is written completely. It is a painting of commercial and economical perspective and shows us the main way to travel along Houston. Stephen Wiltshire has a shop with his name in London, where he was born and where you can see and buy some of his paintings. Also, he has done a lot of exhibitons around the world, where you can see drawings of a great number of cities.

The image portrays in a clearly way a place in Texas. Texas represents 7 % of the territory of USA and occupies the southern part of the center of the country. It shares border with Mexico; in the southern part, its neighboring states are Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. In particular, this picture focused its attention on one of the most popular areas of Texas, Houston, which is the most important city in relation to the technological, commercial and business factor. It centered its attention on the suburbs because we can see the city limit and also the business district, where there are some industries. Concretely, it is Downtown Houston, which means that it is the Central Business District, and the image portrays with a great amount of details, not only the buildings but also the amount of cars and the activity during a normal day. The main way is full of cars in both directions, so there may leave a lot of people that move to work and in the other way around. We can realize that there are many traffic lanes in both directions, so we can guess that it is a really busy place. The town planning seems to be regular, as we can observe some square in the left margin.

Its streets are distributed following a grid plan, typical of developed urban plans in major US and European cities from the late nineteenth century and most of the buildings are connected by subways. Also, we can find two main spaces separated by the road. In the right margin, we can appreciate the nature and undeveloped area (non-urbanized). On the left one, we have a lot of buildings: starting mainly for industrial buildings and in the far zone skyscrapers. I can imagine that skyscrapers aren’t only for a living, I think they thought to work on, because the point in which they were built (as commercial centers) was the moment when the economy improved a lot. It is really a tourist city that have a lot of famous museums and parks, so it is visited for too many people like New York. Concerning the structure, we are not in the old quarter or in the city center because we can´t distinguish any church or city hall, are we can neither distinguish shops or parks. So, as I have said, we can clearly appreciate the central business district (CBD) in the left part of the image that marks the limit between the city center and the outskirts and is the home to the financial district. This part of Houston is also home to the entertainment, for example to sports: baseball.

It is curious to note that the painter has drawn the most important buildings in the city like: Bank of America center, Wells Fargo Plaza, Williams Tower, One Sell Plaza and First City Tower. Also, I can point out that Houston was the capital of Texas until 1840 and based its economy on the agriculture, but when petroleum was discovered at Spindletop Houston changed his economy. Another important fact is that in 1960, La NASA called Houston as The Control Centre manned spacecraft, and “Houston” was the first word spoken from the moon. It has also many important industries, medical centers and a famous baseball field.

Mónica del Val Compés Sendino