Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern Debuts Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern: Spatial Chromointerference

Outstanding art program for Houston’s historic reservoir continues

Carlos Cruz-Diez–photo courtesy of BBP


Building on the success of its inaugural art installation, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) presents a unique site-specific environment by world-renowned artist Carlos Cruz-Diez in the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a 1926 underground city reservoir that BBP restored, repurposed and revealed in 2016.

The installation, Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern: Spatial Chromointerference opened to the public on May 12, 2018 and will be on view through January 13, 2019.

Timed tickets for Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern can be purchased at www.buffalobayou.org. Admission is $10 per person; $8 for Seniors (65+ with ID), Youth (9-17) and Students (18+ with ID). Admission is free on Thursdays. Please note that children under the age of 9 are not permitted in the Cistern. Visitors are encouraged to wear white or light colored clothing. 

Judy Nyquist, BBP Board Member and Co-Chair of the organization’s Public Art Committee, said that when Carlos Cruz-Diez expressed an interest in working in the Cistern, they were honored and thrilled to bring his mastery of color and movement to this industrial space.

“The artist, the entire Atelier Cruz-Diez team and Sicardi Gallery have all been incredibly generous with their time and resources to realize this truly immersive experience that will be unique to the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern,” said Nyquist.

For the second art installation in the Cistern, BBP commissioned pioneering artist Cruz-Diez to create the site-specific Spatial Chromointerference. Considered to be one of the fathers and greatest figures of Kinetic and Optical art, Cruz-Diez’s wide-ranging body of work includes unconventional color structures, light environments, street interventions, architectural integration projects and experimental works.

Cruz-Diez’s Spatial Chromointerference (1974/2018) creates a situation in space involving the dematerialization, transfiguration, and ambiguity of color through movement. By projecting moving chromatic interference modules on objects and people, these become transparent and virtually change condition and form. The spectator becomes both actor and author of a complete chromatic event, which evolves through space.

For the BBP Cistern, Cruz-Diez conceived an ephemeral and participatory work integrated into the architecture of the urban space, the objective being to radically change the experience of color. Twenty-six projectors will be placed in the Cistern to project moving lattices of light on the columns, interior walls, walkways and on cubes floating in the shallow pool of water on the Cistern floor. This aerial projection, reinforced by its reflection on the water, will create a space where everything loses its materiality. Color becomes not merely a visual object to see but a space to be experienced.

“With this presentation of Carlos Cruz-Diez’s outstanding work, BBP is solidifying a robust organizational infrastructure for the Cistern to sustain an on-going art program of global importance,” said BBP President Anne Olson.

The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a structure reminiscent of the ancient Roman cisterns in Istanbul, is a cavernous, 87,500-square-foot-space featuring more than 200 slender, 25-foot high concrete columns. BBP re-discovered the Cistern in 2010 when it was developing the $58-million Buffalo Bayou Park project, a 160-acre green space west of downtown Houston.

In addition to tours highlighting the history and architecture of the Cistern, BBP presents an ambitious program of changing art installations in this iconic space. BBP opened the Cistern in 2016 and the inaugural art exhibition, Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern, was on view from December 2016 to June 2017. Since opening, the Cistern has welcomed over 65,000 visitors.

Visitors to Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern:  Spatial Chromointerference are encouraged to wear white or light colored clothing and will actively participate in viewing as the color changes creating a sensation of movement.

Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern:  Spatial Chromointerference  (#CisterninColor)

The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern located at 105 Sabine Street, Houston, Texas 77007. Open Wednesday through Friday from 3:30 to 6 PM; Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM.

photos by V. Sweeten unless otherwise noted