What Better Way To Spend Valentine’s Day Than Snuggling On An Art Bench?
Text by Melanie Saxton | Photography by The Woodlands Arts Council
Three local couples share a love for each other and the community they serve. Each of them support The Woodlands Arts Council (TWAC) and have underwritten picturesque and interactive public art benches dedicated to the families of The Woodlands. These one-of-a-kind projects beckon sweethearts for romantic interludes and welcome entire families who enjoy bonding in the great outdoors. Each bench was designed specifically for its location by a talented artist and reflects an underlying theme of love.
MITCH AND PEGGY HAUSMAN
The Hausmans have accrued a lifetime of memories watching The Woodlands area develop. After moving to Panther Creek in the 1980s, they raised their two sons, Nick and Pat, in what was then a small bedroom community.
The pair met in high school at age 15 and 17 and still celebrate March 11, 1974 (their first date). They attended college together and married 39 years ago.
Peggy became a beloved volunteer and original “Hometown Hero,” and was involved in the evolving governing structures of The Woodlands, last serving as Director of The Woodlands Township Board among countless leadership positions. As ardent supporters of The Woodlands Arts Council, the Hausmans’ interest in an art bench mirrored the community’s importance to their family. “We’ve lived and raised our family in Montgomery County since 1981, and this was an opportunity for us to give our community a beautiful and functional piece of useful art,” says Peggy.
She and her husband wanted a bench on the water that was large enough to accommodate families of all sizes and offered them an opportunity take a photo on the beautiful Waterway. They favored a two-sided bench that allowed views of either The Woodlands Waterway or the activity at Waterway Square. “Mipenipa” by Vermont artist Chris Miller fit the bill perfectly!
They were drawn to the permanence of the solid granite bench and its ideal location for couples who wish to sit and enjoy each other’s company while making memories of their very own. “We’d like to thank the Waterway Art Council for the opportunity to be involved in this project and encourage others to give back in some way to the amazing Montgomery County community,” adds Peggy.
GORDY AND MICHELLE BUNCH
Gordy and Michelle Bunch were high school sweethearts and became engaged on Easter in 1994. Gordy hid Michelle’s engagement ring inside an Easter Bunny that they kept and have cherished to this day! Fast forward through the decades and you’ll find them celebrating their love perched on an art bench entitled “Family” by artist Terrell Powell, who will be the Featured Artist at TWAC’s Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival on April 7-9.
The name of the bench is spot on, as the Bunch family tradition is to share Valentine’s Day with their children. Gordy notes, “The bench represents our family and happened to perfectly capture the right sizes representing our kids and dog.” He and Michelle began their support of the arts when their first son was born and have kept it going for 17 years. “Yes, we love each other, but also want our kids to know we love them and that they will always be in our hearts, no matter what,” he adds.
As Founder, President and CEO of The Woodlands Financial Group and Chairman of The Woodlands Township, Gordy’s office is directly above the location of the “Family” bench. He can view firsthand how other families enjoy and interact with the colorful seating sculpture. Michelle is the Director of The Woodlands Insurance Company and shares a similar taste in artists. They enjoy supporting — and exploring — the annual Art Dash, which adds a narrative to where and when (and sometimes why) they purchase artwork. As they add to their collection, they think of future generations who will one day treasure each piece.
PETER AND MEGAN SHEDDEN
Love in the Outdoors
Peter and Megan Shedden married in January 2008 at Beaver Creek, Colorado, and have passed along an interest in skiing and the great outdoors to their children, Graham, 8 and Blair, 5. In fact, the children always bring home mementos from nature walks, mainly fallen leaves and rocks. It was their leaves that influenced and inspired artist Dan Skaggs to design the “Umbrella Tree,” located within sight of Town Center, The Waterway, and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillon.
Peter is a neurosurgeon and President of the Greater Houston Neurosurgery Center and Medical Director and Chief of Neurosurgery of the CHI-St. Luke’s Health Neuroscience Center-The Woodlands. Megan is a certified physician assistant, gifted painter and former singer with Houston Symphony Chorus. The couple share a love of the arts as well as a the neurosciences and head two nonprofit organizations to give back to the community.
They underwrote the “Umbrella Tree” bench to offer a meeting place for couples, family and friends that was somewhat off the beaten path, and hopefully protected from the sun. “We believe you get more out of the community if you jump in and participate,” notes Megan. The site is a wonderful place for lovers to stroll, hold hands and relax, but it is also positioned for family fun amidst water activities and parks filled with birds and natural elements, as well as the outdoor theatre.
“We love the view, and the bench gives such a unique perspective of The Woodlands,” says Megan. The bench is their gift of love to the community, Montgomery County and surrounding areas.
The Woodlands Art Council
The Council has one goal: “Making our community better through the arts… Because Art Matters!” The Council’s Art Bench project is one of many ways they and fellow art lovers beautify The Woodlands. ArtFeel, a new online blog, will begin March 1 allowing folks to express their feelings and share photos, thoughts, and memories about a different bench every three weeks.
Businesses or individuals interested in underwriting an Art Bench in the third phase of the TWAC Art Bench Project may email Development Director Wendy Paynter at firstname.lastname@example.org. TWAC donates the benches to The Woodlands Township, which installs and maintains them. Visit their website at WoodlandsArtsCouncil.org and discover a world of wonder, as well as upcoming events for the whole family.
Love in The Woodlands
Category: Cy-Fair People & Places