Beer Can House in Houston – restored and reopening!

DSC06184, originally uploaded by narrowlarry.

(all photos by NarrowLarry – © Larry Harris, 2008)

(this is from their press release)

The Beer Can House
222 Malone St.
Houston, TX 77007
(Between Venice St. and Lacy St.)

Houston (March 5, 2008) – When finishing a beer, the conventional drinker might dispose of the can by stomping on it, crushing it, twisting off the tab, recycling or just throwing it away.

John Milkovisch was not so conventional. This Houston upholsterer turned unlikely artist “disposed” of his beer cans by slicing them up as exterior decoration – curtains, mobiles, fences, sculptures and wind chimes – for his house in the West End close to Memorial Park. Milkovisch’s “creation” came to be known as a work of art and now it is fondly called “The Beer Can House.”

While Houston’s weather and 30 years took their toll on the work of art, after five years of planning, cleaning and repairing by the monument’s new owner, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, The Beer Can House will be opened to the public starting Saturday, March 8, in its fully restored state. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art welcomes visitors to come and see how one man’s love for beer and passion for working with his hands turned thousands or ordinary beer cans into a work of art.

“Until now, The Beer Can House has only been a drive-by experience allowing visitors to view the house from the street,” explains Julie Birsinger, The Beer Can House project manager. “For the first time ever, visitors will be able to experience the house up close, see the intricate details and learn the story of how one man’s hobby blossomed into a beloved landmark.”

Efforts from the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art and major grants from the Houston Endowment, Brown Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and the Cullen Foundation have made The Beer Can House restoration possible. The Beer Can House contractor, SpawMaxwell, has lead the way in this process as well, donating time, money and renovation services with help from local volunteers and businesses who have done everything from pitching in to create replacement garlands to cleaning the grounds.

Since it first began to take shape in the late 1970s, this little landmark has drawn curious visitors from around the world who come by to get a glimpse of the now legendary house.

Visitors may wander the grounds at their leisure, experiencing the unique environment that John Milkovisch created by first pouring concrete, inlaid with thousands of marbles, tiles and metal trinkets, over the lawn because he simply got tired of mowing the grass. It was from this inspiration that The Beer Can House first began.

Inside, the story of the house is told through vintage photographs and archives donated by the Milkovisch Family. Visitors will see how Milkovisch’s daily work from 1968 to1988 turned the 1940s-era bungalow into the monument it is today. They will also come away with a better understanding of folk art and the importance of preserving environments created by self-taught artists such as Milkovisch.

The restoration also includes the addition of a visitor’s center and gift shop located on the site of Milkovisch’s old workshop. Guides are available to answer questions and offer tours (and maybe even a cold beer) to visitors. Starting March 8, The Beer Can House will be open Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 5 p.m. or by special appointment.

Although Milkovisch passed away in 1988, The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art will continue to preserve and honor his work of art. Milkovisch once said, “They say every man should leave something to be remembered by. At least I accomplished that goal.”

The Beer Can House is a permanent site of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, producers of the Houston Art Car Parade and caretakers of The Orange Show, an internationally known folk art environment located in Houston’s historic East End. For more information please visit