Jeff McKissack’s The Orange Show
Jefferson Davis McKissack (1902-1980) was born in Fort Gaines, Georgia, as the youngest of five children. While working as a truck driver transporting oranges throughout the Southeast United States, McKissack became interested in the orange as a source of nutrients and energy. He served in the army from 1942-1943, then worked in a navy shipyard and learned to weld, a skill that proved essential in the construction of his future artistic endeavor, The Orange Show. Over the next twenty years, McKissack collected roof tiles, fire escapes, decorations, and other architectural refuse from the sites of Houston buildings that were being demolished or remodeled, as well as steel wheels, turnstiles, and tractor seats. When asked why he built The Orange Show, he responded with a variety of explanations, including his own inability to find the perfect orange juicer. After the show’s grand opening on May 9, 1979, neighbors observed that McKissack withdrew and only seven months later he died of a stroke, on January 26, 1980. Today the Orange Center for Visionary Art has become part of Houston’s cultural scene and has a variety of programs available to the public.
Biography and photos
Video Jeff’s Tour of the Orange Show in Jeff McKissack’s own words by Ken Hudson and Gary Jones Part 1 (4 minutes; 1987) Part 2 (4 minutes; 1987) Part 3 (4 minutes; 1987) Part 4 (4 minutes; 1987) Part 5 (4 minutes; 1987);
Book Painting the Town Orange: Stories Behind Houston’s Visionary Art Environments by Pete Gershon (2014)
Button & Top Photo Credit: orangshow.org