Houston’s Bucket List
By Kathryn McGranahan
Traffic has been even worse on South Shepherd this week, but it’s actually a cool reason. Travelers are slowing down to scan the large three-dimensional square standing quietly in front of Distinctive Life Cremations and Funerals. The big gray block has listed open-ended “Before I die I want to…” with ‘Before I die’ crowning the top and a bucket of colorful chalk placed beside it.
Since March 21st, anyone can and has taken to the interactive art installation to list their legacies. Some are hopeful and easy enough, like “HAVE FUN!” and “Ski naked”. Others focus on overcoming life’s obstacles, like “Get her back” and “Beat cancer”. What Houstonians want, ranges from Lamborghinis and Trans-Ams to fixing the world to a lot of traveling, but it mostly means we’re like everyone else in the world, and it’s uniting.
The block is an interactive art installation that began when artist Candy Chung turned an abandoned New Orleans house into an art project. Chung painted the faded, boarded up walls with chalkboard paint and stenciled “Before I die I want to _______” in a grid. The project was part of her grieving process after a personal loss, according to the project’s website.
The Before I Die project spread rapidly. Walls in French, Japanese, Guatemalan and 27 other languages now dot over 65 countries. These walls are on display at the project’s website, www.beforeidie.cc. The Before I Die book has even more. But even with different languages, the world’s bucket list is pretty much the same: be our best selves. Find Love. Keep love. And maybe see U2 play in Dublin/build a time machine/fly an airplane.
One wall was erected last January in The Heights by Rutu Sathia. The square on Shepherd, however, is transportable, and will continue its journey on March 31st. For now, those stuck in the traffic part of their daily grind can pause and remember what they really want before they die—and that’s the point.