As a painter David Adickes endeavored to portray the eternal and timeless. As the creator and original owner of Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine, Adickes made something that was very much a product of its time. Though it only lasted three years, Love Street is still spoken of reverentially by those who still have memories of Houston’s psychedelic heyday. It is fitting, then, for Love Street to provide the name and inspiration for our organization and this event.
Love Street, the night club, had its inspiration during a visit that Adickes made to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve in 1966. He was captivated by the projected light shows at the Fillmore Auditorium. Upon returning to Houston, Adickes bought an overhead projector and began developing his own light shows. While giving a demonstration of his new light show for a colleague at the art department at Sam Houston State, Adickes created an impromptu “happening” consisting of projections on a white sheet enhanced with silhouettes of dancers from the modern dance department, topped off with a mix of loud rock music. It was not until he paid a courtesy visit to an abandoned building downtown, however, that Adickes experienced the frisson of creation that would lead to the opening of Love Street.
In early 1967, several real estate investors approached Adickes about opening a painting studio in an abandoned building behind the Sunset Coffee warehouse located on Commerce Street between Main and Fannin. When he saw the third floor of the building, Adickes felt what he called “satori” (a moment of enlightment) and knew that this space would be perfect for a night club that not only featured a state-of-the-art light show but would provide an environment for the patrons to fully absorb the psychedelic experience. Following the fashion of the time, the club was given its hyper-ornate name and was known as “Love Street”.
To access Love Street, one climbed three flights of metal stairs to the top floor. (If you performed at Love Street, you had to lug your gear up the same three flights.) The area between the bathrooms was covered with striking back light posters featuring the striking stare of Theda Bara and promising “Flop Down 3-D Total Environment Happening with Zonk Outs” and “Lights and Sound Explosions for the Love Generation”. The focal point of the club was the stage at the rear, flanked to either side by small platforms for go-go dancers. The feature that set Love Street apart from other clubs was the “zonk out” area starting near the foot of the stage and extending to the back of the club. The zonk out area was filled with giant mattresses and hundreds of colored pillows, allowing patrons to lie supine and take in the band and the light show.
The light show operated from a catwalk balcony above the zonk out area. The light show artists would project images on the walls alongside the stage while simultaneously projecting a series of oil-based, pulsing embryonic or geometric figures on a screen behind the performers on stage. Flanking the light show set up was a room known as the “photo prop room”. Adickes would select patrons to come upstairs to pose for pictures, drawing items from a giant pile of costumes, props and other miscellany. Adickes would then use the pictures as part of the next day’s slide show. While the use of patron’s pictures in the slide show helped encourage return customers, it backfired somewhat when members of the Bandito biker band became the subject of a slide show. After the Banditos became more frequent guests at Love Street, the Bandito slides somehow went missing and, disappointed, the Banditos moved on.
After Adickes sold his interest in Love Street, the house light show for Love Street was known as Jelly Wall Eyes Pack (JWEP), led by “Wizard” aka Greg Lloyd. The JWEP employed two slide projectors and four overheard projectors enhanced by mirror balls, color wheels, and strobe lights.
For its debut show on June 3, 1967, Love Street featured a triple bill of The Red Crayola, The Starvation Army (the Love Street house band), and Fever Tree. The Red Crayola were fairly unconventional, even by the standards of the time, and tended to play in a fairly dissonant fashion. When the Red Crayola started its set, several of Adickes’ patrons from River Oaks thought the band was merely warming up, much like an orchestra tuning its instruments. When it became obvious that the band intended to sound that way, his patrons expressed their condolences to Adickes and never returned. The band made enough of an impression that one of Love Street’s original owners, Lafayette Herring, an albino, became known as “The White Crayon.”
Although it was only open for three years, Love Street hosted a number of local and national musical luminaries. Notable artists who played Love Street include The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Johnny Winters, Bubble Puppy, the Moving Sidewalks (Billy Gibbons’ high school band). Love Street’s most notable contribution to Houston musical history was serving as the venue for ZZ Top’s first shows on July 4th and 5th, 1969. Houston’s underground newspaper, the Space City News, offered this listing: “Z*Z* Top featuring Bill Gibbons, Dan Mitchell and Lanier Gregg (Mitchell used to be with the Moving Sidewalk and Gregg was with the Fanatics; this should be a good new sound.)”
Alas, Love Street did not last long. It closed its doors after approximately three years. The Love Street building -- now painted green -- still close to Allen’s Landing, at the confluence of the White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. Although it has remained empty for almost 40 years, it is slated for redevelopment in the near future.
Love Street was a brief chapter in David Adickes storied career. Adickes was born in 1927 and later received his degree at Sam Houston College in 1948. Adickes studied painting in Paris with Ferdinand Leger from 1948 to 1950. Adickes spent much of the 1950’s and 1960’s traveling and exhibiting his paintings around the world.
While Adickes has been a painter for over 50 years, he is best known for his work as a sculptor. In 1983, he completed his first commission as a sculptor, “Virtuoso,” which stands outside the Lyric Center. Ten years later, Adickes unveiled a 76-foot statue of Sam Houston alongside Interstate 45 in Huntsville. Beginning in 1996, Adickes undertook construction of two President’s parks, one in the Black Hills of South Dakota , and the other in Williamsburg, Virginia. Each park features 18 to 20 foot busts of each United States president. Yet another set of presidential busts will be unveiled in Pearland within the next year.
Adickes’ artwork is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence in the area near downtown Houston. In addition to Virtuoso and a 20 foot sculpture, “Looking Forward” near the rail line at Main Street and Leeland, Adickes recently placed busts of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on land alongside eastbound Interstate 10, a monument he dubbed “Mount Rush Hour”. Adickes’ most recent sculptures, 36-foot painterly renderings of The Beatles, can be seen at his SculptorWorx studio before they are moved near I-10 in the near future.
Adickes most recent creation is the “Super Tree”, a man-made tree covered with ivy leaves. The Super Tree is designed to furnish shade and cool air in areas where large hardwood trees do not grow. Not only could the Super Trees be arranged into interlinked groupings, they can be equipped with misting systems to drop temperatures, sound systems, and decorative lighting system.
By John Spiller