On his daily morning commute along an industrial road, a street artist operating under the pseudonym “Neato Rodriguez” began to feel that the scenery was a bit on the dull side. One piece of the road that stuck out to him was an abandoned concrete culvert, uniform grey and generally uninteresting. It was here that Rodriguez got a super idea for an art piece.
“This whole area of Houston has been barren of artwork,” Rodriguez told Houston publication Chron. “Any time there’s major construction, whatever they’re working on they’ll just leave pieces of material behind. If they’re going to leave it there, why not spruce it up a little bit?”
Sneaking onto the road under cover of night, Rodriguez painted the culvert into the image of the iconic Question Block of the Super Mario video game franchise. This is Rodriguez’s first official art installation, though according to his profile, everything he does and will do will be of a similar pixel art aesthetic.
A Super Mario Bros. Mystery Box has popped up in Houston.
— Chron (@chron) September 9, 2021
“I know it’s still illegal,” Rodriguez said. “But nobody’s done anything about that [culvert]. It’s been here for a long time. Why not have fun while it’s here?”
Rodriguez has kept his true identity under wraps, so even his coworkers don’t know he’s the one who brought the world of pixels to Houston. “There have been a couple people coming up saying ‘hey did you see that block? That’s so cool,’” he said. “And all I can say is, ‘I have to go check that out.’”
The Question Block, along with several other smaller pieces that have cropped up on the sides of various Houston buildings, are all part of Rodriguez’s “Infinitely Houston” series, which he intends to brighten up spots of the city lacking in artwork, as well as highlight exceptional businesses and people.