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The Late Coulson Tough Helped Launch an Extensive Outdoor Art Program that Howard Hughes Remains Committed to Today

Howard Hughes recently hosted the unveiling of a life-sized bronze, interactive sculpture in The Woodlands of the late Coulson Tough by award-winning Houston sculptor Bridgette Mongeon. Honoring the memory of The Woodlands community leader and art advocate, on his actual birthdate of December 7, Howard Hughes created the interactive sculpture to welcome faculty, students, parents, alumni, and visitors to Coulson Tough Elementary, a K-6 school in the Conroe Independent School District located in the Village of Sterling Ridge. Tough is the namesake of the elementary school, which opened in The Woodlands in 2002.

“We are proud to embody Mitchell’s legacy and reflect his commitment to education with a new sculpture of one of his most trusted advisors and past leader of our company, Coulson Tough— a sculpture that adds another inspiring and meaningful piece to our acclaimed collection of public art,” said Jim Carman, President, Houston Region for Howard Hughes.

“The Woodlands is one of the greatest communities in the country, and we’re proud that the public education provided by our Conroe ISD schools plays such a key role in that,” said Dr. Curtis Null, Conroe ISD Superintendent. “We give great thanks to the visionaries who designed and developed this area. Coulson Tough had an impact on not just The Woodlands, but on all of Conroe ISD. We are thankful to be able to honor him and are grateful to Howard Hughes for extending his legacy.”

Award-winning artist Bridgette Mongeon created the life-sized bronze masterpiece which captivates the likeness and expression of Coulson Tough casually sitting on a bench with one leg crossed. As an interactive piece, the six-foot wide bench includes space for two or three guests to sit and imagine holding a conversation with Tough. Mongeon collaborated with Bruce Tough to garner intricate details including a blueprint, positioned in Coulson’s bronze hands, depicting major projects he managed and assisted with the development of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, The Tremont House in Galveston and The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, also in Galveston, as well as The Dreamer in The Woodlands, Tough’s favorite sculpture, and more.

Children can interact with the blueprint through the “art of tracing”—taking a piece of paper over the blueprint and tracing a pencil or crayon back and forth, watching the images on the blueprint come to life on paper.

“I want to thank Howard Hughes for this recognition of my father,” said Bruce Tough. “The naming of Coulson Tough Elementary was my father’s greatest honor. My first viewing of the new sculpture brought such emotion and praise of how much Bridgette captured my father’s spirit, uniqueness, creativity and vision. I know students, alumni, and teachers of Coulson Tough Elementary will enjoy and be inspired to celebrate my father’s legacy of community service for many years.”

Coulson Tough Sculpture Dedication

The Woodlands features over 90 pieces of outdoor art, positioned throughout its nine villages, and has one of the largest collections of art for a community of its size. Coulson Tough played a vital role in The Woodlands’ art program for three decades. Tough implemented the Art Fund, where art is funded by commercial development in The Woodlands, a program that Howard Hughes continues today.

Immersive artwork which Howard Hughes recently introduced into the community includes Shoal by Squidsoup, an experiential art piece where 750 individual orbs of light work harmoniously with motion and sound to create an oceanic system of sound and light in Hughes Landing, and Flowers, in Waterway Square®, one of the largest outdoor art murals in Texas by internationally acclaimed artist, Alex Katz.

Tough worked closely with founder of The Woodlands, the late George Mitchell, and The Woodlands Development Company, now Howard Hughes, on the initial commercial design and development of The Woodlands, beginning in 1973 until his retirement in 2003. He was instrumental in many major milestones in The Woodlands Town Center.

Tough was named as one of the original The Woodlands Hometown Heroes in 1999, was on the Board of Trustees for the Conroe Independent School District, and a member of The Woodlands Rotary Club. In 2019, he was awarded the Legacy Award from The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.

In attendance at the sculpture unveiling were Dr. Curtis Null, Tough Elementary Principal Christy Julien and school staff, Coulson’s son Bruce Tough with his family, Bridgette Mongeon, Jim Carman and executives from Howard Hughes.

Coulson Tough Sculpture Dedication The Woodlands