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Artists Create Affordable Originals in Our Thriving Art City
By Shirley Barr

If you don’t have several original paintings on your walls, why not? Houston is abundant with affordable originals, including those created in our five art districts, in schools and in workshops and now showing in more than 150 museums and cultural institutions in the Greater Houston area.

In fact, Houston is home to what is believed to be the highest concentration of working artists in the nation, says Susannah Mitchell, executive director of the Washington Avenue Arts District.

If you are new to collecting, you’ll discover many options at area galleries to ponder what type art collector — or even artist — you want to become. Pastels and watercolors are soothing, oils and acrylics are dynamic, woodcuts and collages are textural and interesting. And your home deserves your choice of these, or all of them.

The Glassell Studio School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston holds its annual student sale each December, and the Blaffer Art Museum on the main campus of the University of Houston and the University of Houston-Downtown has frequent sales exhibitions of student art, as do community colleges.    Remember all original art doesn’t hang in museums or high-end galleries. According to the Houston Arts Alliance, we have more than 500 arts organizations with classes and sales exhibitions.

Here are only a few of the Houston-area art organizations, along with notes from member artists to whet your appetite for original art.

Aerosol Warfare Graffiti & Street Art Gallery
Opening Feb. 12 and running through February 2018, master graffiti artist GONZO247 invites everyone to get a piece of the streets with artwork by local Houston and invited national artists in Space H, a new extension of his gallery. All works, created as one-of-a-kind visions, are handpicked for show and sale in this year-round art collection.
2110 Jefferson, Suite 111, 832-748-8369,

Archway Gallery
celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Owned by 30 artists, Archway stands unique in Houston. The artists work in the gallery and are on hand to share experiences, so there’s always an artist here to talk with. In fact, Shirley Riccetti gives complementary “Tea ’n Tours” of the gallery for groups.
2305 Dunlavy St., 713-522-2409,

Art League Houston gallery, founded in 1968, is open to the public. Currently see the monochrome MDF art of Iva Kinnaird and the nomadic art of Lyle Carbajal. The art league is known for its community programs, including in-school, artists-in-residence and “Healing Art,” says Jennie Ash with the league.
1943 Montrose Blvd., 713-523-9530,

Art on the Avenue is dedicated to acknowledging Houston’s Northside arts community and improving the lives of low- and moderate-income residents. Samantha Desmond says its annual art show exhibit held at Winter Street Studios each November features more than 250 originals by local artists.
Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter St., 713-864-8099,

Bayou City Art Festival, upcoming March 24-26 in Memorial Park and in the fall downtown, supports local nonprofits and brings diverse artists to urban festivals. One visitor describes the festivals as “like walking through an outdoor museum.”
Office, 7026 Katy Road, Suite 221, 713-521-0133,   

Empty Bowls Houston provides a great opportunity (and just a minimum $25 donation) to purchase a creation from 2,000-plus, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted bowls donated by Houston-area ceramists and craft artists, including those from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, as a fight-hunger campaign and fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. The empty bowls serve as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community and the world. Live music, soup ingredients donated by Whole Foods and prepared by staff at the food bank’s kitchen and artist demonstrations throughout the day add to the popular event, this year set June 3.

Second Saturdays shows attract art lovers to the Winter Street Studios, Silver Street Studios and The Silos each month from noon-5 p.m. Look for affordable paintings, sculptures and mixed media. Sara Jackson says don’t miss the Valentine Art Stroll 5-9 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Silver Street Studios. Sweet!
Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter St.; Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards St.; The Silos, 1502 Sawyer St.;

Visual Arts Alliance hosts juried shows each quarter to create more opportunities for established and emerging artists to connect with viewing public. VAA’s 34th Juried Exhibition opens April 30 at Spring Street Studios.
Visual Arts Alliance, 3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 250,

Watercolor Art Society-Houston (WAS-H) is housed in an accessible gallery plus working studios near The Menil. Member and award-winning artist Becky Brocato recommends the monthly exhibit receptions, usually at 4 p.m. on the second Sunday. The events are free, open to the public and most of the paintings are for sale ranging from $75 to $500, depending on the size and complexity. The juried shows are on exhibit all month in case you keep thinking of a painting and want to view it again. Upcoming reception dates: Feb. 12, “Unthemed,” and March 12, the Annual International Exhibition.
1601 W. Alabama St., 713-042-9966,

Women Interested in Vision Literature and the Arts (WIVLA) has two major shows a year at different public venues, so watch for them. “Abundant” opens Feb. 27 in the Cloisters Gallery, Christ Church Cathedral downtown. People are still talking about WIVLA’s show at the Houston Library, “Inspired by Her Quote,” which opened on International Women’s Day in March 2016, says Jane Mulholland.
WIVLA, 713-447-6946,


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