stARTup in Houston: Part Two

Recently, Fair Director Ray Beldner took another trip to Houston in advance of the debut of stARTup Houston October 11-13. He came to meet more of the local art community and to give a couple of talks about the fair. He had this to say about Houston: “Every time I come here, I meet incredible people and I feel so welcome into this community. This really feels like home.”

* Artists should note that artist applications have been extended through August 11th.

Discussions and talks

Cindy Lisica Gallery  , Houston

Cindy Lisica Gallery, Houston

Ray’s first stop was at Cindy Lisica Gallery in the Museum District. In her spacious 2nd floor digs at 4411 Montrose Blvd, Cindy exhibits emerging and mid-career contemporary artists in various media. She’s a stARTup Houston juror and she generously offered her space for an evening talk titled: Art Fairs: What are They Good For? It was a good opportunity for members of the Houston art community to meet Ray, hear about stARTup and its mission, and ask questions about the fair. The audience was very receptive, asking great questions and sharing their experiences of the Houston art scene.

The Printing Museum  , Houston

The Printing Museum, Houston

His next talk was at The Printing Museum on a warm Saturday afternoon. The Printing Museum is a unique museum in that it explores the intersections of the history, art, and technology of printing and demonstrates its enduring impact through exhibitions, interactive tours, and creative workshops. Joining Ray in conversation at the museum was Visual Arts Alliance president, Matt Adams on the topic: The Art World: What’s in it For Me? Their conversation was wide ranging: from how artists can forge individual career paths to dispelling old artist myths. In the end, talk turned to stARTup Art Fair Houston, and the opportunities it presents to the local art community.

We feel lucky to have the enthusiasm and support of the community as we moved towards the inaugural Houston fair in this “Bayou City,” this city of the “Big Heart.”

Cultural Institutions

The shotgun buildings of   Project Row Houses

The shotgun buildings of Project Row Houses

Houston is acclaimed for its established museums, like The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Contemporary Arts Museum (CAMH), as well as the renown Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel. However, their non-profit arts organizations are the backbone of the robust arts landscape there.

Like Project Row Houses — a nationally recognized model for art and community engagement. Founded by artist and MacArthur “genius” award winner Rick Lowe (among others), Project Row Houses occupies a significant footprint in Houston’s Historic Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods. The site encompasses five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as home base to a variety of community enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities. Eight houses are art studios for art related to African-American themes. A row behind the art studio houses single mothers.


PRH is a unique experiment in activating the intersections between art, enrichment, and architectural preservation. We are very proud and fortunate to have Ryan Dennis, their Curator and Program Director, as part of our Houston jury.

HSPVA’s   new building

HSPVA’s new building

Another important institution that has made a significant impact on the city and whose mission and alumni have spread far beyond the city’s borders, is the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA).

The creation of HSPVA in 1971 represented the first attempt by any public high school in the nation to correlate an academic program with concentrated training in the arts. Also, it was one of only three public schools in the nation to offer programs in both the visual and performing arts. Think the high school in Fame.

The school is divided into six departments: instrumental music, vocal music, dance, theater, visual arts, and creative writing. Now in their 47th year, they continue to celebrate their proud heritage, dedicated staff, successful alumni, supportive parents, and their gifted and talented students. This year they moved into a brand new, state of the art five-story building in downtown Houston, only blocks from the Hotel Icon and stARTup Art Fair. It’s an impressive campus, and many colleges would be envious of their amazing facilities.


Sawyer Yards   artist community, Houston

Sawyer Yards artist community, Houston

The Houston art scene would be nothing without its artists. Home to many of them, Sawyer Yards is a massive creative community in the heart of Houston’s historic First Ward. Surrounded by an active rail yard, it is comprised of more than 300 artists, occupying 6 studio buildings on 55 acres. And there are over 60 creative businesses on the campus making one of the largest working artist communities in the country. Ray has visited it several times for their 2nd Saturday events, exhibitions, Art Alley, and art & music events.

This amazing art community is brought to life through an active schedule of special events each month. Only three minutes from Houston’s downtown business district, Sawyer Yards has revived this industrial area and has become an anchor for the city’s vibrant art scene.

The murals of Sawyer Yards’   Art Alley

The murals of Sawyer Yards’ Art Alley



In addition to its cultural offerings, Houston has more than 12,000 restaurants. And as the most diverse city in the country, you can basically find every type of food here that you’d ever want, from Tex-Mex and barbecue, to sushi and Vietnamese. One place Ray stopped at was Weights and Measures, a casual neighborhood restaurant, bakeshop and bar located in a 1950s industrial warehouse.

The proprietor’s ultimate goal was to create a comfortable, sincere and welcoming place to dine, relax, and socialize and we’d say they accomplished that — from the shag rug wall to the vintage Star Wars plastic placemats!


Another institution on the dining scene is the breakfast klub. Since opening in September of 2001, the breakfast klub has become a top tourist attraction, as well as the local favorite breakfast spot, lining up droves of cheerful patrons on a daily basis.

Run by the charismatic Marcus Davis, tbk is a unique restaurant serving signature items in a real down home, relaxed environment. No visit there would be complete without sampling the “Katfish & Grits” or the “Wings & Waffles.” Is there a line to get in? Always. Does it move fast? Thankfully!

There is, of course, much more to report from this creative, generous and busy art scene. As we near the fair this October 11-13, we will continue to report on this vibrant city and the other cultural spaces we encounter on the road to stARTup Houston 2019.

Stay tuned!


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