It is no secret the Heights is an ever-burgeoning neighborhood, and the annual event celebrating its entrepreneurial diversity and plethora of homegrown artists is right around the corner.
Next Saturday, Aug. 4, White Linen Night in the Heights will once again be in full swing from 6-10 p.m. showcasing the area’s best, brightest, and newest artists on the scene, along with its diverse business landscape.
White Linen Night in The Heights began in 2006 at the suggestion of New Orleans native and Katrina transplants Chris Thayer and his wife, who had opened a boutique on 19th Street when they were displaced by the storm. The Thayers and the Heights First Saturday group organized the event as a way to promote interest to 19th street so the neighborhood’s diverse local businesses could thrive in the hot Houston summer.
“When we started this, we wanted to showcase that this was this eclectic neighborhood – a small town in a big city. It suits the Heights,” said Mitch Cohen, organizer of the Heights First Saturday Arts Market and manager of the artists participating in White Linen Night.
By 2009, White Linen Night had almost overflowed its banks, so to speak. Every single year, Cohen said, the event teemed with many more attendees, as thousands flocked to see homegrown Houston artists and independently-owned businesses.
So, due to such burgeoning growth, the Houston Heights Association passed marketing options off to Cohen in 2010, and he later partnered with Sara Jackson and Kenektid beginning in 2013. He said a full-time marketer was needed to manage logistics of the event in the wake of its sheer size, while he manages the artists on the street.
No signs of slowing down
And crowds have remained strong, as the event draws at least a solid 25,000 to 30,000 goers from all walks of life each year, according to Jackson. Between showcasing an eclectic group of artists from Cohen’s First Saturday Arts Market to a diverse selection of homegrown businesses, White Linen Night offers a small taste of what the Heights has to offer to anyone who will hear.
In 2018, WLN is even adding a biergarten along the street in the 200 block of 19th Street near Yale, where Houston charity Barrio Dogs will be fundraising through beer sales Saturday night. The main art scene will sit in the 200 and 300 blocks of 19th Street.
“We really try to be about the fun and not about the fuss – all about the brick and mortar on the streets and the artists; about people coming out to see a local business they’ve never seen before and getting to know what they’re about,” Jackson said. “It’s a great time to mingle in the neighborhood if you’ve never been out there before and have fun without worrying about all the extra stuff out there.”
Beginning at 6 p.m. (as the art market is set up and artists are hosting open houses) and running until 10 p.m., White Linen Nights will again offer festival goers a bevy of options, from the art displays for those wanting to get the first crack at local gems. Artists such as C.S. Ellington, Cherie Salinas, David Mercado, Arthur Deatly, and Aliona Price will have their work on display.
Meanwhile, the Blue Whale will have face painting and summer-themed crafts, while Casa Ramirez, Harold’s, and the Heights Theater – among others – will host musical acts such as Bossa II, Rio Yeti, DEM reggae band, DJ Cheney, Madeleine Edwards, and more as the night winds on.
And through all the fun, spirit, and musical tunes that have infiltrated the air, the heart of the event has never wavered.
“It’s always been to champion all of our mom and pop shops and small businesses that are here – that’s fading fast in places, but we’ve still got these two blocks on 19th Street with businesses who have been there a long time,” Cohen said.
“It’s a fantastic neighborhood tradition and really makes everyone happy. You will see young and old, people of all persuasions,” Jackson said. “Everybody’s dressed in the spirit of the event, is there to have a good time and meet local artists, and give business to these stores when it’s so hot that people generally don’t want to come out and shop.”
Street parking is plentiful throughout the neighborhood around most of the main areas where activities will be happening in the neighborhood. There will also be an Uber drop-off and pickup zone at the corner of 20th Street and Ashland Street across from the Heights Hospital.
White Linen Night in the Heights is open to the general public with no admission fee. For more information on this year’s event, readers can visit theheightswhitelinennight.com/.