If not for the murals on both sides of this corner building, one might keep driving past this plain white, brick and stucco one-story warehouse just east of downtown. Texas Art Asylum is part craft, thrift, salvage, antique and well, just about anything you can think of, that almost made it the recycling bin or trash.
The exterior, regardless of decor, will always be misleading because once inside, it may take hours to find your way back out. A sign inside the door reads: Welcome to The GREATEST Place on Earth, Texas Art Asylum, The Home of Shugg and Johnny Cash. The later are the shop cats.
Artists of all persuasions frequent Texas Art Asylum, at 1719 Live Oak. I’ve found scary looking green goggles for a Halloween outfit, my childhood toys, old records, stamps, doll parts, costume jewelry, family photos, guitar pics, bottle caps and paint by number paintings. There’s a long two-column list on the website that just barely scratches the surface. If you have a project that needs a little something extra, you’ll find it here and more.
I asked owner Ramona Brady to tell what’s so unique about her store.
“You never know what you will find,” Brady said. “The inventory is all donated by folks who believe in creative reuse, and our customers make that belief into reality.”
In fact, Brady created a dedicated gallery space for art shows and, this Saturday night, she hosts the Second Annual Tiny Show, featuring tiny art. I’m certain many pieces will have elements found on the store’s shelves with one caveat; no art will exceed four inches.
“It’s a big showcase of tiny work in a wide variety of mediums,” Brady said. “Work in any unusual scale is difficult. Smaller works require meticulous attention to the tiniest details.”
With more than twenty artists participating, the art would have to be tiny, I don’t recall the gallery space being huge.
Twenty percent of show sales benefit The Center for Recycled Art, an arts organization serving Houston public schools and nonprofits. Teachers, you must check them out, they host a special shopping day for you. Visit recycledarthouston.org.
Texas Art Asylum hosts the Second Annual Tiny Show, Saturday, January 28, 5-9 p.m., and Sunday, January 29 from 1-5 p.m. www.texasartasylum.com
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market, find him at ArtValet.com