Have women had a significant impact on my career? Oh, yes. Not so much in very specific ways, as much as being there and influencing me at certain times in my life. Doesn’t it always work that way?
My own Mother is the best example. She encouraged me through every crazy project I came up with in my youth and later those translated into business ideas. I don’t ever recall her saying to me, “just get a job.”
My art teachers were all women. My favorite – who I am still friends with and who I even had the honor to interview here last year – is artist Sharon Hendry (artl8dy on Instagram). Look up, “A Heights artist comes full circle” from January 14, 2016. Even though Hendry was teaching graphic design, I learned to streamline my art, to clean up my act, and to not rush everything.
At 14, I met Carole McCann, the director of a theater that I auditioned at for a chorus role. I think I performed in three shows, two for youth only, one with adults and children. To me “Miss Carole” was a larger than life character. She wore her hair very short and seemingly chain-smoked (the extra-long ones) from her center seat in the auditorium, as she barked out direction to us.
I learned about laughing and acceptance of others during my short time with Miss Carole’s theater.
Oddly, about ten years ago, I got a call from Miss Carole, and she wanted to know if I’d host her, for free, at my market. Odd because the last time I talked to her my voice hadn’t even changed yet, and she remembered me?
She had retired and was traveling the world bringing theater to nations that required approval from the State Department to even travel to. Places like Iraq, Iran and others. When her group arrived, they would recruit local men, women and children, and help them produce a play for the local communities. How cool is that? Miss Carole would send email reports keeping her many fans up to date on her adventures, and believe me there were many.
She wanted to sell her knitted scarves, shawls and throws at my art market to raise money for her trips. I couldn’t say no. Her infectious personality made her a hit and I got to see her one more time before she left us in September 2011. I had no idea she was sick during her time with us.
Miss Carole taught me that it’s okay to be an extrovert – wear your freak flag!
Regular readers here know of my friendship with Ms. Carolyn Bertand Hodges. She’s an octogenarian (and Houstonian) artist that I befriended after her many visits to my show.
She is the most persistent, never-give-up person I have ever met. She has a fixed income, a walker to help get around, uses public transportation and has no computer or smart phone. She lives on her own, too.
Recently, I helped her enter new art she created in competitions in Houston and Corpus Christi. I handled the computer and mailing part. She doesn’t have time to learn computers, she says.
Miss Carolyn (as I like to call her) has taught me more about tenacity, persistence and goals by just being with her than any book on the subject.
I’m happy to report that Miss Carolyn now has gallery representation at SAMARA Gallery, 3911 Main St. and online at samaragallery.com. She did that one on her own.
There’s a very good chance Miss Carolyn will drop in on me this Saturday to visit the market and especially the open studios at Sawyer Yards.
Hey Mama, Happy Mother’s Day! And thanks for not saying no!
My Market at Sawyer Yards turns one year old and will be from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. this Saturday, May 13. Drop in and say hello, it is an amazing show in one of the coolest spaces in Houston at 1502 Sawyer St.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the new Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com