Woodruff was born and raised in Houston Heights, and often has interesting facts and memories from growing up here. Before we met, Woodruff made a living as an artist for 20 years, starting at the Texas Renaissance Festival in its first year, and major shows across the country.
Do you recall when you first started doing my shows?
“I stumbled across an article in the Houston Chronicle online about the Yale Street Market,” Woodruff said. “I had a hunch that the Heights would be a good place. I was looking for an alternative to small art shows around Austin, which I found boring.”
What kept you returning, why?
“I did well at the first show and at the same time, a Chronicle photographer snapped my picture. The picture ran the following month and there was a lot of business as a result. The business continued off of that exposure for months. What continues to be particularly rewarding is to have customers from as far back as the early 1980’s come to my booth and buy stuff.
The First Saturday Arts Market is like no other that I have experienced anywhere in the country in the past 40 years. I studied art history (and micro-economics) in college and I have continued in my studies since. I am impressed with the quality and vision of the artists. There is also a great community of artisans associated with this market. It includes hundreds. That is a very important feature, as well. In fact, as an artist, I have a very distinct intention, which is to be a stand for Joy, Wonder and Community. The market has been an effective vehicle in achieving that intent.”
What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed in the market?
“The evolution of the artisans themselves,” he said. “It is very rewarding to see the evolution of style, technique and consciousness in the art and in the clientele. Let me point out that a work of art is a conversation, in a sense. There is rhetoric of technique, brush strokes, pallet, hammer marks, themes, and materials. The conversation is not complete until the final purchase. The clientele at the market has been very engaged in this conversation.”
Has the market helped you in any way?
“Working continually in a small market requires that the skill set and presentation evolve. The First Saturday Arts Market has provided a home base from which I have branched out to larger regional and national shows. By being in the conversation, my life is definitely enriched. Once or twice we have been rained out. This has even caused me to have an even fuller appreciation for my job back in Austin. Since it is a market, it provides a great momentum for the creative process.
Back In the 80’s, I assisted in writing the Arts Plan for the City of Austin. I have been requested to participate in writing a new plan for the next 20 years. What I intend to put right into it is the spirit of the First Saturday Arts Market (as well as The Market at Sawyer Street). This assures that the First Saturday Arts market will have an impact beyond the city boundaries of Houston for generations to come.
Woodruff admitted that the Vietnam Restaurant compels him to return each month as well. Particularly the shrimp with lobster sauce. I must agree! Catch me and the whole FSAM crew from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. this Saturday, March 4 at 540 W. 19th St.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market, find him at ArtValet.com