Communities have been the focus lately in everything I do. They’re everywhere I look and as I considered what to cover this week, on July 4 no less, I noticed several of my communities converging like the great big melting pot our country is.
Last week, the iconic and long-lived Jimmy’s Ice House closed forever. It wasn’t for a lack of business, that is certain, but sometimes it’s just time.
One of the first establishments I visited when I moved to the Heights in the early 90’s, Jimmy’s always seemed like the “anchor” to the past as I watched this neighborhood evolve. I liked the place from the start and even learned to play dominos on that first visit by a transplanted New Yorker.
I was an infrequent visitor but I always compared it to the hit TV series Northern Exposure in my head. Probably inspired by a visit once with a disheveled gentleman who turned out to be a very successful professional instead of whatever my presumption was.
That’s how it was at Jimmy’s, everybody was on equal ground; a nice friendly community of neighbors. I think the part that hurts for everyone there the most, is how to regroup when their common home is gone? That remains to be seen.
A few months before closing, commemorative posters of a painting depicting Jimmy’s Ice House became available at the bar by artist Kathryne Lieser. Lieser happens to be a participant in my new show The Market at Sawyer Yards.
The painting was a commission by her brother-in-law, a regular at Jimmy’s. Imagine my surprise when I saw that.
After retiring two years ago and taking up art again, Lieser found me through her brother and good friend Phil Brayton. Brayton is a regular visitor to First Saturday Arts Market, and visits events all over Houston, always dressed for the season by color in his signature sports coat or in cosplay outfits that expose his shirtless muscled and tanned chest. His grin is as wide as he is tall, and at 6 foot 5, in costume, he has made many friends and inspired many impromptu photos.
Very new to the scene, I encouraged Lieser to get started at The Market at Sawyer Yards where she has become a regular. She told me recently that she took her first painting commission at just 13 years old, later minored in art at Seton Hall University and was a freelance graphic artist for the U.S. Navy while stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She set art aside for work and family but now is back after a 30-year break.
Lieser will be joining over three dozen other exhibitors at The Market at Sawyer Yards this Saturday evening, 6 – 10 p.m. 1502 Sawyer St. The outdoor event features art, craft, food and a new community of artists and friends. Get all the details on the website SawyerStreetMarket.com
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the new Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com