The word folk refers to people. Add music after it, and Texans might think of The Kerrville Folk Festival. Follow with art, and the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art comes to mind.
Admit it. It just does.
Folk art refers to art that is indigenous to a culture, typically by people never trained in the “finer arts.” In Houston, that might include most art cars. That is, in fact, my goal for The Market at Sawyer Yards, a folk artist marketplace.
On Sept. 28-29 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring St., the Indus Arts Council will present “Rung a Rung – Tea and Truck Art,” an immersive experience into the culture of Pakistan through its delicious, regional teas and colorful truck art.
They had me at truck art. Nothing else got my attention until I read a news release sent over by Sara Iqbal, co-founder of the Indus Arts Council. Now I am all in and thrilled to share the event and activities with you.
“Rung a Rung” means “colorful,” and Indus Arts Council is creating a colorful cultural experience for Houston families to indulge in the nuances of Pakistani tea and truck art culture, created through interactive performances, art, food and children’s activities.
Tea is used by many Asian and Eastern countries in their daily lives almost ritualistically as an element to cleanse or commune. Tea in Pakistan takes on a unique stance where it is essential to hospitality and weaving bonds of friendship and long-term relationships between strangers and families.
In addition to the two-day festival, guests are invited to indulge in Urdu Poetry (Mushaira) over dinner on Sept. 28 from 7–9:30 p.m. The poetry is themed around truck art and the famous verses written on trucks in Pakistan. These verses provide ample entertainment as humor, satire and “words from the wise.” This is an adults-only exclusive look at the art and entertainment on the opening night.
Iqbal told me the event is open to all Houstonians. At last year’s event, a 3,000 square foot space could barely contain the attendance, so this year they are utilizing the spacious Spring Street Studios in Sawyer Yards.
The event has activities geared toward individuals or entire families. On the agenda, there will be a truck art painting and sculpture sale, crafts for kids that include truck art tile painting, paper quilling and jewelry making. There also will be rickshaw rides on an authentic rickshaw.
You won’t want to miss live painting on canvas by truck art artist Haider Ali, who is touring the United States showing off his unique folk art form.
Truck art has been popular in South Asia, and particularly Pakistan, for many years. Iqbal said that when truckers paid off their trucks and owned them outright, they would decorate them with motifs, portraits and symbols to show their ownership. With the brightest colors used, they must be quite the spectacle to see on the road.
In addition to having a guest truck artist at the festival, there will be local artists’ works for sale, many honoring Pakistan’s truck art.
Indus Arts Council is a nonprofit organization conceived in 2012 and has become a leading arts and cultural organization of Pakistani descent in the Houston area. Its mission is to promote awareness of Pakistani arts and culture in the U.S. through Urdu language classes, cultural events, films and theatre. It envisions diversity through cultural exchange amongst global communities.
Fun fact: Urdu is an official language of Pakistan and among the top 10 languages spoken in Houston, where a total of 145 languages other than English are spoken. The Indus Arts Council offers Urdu language classes for all ages.
The poetry evening will be held Sept. 28 from 7:30–9:30 pm. This is an adults-only evening program. A ticket must be purchased separately for this evening event.
General admission tickets, which are $10 per adult, and discounted family tickets are available online at indusartscouncil.org. The event, scheduled for 1-6 p.m. Sept. 28 and noon-5 p.m. Sept. 29, is partly funded by Houston Arts Alliance through the City of Houston.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.