It has been said, that if you want to know where the next trendy neighborhood is, follow the artists, and if you need a clue, follow Cathy Prieto-Smith. Prieto-Smith is in the final stages of completing Charisma Designs Art Studios on the corner of 226 Calvalcade at Fulton.
More than just artist studios for lease, Prieto-Smith is creating a community.
Prieto-Smith wrote in an email, “We have moved from my tiny art studio above my garage in the Heights into a 6000 square foot old metal building on Cavalcade at Fulton. We now have artist studios for lease, classrooms, and a gallery where we’ll be promoting local artists every month! I’m very excited to be on a corner with a METRO Stop. I’ve got Alex “Zú” Arzú painting a beautiful mural outside and an amazing metal sculpture of an Olive Tree inside by Jeff McGee.”
Arriving at the new studio, large ants, grasshoppers and other bugs greet you from Arzú’s mural in progress. Single tennis shoes hang from a fence with a sign that reads “Lost Soles.” All acceptable considering this is an art studio, until you walk in the front door of this former furniture store, and find yourself in the courtyard of an Italian Villa. Balconies, windows with flower boxes, red and white striped canopies and a clock tower are right there. Beyond charming, this is not your typical artist studio. Resident artists have 24 hour access, use of a photography studio, kilns and the classrooms. The studios are on the ground floor, off the interior “courtyard.”
Prieto-Smith said that building the space has been a community project with many players. Heights artist and metal sculptor John
Barber has been instrumental, as have members of both the Houston Metal Clay Guild, Houston Metal Arts Guild (Prieto-Smith is President) and the Houston Society of Glass Beadmakers – they call themselves Houston Hotties. When complete, Charisma Designs Art Studios will be a hub of art that is sure to be an emerging art scene in this near north Houston neighborhood.
“Being right next to a METRO Rail stop, I’m hoping it helps my studio in the long run,” Prieto-Smith said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to have people park somewhere else and come in. Or if you live farther out you can take the rail in and because it’s on the corner, it’s right here.”
Prieto-Smith said she’s figuring some things out as she goes, like the classes. “My goal is to have lots of different art classes in lots of different mediums. I would love to have something for everyone.” Some of the artists have expressed interest and of course Prieto-Smith plans to teach too; her medium is metal and glass.
A Heights resident since 1996, Prieto-Smith says she wouldn’t live anywhere else. “I went to University of Houston,” she said. “My degree is in psychology. But my heart has always been in art.”
The goal is to have a May 15 grand opening. Watch the website for details, www.charisma-designs.com or contact Cathy Prieto-Smith by email email@example.com.
Cohen is the founder and manager of First Saturday Arts Market. Contact him at ArtValet@gmail.com or visit him on the web atArtValet.com.