On Saturday evening, the 350 artists of Sawyer Yards will open their studios to the public from 5-9 p.m. for the unique opportunity to tour private artist studios, connect with the artists and purchase their original work. The Sawyer Yards Spring Biannual Art Show and Sale is organized and hosted by one of the nation’s largest working creative communities.
The Biannual gives Houstonians the chance to shop directly from artists who work in nearly every art medium, including painting, sculpture, ceramic, glass, mosaic, photography, mixed media and jewelry. Five of Sawyer Yards’ studio buildings, including Silver Street Studios (2000 Edwards St.), The Silos at Sawyer Yards (1502 Sawyer St.), Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter St.), Spring Street Studios (1824 Spring St.) and Sabine Street Studios (1907 Sabine St.), will be open to the public. Participating artists will be donating a portion of sales to the Glassell School of Art for a student scholarship to support the continued development of a Houston artist.
I asked some friends who have studios what tips they have for exploring this vast campus. Good advice here.
Mónica Melgar has some practical advice. Find her and her work, which she calls “pointillism with a twist,” in Winter Street Studio #A4.5.
“Because there’s so much to see, take note of who you’d like to come back and see and spend more time with,” Melgar said. “Pick a building you’ve never seen before and start there.”
Karen Lindeman shares Studio 217 in the silos, first floor, with Viv Mora and Fatima Donaldson. Lindeman, like many others, suggests wearing comfortable footwear. I can personally attest to that!
“Come early to beat the crowds and get the best parking, best selection of art,” Lindeman said. “Some studios may have doors open a little before 5 while they are setting up. If you are looking for a special piece they are usually happy to let you look. Almost all of the artists accept credit cards and you can take your new art home that night!”
Taylor Clendennen, in Winter Street Studios #B5 suggests you use Uber or Lyft to avoid parking hassle. A shuttle is available to the north campus where Sabine and Spring St. Studios are located. The shuttle will have a 20-minute return rate. Use the Silos address (1502 Sawyer St.) for Uber and Lyft.
Artists Toria Hill (Winter Street A-4) and Doni Langlois (Winter Street B5) both remind you to go upstairs and down those mysterious hallways.
“Don’t be afraid to go upstairs. Artists have taken over every inch of every building and feel free to explore, ask questions, make comments and don’t rush through, you never know what you will find hidden in the corner of an artist studio,” Hill said. “Also, if you see food and beverages that is the artist’s invitation to come in, sit down, eat and drink and enjoy.”
Added Langlois: “Strike up conversations with the artists of the art you like. We have many motivations for what we do. Browse the websites beforehand to find artists that you may like to make sure you see. Tell your friends and bring your friends.”
Holly Nowak is a painter in one of those often overlooked upstairs studios. She shares her studio with Olga Tarasova, a feltmaker, fiber artist and textile designer in Winter St. Studios 17B.
Danyelle Lakin of #204 in Silver Street Studios has some great shopping advice.
“If you have a space in mind where you need art to go, take measurements beforehand so you’ll know if the artwork will fit before you purchase,” she said. “Some artists are open to commissions and don’t mind discussing potential projects you are interested in.”
Richard S. Hall, an artist, illustrator, author and lecturer in studio No. 227 in The Silos, recommends making multiple visits.
“Come back on the following Second Saturday Open Studios to revisit your favorite artists, or move on to two more buildings that you missed the first visit,” he said. “Whatever you do, take time to see the artwork on the hallway walls as well as the art in the studios and get to know the artists, especially those that are your favorites. Don’t be afraid to open up a discussion with the artists. Many are like me and love to talk about their art and careers and love to see repeat visitors and collectors.”
The bottom line: Wear comfortable shoes, use a car service, do your homework first, take notes, explore and don’t get lost! I would point out, too, that it’s polite to ask an artist before snapping photos of their artwork.
Downloadable maps and more info is available at SawyerYards.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.