First Saturday Arts Market is a monthly outdoor event that I founded in 2004 so Houston artists could show and sell their work directly to the public. At the time, there were very few options for selling art.
I had no idea the market was at the very early stage of a developing nationwide trend.
In the second year of this crazy adventure, I met an artist who now goes by the name Dean Snider (more on his many names later in the column). Snider’s work could be called outsider art, which is defined loosely as a self-taught artist not part of an art scene.
That definitely describes his work and persona. In 2006, I recall asking why he had so many broken toys in his work. He said that when the house got messy, he’d warn his kids that Daddy was going to stomp through the house and take whatever he broke to the studio.
Colorful, chaotic, random hidden gems, storylines and sometimes bits and pieces of toys, plastics, bits of mirror and other items might adorn Snider’s works. He paints with and what he has on hand, including wood panels, doors, windows, old mirrors and canvas, occasionally using any and all paint he can find.
In 2016, apparently following some unwritten code for outsider artists, Snider vanished from the scene. This summer he resurfaced, lean and trim and boasting an entirely new collection of art. He was ready to return to the world.
I asked why we didn’t hear from him. His last social media post was a video of his enthusiastic response to the Astros winning the 2017 World Series. His response was something like, “You know, I just don’t get how all that works.”
If Snider’s previous work was chaotic, his new work is chaos with a purpose. There’s a blown-up portrait, reassembled with the found pieces. There’s also a reproduction of a Van Gogh self portrait using his own heavy brush technique.
Snider’s specialty are large, busy paintings with seemingly random scenes. But if you ask, he’s got a story behind them all. If you look long enough, you’ll continuously see new things in his work.
Over the years, Snider has insisted he be called Tim, T.D. and now just Dean (or Tim for me). I’m not easily swayed by other’s name changes and he must have caught on to that now. Snider is back and a regular at First Saturday Arts Market. Follow him on Instagram @deantsnider.
Whereas Snider is just getting comfortable coming back to the art market, Allison Fox is just getting started. Fox put art on the back burner for work and family.
“I consider myself a ‘re-emerging’ artist,” Fox said. “I majored in art and accounting in school, but due to family and job obligations after graduation haven’t focused on producing a body of work on a regular basis. Now that my kids are older, I’ve decided to focus more on my art. It’s also a nice therapy after dealing with my day job in tax.
“Yes, I work in the tax world for a living,” Fox continued. “My coworkers were surprised when they found out I paint. I acknowledge that it seems to be a weird combination.”
Fox said she is focusing on landscapes and abstracts.
“My landscapes are generally dramatic scenes with intense sunlight. They have a great tension between the dark and light,” she said. “My abstracts examine the concept of chaos and order/eventuality and the intertwining of those concepts in our daily lives. In both bodies of work, I like to use intense colors to add to the contrast which speaks to the duality of life (dark/light, order/chaos, good/evil, all that fun stuff).”
Follow Fox on Instagram @foxfiregalleries.
Fox and Snider are two very different artists with very different styles in how they approach their work. That is what is both charming and exciting about meeting artists face-to-face at a place like First Saturday Arts Market. Visitors can discover their stories and passions about their creations.
This Saturday is the 187th edition of the First Saturday Arts Market, which happens at 530 W. 19th St. between Penzy’s Spices and Adore Dental. That figure doesn’t take into account the handful of cancellations over the past 15 years. But don’t sweat that, OK?
View the complete artist roster and more on the website 1stSatArtMarket.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.