On Sunday, Dec. 13, those fortunate enough to know of it attended a one-of-a-kind event held at the Ralfallen home of Heights residents Stephanie and Andrew Lienhard. About 250 people strolled through the couple’s private home while enjoying live jazz, warm cider, and an interesting collection of local artists’ works. Called the Underground Holiday Market, it was the sort of experience that has come to define the Heights as one of the more creative corners of Houston.
There were 12 artists represented, and most were in attendance. One artist offered hand-made pottery that bordered on sculpture. Another, original watercolors and jewelry. Yet another, Heights-specific tee-shirts, paintings and paraphernalia. As shoppers moved from room to room in the renovated 1900s home, jazz drifted through the air mingling with the aromas of scented candles, freshly baked cookies, and holiday pine.
Unlike similar arts and crafts markets, the artists present were not charged for space. It is not a profit-making effort for the Lienhards, but rather a gift to all who exhibit and attend. And while the Underground Holiday Market is open to the public, one must sort of “know someone” to hear about it. Those who haven’t known could probably just say they know The Leader.
“We’ve been doing this for nine years, and each year it has grown bigger,” said Stephanie Lienhard as she juggled visitors buying quantities of her hand-made soaps and crafts. “There are just so many great artists in the Heights, and many of them are our friends. We decided this is a nice way to share their work with the community.”
One of the artists in attendance specializes in urban art. Identifying himself as Ack!, this Heights native works include original tee-shirt designs, illustrations, and cards. However, Ack’s! heart lies in street art, some of which can be viewed on the White Oak Blvd., just past the bike trail. (Good humored Ack! was quick to point out that the exclamation point in his name pre-dated Jeb! by several years.)
Heights artist Dran Alessi offered haunting works at the market though the use of vintage frames incorporating old wood in the backgrounds, and aging pages from archaic books and encyclopedias.
“I like to describe Dran’s brilliant aesthetic as re-invented Victoriana,” Lienhard said.
During the day, Alessi works as a Physician’s Assistant in reconstructive surgery at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. At first glance, that might seem like the opposite of creating art. Not so, says Alessi. “I have found that the creative process goes hand-in-hand with the science of surgical reconstruction,” she stated.
Currently, the Lienhards offer two art markets each year. The spring market is held on the Sunday before Mother’s Day, and here too, all are welcomed. To stay up with these wonderful markets, go to www.sparrowandthenest.com and sign up for email reminders. The couple promises to keep you “in the know.”