Submitted by Christina Hernandez on Wed, Jan 10th at 4:39 pm

The Fresh Arts Gala is a party unlike any other. It is always a dreamy affair that transports patrons into a wonderland complete with cocktails, live music, and costumes.  As we anticipate the excitement for our upcoming Crystal Ball Gala, we are reliving the fantasies of galas past.

The Space Ball of 2014 was an interstellar event that was out of this world! Imagine a universe where characters from Star Trek, Star Wars, Space Jam and NASA came together for one intergalactic party. Yes, really, aliens, robots, Princess Leia, Spock and countless other space dwellers partied together, in peace we might add!


The Gum Ball of 2015 took us to the whimsical and sugary world of Willie Wonka. Every Oompa Loompa and life-sized candy bar in Houston had a golden ticket to this sweet, candy-licious soiree which featured Wonka’s favorite treats and aerial acrobatics—although, we may have spiked a few of Wonka’s recipes! 

The Paint Ball of 2016 was a colorful display of pop art, glam graffiti, and neon glow paint. Van Gogh himself flaunted his lovely Starry Night while men in paint-splattered suits danced under glow paint inspired light installations.  

The Cineball of 2017 was an impressive star-studded evening with bright lights and real-life golden globes. Our celebrities enjoyed popcorn, spiked slushies, and candy galore at this Hollywood dream. Cruella de Vil, Darth Vader, Mrs. Piggy, Maleficent, Regina George, The Cowardly Lion, and Marie Antoinette were just a few who walked the red carpet that night.

And finally! Gala 2018…drumroll please! Okay, so maybe no drumroll since it’s no secret that the 2018 Gala has been dubbed The Crystal Ball, but we don’t blame you for being starry-eyed. This shining affair promises to be a dazzling, glam-punk party inspired by all that glitters.  Transcend reality when you consult our fortune teller or visit the tarot card reader for a mysterious glance into your future. Whether it's '20s glitz or '80s glam, a futuristic design, or head-to-toe crystals, just be sure to bring the sparkle. We promise good fortunes await at the Crystal Ball! 

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog
Submitted by Christina Hernandez on Mon, Nov 13th at 4:46 pm
Ugly Sweaters Have More Fun!
By Micah Starkey, WHAM 2017 Intern

Of all the countless holiday traditions out there, none of them have quite the personality of the beloved ugly sweater.  Last year, we dubbed our Friday Night Preview Party an ugly sweater affair—because who doesn’t want to spread some joy by wearing a silly, quirky, even ugly sweater!

WHAM is a celebration of all things crafty, creative and hand-made, so what better way to join the fun than by making your own ugly holiday sweater.  From bows to glitter, tinsel and lights, you can have all the bells and whistles—literally!  An old sweater plus a trip to your favorite craft store or a rummage through your old holiday décor is all you need to make the perfect ugly sweater.  

Deck your sweater out with metallic tinsel and add pom-poms, ornaments or bells as the finishing touch. Battery-powered strings of lights are sure to draw attention. If you prefer to keep it simple, use felt to create your favorite holiday shapes on your sweater. Finally, use bows on headbands, bobby-pins or ties to create the perfect accessory for your festive fashion statement. The possibilities are endless—plus, no one will hold it against you if it’s ugly…that’s the point!

Not the DIY type? Your favorite vintage store is likely to stock up on ugly sweaters during the holidays. Retropolis in the Heights and Pavement Houston Clothing in Montrose are just a couple of holiday sweater destinations in Houston.  You could also browse a vast selection on Etsy or try your luck at your local Goodwill store.  I’ve even had luck at my neighborhood Marshall’s from time to time.  And if all else fails, maybe look in your grandmother’s closet. (No offense, Grandma!)

Of course, we wouldn’t leave you feeling all dressed-up with nowhere to go! Once you have made or found the ugliest of ugly sweaters, you are ready to join us for the WHAM 2017 Friday Night Preview Party and Happy Hour.  The night will be a special sneak peek of all WHAM art complete with a complimentary open bar and will be attended by over 500 patrons and the WHAM artists.  So, grab your sweater and your Preview Party tickets, and we’ll see you there!

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog
Submitted by Christina Hernandez on Wed, Oct 25th at 2:54 pm

Interview with WHAM participant, Michael Leanes

Tell me about yourself and your work.

I started making furniture almost two years ago now. I was finishing undergrad in psychology. I never thought I would get into this. I started doing it for fun. I few people liked what they saw and started buying my stuff. A hobby turned more into something that I thought, “Hey, I can do this.” Now I’m at Houston Baptist University getting my Masters of Fine Arts. I’m a full-time student and also doing commission work on the side. They’ve been super helpful and have had open arms about having somebody that does something different. Most of the people here paint, do sculptures, ceramics, stuff like that.

Who or what inspires your work the most?

It started simply, like, hey, I want to make some cool stuff. I wanted to make my own furniture for my house. As I got more into it, it became more about the design aspect of it and making some really pretty furniture that looks nice, but also functions really well. My dad owns a machine shop, so I grew up in a really industrial setting. I saw a lot of how things are made – things with really high precision. I wanted to bring that to furniture. 

What advice would you give to someone beginning a career as an artist?

At the beginning, you have to take some risks. Even now, I wish I had more or bigger work, or more expensive work that I was being commissioned. But more than anything, just be thankful for what you have. And with what you have, try to do work that pushes your limits. People like to see the thing. I’ve had work that I’ve been trying to make for a while, and when I explain it to people, they don't get it. Once I make it, someone automatically wants it. Take those risks. Make something even if you think people may not be open-minded to it. They definitely will be.

How/where do you typically sell/showcase your work?

All of my sales are through word of mouth. We just recently did our website. People will send me emails through that. That’d be another piece of advice I’d give somebody – before you launch a website, make sure you have something that looks professional, even if you are really small. 

As a past WHAM artist, what do you like most about the event?

Meeting all of the different people that come through. The Heights area, the area that the studios are in. There’s a lot of people that are just now moving into the neighborhood. They’re quirky. They like different things. They like nice things. They’re living in these older houses that they’re re-doing. It’s just nice to meet that array of people. It’s a really cool event. You don't really know what you’re going to see until you get there. I think that’s people. People get to go to a different kind of market. It’s not the same style that you see everywhere else. 

Do you use your talent to make handmade gifts for friends and family during the holidays?

Yes. Usually, a lot of my friends will get married and we will make them a set of different cutting boards or big salad bowls. We’ve made them all kinds of little knick-knacks, like candles and mason jars. I gave a couple of my friends coffee tables. It’s more enjoyable. You’re not doing it for a paid gig, but out of your kindness. It’s nice being able to make stuff with your own hands that people can enjoy.

What makes the perfect handmade gift?

I think it’s something simple. Not over the top. Something that they can use. When you make something like a coffee table that is open-ended, it can be used for lots of stuff.

What is the worst gift you have ever received?

A fridge magnet from someone’s vacation. Or a postcard. Like, “Hey, look what you missed out on!”

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog
Submitted by Christina Hernandez on Tue, Oct 24th at 9:45 pm

Interview with WHAM participant, Tony Paraná  |  Facebook: Tony Paraná  |  Instagram: @tonyparana

Tell me your story. What brought you to your art?

I did a little bit of work when I was young. When you’re a kid, you don’t know what you really want to do or what you’re going to be. Painting was a distraction at the moment, but I was a kid. I wanted to play around. A few years later, I moved to San Paulo. I was nineteen. The place where I worked had an art class across the street. I got interested and I met the owner. He was teaching classes. I was listening and looking and thought it was really cool. I took one class with him. I came to the United States in 2002. After coming to the U.S., something struck me. I decided to paint. I lived next to a guy with a gallery and went and talked to him. He said, “Yeah, man, create some stuff, and if I like your work, we can do a show here.” That was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I guess there wasn’t a lot of art around, because he allowed me to do a solo show. I created ten pieces and people came to support. After that, I just kept moving. I’m a self-taught artist. In that aspect, I feel really blessed to have the natural skill of transferring things to canvas. It’s something that makes me feel at home. I’m from Brazil. I lived there for twenty years. Everything I try to describe in art is something related to me from home – playing in the streets, going to street festivals, listening and looking at things I shouldn’t be looking at. That was always interesting to me. When I had the chance to transfer that to the canvas, it made me feel really, really happy. Since then, I’ve tried to open an art group in Albuquerque. I had meetings and stuff, but ended up having to move to LA. When I moved to LA, I was basically working in TV. I still had chances to show my art in a few places there. After two years in LA, I moved to Houston in 2006, 2007. I started finding a studio for myself. I organized the first Montrose Art Soiree, which was fifteen artists in an old building that we turned into an arts show – kind of an underground art show. I came to the idea of opening an art group. The idea built from New Mexico, where it couldn’t happen, to Houston. We opened Montrose Art Society, which was a really good experience with ten, twelve artists. But you know, when you have more than one artist, it’s really hard to make a decision. Two years ago, Eduardo, my partner, and I organized the Forum 6 gallery space. This year, Eduardo said that it was time for us to do it. We moved out of here, because this was our studio, and we opened Forum 6, which is the collective space. We have twelve different, local, established artists, and they’re very talented. This is our third show and we have a lot of good things coming up. 

What work have you done in the past? What are you working on currently?

This timeline is something that the artist goes through. You start creating and you have one feeling, one idea of what you want to do and what you want to be. As time passes by, new things come to you and you pass through personal situations and emotions. Your art changes and develops. When I look at stuff I did before, I say, “What is this? I got to fix this. It doesn’t look right. I have to change it,” but you can’t change it. It’s your history. It has to be there. The things I do today are more political. I love bringing out issues that people may pass by without looking. I try to manifest social issues. This has developed from before. I guess it’s a natural thing, like when you’re born, you learn to walk, but you don’t know how to run. Then you learn how to run. Things come to you as time passes. Today, my work is more fine. I work on my personal technique, my own way of painting, and having a better way to make people understand my work.

What inspires you?

Vibrant cultures vibrant energies, and vibrant people. I play music. No matter where you are, music has that dynamic energy source. Music is something that I like to have in my work. I also do capoeira, which is a Brazilian martial art. If you had to sum me up, it would be capoeira, art, and music, which are the three things I do. Capoeira is the one I like the most. It connects me with my soul, body, and mind. Capoeira is such a gigantic source of energy. I always like to describe capoeira in my work. Especially now. There was a time that I used to do a lot of drawings from pictures. That was okay. That kind of work was never my focus because it was very different. Today, I realize that people like my personal creations more than my drawings because there’s more of me – who I am. There’s energy. It’s me because I’m creating. It’s unique. My country is something that really inspired me. I grew up in the ghetto, the poor neighborhood, where people walk in the street barefoot, people struggle, there’s crime. There’s also a lot of good people. Those are the things that really come to mind when I think, “Who do you represent? What do you like to do?” It was tough, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I experienced playing in the street, having a fight over here, someone jumping the fence to steal fruit from a neighbor, a dog over here. Those no price to those kinds of things. I try to pass that living experience.

Where can we find your work?

I recently came from Paris from a show there, which is the second time I’ve been to Paris. Finally, here in Houston, I applied for the Bayou City Art Festival. I’ve applied four times, one year after the other. Three years ago, they finally accepted me. The first year, I got second place. I got paid for that. This year, they asked me to be the featured artist. In Houston I’ve had a show at War’Hous, small places, small galleries. White Linen Night in the Heights. I didn’t really have good luck with galleries. I didn’t try to reach galleries. I believe in your journey. When things come to you, they came for a reason. Galleries didn’t come to me and I’m okay with that. My work has traveled. I’ve sold a couple pieces in Paris, LA, New York. I’ve had my work sold in Finland. Germany. Nothing really big here yet.

What do you think of the arts scene in Houston?

Because of the diversity of the city, I believe we have the potential to be #1 in the U.S., as far as arts go. We have great museums. We have a lot of really good support for the artists. There are a lot of organizations that provide money to individual artists to create their own work. There’s a lot of grants out there. It’s really important to have this money available to the arts. You have to work your way to the top, but also give your presence and support to others. Houston is a spotlight for art. A lot of international artists come here. We have a lot of potential to grow. 

How do you like working in the Washington Avenue Arts District?

It’s the heart of art. The Museum District is the place for the big players. For emerging artists, this area is the heart of Houston. Everything related to art that comes to Houston passes through us. If artists are looking for more exposure, they have to get one of these studios. They are big plentiful, and you do pay a lot, there is no doubt about that, but you get opportunities here that you wouldn’t get at your house or garage. 

Tell me about your involvement with Fresh Arts. How has the organization influenced you and your work?

My first connection with Fresh Arts was when we opened Montrose Art Society. In 2008 or 2009 we were looking for different resources that we could provide to the artists in Montrose Art Society. I did the registration and thought it was a really good opportunity for us to collaborate with this organization. Look what they can do. There’s stuff that they already do that we want to do – different ideas and options for people. We talked to them and hosted a show called The Candy Shop, which was done at the old location with Spacetaker. It was a great experience. Everyone is super helpful. They really love what they do. They’re so busy. Everyone is really professional. They host very good events – The WHAM, I’ve been part of that show for about six years. It’s one of the best events for me. It’s a lot of exposure and sales. It’s very important for the city because they do so many things, like workshops that focus on making an artist more professional, how to write a grant, and how to approach new places. Fresh Arts is one of the best, if not the best in Houston. Even better than Houston Arts Alliance. Fresh Arts is one of my favorites.

Looking onward, how do you see your work growing?

I’ll say that each artist has the dream of being famous. What I want for my work is to create something that’s meaningful to the world. I want to be able to sustain myself, so make enough money to live a quiet, simple life. I also want to be known for the work that I do. The work that I do does not only represent me, it represents a whole group of people. It represents a kind of struggle that’s real and makes people reflect and think about it. I look at my work as a statement. Like, I’m creating a beautiful thing, but it also makes people think about the message. 

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog
Submitted by angela_carranza on Wed, Oct 11th at 9:54 pm

Welcome (Back) to WHAM!

by Micah Starkey

These days, October can only mean one thing—the holiday season is upon us! For the Fresh Arts team this means our favorite time of year is back—it’s WHAM season, Houston!  And by WHAM we mean the Winter Holiday Art Market, duh!

We are excited to once again be kicking-off the holiday season and decking the halls of Winter Street Studios for a three-day showcase of Houston’s most vibrant and talented artists. Over the past 12 years WHAM has not only become an annual city-wide, but most importantly the event also serves as an important platform to promote artists’ economic and professional growth. To-date WHAM has generated over one million dollars for Houston’s creative community and continues to be an excellent opportunity for locals and tourists alike to discover Houston’s artistic gems. Amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, this year’s WHAM will serve as a festive regathering for our community and will be an inspiring showcase of the resiliency of our lively city. 

For newcomers, WHAM offers a wide variety of curated fine arts and handmade goods from local artists and artisans of all disciplines and features artist demonstrations, live music performances, free (adult) beverages, and food for sale by local vendors. WHAM is not just a market... it's a celebration! 

The Winter Holiday Art Market is one of Houston's largest juried art markets featuring exclusively local artists, and offers a unique mix of fine art and one-of-a-kind crafts—including paintings, sculpture, and photography, as well as jewelry, clothing, and soaps—from emerging and established independent artists. This year WHAM will showcase 65+ Houston-based artists with a mix of familiar faces and fresh talent.

So, as the holiday season approaches—quickly as always!—we are ramping up in full WHAM spirit. We look forward to celebrating our favorite holiday tradition with you November 17-19, 2017. Stay tuned for exclusive interviews with our WHAM artists, handy shopping guides and everything else you need to know about the WHAM experience. Until then, welcome (back) to WHAM!

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog

Preview Party Tickets

WHAM Preview Party Ticket SWAG Upgrade


AVAILABLE PRE-SALE ONLY (sale ends 11/16 at 3pm)

Friday, November 16, 6 - 10pm

Open bar and speciality cocktails, light bites, live music-- and best of all, early shopping access!

VIP WHAM Upgrade includes a WHAM Swag Bag  and entry for TWO to the Fresh Arts Friday Night Preview Party. 

WHAM Bag design by WHAM artist Tina Fink of Point 506

Winter Street Studios

2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007  (MAP)

Free parking

Note:  No physical tickets or proof of purchase is necessary for admission. 
Upon arrival, go to VIP Check-in. You and your guest will simply check in under the ticket purchase name.

Fresh Arts Members are eligible to purchase the VIP WHAM UPGRADE with a $10 discount! 

To receive your member discount, simply login under your Membership ID and continue the checkout process. The discount will automatically apply just before final purchase. Day-of check-in process detailed above applies.

If you experience any issues or have questions about the status of your Membership, contact 

WHAM Preview Party Ticket


Friday, November 16, 6 - 10pm

Open bar courtesy of Dripping Springs Vodka, Buffalo Bayou Brewing, and Austin Eastciders.

Light bites by Tacodeli, Chickfila and more. 

Live music-- and best of all, early shopping access!

Winter Street Studios

2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007  (MAP)

Free parking


Fun and festive: Ugly Sweaters encouraged!

Note:  No physical tickets or proof of purchase is necessary for admission. 
Upon arrival, go to General Check-in. You and any guests will simply check in under the ticket purchaser name.

Fresh Arts Members are eligible to purchase One General Admission ticket at NO COST.

To receive your FREE WHAM Ticket, simply login under your Membership ID and continue the checkout process. The discount will automatically apply just before the last step in the checkout process. 

If you experience any issues or have questions about the status of your Membership, contact 

Submitted by angela_carranza on Tue, Sep 12th at 8:15 pm

In light of the unbelievable devastation recently unleashed on Houston and surrounding areas of the Texas gulf coast, Fresh Arts is joining with partners across Texas to raise funds for local artists affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

The arts are a huge player in local economies throughout Texas, with Americans in the Arts reporting $7 billion in spending by cultural audiences last year in Texas. In Houston alone there are over 12,000 professional artists, and Texas' nonprofit arts organizations support over 200,000 full-time jobs. Many of our Texas artists have seen a devastating loss of work, supplies, and live/work space in recent days. 

With the Immediate Disaster Relief Fund for Texas Artists, Fresh Arts hopes to give these artists the help they need to rebuild. 100% of proceeds raised will be given to individual artists to help them with their immediate recovery needs, which will include everything from buying cleaning supplies, to preserving their work, to beginning the rebuilding of their studio or live/work space. 

Benefiting artists will apply online to receive funding, and will be selected by a jury of arts professionals based on need. We will accelerate the application process to help artists access money for relief and recovery as quickly as possible. 



If you or an artist you know is interested in applying for Immediate Disaster Relief Fund for Texas Artists support, please sign up here to receive notifications regarding the application process.


Additionally, Fresh Arts is waiving membership fees for our fiscal sponsorship program to artists and arts projects affected by Hurricane Harvey, and will accelerate the application process to help artists raise money for relief and recovery as quickly as possible. 

Fiscal Sponsorship provides access to Fresh Arts new crowdfunding platform and allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under Fresh Arts' exempt status. In the aftermath of Harvey, this will enable artists to access emergency funding available to aid with recovery as well as the preservation and rebuilding of your creative projects! To apply for fiscal sponsorship:


Fresh Arts has compiled an "Emergency Resources for Artists" which includes national emergency artist grants and funding opportunities, general resource guides, and more.  Check it out HERE.


Fresh Arts is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening the sustainability and vibrancy of Houston's arts sector by bolstering the capacity and professional practice of artists and arts organizations and enhancing the public's engagement with the arts. All donations made to the Immediate Disaster Relief Fund for Texas Artists are 100% tax deductible. 

Click to view the Fresh Arts Blog


PO BOX 66494
Houston, TX 77266-6494


Fresh Arts |  The Silos at Sawyer 1502 Sawyer St, Studio #103 Houston, TX 77007