Art Valet

From left to right, Lisa Morales, Stacy Gresell and Mitch Cohen enjoy each other's company at an art event. 

Most readers of The Leader know about the Luv Leader campaign. Every year at this time our publisher, Jonathan McElvy, reaches out to our readers and asks for support by voluntary contribution.

To help The Leader’s efforts, I reached out to my friends and the arts community for their testimonials. More recently I did the same to artists with the added request of sharing their positive outcomes from being featured in this column.

Personally, the feedback I get from my efforts with Art Valet is enough to keep me writing every week. Here are some of the responses artists sent me for this column:

Camille Ellington ( “Mitch writing about my art brought me into a community.”

Liz Conces Spencer ( “The Art Valet column has always focused on working local artists. It’s been a real godsend to get information out about not only the artists but shows, installations and galleries.”

Maria Elena Sandovici ( “You wrote about my book release for 'Storms of Malhado' in the middle of the pandemic. It helped a lot! Those were strange times, but I think they were also times when people were looking for things to do, books to read. 2020 ended up being a good year for my writing career and the writeup you did about 'Storms of Malhado' was an important part of that.”

Stacy Gresell ( "The first time Mitch wrote about me it sort of outed me at work. I’m one of those artists with a full-time day job. People at work were stunned. It's like they found out I had a secret life as a creative superhero.”

Johnny Van Slyke Summers ( “Without The Leader and Art Valet, what would Houston’s art scene look like? Blogs are a penny a dozen these days, so artists need someone who believes in them, talks about them, supports them and gives them a chance. That’s what The Leader has done. It’s shaped the art scene in Houston. By mentioning my work either through words or pictures, it’s raised visibility to my company. In a digital age where people are constantly inundated with content, this is a key differentiator when it comes to getting noticed in a positive light. Thanks The Leader and Art Valet!”

Lisa Morales ( “I have been fortunate enough to have had my work seen several times in The Leader. On the first occasion, I had a collage of a dog featured and received an email immediately from a pet store asking me to paint a mural for them. The instant connection a reader can have with an artist’s work is invaluable and can be the beginning of a business relationship that might not otherwise have happened. It’s thrilling to connect the dots and see how meeting one person leads to being recommended to someone else and so on and so on. All from a picture in the paper.

"On another occasion, an installation piece was featured in the paper that centered around how people were dealing with COVID-19. This piece gave the community a chance to become part of the art by writing down how they were processing the pandemic and then inserting that 'thought' into the artwork. It was a simple gesture, but a lot of people commented on how therapeutic it was and how excited they were to be included in the process.”

Those are some seriously motivating words! Thank you, too, readers, for your input, feedback and coming back often to see what I have to write here. If you are able to contribute to help keep this paper going, thank you in advance!

Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at for additional highlights and artist’s stories.

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