First Saturday Arts Market

Kevin O’Reilly's “Houston” mosaic is made with 4,600 LEGO pieces in 23 different colors. It measures 15 by 33 inches. 

First Saturday Arts Market, also known as First Saturday, has been held during the evenings in the summer since 2006, when the market moved to its current location at 530 W. 19th St. Just like the past 15 years, the market will be open from 6-10 p.m. this Saturday, June 5.

The two dozen exhibitors attending this Saturday night are brave in my book. Setting up for an event that starts at 6 p.m. means braving Houston’s heat for a couple of hours. By the time everyone has settled down and cooled off (around 7) is usually when the crowds turn out.

Several new artists are joining the market this Saturday with very different art mediums than what is so often found at art shows.

Michael Muhlherr’s hand-carved birds and fish will cause many to do a “double take” on first glance. Each piece is carved from driftwood. Muhlherr uses a technique that many artists refer to as intuitive, letting the wood “speak” to him as he sculpts.

“I love working with wood,” Muhlherr said in a statement. “Driftwood and weathered wood have so much character, and when the interior is exposed, unexpected things happen. I often don’t have any idea what the finished piece will look like until it’s done. And for me, that’s why I do it.”

Austin transplant Jenn Bianco has discovered an escape in her very vibrant and textural abstract paintings.

“My creative process does not always begin with a vision, but instead an experience in mind,” Bianco said. “My profession is highly technical and I am a mother of young twin boys, so my art allows me to escape a sometimes regimented and stressful life to expose my multi-faceted self – sophistication with a hint of chaos and a pop of vibrancy.”

Jeffrey R. Farmer takes fine art photography to a new level. Have you ever snapped a photo of a tropical fish at an aquarium, only to realize you didn’t capture any of the magic in its elegant movements or vibrant colors? Farmer captures all that and more. Included in his collection of prints will be a landscape series.

Jeweler Lilli Lehtonen said she tells stories in her creations from anything she might have seen, from a painting, birds, the sea or flowers in a garden. Amazed, that’s what I found when I visited her Facebook page -- owl pendants, sailboats, flowers in a  garden and even a pair of birds gazing at a star-filled sky.

The big storyteller of the night I suspect will be Kevin O’Reilly, whether he likes it or not - people will be asking lots of questions. O’Reilly is a mosaic artist which in itself is not unusual, but O’Reilly’s choice of medium is ... LEGO bricks. You read that right, the little bricks that we all probably created with during our youth.

O’Reilly’s work is never painted. He creates his work one LEGO brick at a time using original colors. The process is much more complicated than just assembly. With a background in 3D architectural renderings, O’Reilly begins by altering his images on a computer before beginning to create.

“They are all authentic LEGO colors,” O’Reilly said. “Each unique piece I create, I always learn more and more how the pieces I use are just like painting. It takes a mixture of the right colors and balance to produce some incredible results.”

O’Reilly goes to great lengths to make certain his work lasts a long time and is easy to install. His time-lapse videos showing the process on YouTube are fascinating to watch, but I know I’ll have questions when I meet him Saturday night at First Saturday.

These five artists and the rest of the two dozen joining the market have profiles with links to their sites on the website, 1stSatArtMarket.com.  First Saturday Arts Market will be open evenings on first Saturdays of the month through August.

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

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