A First Saturday Arts Market customer, left, takes a selfie with a participating art exhibitor. (Photo by Ana Guzman)

The First Saturday Arts Market is Houston’s first outdoor art show that takes place every first Saturday of the month in the Heights. The market features a wide range of artists and their works of art, most of which includes fine art.

Market founder and manager Mitch Cohen and the First Saturday Arts Market artists will be celebrating their 17-year anniversary at this month's market, scheduled for 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at 530 W. 19th St. Established in 2004, the market has seen many artists on the roster — many who have been with the market for several years.

“I often laugh that I never expected the market to survive our first Houston summer,” Cohen said. “Even after working the market all these years, I still absolutely love it. I think some of the reasons we’re still here is everyone loves a good time and the artists are fun, engaging and some of Houston’s best.”

Joining the market this weekend will be Texas singer and songwriter Wendy Elizabeth Jones & Her Texas Roundup, who will perform from 2-5 p.m. Over on the food lineup, Good Dog Houston’s food truck will be parked and serving their menu. For beverages, Houston Cider Company and Houston Winery will be selling their latest.

The market is located on a large outdoor parking lot with plenty of room for social distancing. This is a free event to attend.

For the 17th anniversary, 17 First Saturday Arts Market artists shared a few words about why they love the market or a fond memory from over the years. Here’s what they had to say:

Lauren Luna (participating artist for nine years): “I told Mitch that when I got ready to relocate to Houston from Ohio, it was his market that would keep coming up on my search for what the art pulse was like in Houston. I contribute a very large percentage of my success in Houston because of my participation with First Saturday Arts Market and the networking through doing so.”

Dean Snider (participating artist for 15 years): “No matter what, Mitch and the market is the place I fit in. It’s like a family and I love our community. It’s tough love sometimes, but they help keep me in my groove.”

Tim Herschbach (participating artist for nine years): “I love First Saturday Arts Market because the set-up is easy, there’s a great crowd that takes art seriously, and it’s a fun atmosphere. Market mystery drinks also go down in top memories!”

Heather Wobbe (participating artist for four years): “As an artist often trapped in my studio, the market is a wonderful way to get feedback and see what my patrons love about my work. Our community of artists have endured a lot weather-bound days together, but we celebrate what we’re passionate about.”

Johnny Van Slyke Summers (participating artist for two years): “Mitch helped me get involved in the art community when I moved here in 2018. First Saturday Arts Market was my first public showing in Houston. It has opened countless opportunities for me all over Texas and even global opportunities. I now have works in Portugal and Greece due to being discovered at the market by patrons visiting the market. I have painted for about 15 years, however, I’ve only been painting full-time for almost three years now. Thanks, Mitch!”

Steven Sellers (participating artist for 15 years): “This market has a vibe and an energy unlike any other market I’ve ever been a part of. Always upbeat, always unique, it’s always a great place to spend a Saturday. Mitch is a tireless advocate for all who participate in his market. He doesn’t seek the spotlight — his drive and focus are solely on promoting his artists.”

Alexis Andrei (participating artist for 17 years): “The First Saturday Arts Market is an amazing way to show your work and Mitch is amazing, too. Every time I show, people come to see me. The last time I showed, four people came to my tent because they knew I was participating in the market.”

Craig Butterworth (participating artist for one year): “This is the best market and location in town, right on historic 19th Street. All the artists are really nice and supportive of each other. Mitch has been encouraging from the start, and patient with me, even when I knew nothing.”

Devayani Vaishnav (participating artist for 16 years): “I did my first ever art market back in 2006. The support I received from Mitch when I was starting out was amazing. Even still, his energy for the art market is the exact same and I feel grateful to be part of the market.”

Lisa Morales (participating artist for seven years): “I love First Saturday Arts Market because it taught me step by step how to be successful on the show circuit. From booth set up, to inventory, to customer service, I learned it all by participating in FSAM. I think the reason this show has been successful for 17 years is Mitch's dedication to consistently producing a quality event. Being an artist himself, he has a unique perspective. He is our fearless leader, our biggest cheerleader and I couldn't imagine the Houston art scene without him.”

Penny Rae Robinson (participating artist for four years): “I love First Saturday Arts Market because it is a venue which is within three miles of the urban woods where most of my photos are taken. I enjoy helping people see Houston's beautiful natural surroundings that are just around the corner. I enjoy getting to know our wonderful customers and the other artists who bring their best work every month. The market is well run and very supportive to both emerging and veteran artists. It is a lot of fun!”

Arthur Deatly (participating artist for nine years): “I love our commodore, Mitch Cohen. Mitch knows I won't have a beer unless I’ve sold something. So instead of asking how my sales are, he asks if I’m ready for a beer.”

Jack Connelly (participating artist for 10 years): “I enjoy the wonderful artists and their variety and the upbeat feeling the market brings. The enthusiastic and loyal customers are great. The market is always colorful and lively, and I meet new interesting folks every time. My artist blood is renewed by each show with new energy to keep creating more quality artwork. Mitch does a great job organizing the show, which is good for us artists. He is always making us laugh!”

Monique Weston (participating artist for 10 years): “One of the main attractions of any city is always a market of some kind. Locals and visitors go there to shop, and also to see daily life, hear the chatter among locals, and feel the heartbeat of the city. A market, especially outdoors, framed by the local businesses and architecture, expresses a city’s personality. First Saturday Arts Market reflects an openness that is one of the best qualities Houston has to offer. As a fairly young city, originally built along practical lines, our best experience to offer visitors is our hospitality – our food and events. FSAM reflects Houston’s laid-back, welcoming atmosphere, and some of our best food trucks. Walking through the market, people can chat with the artists, not just representatives. It’s an experience very different from a gallery, or even a ticketed art festival. First Saturday Arts Market gives me the invaluable experience of seeing first-hand how people, especially fellow Houstonians, react to my artwork. Those conversations shape my work directly, in a way no other outlet can. Every big city has its own sense of style, and FSAM’s friendly, informal atmosphere sparks those conversations that shape our aesthetic sense. Seeing people of all ages walking through the market over the years, it’s nice to know that kids growing up visiting FSAM have direct access to artists who work in different media – they ask us about materials, process, our education and just what it’s like to live as an artist. And every now and then at FSAM I hear a young person say, ‘This is the first piece of art I've ever bought!’”

Caroline Z. Marcos (participating artist for 12 years): “Mitch was the face of the warm Houston hospitality that was my first impression of the Houston art community in 2007. He was encouraging and supportive — always generous with information and ideas for a successful art career. I took a break from the festival, started a family, and came back recently. I love the First Saturday Arts Market community. They share ideas and are generous with resources. Mitch organizes a great market.”

Angela Rose Walling (participating artist for five years): “First Saturday Arts Market is such a fun environment and experience. The people are so nice and it’s always a pleasure to see everyone’s reaction to my artwork. I always do really well on selling. I feel like I am around my peeps when at the market.”

Kerry Hastings Hogan (participating artist for two years): “At my very first show, I didn't know who anyone was at the market. A super nice lady came into my booth and bought the first painting that I ever sold to anyone that wasn't a friend or family member. She loved the painting and even took my picture with her holding the painting. My husband Chris found out it was Mitch's girlfriend, Lynn, that had purchased the painting. When Mitch came around later in the evening, Chris grabbed him and said, ‘Hey, Kerry is so excited that she sold her first painting and it was your girlfriend that bought it!’ What we didn't know, was that Lynn had bought the painting for Mitch, and we had spoiled the surprise. Sorry, Mitch. It is still one of my favorite paintings.”

With the exception of Herschbach, each of the above artists will be showing their art this weekend at First Saturday Arts Market.

For complete market details, including a full artist roster with art images and artist contact information, visit FirstSaturdayArtsMarket.com.

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