The East End, former capital of Texas, industrial heart and cornice of the city, is resurging as a focal point of creativity in Houston. Or rather people are starting to cash in on the culture and art that’s been tucked away this entire time.
“The art and the culture of the East End has existed here for a long time,” Maclean Smyth, Houston Maker Space founder and director, says. “People are just noticing it more, for the last five years, for whatever reason.”
One of those reasons is the East End Cultural district designation that was awarded at the end of 2014. This made the East End one of five cultural districts in the state (sorry Montrose, you don’t get to be one), which prompted the creation of the neighborhood’s eponymous foundation in order to promote and maintain the art and culture of the area, including this weekend’s Fall in Love With the East End, an open house-type appreciation tour of the area with bike rides, art shows and interactive events.
Miguel Figueroa (aka Gonzo 247), artist and founder of Aerosol Warfare, was born, raised and inspired by the East End. The vibrant, family-oriented community and murals—especially Rebirth of a Nation by Leo Tanguma—pushed Figueroa to bring color to the walls of the East End and celebrated, and meanwhile stopping the stigma of street art being the sole art of gangs. Figueroa established the HUE Mural Festival, and founded The Graffiti and Street Art Museum in the East End.
“Tanguma inspired me. In fact he inspired many artists out of the East End,” Figueroa said. “At the same time you have other people that move in and have different out looks. They all work together to create this visual tapestry that blankets the East End.”
The East End Foundation is the flagship for that “togetherness.” East End Foundation's Managing Director Diane Barber has established monthly meetings for the artists and vendors to come together to pitch ideas and give updates, which is how Fall in Love With the East End Open House was created.
Smyth had pitched the idea, last year, for the day before Valentine’s Day partially because it was a Saturday, but also because the East Enders want the rest of Houston “to feel the love for the east.”
From vendors to suppliers, food to bike rides, music to arts and crafts, the East End is opening its doors to all Houston residents for an evening of romance and ample neighborhood love.
On Friday, the East End hosts Opera on the Esplanade, which features Moores Opera Center, under the musical direction of Ana Maria Otamendi—East Ender and internationally renowned pianist.
Saturday’s events include Valentine’s-themed activities, studio tours, live theater, bike tours of love-themed murals, food trucks, and live music, and arts and crafts like making Valentine’s cards and learning how to make sun prints.
Fall In Love With The East End. Feb 13. 1. Free. East End Houston, 3605 Texas St. eastendhouston.com