Houston: Festival Utopia

The Frida Kahlo FestivalFrida Kahlo Festival


Houston is described as a melting pot of diverse cultures and people.  Our city reflects a diversity of people like no other.  It reminds me of one of my favorite soups:  “Vuelva a La Vida Caldo de Mariscos.”  In English: “Back to Life Seafood Soup.”  You’ve never had it?  Well you must.  It is a steamy hot bowl of ocean goodness in a mildly spicy broth.  You look at it and you might have some reservations as the pink octopus tentacle sticks to the side of the bowl or the large single clam steadily stares at you like a cyclops eye.  However, once that hot broth hits your taste buds you realize that chicken soup is over rated.

This is what the Festivals in Houston are all about.  A variety of vendors, people, food, ideas all poured into the same bowl. It is a beautiful thing to see such a large array of people strolling through booths, eating, laughing, smiling, absorbing the hodge-podge all around them.  That is what Houston is all about.  Just drive through its neighborhoods.  One block is a sight of a well manicured lawns and a couple of blocks down is a crumbling warehouse with a beautiful mural painted on its side.

I am so glad I attended the Frida Kahlo Festival.  It is located in the East End’s Tlaquepaque Market, 726 Telephone Rd. Houston, Texas .  Don’t blink or you might accidentally miss the small shopping strip it is located in. It is composed of a few art and music shops, art galleries, a clothing store, a café, and even an ice cream parlor.  All the vendors unite,  open up their doors,  and bring out their art inspired by Frida Kahlo.  It is as if you are shopping on Sixth Street in Austin and los mercados of Mexico at the same time. The shop owners greet you like family. They don’t care who you are, what you look like, or how you are dressed.  They are simply honored you have walked into their humble abode to take a look at their collection of artwork or hand picked/hand made items.   They make you feel like you’ve been gone for too long and you were now home.

That night I chatted with the owner of Tres, Melinda.  She told me Tres was born from her love of music, flowers, and art.  You see Melinda is a Tejano Legend.  She is part of the famous Tejano group,  Sister Sister y Los Misters.  She has worked with many other Tejano legends such as Little Joe y La Familia.  The woman is an East End and Texas musical talent.  What I loved about her is that she was so humble, down to earth, and kind. Such a beautiful person.  It was an honor to have met her.

The shop  is filled with various hand made paintings, unique decorative items, and flowers. The shop’s aura is  earthy, rock starish, gritty, and mysterious.  Melinda also offers music lesson & song writing classes in her shop and on  Saturdays hosts art and music workshops with various other local artists with wine and Margaritas all offered for a small donation.

My next stop was The East End Art Gallery.  As I walked in I was greeted by DJ Twinkle Toes jamming various kinds of music.  The walls were filled with Friday Kahlo inspired art from local artists.  There were local artists displaying their hand made jewelry.  My eye caught beautiful bright necklaces made by local artist Cynthia Vela.  Of course I had to purchase one.  I found you can find Cynthia anywhere in the city and even outside the Houston city limits sharing her beautiful pieces at local festivals.  Next to the Gallery is a local café, Bohemeo’s offering adult beverages and an array of foods.  It too displayed art on the walls and sported a large outdoor patio.  Bohemeo’s has regular live local music bands. Next was Kismet Boutiqe.  The owner, Cristina Hernandez, explained that she and her family where long time East End Residents and very involved in their community.  She walked me through her shop showing me the beautiful array of modern dresses for women and children.

As I walked and sipped on my wine the shops became one for me.  The shop owners were friendly, humble, and welcomed me with open arms.  I was home for the night.

Author’s Note:  Kid friendly, but definitely a grown up atmosphere.

Next stop Earth Day Festival and the Japanese Festival!










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