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Thought-Provokers: Downtown

Houston has always had an artistic soul.  The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community.  Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive.  Unfortunately, too often media attention is monopolized by corporate interests and tabloid gossip – but culture doesn’t come from a focus on celebrity breakups it comes from a focus on the arts.

Below, you’ll find some incredible artists from in and around Downtown that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Leah Leftwich

I always joke with family and friends that photography found me. It has been a hobby of mine ever since I first used a DSLR camera in High School Yearbook class, but I continued to pursue other careers until I couldn’t deny the calling to photography anymore. Read more>>

Gaby Briceno

My deepest passion has always been the arts and crafts, though. Creating jewelry is a big part of my life; it touches every aspect of who I am. Professionally, as I mentioned before, I am a business administrator with a marketing specialization. Read more>>

Leslie Gifford

I have always been fascinated by color, light, movement and energy. As a child I would delight in these elements and ascribe the qualities I imagined they embodied to all sorts of things… Animals, plants, rocks, my bike. Read more>>

Lys Santamaria

Beadwork is such a simple art form with very basic and small tools – all perfect for a minimalist traveler. I found that I can take my beadwork anywhere and keep creating as I go. Read more>>

Bill Hunt

Had continued to study and practice photography all through the time at NASA, so after the layoff, pursued professional photography full time. Somewhere in there, I became a licensed/certified Group Fitness Instructor… Still am. Read more>>

Elena Soterakis and Emily Dingman

The inspiration for working together started while viewing the Rauschenberg retrospective at the MoMa last summer, where we bonded over a love for his work. Emily was stranded in NYC during Hurricane Harvey and we toured museums and art galleries as a distraction from the natural disaster. Read more>>

Melissa Taylor

More broadly, I always knew that I wanted to apply my professional skills to the arts industry, which led me to work at Theatre Under The Stars for nearly three years. In addition to my work there, I also do freelance work for smaller arts organizations. Read more>>

Barbara Dybala

After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas, Barbara accepted a designer position with American Airlines where she created magazine designs for their publication department. Read more>>


Graffiti has given me a huge opportunity to travel, meet like-minded artists and to paint in amazing locations. I’ve painted all over the United States and in Europe. As an artist, I believe that painting graffiti art is a part of my life’s journey. Read more>>

Katie Hoffman

My work reached a turning point after graduation when I abandoned the idea of planning a painting in favor of letting intuition rule my process. All kinds of things from my subconscious surface and make their way onto the canvas, and the surprise aspect keeps me interested. Read more>>

Naila Ansari

I have loved art and anything related to beauty ever since I can remember. My favorite thing to do as a child was draw. My mother has an artistic touch and I remember admiring her skills when she had a moment to draw a picture with me. Read more>>

Lilly Lerner Reilley

I am a storyteller who uses clay as the instrument to tell my story. My most recent medium of expression has been the creation of clay purses that symbolize women and their voices. Each of my purses is an attempt to bring those voices, individually or collectively, to life once again. Read more>>

Mike Geno

I am actually a Philadelphia based artist and my main focus has been on food. As a painter, I realize my life has been filled with food memories and I find the connection to them the best way to relate to my work. Everyone has their own and they often are regional and connect us to our community. Read more>>

Jamie Sweetman

One day as I was riding the chairlift at Aspen I made a conscious decision to become an artist as I realized I had peaked as an athlete. I wanted to pursue a craft that required skills I could develop and hone for years to come and embodied the search for knowledge. Art. That was the perfect solution. Read more>>

Steven Baltazar

I have been sketching for as long as I could remember but only in spare time which wasn’t very often. Every couple of years I would get an an “art kick” and just sketch like crazy for a couple of days and then stop for months. Read more>>

Riley McMurray

I always chose dance. When I was about 12 I decided that dancing professionally was what I wanted to do. I decided to audition for the Houston Ballet Summer Intensive in 2012 because I had always heard great things about the program. Read more>>

Ali Minetree

I tried a lot of creative outlets in my life – oil painting, clarinet, musical theater – but nothing felt as right as photographing marriage. I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful details, the little moments and being present for such intimate milestones in people’s lives. Read more>>

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