Inside The Sawyer Yards: Where Houston Hides Its Art

One of the reasons we love Houston so much is its underrated (at least we think so) art scene. Yes, we also have the best food, beer, sports, and diversity—but we will stick to one topic for today.

Houston’s vibrant art scene includes a veritable tapestry of creators who work in all kinds of media. If you’re new to the city and looking for an introduction to the artistic community, there’s no better place to start than the Sawyer Yards.

The Basics

Circa Real Estate was recently given a tour of the Sawyer Yards, including Winter Street Studios, Silver Street Studios, and The Silos at Sawyer. Whew, yes, it’s a lot of art! And we were blown away. Not only does the campus house one of the largest artistic communities in the nation, but it’s totally free to wander the hallways and enjoy the art.

We knew about the street art, and were really excited to learn about the community of artists who have been housing their art in one big collective—essentially right under our noses this entire time.

So we grabbed a beer at Holler Brewing and started our tour through the Sawyer Yards. Our favorite part was the wall art by some of our favorite artists, mentioned in our article Top 10 Street Art Murals in Houston Heights.

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Taken during the Second Saturdays monthly arts market.

The Sawyer Yards complex is a transformed collection of former warehouses that now serves as a hub for the artistic community. The 55-acre campus includes seven buildings that house dozens upon dozens of artists’ studios, as well as restaurants, galleries, unique fitness concepts, a brewery, and more. In addition to admiring the works created at Sawyer Yards, you’ll also get the chance to purchase some of your favorite items and sometimes catch a live performance art piece. Entry is free, and there’s no pressure to buy if you’d rather just look around.

Ricae Feigleson, the Manager of Special Events, is always organizing company parties, corporate events, and fun art markets on the eclectic campus.

“Houston has been craving a community like Sawyer Yards for some time,” Ricae says. “It’s is a place for people to spend their Saturdays, and beyond.”

“The open studios, Market at Sawyer Yards, and surrounding creative businesses invite the public to come early and stay late,” Ricae says.

And the Silos are another fun thing to explore. Old train stations and rice silos have been transformed into mini art shows, the Silos are an amazing experience for any history buff and art lover. They are very haunting and each Silo offers a unique artistic experience.

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Second Saturdays at Sawyer Yards

Held on the second Saturday (duh) of each month, Second Saturday features Houston’s largest and most eclectic group of artists of all stripes. You’ll find painters, sculptors, mixed media artists, performing arts, dance troupes, architects—even silk screen artists and PR firms.

Immerse yourself in a creative community as you meet the artists, learn about their work and creative process, make new friends of the artistic persuasion, and explore the actual studios where some of Houston’s best and brightest rising artists explore their creative side.

The market takes place outside, in the heart of the campus, called the “Art Alley.” The alley displays the gorgeous wall art installations that are in a two-year rotation (so catch them while they’re here). With about 800 feet of art, jewelry, sculptures, performers, and more, you will not be underwhelmed!

How It Started

The market made its debut in the spring of 2016, and is produced and curated by Mitch Cohen, of First Saturday Arts Market fame. (By the way, speaking from someone who offices on 19th Street, if you haven’t checked out First Saturday Arts Market on 19th Street in the Heights, you are definitely missing out. Now almost 14 years old, this market is one of the best known art events in Houston.)

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Taken during the Second Saturdays monthly arts market.

Mitch Cohen said that before the arts markets in Houston, he felt that there was something missing in the burgeoning pop-up markets that come and go all the time in the city. What was missing, he said, wasn’t clear, until a visit to Portland.

“I visited a smaller city to the south called Eugene,” Mitch said, “home of the oldest Saturday market in the country, the Eugene Saturday Market.”

“What got me was the sheer size of this marketplace. If you include the farmers market that was one block over, there are more than 300 vendors on any given Saturday in Eugene, and thousands of patrons come to shop, eat, and be entertained. I was floored!”

“There was something missing from Houston’s art scene. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.”

A year later, Mitch pitched his idea for a Saturday Arts Market in Houston at Sawyer Yards, which had been developed into a public art plaza now called “Artist Alley.”

“Between it all,” Mitch says, “on a long stretch of alley, between towering murals on one side and public sculpture and art studios on the other, is my concept of the missing market place. It’s a market junky’s paradise!”

>>Next Saturday Arts Market at Sawyer Yards: Saturday, April 14<<

The next few Second Saturdays, in case you don’t have a calendar in front of you, will be on April 14, May 12, June 9, and July 14.

Yes, that means there is a market next Saturday! We can’t wait.

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Beer Goes With Art, Right?

Did you hear the tea? Well, it’s about beer. Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company is coming to Sawyer Yards. The beloved local brewery will be breaking ground on a new, $14 million brewery and restaurant, as they’ve started to outgrow their current space. As if there weren’t already enough good reasons to visitSawyer Yards, now you can add one more to the list once the new site opens in 2018.

If you don’t want to wait for your beer, Holler Brewing Co. is right there at Winter Street Studios, and their selection of craft beer is amazing. From selections like “Hype PA” to “Dollar Pils, Y’all,” they are already a local favorite. And did we mention that they’re dog-friendly? Bonus points!

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Regular Studio Hours

Spring Street and Summer Street Studios  have their open studio hours from 2-7 pm, while the SilosWinter Street Studios, and Silver Street Studios are open from 12-5. That gives you plenty of time to check our the entire complex and shop for some one of a kind Christmas gifts! Sawyer Yards is located just south of I-10 near Downtown. Public parking is available at 2101 Winter Street.

Thank you to the Heights Blog for sharing this wealth of information regarding the Washington Arts District, Second Saturday and other amazing things Houston has to offer!!

We’ll see you at Second Saturday!