Native Houstonian Christine Jelson West, the Cultural Programs Manager at Houston First Corporation, has over 15 years’ experience in nonprofit arts administration – including executive leadership positions at Lawndale Art Center and the Galveston Arts Center. She is active in the Texas art community and is currently the Vice President for Special Programs on the Texas Association of Museums board.
It’s August, but even in December I am a sucker for a frozen treat. How can I chose just one? Gourmet ice cream at Fat Cat Creamery. Fancy popsicles at Steel City. Want a buzz with your brain freeze? Try a Frozen Suffering Bastard at Double Trouble, Frojitos at The Flat, Shandys at D&T Drive In and the Blue Hawaiian at Axelrad. The best frozen margarita in Houston? Without a doubt – Spanish Village. Places I’m dying to try: East End Hardware for boozy snoballs, Kwality Ice Cream for Indian flavors and Treats of Mexico, no explanation needed.
THE WORLD AT OUR DOORSTEP
Take a 20-minute drive down Gessner, Elgin/ Westheimer, Long Point or Bellaire and experience firsthand that Houston is the most diverse city in the country. Shops, groceries, restaurants, banks, meat markets and more serving a multitude of communities pass before your eyes in minutes. Signs in as many languages have folks reaching for Google Translate. Slow down. Stop in. Say hello.
INTERNATIONAL GROCERY STORES
Explore Fiesta, Phoenicia, H Mart, Hong Kong Market and a myriad of other small shops that proudly import goods from countless countries so that our diverse citizens can have a little taste of home. Take a vacation in an afternoon. Step in and explore another country just down the street.
THE ART COMMUNITY
It took leaving Houston for a few years (I know. What was I thinking?) to clearly comprehend how welcoming, supportive and accessible our art community is. Creative expression is valued in Houston. Local artists and performers are given opportunities in all of the major institutions and cutting the edge in small artist run spaces all over town. There is an overarching drive to build connections between our creative communities with others all around the world. We also have tremendous philanthropic support for the arts. My art community is a microcosm of Houston’s can-do spirit that begins with lending a hand to help get the job done.
SHAMELESS PLUG –
I am very lucky to be part of an organization working to transform the east side of Downtown and to partner with the wonderful Discovery Green in creating super-fun, public programming in The Avenida district. On any given night of the week visitors and residents may experience free performances, live music and public art, while enjoying some of the best local restaurants around. The calendar changes daily so check out the website and come on down to The Avenida!
ART CAR PARADE
I can’t think of any one event that better embodies Houston’s vibrant, creative, friendly, smart, funny, diverse and welcoming spirit than the annual Art Car Parade. Everyone is invited to celebrate the artist in everyone. Anyone can enter the parade, anyone can attend and anything goes, as long as it rolls. It is the most free and joyful experiences of creative expression – ever.