My Top 5: Lawndale Art Center’s Christine West

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Photo credit: Dennis Nance

Each week in “My Top 5” we check in with a different Houstonian who is making things happen in our great city and find out what they love to do in their down time. This week, we’re pleased to feature Christine West, executive director of the beloved and innovative Lawndale Art Center in Midtown, who shares her favorite things to do in Houston (aside from showing visitors around Lawndale itself).

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Christine West

  1. Long Point Road – I love to drive out Long Point Road, especially with friends from out of town. Beginning at Hempstead Highway, a drive out towards Gessner is a quick and fun way to get a snapshot of Houston’s ethnic diversity all on one street. The range of businesses along this road from at least 10 different countries demonstrates the much publicized fact that Houston is the most diverse city in the county. It would take years to explore all of the different food markets and restaurants, but I am working my down, one block at a time. Favorite spots: Otilia’s, El Hidalguense, Korea House and H-Mart grocery and food court (not quite on Long Point, but close by!).
  2. First Thursday on Mid-Main – On the first Thursday of every month, join the block party where you can not only meet up with friends and enjoy food, drink, music and shopping in the 3500 – 3700 blocks of Main Street,  but you can also learn about and support a local charity that you may have never heard of before.
  3. Texas Art Asylum – I get inspired to make some art at this warehouse full of “potential art supplies.” These TAA ladies take donations of all kinds of things that you can purchase at a reasonable price. Who knows what you’ll find to create your next masterpiece. Or visit  a few off-beat boutiques that sell the works of local artists. Some favorites in the Heights are Hello Lucky and Sparrow and the Nest and in Mid-Town I frequent the Tinderbox and My Flaming Heart.
  4. Rice Gallery – I always experience a whole new world at Rice Gallery. Each installation transforms the jewel box of an arts space into a new environment. Rice Gallery brings in artists from all over the world to create artworks designed specifically for that room. You may never look at drinking straws the same way again. After a visit to the gallery, who can resist a stroll through the beautiful and shady Rice campus.
  5. Hand-crafted cocktail that I could never make on my own at Anvil, Down House or Mongoose vs. Cobra – I always learn about a new spirit or flavor combination from the expert bartenders (we don’t say mixologist any more, right?) at these, my favorite bars. My Spec’s bill grows higher and higher with my “I am going to make this at home” problem.

About Christine West

Christine Jelson West has been the executive director of Lawndale Art Center since January 2007. During that time Lawndale began an artist-in-residency program that is now nationally recognized. She served as executive director of the Galveston Arts Center from From 2004 to 2007 and both institutions exhibit innovative contemporary art with an emphasis on emerging Texas artists. A native Houstonian, West has over 14 years’ experience in non-profit arts administration working with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Fresh Arts Coalition, and with Glasstire, Texas Visual Art Online. She is active in the Texas art community and serves as treasurer on the board of the Houston Museum District Association. She has served as a juror for several regional exhibitions and has participated in grant review panels for both local and state granting organizations. West also writes about art and is a practicing artist. In 2010 West was invited to participate in the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture Leadership institute fully funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She previously served as councillor-at-large for the Texas Association of Museums from 2008 to 2010 and on the board of Glasstire from 2007 to 2014.