My Top 5: Mitch Cohen of First Saturday Arts Market

Photo courtesy of First Saturday Arts Market

Our My Top 5 feature showcases Houstonians who are shaping the culture in the city and impacting people’s lives. In turn, they share their own favorite things to do in Houston when they’re not hard at work. This week, we’re very pleased to feature Mitch Cohen, founder of First Saturday Arts Market in The Heights.

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Mitch Cohen

  1. Hermann Park – Houston has the best people watching spots and my favorite is the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool. If time allows, I may spend hours here, first sitting on one of the metal benches overlooking the pool and watching the comings and goings of all walks of life. Then a stroll through the Japanese Gardens, around the lake, and then to catch people rolling down the Miller Outdoor Theater hill. Vendor carts even have refreshments if you forget your own.
  2. Bar Service – I’m not sure what it is but I love dining at the bar. Oh, probably the people watching again. Glass Wall tops the list, where they’ve reinvented the phrase “regulars.” Choose from the bar menu, or the full menu. It’s easy to talk to anyone here and get the latest news on the neighborhood. Shade Heights has equally good views of the dining room and 19th Street. The new Harold’s Tap Room reminds me of neighborhood pubs in NYC and the hidden bars of Seattle, plus a great selection of local brews. With Alli’s Pizzaria next door and Harold’s Restaurant upstairs, it is unlikely you’ll go hungry.
  3. Rainbow Lodge – If it were not for the lush green grounds and wooden pathways outside the windows of this rustic log cabin lodge, you could imagine you were at any American ski resort. The business attired customers may give it away too. The business lunch special always has excellent selections at a great price and makes for the best lunch date. Treat yourself to an evening dinner too, this is a one of a kind spot in Houston.
  4. Heights Hike and Bike Trail The Heights is really the only reason I live in Houston and it’s only gotten more interesting since I arrived. I’m not saying I’ve ridden all of this trail (at once) that spans the neighborhood, but I’ve seen a lot of it, for sure. I recall a week after this rail line was decommissioned forever, paint crews showed up to repaint the crossings on Heights Boulevard. Plenty of culinary and shopping diversions at White Oak, 11th Street, and 19th Street.
  5. The Fabiola Project at The Menil Collection’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel – There’s not much time left to visit this exhibit, it ends May 13, 2018. I was clueless as to what I’d find when I walked into the space. A black concrete room with one towering wall with hundreds of profile paintings of a young woman wearing a red veil, facing left. Every conceivable version, medium, and frame at once obvious that each was created by a different person. This very website describes what I was looking at best here: “The Fabiola Project is made up of more than 450 reproductions of a lost 1885 work by Jean-Jacques Henner depicting 4th-century Roman Saint Fabiola.” Even if you miss this crazy exhibit, the Menil Collection is one of Houston’s finest art institutions, do not miss it.

About Mitch Cohen

Mitch Cohen is the unremitting behind the scenes guy in the Heights. A life-long artist, Cohen founded First Saturday Arts Market, Houston’s longest running monthly outdoor fine arts event, in 2004. This year, with the Washington Avenue Arts District, he formed The Market at Sawyer Yards, with a focus on folk art and artisan crafts. He helped form White Linen Night in the Heights event and remains on the steering committee to this day, having successfully expanded the event during his time between 2010 to 2012. Cohen got started as professional artist painting billboards (yes, they were painted), co-owned a decorative painting business from 1993 to about 2007, and he even illustrated a couple of books, had an award-winning college newspaper cartoon strip, and can still be found painting most days as of recent. You can keep up with Mitch in his weekly arts column called Art Valet in The Leader Newspaper or on his website,