Why Local Art Matters

Houstonians exploring original works of art, created by local artists, at Archway Gallery in Montrose | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

In this special, 8-part, bi-weekly series—created in partnership with member artists of Archway Gallery in Montrose—we’re pleased to feature a selection of the artists’ tips, recommendations, and perspectives on the value of local art, building your own unique collection, and sharing that joy with your friends and loved ones. First up is Houston artist John Slaby on the impact and value of local art.

Many people find going to art galleries intimidating. There is a general feeling that one must be well-educated in art and have the ‘right’ opinions or be snubbed. This is understandable. But in truth, most galleries are welcoming spaces. They are not dissimilar to restaurants: you can find places where you may be berated for not using the right fork, but most are casual and inviting. I know this. I have been a member of the local art community and a collector for many years. When I first started out, I was intimidated and hesitant. But as I got to know the people of the community I began to feel more at ease.

Local Houston artist John Slaby in action on an a new, original piece of work | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Getting to Know the Artists Down the Street

If you are willing to venture out, you will find there’s art of great beauty and high craftsmanship created by your neighbors and available at local galleries, studios, and art fairs. These talented local artists are as diverse as our city. They range in all education levels. Some were educated at Houston’s fine art schools and may have advanced degrees. Some, like myself, are self-taught. All have been honing their skills through the years and following their own path of artistic development, growing, and influencing each other. Houston has a wide range of all art types, providing something for everyone. If you have not immersed yourself in this community, you’re missing out on some very fine art.

Meeting these artists is a positive experience. Being fellow Houstonians, they are friendly and more than willing to share their motivations, techniques, and the history of their work. This really enhances the art experience—understanding the artists and their work makes the art more valuable. It attaches a story and a memory to the work, as well as deepens the emotional attachment. 

Take Me to Church, painted by Archway Gallery member artist, Denise Giordano | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Local Art Brings Local Connection & Reflection

Supporting local artists supports local businesses: you are helping our community. But local art transcends this purely transactional effect. Art is a deep reflection of who we are as a people and culture. These artists live and work in our community and are deeply influenced by it. The Houston experience shows up in the work itself: the good—like our modern architecture and beautiful parks—and the not so good—like our turbulent weather and traffic. Only a local artist can understand our home because it is their home, too. Only a local artist can truly speak for us. 

Local Art Creates a Legacy

I have worked on my own art collection over the years, gathering works of my artist friends and colleagues. These pieces grace my home. I don’t expect them to increase in value; that’s not why I bought them. Instead, each time I look upon my collection I feel a surge of joy and satisfaction from having these beautiful works in my home, from my recollections of the artist, from my connection to the subject matter, and from knowing I have supported a core element of our city. That’s the best return on investment I could ask for.

But one of the most significant aspects of supporting local art is that this will become our legacy. The work that is produced here and makes its way into private and public collections will live on long after we and these artists have passed. This is how we will be remembered, just as we, looking at work produced centuries ago, can see into the lives of those distant generations. These simple actions, made by individuals, resulted in an enormous artistic gift to the future for all to enjoy. Now we have such an opportunity. The art is out there waiting for you. 

Feather Vase made by Archway Gallery member artist, Carol Berger | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

Elevating local art and supporting the Houston art scene for 46 years, Archway Gallery is the longest-running artist-owned gallery in Texas. Stop by the Montrose gallery, meet an artist, and learn about owning original, local art. Plan a visit to the gallery or learn more.

John Slaby joined Archway Gallery in 1993. As a longtime member he served as director for several years. He’s pursued art seriously since the late ’80s focusing on the human condition, the shared experience of life and the connection created between the art, the artist, and the viewer.

Learn more about Archway Gallery and explore its current and upcoming exhibitions.

Perpetual Self Portrait painted by John Slaby | Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery

This series has been created in partnership with and sponsored by Archway Gallery. Per our advertising and sponsorship policy, we only accept sponsored content from organizations that meet our editorial standards and truly present a valuable activity, event, resource or destination for residents and visitors across the greater Houston area. Advertising revenue helps support 365 Things to Do in Houston, and our contributors, allowing us to expand our coverage of activities and events around the Houston area. Learn more about promoting your event or business

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Local artist John Slaby has pursued art seriously since the late '80s, focusing on the human condition, the shared experience of life and the connection created between the art, the artist, and the viewer. He's a long time member of Archway Gallery in Montrose, which has been elevating local art and supporting the Houston art scene since 1976.