Monday, August 4, 2014

Houston Abilities Expo!

Hello everyone! This is April, taking over the blog for an update on what I was up to last weekend. I took a trip to Houston last week and Thursday – Sunday at the annual Abilities Expo. This big convention displays all kinds accessories for people with disabilities to make life more accessible to all.

Every year, the great Expo staff, led by David Korse, offers us space to host an Artist Market showcasing artwork by VSA Texas artists.  This is a great opportunity for us to get out of Austin, serve our artists in the Houston area, and meet new people. My role at this event was to talk about VSA Texas, promote our artists, and to act as the cashier.

So, I packed up the art display panels and drove to Houston last Thursday to set up at the NRG Center in downtown Houston. We had a 60 by 10 ft. booth space and six artists. As soon as I arrived at the loading dock, I heard someone exclaim, “April!” It was Connie Lamb, one of our artists. I had not seen her in 10 years!  Connie is a painter and airbrush artist from Liberty, TX. Her work is mostly abstract, and some figures.  That’s one thing I really enjoy about this event- it’s a great chance see people and artists I don’t get many opportunities to spend time with. 

Connie's Art!

Next to Connie, Brian Dodd of Doddman Gallery was already set up. Brian, diagnosed with Autism, paints fantastical and imaginative characters such as “Four-Armed Savage Pretzel Man”, “Cakenstein”, and “Poodles Galore”. Visit his online gallery at to take a look at some of his creations! Brian is more interested in creating art than selling it, so he spends most of the Expo walking among the booths. On Friday, he collected 46 pens from the other vendors- no two were alike! Brian’s original works will be on display next at the Folk Fest in Atlanta, GA August 15-17.

Brian and his many pens!

Ronnie Queenan, of Houston, was selling his original abstract paintings and cards of his work. Ronnie used to be an accountant until a life threatening illness in 1998 led him to a healing art class- but he hasn’t looked back. Ronnie sold a few paintings and many cards at this event.  More importantly though, he made a lot of great connections though and may have a commission as a result of this show. That is what these events are all about, connections!

Some of Ronnie's work!

 Artist Carolyn Oliver is always a treat to have at the show. She has bright pink hair and is always outfitted in something colorful.  Carolyn gets a lot of her inspiration for her paintings from her travels (with her husband of 22 years) and from her painting buddies at the Art League of Houston’s Healing Art class.

Carolyn and her art!

The Healing Arts class also brings us another featured artist, Lesa Jackson. I have known Lesa for a few years, but this is the first time she participated in our exhibit. Lesa has a big personality and makes friends with everyone she meets! She sold several of her colorful paintings at the event and had a great time.

Una Yim is also a new artist. She just contacted us a few months ago to get involved with VSA Texas. She is mainly a musician and poet, and her most recent work is a musical. More can be found out about this at
At this event she sold some posters created in collaboration with her brother who lives in Hawaii and photographs the landscapes there. Una added poems to these beautiful images.

I was really excited to have steady sales all weekend.  I was also excited when Houston writer and disability activist Maria Palacios stopped by with a big hug and a copy of her new book “Criptionary,” and author Ron Hull brought me a copy of his autobiography “Hanging on by a Thread.” I came home with some great reading!

I am still recovering from this long weekend in Houston. David just told me we had record setting attendance at 4,251 adult visitors this year! He’s already planning for 2015, and I hope to see you all there! For more information, visit:  Thanks for reading, please leave any comments or questions in the comment section at the bottom of the page!  

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