Posts tagged spring-2018
31st Annual Art Car Parade

The 31st Annual Art Car Parade took place this weekend. The morning started cool and rainy, which seemed to have prevented some normal spectators from coming out to the parade. However, the day shaped up to be one of the most beautiful afternoons ever in Houston. 

The crowd at the Art Car parade is much different than any other parade or mass city event. Everybody is in such great spirits, filled with huge smiles, laughter, and dancing. 

The participants in the parade interact with the crowd, and the crowd shows love back. Mark down the next event: April 19, 2019!

#HOUSxSW 2018

2018 was my 6th annual trip to Austin for #SxSW. There's quite a few things I've learned in past years that made this year a success. Here is a round up of advice I've heard in the past, and how it helped me this year.

1. Bring an Extra Pair of Shoes because you do a LOT of walking. Very true! The first year of SXSW involved so much walking that I actually wore through the soles of my sneakers. This year, I averaged 12,043 steps/day. 

2. Bring / Rent a Bike. If you checked out the #SxSW map, you noticed that many of the events are downtown, but separated by a few blocks. Bringing a bike has been extremely valuable during my trips. Not only does it make commuting to/from home base a breeze, but also helps you with Tip #1 because you don't have to walk so dang much. If you can't bring a bike to Austin, rent a bCycle for the week!

3. Prepare for ALL Weather. During my short week at #SxSW, I experienced a freeze (literally wore gloves 1 day), followed by beaming heat the next day. I caught a pretty nice farmer's tan from waiting in line so long. Bring a spray bottle, umbrella, and sunscreen for when it's way too hot. Bring an extra sweater, gloves, and scarf for when it gets too cold. Be prepared for just about anything: rain, snow, sleet, sun, etc. 

4. Go analog as much as possible. SXSW was filled with technology and made for tech nerds like you and me. However, spending all day and all week in a digital world is exhausting. Instead of spending your time waiting in line staring at your phone, start up a conversation. If you visit talks and get distracted on your laptop, put it away and take analog notes. SXSW is so much about networking and making connections. Don't miss the opportunity because you're staring at your phone!

5. Stock up on FREE things! It's easy to find free things at SXSW including Tshirts, Koozies, Hankerchiefs, Protein Bars, Energy Drinks, and much more. Whenever you find something free that you might like, grab it. Vendors give away so much free stuff and want people to actually use it. Think about your friends, coworkers, family back home that don't get to go to SXSW. Bring them back a little something, especially if there's no cost to you. 

6. Be prepared to abort. Is the line way too long and you don't think you can get in? Abort. Is the speaker or talk less exciting than you thought it would be? Abort. Are you hungry and can't pay attention to the talk? Abort. Are you just following friends and not making your own plan? Abort. There's too much going on at SXSW to just sit around and wait. Create your own destiny, and don't be afraid to get up during a talk. 

7. Find a place to relax. Mental breaks are a great way to charge during the day. Find some place where you can take some time to review your notes, drop your new friends a message, or do some yoga. SXSW moves pretty fast, but it's great to find time to take care of yourself amongst the mayhem. 

8. Monitor your drinking. Every event at SXSW seems to give away free booze. There were talks in the morning that included beer with breakfast. This always seems great at the time, but remember a lot of the great connections happen early in the morning. Having a wild night on Saturday usually leads to a very slow Sunday. It's ok to have fun, but don't have so much fun that you ruin the rest of your trip!

9. Bring a Portable Phone Charger. Even though I mentioned going analog as much as possible, there will be opportunities where you'd like to use your phone. Some days at SXSW are very long and you don't have enough time to run home for a quick nap. For those days, make sure you have a spare phone charger. Even if you don't use it, a friend of yours might seriously thank you for thinking ahead! 

10. Bring business cards and make connections. Austin is full of out of towners during SXSW, looking to make genuine connections. Be better prepared by having a 10 second elevator pitch and updated business cards ready for whenever you meet someone who's first question is always, "so, what do you do?". Make it interesting so they remember you!


Winner of TIP Awards: UP Art Studio
Mini Mural Project Team: Gibson Hall with Co Founders of UP Art Studio, Noah & Elia Quiles.

Mini Mural Project Team: Gibson Hall with Co Founders of UP Art Studio, Noah & Elia Quiles.

2018 TIP Awards - Group Photo.jpg

Last week was the 3rd annual Tourism Incentive Program (TIP) Awards and awarded 21 Houston-based organizations with a total of $275,000 to help make Houston a better destination for tourists. 

This past year was HUGE for travel and visitors coming to Houston. Between the Superbowl, World Series, and several international festivals, over 20 million people visited Houston. 

Each organization was eligible to win money from Houstonfirst and Visit Houston if they could create a compelling program involving at least 1 nonprofit and 1 hotel in order to market Houston as a destination worth visiting. 

UP Art Studio won $10,000 from Houstonfirst and Visit Houston, and is partnering with Hotel Ylem, Omni Hotel Houston, and Houston Bike Share (BCycle).

Since starting the Mini Mural Project a little more than 2 years ago, UP Art Studio has helped over 40 artists paint more than 185 electrical control cabinets in Houston. We've had several requests for maps in order to help people go on Mini Mural tours. We're working with our partners to create Bike Tours, Walking Tours, and packages for visitors staying at Hotel Ylem and Omni Hotel. Be on the lookout for Mini Mural Tours happening soon!

Visit for an interactive map of the boxes. 

View from The Downtown Aquarium


David Mincberg, Chairman of Houston First and Jorge Franz, Sr. VP Tourism at Visit Houston presented the organizations with oversized checks. 

Other winning organizations include: Alley Theater, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Escuderia Charities, Freneticore, Fresh Arts / Spacetaker, Houston Bike Share, Houston International Dance Coalition, Houston Marathon, Lyc Concours, Mercury Baroque Ensemble, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston AfriFEST, Magical Winter Lights, San Jacinto Museum of History, Sea Star Base, Theater Under The Stars, UP Art Studio, Voila Lab, and Washington on the Brazos. 

TIP Awards - UP Art.jpg
Map of Mini Murals

Map of Mini Murals


New Mini Murals Painted in 2018

UP Art Studio, winner of Tourism Incentive Program for Mini Murals Tour

UP Art Studio, winner of Tourism Incentive Program for Mini Murals Tour

The 83rd Annual Azalea Trail by River Oaks Garden

It was my first time ever buying a ticket for River Oaks Garden Club's annual Azalea Trail festival. It's been happening for 83 years, and the tour even gave a glimpse of what life what like for some (very wealthy) Houstonians during that time. 

The tour included the Rienzi, Bayou Bend, and 4 private homes that were amazing. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the private houses, but they were incredible to see and loved hearing the stories from everybody participating from River Oaks Garden Club. 

There was too much to see in 1 day, and look forward to another amazing tour next year!

The Blue Trees Are Back in Houston

Houston's very own Parks & Rec department is making the city better by giving these Crepe Mertles new color near Waugh and Memorial. A post from the City of Houston's website

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department will be painting the crepe myrtles at the traic cloverleaf at Memorial and Waugh to bring attention to the plight of pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. The Natural Resources Program has been regularly hosting community events to seed areas, with wildflowers, as well as prairie habitat restorations, which provide food and habitat for these species. The wildflowers, which bloom around March, will stand out against the brilliantly colored tree trunks.

Visiting Colorado for Skiing in Beaver Creek