The Arts

February 1, 2014

Harlingen’s New Art Night


Friday January 31st  2014, marked a new beginning for downtown Harlingen.  A small group of local artists and art enthusiasts decided it was time to showcase Harlingen for what it is: an artsy, hip community with abundant talent.

Through recent city planning meetings, the group realized local students and art enthusiasts desired outlets to express their creativity right here in their city, so they created Harlingen’s Art Night to be held the last Friday of every month. Unlike the McAllen Art Walk, this event does not bring in talent from outside for one night, but it boasts on promoting the already established art venues by inviting participants to sort of a night crawl.  Last night’s event had a good turnout for a first time, and we all had a good time. It was a clear breezy night ideal for a walk, and even a dance!

Leo Garza & his Saxophone

Artist Richard Hyslin

Unbeknownst to many is the great variety of art-related shops around downtown Harlingen, and in the evening, their allure is a magnet. Camera and notepad in hand, I headed to downtown Harlingen to find out what this was all about.

My first stop was at Beyond Arts Gallery where I was greeted by the soft tunes of Leo Garza’s saxophone; it gave the night a touch of mystery and romance. Once inside, the impressive sculpture exhibit of Richard Hyslin drew me with its metal magnitude.  The wine selection, and cheese and fruit trays attracted everybody to the bar area for spirits and good conversation. Artist Richard Hyslin was present, and shared very interesting things about his work.

Bachata Dance Lessons


Next, I walked outside to admire some interesting neon signs that one can only enjoy at night, took a photo, and continued to the Inner Artist on 112 E. Jackson where owner Mike was busy teaching Bachata Latin dances to a small group of enthusiastic students.  His dancing shoe display triggered thoughts of sophisticated tango dancers. Dance lessons are available throughout the week, and so are art classes for children and adults. Click on the link, and read all the details. The sensuous, easy melody of Bachata begged me to stay and dance, but I was on “reporter” mood, and had to keep going.

Across the street I noticed about a dozen people sitting comfortably along the sidewalk listening to a jazz band right outside The Railroad Crossing; a model railroad clubhouse  operated by the nonprofit Tip-O-Texas Modern Railroad Club. Who can resist watching model trains winding around intricate  tracks to some jazz tunes?

My next stop was at the DArt Centre where I met with some good friends like artist Bernice Coleman. While there, I had the opportunity of meeting local artist Mario L. Leal and his wife Genevieve. I asked Mario about his Coca-Cola bottle painting; “It was there, and its shape, color, and glass reflections attracted me, so I painted it,” he said. Both Bernice and Mario are members of the Art Forum.

Artist Mario & Wife Genevieve



By this time I  regretted choosing my pointed high heels over comfortable walking shoes for the event. I know better now, and readers; take note please.  My poor fashion judgment prevented me from visiting  Schaub’s Art Studio and Java Café; two of my favorite places in downtown Harlingen.




So I get in the car, and head to Pseyeco Vintage on 413 Van Buren. This neat place reminded me a bit about shops on South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. I had always wanted to meet cartoonist Cayetano Garza Jr. and I finally did. He posed for a couple of photos and talked about his work especially one with what looked like the Pink Panther, but with a gory twist, for spears were buried in its chest. The title of the painting was Saint Sebastian. While I wrote notes and took pictures, Cayetano sold one of his paintings to a local art collector.

Cayetano Garza Jr.

The store was full of interesting vintage items, all selected by owner Anna Emanus who told me she just opened the store a few months ago, and it’s already attracting an eclectic clientele. I noticed some old dress patterns, and before I knew it, Anna pulled out a full scale 1957 Simplicity pattern book I could not resist, for I just started my new website featuring the midcentury modernism of the Rio Grande Valley. I had to have it, so I bought it.  I am still thinking about that 1950s clock she has on display…

Good music was playing next door at the Rio Grande Grill, and I wanted to go in and stay for a while, but by this time, I was full from all the munchies I’d eaten during this first art night. I had to call it a night, but not without promising myself to better plan my shop hopping  next month.


Anna Emanus & Chris Hardcastle

Pseyeco Vintage









Simplicity Patterns





This was a great start for downtown Harlingen at night, and I sincerely hope all of the art galleries, antique shops and eateries stay open late if only for this event.

Tell all your friends, and I will see you next time

Congratulations to organizers Sue DeBrooke, Nancy Russell, Jessica Salazar McBride,Tim McBride, Ed and Stephanie Sololosky and Laurel Becker.

Model Train

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About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. I blame the heat and high humidity for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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