H-Town Run Tourist's Guide to Mental Health

Feel like a kid again with community art

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I gave my 9 recommendations to de-stressing. Because mindfulness has to be practiced every day, this week, I decided to try Hack #9 "Try Something New.". Because one of my super-powers is being at the right place at the right time, I just so happened to know of a community art project with some big time local artists.

Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni, founders of Art Uniti, are creating a new art project and needed help. I have helped on community art projects before. My tourists and I worked closely with artist Carol Simon on "First Ward is Blooming." We painted up-cycled water bottles and cut them up like flowers. It was a perfect way to chill out after work. The project took 9 months to finish and when we did, we were all proud of our "flower garden." I had been looking for a new one since and I finally found it.

Houstonians' gifts of creativity.

Author's own

We met at the Baker Ripley Leonel Castillo Community Center in Near North Houston. I was so happy that 20 of my tourists came to help. Nicola briefs everyone first:

"This community project is called Snapshot. It is a permanent installation made of steel that will perfectly frame the view of downtown Houston. There will be a spot to stand and take your selfie with the perfectly framed skyline behind you. Hence, the name Snapshot. The frame will be sitting on top of a pedestal covered with tile designs. That is where you come in. Each one of you has a setting in front of you and a bowl of tiles. You are free to design anyway you want, just stay in the lines."

It was heads down as everyone set to making their tile designs. I decided to do a Blue Tile design to depict the first street signs of Houston. You know the ones that are found on the curbs. It seemed like a breeze until my fingers got too big.

The Taylor Family spending some quality time together.

Author's own

I listened to the conversations being had. Everyone talked about when they were kids and how they loved to paint and color. Everyone was asking questions about the person next to them. The children, in the room, were all of a sudden treated like the authorities on creativity. But, not one was talking about bills or gossip. Mission accomplished. That is exactly what I wanted.

Mother and daughter, Bobby and Rachel had a gloomy week and felt inspired and uplifted while working on their tiles. Rachel was stressed about her pre-calculus final and wanted to spend time with her mom. Gillian and Tracey moved here a few months ago. Gillian works from home and sometimes can get lonely and Tracey travels a lot for work. Both were excited to do something different and get out.

Artists Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni hold a mock-up of Snapshot.

Author's own

Now, I bet you are thinking "What is Art Uniti?" Nicola feels that being creative is a huge component to mental health. It makes him happier and he wanted to share it with others. Because they know how important art is, Tami and Nicola founded Art Uniti to let the community get involved in creating the public art around Houston. The community is able to gift their art to the city with the help of respected artists like Tami and Nicola. Snapshot is the fifth project from Art Uniti. Maybe you've seen these projects around the city: Community Quilt at Kroger at Riverstone Sugarland, Color Bursting in Hermann Park, and Scaped Senses across from Moody Park. Unfortunately, community involvement on Snapshot is closed, but I will definitely keep you posted about new projects.

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All 3 major sports teams in Houston appear to be in good hands.Composite image by Jack Brame.

Houston is a strange sports town, professionally speaking. Football is the undisputed king. That's evidenced by the undying love fans show the Texans. Baseball is second, even though the Astros most recently gave the city a title and have given them a consistent winner to cheer for since 2015. Basketball is a clear third, since fans won't show up to a Rockets' playoff game until after the game has started.

At one point, all three teams were competitive and provided the city with a good deal of excitement. They also had competent general managers, though not all at once. The Texans had Rick Smith, who some say was hit or miss, but he was by far the team’s best GM in their history. The measuring stick isn’t very high, but Smith normally hit on 1st rounders. Jeff Luhnow was in charge of the turnaround for the Astros. His work environment may have been contentious according to rumors, but he brought the city a World Series and built a consistent contender. Daryl Morey may have left a hot mess, but the Rockets were always in the playoffs. He was able to keep a winning team, while reshaping the roster.

Fast-forward to today, and the city has a competent GM in every major pro sports team at the same time. James Click has kept the Astros on the winning track. While the penalties for the sign stealing scandal were hefty, he’s managed to make some shrewd moves. Signing Yordan Alvarez before he hit arbitration and free agency was huge! If he can get Kyle Tucker locked up as well, he’s definitely on the right track. Not going crazy over losing key guys and trusting his process has paid off handsomely so far.

Rafael Stone has had the best luck of all. It started very rocky for him by having to deal James Harden and Russell Westbrook at the beginning of his tenure. The return on investment was initially laughed at and thought to be pennies on the dollar.

Considering they drafted four 19-year-olds last draft (headlined by Jalen Green who looks like the real deal), taking a chance on Kevin Porter Jr, landing Jabari Smith Jr in this draft (Tari Eason not to be forgotten), and the inevitable collapse of the Nets, I think Stone has done well for himself. He may not have had the ideal background for the job (he was a lawyer by trade), he’s done well so far in trying to build this team back into a contender. If these kids develop and grow together, I think they can be what Boston and Golden State have been: a homegrown team contending year in and year out.

Nick Caserio of the Texans had perhaps the tallest mountain to climb. The quarterback position is the most important. He inherited one of the best young QBs in the league, but he also inherited his desire to leave and his alleged bizarre fetish that led to civil lawsuits. Some thought the haul he got was fair, while others thought it wasn’t enough. Did I mention his predecessor left the team in cap hell? Through it all, Caserio has managed to turn this team around and has them headed in the right direction. If Davis Mills proves to be a competent QB, that’ll be HUGE! However, the draft capital they have moving forward will help them draft or trade for their franchise QB if Mills isn’t the guy.

While the Astros are the only team currently in contention, the Rockets and Texans are looking like they may not be too far behind if things continue going their way. I’d LOVE to have a sit-down with all three and talk about philosophy and strategy! Houston sports are in good hands with these guys. Here’s to hoping they keep it going!

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