Saint Arnold Restaurant Showcasing UHD Students' Artwork
By: Mike Emery
Houstonians have long turned to Saint Arnold Brewing Company for cold, craft beverages.
Now, city dwellers can enjoy those drinks alongside a meal within the Saint Arnold’s brand new (and much anticipated) Beer Garden and Restaurant (2000 Lyons Ave.). These additions to the local brewery recently opened, and patrons can enjoy ales, lagers, fine dining—and original artwork from University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) students.
Inside the restaurant, a hallway features an exhibition of art by UHD students: Kelvin Goodings, Kelsi Rios, Brenda Chapa, Bendi Rios-Lazo and Chelsea Markcray.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company and UHD are long-time neighbors, as well as partners in various initiatives, including the annual Santo de Mayo 5k Run. During the restaurant’s construction, the idea came about to feature new artwork on its walls. Fortunately, UHD’s creative minds were ready and willing to contribute several paintings to the new eatery.
“I got the word that student work was needed, so I spread the word,” said Mark Cervenka, director of UHD’s O’Kane Gallery and associate professor of art. “Five students told me they wanted to participate, and it happened pretty quickly.”
Student artwork on view includes “Nightly Glow” and “Tears” by Markcray. “Nightly Glow” (composed on black paper with ink, water colors and salt) takes its inspiration from an Instagram photo of comedian Amy Schumer while “Tears” (composed with colored pencils on manila paper) was influenced by the works of painter Mark Ryden. It depicts a maudlin young lady drenched in teardrops.
“As a student, most of my art has only been on display at galleries,” said Markcray, a senior fine arts major. “To have these works on display at Saint Arnold means new people from around the city will see my art.”
Another work on display is Chapa’s “Slimey Slug” (vibrant acrylics on canvas). As the title indicates, the artist focused the work on a common garden snail.
“Sometimes, we just need to focus on the smaller things in life,” said Chapa, a senior bilingual education major.
The Saint Arnold exhibition is Chapa’s first experience showcasing her work off campus. She appreciates the opportunity to it viewed by new audiences.
“I always focus on showing my work to my family and friends, but never thought that others might have some interest in them,” she said. “I hope they will enjoy them as much as I do, because when I paint I want to show the brighter side of things, even if it might be a bit unusual.”
Chapa is grateful to Saint Arnold for providing this experience, but she’s equally indebted to her professors.
“UHD has helped me grow as an artist because of the great support and push from my art professors,” she said. “They have always critiqued and guided me to push my limits to do more and also figure out what is my art of art. Having them as mentors and professors has truly been a blessing as to who I am as an artist today.”
Fellow artist Rios echoes this sentiment. Her work “Piece of Mind” (acrylic on canvas) reflects the transition from a dark, stressful moment into a calm, sunlit sensation.
“UHD has a great fine arts program,” said Rios, a sophomore fine arts major. “You meet people who have the same passion as you. The professors go above and beyond by helping you find where you fit in the art world.”
The University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts through its College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Students work in studios with noted artists, such as Cervenka and Floyd Newsum (whose works are displayed around the globe, including the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture). They also learn from knowledgeable art history professors including Dr. Susan Baker and Dr. Azar Rejaie. The program prepares students for creative careers in art, museum curation and administration, advertising, photography, and other disciplines.
UHD and Saint Arnold also have collaborated on gallery openings at the O’Kane Gallery, Alumni Association events, the Thursday Night Concert Series at Discovery Green and other projects.
“Saint Arnold Brewing Company has partnered with UHD over the past few years on various initiatives,” said Lennie Ambrose, Saint Arnold’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s cool for us to have the University almost right next door and to have its students represented at our new restaurant.”
“UHD has helped me grow as an artist because of the great support and push from my art professors.They have always critiqued and guided me to push my limits to do more and also figure out what is my art of art. Having them as mentors and professors has truly been a blessing as to who I am as an artist today.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.