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LGBTQ Artist Launches an Outdoor Artisan Market in Montrose

Crystal Murley’s new venture opens February 13.

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Crystal Murley is the creator of Montrose Makers. 

UPDATE, Feb. 13: Due to weather, the first installment Montrose Makers Market on February 13 will take place inside of JR’s Bar & Grill (808 Pacific St.) from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

ORIGINAL POST: Crystal Murley is on a mission, and she is inviting everyone along for the ride. The out, Houston-based artist is launching her new Montrose Makers starting February 13, and all are invited.

Passionate and determined, Murley knew she was on to something when she hatched the idea for the outdoor artisan gallery in the center of the eclectic Houston neighborhood. But how to proceed? As a proud member of Houston’s LGBTQ community, she approached the owner of South Beach about hosting the weekend market in the club’s parking lot at 810 Pacific Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month. The answer Murley received was a resounding “Yes!”  

The mission of Montrose Makers is simple: to help small businesses and local makers in the community. It will also raise funds for a different LGBTQ or Montrose-based charity each month. 

Over the past 30 years, the Montrose gayborhood developed into Houston’s epicenter for one-of-a-kind drinking and dining spots, antique stores, art galleries, thrift shops, and a thriving community of artists. But as redevelopment pressures continue to mount, Montrose’s reputation as Houston’s “coolest” neighborhood seems less secure. 

Murley agrees that her beloved Montrose is changing, and not for the better. 

“I have been a member of the community for more than 20 years, and I have seen its character alter. With this market, we are bringing the magic back to Montrose! It’s for the community, about the community, and in support of our beautiful, diverse neighborhood. This is my home, this is my extended family, and I want all to thrive!” Murley emphasizes. 

Visitors to the weekend market can peruse original works from a deep bench of local LGBTQ artists and craftspeople. As the market matures, Murley expects to add live music, food trucks, and many family-friendly elements. 

Robbie Ortega is the general manager of JR’s Bar & Grill, and he thinks Montrose Makers is a great addition for his business, for his customers, and for Montrose itself.

“Many feel that the appeal of Montrose is slipping away,” Ortega says. “The neighborhood’s appeal and identity has always been connected to art, [and this new] market brings art back. It happens during the day, which is good for local businesses. It expands our customer base by welcoming people who might not otherwise visit, and it highlights our remarkable artists. Montrose Makers Market is an awesome idea. 

Affordability is at the forefront of Murley’s mission, so there will be no admission fees for visitors. “And the goal is to keep the expenses as low as possible for the artists. Their cost is just enough to cover rent, cleanup, and marketing. JR’s Bar & Grill and South Beach are both promoting us, and the featured artists will be highlighted on all social media. My goal is to assist everyone in being successful, on every level!” 

All of the work on display at the market will be curated. Artists can rent ten-foot-square display spaces outfitted with tables for $50 per day. If participants are new to the concept of public markets, Murley stands ready to help them through the process.  

This time of year, an afternoon of outdoor shopping in Montrose sounds divine indeed. Visitors can also take pride in supporting the community and helping to promote Montrose as Houston’s all-inclusive, one-of-a-kind neighborhood.  

Learn more about Montrose Makers at CrystalMurleyArt.com, on Facebook (Montrose Makers Market) and Instagram @montrose_makers_art_market, or by calling Murley at 713-628-0780.

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Kim Hogstrom

Kim Hogstrom is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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