Art Valet: Festival Veteran Celebrates Heights Market Anniversary | art valet

Everyone loves a good story. I am on. Anyone who looks at a painting by artist Jack Connelly will definitely see a story.

Connelly will join more than 40 artists, Heights musician Kevin Jefferies and Houston Cider Co. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday for the 18th anniversary of the First Saturday Arts Market. The market is located at 540 W. 19th St.

I often write in this space about the trials and adventures of running an open-air market. The real stories, however, are with the artists and in their art. And I guarantee you that Connelly, who specializes in science fiction and warfare, has stories.

One of five siblings, Connelly came to Houston from Oklahoma in the mid-1960s and, as he says, he’s all Houstonian. As a self-taught artist, Connelly was fascinated by airplanes from the age of 4 and never stopped drawing and painting them.

Connelly told me the only art class he ever took was in school, at my own alma mater, Sharpstown High School. His art teacher threw away his work because he didn’t like it. It’s hard !

His endless love for painting WWII aircraft, however, won a following of wartime veterans who commissioned him to paint the planes they flew, flew, or fought.

All of these requests come with a story, of course. Some of the requested paint details included aircraft damage – a hole the size of a Jeep, for example – flying upside down and, of course, dogfighting.

Veterans were great clients, he told me Connelly, giving him free rein to create as he saw it through his artistic vision. This resulted in very happy customers, some in tears as they watched their memories come to life on the canvas.

By 1974, Connelly was attending art exhibitions throughout the state, including the Westheimer Colony Art Festival, the start of the Bayou City Art Festival.

Connelly’s second passion for painting is science fiction. As a science fiction buff myself, I see each of his paintings as a book cover, giving me a glimpse into the adventures behind the surreal southwest sunsets with ringed planets in the sky, saucers flying and, yes, little green people sometimes, too.

Unlike the many references available for his World War II planes and paintings, the art of science fiction sprang from Connelly’s imagination. In fact, he confessed to never watching that popular late ’70s movie that made the phrase “May the force be with you” famous.

Honestly, he doesn’t need outside influences. Science fiction is where Connelly’s sense of wonder, humor and love for nature are apparent. It mixes history, familiar landscapes and the occasional chat into the mix.

Ask him. There is a story in there. Although he may also ask you what the story is.

This is about the 10th year that Connelly has exhibited his work at the First Saturday Arts Market, one of the only outdoor exhibitions he still holds.

It’s an honor ! Visit Connelly this Saturday and the remaining spring markets. Its website,https://www.jackconnellyart.comalso has an extensive collection available.

Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find it on for additional highlights and artist stories.

Christopher S. Washington