(This article was written by Steven Hughes with edits by Lisa Campos and appeared in the December issue of the Explore Harlingen Magazine.)
The last Friday of each month on “A” Street in Harlingen is home to a routine created by creatives to bring people closer to different arts. It’s called Harlingen Art Night, and it’s a monthly arts appreciation event highlighting local vendors.
“I think it is an opportunity for anybody to come out and showcase their art,” Souther Recio, owner of Cactus Valley Art & Supply Co. on Van Buren Avenue in Harlingen, said over the phone. “It’s an opportunity for our community, neighbors, to meet one another.”
Harlingen Art Night brings hundreds of people to see and shop for fine art, candles, and stones. More than 20 vendors set up from sunset to dark (7 pm to 10 pm), while local art studios and bars stay open for Art Night goers to visit.
Many characters visit Harlingen Art Night: from local actors dressed in costume for the Harlingen Community Theatre Wizard of Oz production to promote the performances to vendors selling pinned insects and folks dressing as memes on Halloween weekend.
“Watching the vendors progress and seeing their growth in confidence … it’s just nice to see their growth in their determination and talent,” Mia Garza, the co-organizer for Harlingen Art Night said over the phone. “Once you start selling, it’s validating and inspires artists to create more.”
Since its inception nearly 10 years ago in January 2014, Harlingen Art Night has evolved and opened doors for a community to establish new small businesses. In fact, the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation recently noted that Site Selection magazine named Harlingen as one of the Top 50 Best Small Cities for Small Business in the United States.
“I have a wide variety of clientele,” Salma de Leon, owner of Little Lami’s Shop who has been a Harlingen Art Night vendor approximately 50 times, said over the phone. “I’ve had more people come up to me at Art Night than any other place I’ve been to and it’s returning customers.”
Harlingen Art Night occurs on the last Friday of the month from 7 pm to 10 pm on “A” Street between Jackson and Monroe. Vendors sign up online via Google forms and pay a $5 fee in person for their spot. Contact Harlingen Art Night on Instagram (@harlingenartnight) for more information.