In our My Top 5 series, we turn to the Houstonians who create and shape Houston’s character. This week we’re very pleased to present one of the city’s most prolific muralists and artists, Royal Sumikat. She is one of the four local artists who is currently working in residence at Asia Society Texas Center as part of the museum’s Artists on Site program, which continues through Sunday, January 24, 2021.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Royal Sumikat
- Taking in all the unique art in Houston – So many new art spots have emerged in the last year you can easily spend a whole weekend immersed in art. Seismique is my new favorite spot, an interactive museum that makes my futuristic cyber heart happy. The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is now open and I love the light installations in the tunnels that lead to the building; I can easily spend a whole day in this building alone. For a more intimate art experience, Alief Art House, situated in Houston’s International District, is open by appointment and features local artists. The top result when you search for “Houston art museum” is usually the MFAH but take some time to explore smaller art museums and galleries such as The Asia Society of Texas, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and The Station Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Eating – It wouldn’t be a Houston top five list without mentioning food! Henderson & Kane is an all-in-one spot—a small neighborhood grocer situated in Old Sixth Ward that supports small businesses by selling their wares, products, and food. They also serve weekend brunch, Monday steak night, pastries, and barbecue! And speaking of barbecue, Blood Brothers BBQ in Asiatown is a must try for their Asian and Louisiana fusion items. One of my unconventional go-to spots in Asiatown is Gerry’s Grill, a Filipino restaurant that tastes like mom’s cooking. Try the Crispy Pata but make sure to bring four loved ones to help you tackle this dish. If you and your party have a hard time zeroing in on a restaurant, check out the downtown food hall, Understory. They have burgers, coffee, pastries, tacos, and more. Flip ’n Patties is my favorite restaurant at Understory. For dinner and cocktails, check out the Houston themed bar and restaurant, Eighteen36.
- Plant shopping – This year, I transformed my backyard into a garden and found out I had a green thumb. I’ve been keeping a list of favorite nurseries and plant shops so I can add to my growing backyard forest. JRN Nursery in Alief is a large nursery where you can buy annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, fruit trees, flowers, etc. I love their variety of Asia native plants that grow well in our climate. This is where I got my bitter melon and dragonfruit plants. Wabash Feed is where I get my planting herbs, organic fertilizer, and books for gardening in Houston. For a unique plant shopping experience, The Blessings Gallery in Montrose not only sells plants but also jewelry, vinyl records, and apparel.
- Market strolling – One of my favorite things to do on Saturday morning is grab breakfast and coffee at Urban Harvest Farmers Market before I grab a dozen organic eggs from the Three Sisters Farm booth. The Market At Sawyer Yards happens every second Saturday. I usually view the art inside Winter and Summer Street Studios before I load up on local honey and homemade salsa. First Saturday Arts Market in the Heights is the place to be for unique gifts, art, and chill live music.
- Art Supply Shopping – I love Jerry’s Artarama because they have the best prices on acrylic paints and they have a rewards program; be sure to sign up. If you’re into making sustainable art, you can easily get lost at Texas Art Asylum. They sell everything from doll parts, old photos, to vintage cameras. For affordable spray paint that I use for my murals, I frequent AlvaGraphics.
About Royal Sumikat
Born in the Philippines and now living in Houston, Royal Sumikat is a multi-city muralist and painter, and a futuristic artist. She works with spray paint, gouache, acrylic paints, markers, and the app Procreate. The images in her works come off as if they’re contradicting each other but are intentionally done to highlight the contrast in colors, ideas, and textures. Sumikat’s work is informed by her experiences as an immigrant, community organizer, and priestess—taking inspiration from the spaces afforded by these different identities. Storytelling and mythology are prevalent in her work as she aims to strengthen the connection she has with her ancestors. You can see Sumikat at work at Asia Society Texas Center through Sunday, January 24, 2021, as part of the museum’s Artists on Site program.