Houstonian finds rainbow at the end of the storm – at Carol Simon’s art studio
Artist Carol Simon’s studio is known by many as a “happy place” – a colorful getaway, where guests always leave with a smile on their faces.
Her rainbow-hued art recently became a sign of hope after a storm – when one Houstonian stumbled onto the studio after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Sergio Cantarero was preparing to close on his new house in Montrose as the hurricane headed to the coast.
All of his possessions from his last home in San Francisco were packed up and waiting for him in a warehouse.
Movers were scheduled to deliver his boxes the day Harvey was scheduled to hit Houston. The night before, Cantarero canceled the appointment, not wanting the crew to get caught in the storm.
After the rain subsided, Cantarero’s house was untouched.
His possessions, waiting in the warehouse, however, were ruined.
“I had a feeling something happened,” he said. “I called, and they told me the roof had collapsed. They couldn’t get in for two months.”
While only one of his shipping containers was under the roof, the sprinkler system had flooded all of his possessions. Two months later, everything was contaminated with mildew and mold.
“When I got there, I saw the devastation,” Cantarero said. “The first thing I saw was one of my art pieces lying on the floor, completely destroyed. I started to cry and ran out of the warehouse.”
He lost almost everything he owned – including his art collection and personal memorabilia, like Christmas ornaments that he had amassed for 15 years.
“I had to throw everything away,” Cantarero said.
Estimates to repair his ruined art came in at more than $30,000.
A friend told him about the Silos at Sawyer Yards – and when he wanted to start putting his life back together, he headed to the studios to shop for art.
“I wanted to start putting color on my walls,” he said.
The studio building was almost empty. He looked into a window to see if he could find an artist at work.
That’s when he spotted painter Carol Simon – and she invited him into her studio.
Visitors to Simon’s space can feel the stresses and strains of everyday life melt away.
“Every time we have an open studio, someone comes in for the first time and says, ‘Oh I love it here; this room makes me so happy,’” Simon said.
Simon creates her paintings by applying brightly colored alcohol-based inks to Plexiglas – and the resulting vivid hues spoke to Cantarero.
He told the artist about his story – and then he purchased two paintings.
Right now, Cantarero is buying new furniture to replace what he used to own. He’s still trying to piece together the items needed to make his house a home.
“I already have a room with a lot of new pieces of art,” he said. “Right now I’m looking at this as a new beginning. I’m turning something negative into something positive.”
Simon said that happiness is what she wants to project in her studio space.
“I love creating a place where people can come in, feel good and be surrounded by color,” she said. “I’m so touched that Sergio found joy in what I created.”
Having a personal connection with the artist is important, Cantarero said.
“Bringing a piece of art into your house is like bringing a part of the artist home,” he said. “It has to be a good fit.”
Simon’s work makes him happy – and Cantarero said it speaks to the power of art.
“Especially when you’re going through something bad, you’re going to want to bring some joy into your life,” he said.
And that’s just what he’s done – with original, vivid, hopeful art.
For more information about Carol Simon and her art, visit www.carolsimonstudio.com.