Journey of creating an award-winning art car!

This year, Arts District Houston (powered by Fresh Arts) is celebrating our 10 year anniversary of becoming a state-recognized cultural arts district by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA). To commemorate this significant milestone, we commissioned an artist to help us create our very first art car. 


The art car will serve not only as a beautiful moving mural, but also as a mobile welcome center to spread greater awareness of the arts and culture that thrive in the historic 1st and 6th Ward neighborhoods that make up Arts District Houston. Most importantly, the car is a ‘thank you’ gift to the community for a decade of support that will foster even deeper connections for years to come.


The car embodies a vibrant tapestry of wonders and attractions! Notice the distinctive icons that make the Arts District such a unique place to visit including: the rice silos, historic architecture, Buffalo Bayou Park and public sculptures. It blends history and modern allure in a captivating harmony. The whimsical and imaginative design pays tribute to both the area’s architectural gems and the community who support the creative ecosystem boasting the largest concentration of working artists in the state of Texas. 


Feast your eyes on the locomotive masterpiece created by first time art car artist and 6th Ward native Kearin Cook and keep reading to learn all about our journey together from start to finish!


On January 11, we launched a call for artists to propose designs that would transform our 1991 Chevy Suburban (generously donated by Frank Carranza) into a mobile masterpiece


On February 27, we announced Kearin Cook as the winning artist, selected out of 16 applicants. We rewarded Kearin with an $8,000 stipend and introduced her to Rickey Polidore, an award-winning art car artist and pillar of Houston’s art community, who we hired to mentor her through her process. Then they got to work.


On March 16, we hosted a Community Paint Day at Knapp Chevrolet. This was a family-friendly event that introduced the community to Kearin and the art car in progress. It began with the wonderful Laura Conely from Urban Paths leading a walking tour of the Arts District and highlighting many distinctive icons included in Kearin’s design. The tour ended at Knapp Chevrolet where, inspired by the sights and history of the neighborhood, participants added their own creative touch to the car. 


On April 5, we hosted a Preview Party at Meive Gallery. This incredible evening featured Kearin speaking on her journey as a first time art car artist, the esteemed TCA Commissioner Theresa Chang commemorating our 10 year anniversary and receiving Fresh Arts’ 2024 Honoree Award, amazing bites by Henderson & Kane, free cocktails by Lalo Spirits, lovely music by Taylor Marberry, and of course, tons of fun posing for pictures with Kearin and the newly completed art car.


On April 10, ABC13 “Localish” aired a segment featuring Kearin and Fresh Arts’ Cultural Arts Manager Nicole Peralta talking about the art car process.


April 12, 2024 marked the official 10 year anniversary of Arts District Houston’s proclamation as a state-recognized cultural arts district.


On April 13, we premiered the car at Houston’s 37th Annual Art Car Parade presented by Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, the world’s largest celebration of art cars, in front of 300,000 cheering fans!


Houston’s historic Art Car Parade provided the perfect backdrop for us to celebrate The District’s milestone and reflect on its profound impact over the past decade. This vibrant district has created countless opportunities for hundreds of artists and engaged thousands of visitors. It was fitting that we spent the official anniversary weekend spotlighting our Art Car artist, Kearin Cook, and connecting with thousands of parade spectators.


On April 14, Fresh Arts x Arts District Houston won the 1st Place for ‘Best Nonprofit Art Car’ at the Orange Show’s Art Car Awards Ceremony – the perfect way to round out an already wonderful journey and the ultimate testament to Kearin’s hard work and undeniable talent. 




Arts District Houston x Fresh Arts extend an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who made the success of this journey possible: Texas Commision on the Arts, Frank Carranza, Rickey Polidore, Kearin Cook, Knapp Chevrolet, Urban Paths, Tumble 22, Meive Gallery, Lalo Spirits, Henderson & Kane, Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, Like Minds Communications, Nicole Peralta, the Fresh Arts Team, and last but certainly not least: everyone who attended our events, gave donations, and participated in our activations. We truly could not have done it without you.


Special thanks to Kevin Trinidad and Marixa Namir Andrade for documenting the journey.




About Kearin

Kearin Cook was born and raised in Houston and is a graduate of Pratt Institute with a bachelor’s degree in Illustration. After studying in New York City at the start of her career, she recently returned to Houston to be closer to her family and to continue painting local murals and pursuing her career as an illustrator. Her mural work can be seen at Houston establishments such as Betelgeuse Betelgeuse, Wolfsmiths Heights, Manready Mercantile, and Texas Avenue BnB.


@kearinever |




About Arts District Houston x Fresh Arts

Arts District Houston is one of seven state-designated cultural districts in Houston. Situated in the city center along the Washington Avenue Corridor, this colorful, urban, artist-centered community is made up of the historic First and Sixth Ward neighborhoods and is home to MECA, Buffalo Bayou Park, Sawyer Yards, and much more. 


Arts District Houston is powered by Fresh Arts, a nonprofit which amplifies the district’s ability to serve artists and the greater community through artist-centered public art projects and initiatives. These initiatives help build capacity, audiences, and shared resources for the artists and creative businesses that compose the district and create new opportunities to showcase the diversity of Houston-area artists.


@artsdistrichou | @freshartsorg |

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