Sawyer Yards duo making waves of positivity

Chrissy Doolen, left, with Holly Nowak in front of their Winter Street Studio.

Keeping a good attitude and a smile on one’s face can be an uphill battle for many people these days. Two Houston artists, tired of the constant battle against bad news, decided to create something positive they could share with the public and see if that could spread.

Chrissy Doolen and Holly Nowak named their project “The Ripple Effect,” because they want to create a ripple effect of love and peace in these troubling times.

The unveiling of “The Ripple Effect,” is Saturday, July 11 from noon-5 p.m. at Second Saturday Open Studios at Sawyer Yards in their studio at Winter Street Studios #C6, 2101 Winter St.

It was only last month that I introduced Nowak and Doolen’s studio mates, artists Stacy Gresell and Lisa Morales, who together created the “Thought Hive.” It’s an uplifting interactive sculpture that the public assists in creating with their thoughts on paper inserted into the “hive.”

There is a lot of creativity coming out of studio #C6. I asked Nowak and Doolen to tell me how the  “The Ripple Effect” came about and why.

“We just returned from a gorgeous and relaxing family vacation that had inspired me beyond words and I woke up one morning just feeling mentally exhausted,” Nowak said. “I guess I was hoping everything would have settled down politically and with COVID but it hadn’t. Creatively this was leaving me with a huge barrier. I found myself being snarky, watching way too much news and unable to delve into commissions and creative projects I have in mind.

“I decided I needed to change, soften my words and my heart and hopefully that would create a ripple effect,” Nowak continued. “It doesn’t mean I’m not staying informed or that I’m checking out. It just meant, to me, that it’s OK to take a breath, to find something positive, loving or happy each day and try to share that with others who are probably feeling the way I am. Tense. I called Chrissy and proposed the idea of a collaborative project between us with my paintings and her beautiful jewelry. We landed on the idea of hearts, hearts that would symbolize what we were thinking and feeling and the idea of creating a ripple effect.”

Doolen emphasized how we can lift our spirits, together.

“Holly and I have been feeding off each other’s creativity since we opened the studio,” Doolen said. “We both are always looking for ways to expand our inspiration. When she called and asked what can we do after returning from her vacation, a heart-full collaboration was born. We were both feeling the gloom of what we as Americans are all going through. We decided we must share the love, start a ripple effect.”

I like their tagline. It really emphasizes the kind of attitude that could lift us all up: “During uncertainty one thing remains true … If you have love in your heart and you let it spread you can create a ripple effect.”

At Sawyer Yards Second Saturdays, many artists that have studios open their doors to the public. Be mindful that social distancing and mask-wearing will be observed as well as crowd size. Find more at

For more information on Doolen and Nowak, visit their websites ( and

The Market at Sawyer Yards takes place this Saturday, too, right outside their studio door from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit

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