Retired Bellaire HS Group Director featured on Heights Arts Market First Saturday

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Even though Michael Hardy has been selling his art for almost five years, every time he sells a piece he is still humbled that someone appreciates their work enough to take it home.

Hardy taught music for 30 years, the last five of which were as conductor for Bellaire High School until his retirement in 2015. Hardy says he has always enjoyed working with wood, but ever since. he is retired, he finds comfort in knowing that he is creating art entirely with both hands.

“If something goes wrong, it’s because I messed it up,” Hardy said. “Instead of relying on a 16-year-old who broke up with his girlfriend on the day of a walking competition.”

Hardy’s work is in the spotlight this month for the Heights Arts Market First Saturday, Houston’s longest-running monthly popup event. Located at 540 W. 19 St., the next outdoor market will be on November 6th.

“What I love about what he does is that it’s old school,” said Art Market founder Mitch Cohen. “He does it like carpenters and woodworkers have always done. It doesn’t use special modern technology like computers and things like that.

“And coming from a school background, he has a great understanding of psychology and how artists approach their business as an artist, which is priceless,” Cohen said.

Hardy specializes in musical furniture such as conductor’s desks and podiums, but also manufactures common household furniture. He has always loved working with wood because of its looks and the functionality of the pieces he creates. When he retired, his woodworking hobby turned into a hobby-based business, although he was still involved in music.

“I definitely always have the opportunity to go out and do clinics and keep my hands involved,” Hardy said. “I play in community groups that I couldn’t do when I was still teaching because I just didn’t have the time to do it. So I’m still involved in music but having to do the day-to-day and all the paperwork is definitely the part that I don’t miss.

Hardy does not use woodworking as his main source of income, but uses the money he earns to continue funding his workshop.

“As a carpenter you build a coffee table, you look at it and you say ‘wow, that was fun, I want to build another one but I really don’t need another coffee table so I’ll find it. someone to buy one, “” Hardy said. “So we all end up going into business at some level.”

Hardy said it was exciting that not only were people buying his work from a stall at the market, but people from all over the country showing interest in his work as well.

“One of the first conductor’s podiums I built was for Lycée Bellaire because I was afraid to step on it,” said Hardy, who built the podium while still working at Bellaire. . “You won’t find pictures of this on my website, but I learned a few things about how to build. “

Hardy now has podiums in schools and churches in the Houston area. One of the first podiums he performed after his retirement was for one of the bands he performs with, the Houston Sinfonietta. He presented the podium as a surprise and when someone saw a photo of it, he was tasked with building another.

“That’s when it all started to take off,” Hardy said.

Hardy’s first exhibition was in 2017 when he presented music stands and drums to the Texas Music Educators Association in San Antonio. After joining the Woodworkers Club in Houston, Hardy began to find out about other places he could show his art and he soon applied for the arts market.

Despite his success, Hardy still has a streak of self-deprecation in him, he said.

“I still think to myself sometimes, do you really want to pay me for this?” Said Hardy. “It’s certainly humiliating that people want to take it into their homes and things like that.”

Hardy recognized that wooden furniture, especially music stands, can easily be damaged or scratched.

“I tell people, once it gets home, do whatever you want with it,” Hardy said. “Don’t let me know. “

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