Pick Five (Plus)

Your weekly guide to Houston: A scandalous Blackball, the Netflix guru & upside down art

Your weekly guide to Houston: A scandalous Blackball, the Netflix guru & upside down art

Misha Penton - a little frenchiness
Divergence Vocal Theater presented an imaginative interdisciplinary performance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Courtesy of Divergence Vocal Theater
News_Take Five_Kiki Lucas_Houston Metropolitan Dance Company
Choreographer Kiki Lucas and jhon r. stronks combine forces to present an evening of individually and collaboratively choreographed works performed up close and personal by The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company. Photo by Terrill Mitchell
Events_Blackball_Marcus Sloane_Shannon Hall
Glasstire and Fresh Arts know how to throw a party. This year's "Blackball" encourages guests to dress as their favorite scandal. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
Misha Penton - a little frenchiness
News_Take Five_Kiki Lucas_Houston Metropolitan Dance Company
Events_Blackball_Marcus Sloane_Shannon Hall

Well, 2011 is now in full swing. As the fourth week of the year approaches, soon we will be reminiscing in nostalgia of things in the recent past. Hopefully, we will have influenced your extracurricular decisions and encouraged you to amuse yourself in the process. That means, get out and play. 

Where were you last week?

CultureMap folks were everywhere, including a Jerome Robbins revival of West Side Story, Alley Theatre's God of Carnage, the opening of Patricia Hernandez's Thomas Kinkade: Parody of Light at Diverseworks, plus a few random movies and bar stops. I heard CultureMap arts columnist Nancy Wozny had beer. But has she found her beer truck?

Aurora Picture show, in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, proved that it is possible to feel completely high without the necessity of anything resembling a bong. The Ann Arbor Film Festival consisted of short experimental 16mm films including animation. I now can claim that I previewed a work that combined nose bleeds, mammal-faced snakes, breast feeding and celestial intercourse ad anum. And somehow, it made sense. 

Also at MFAH, Divergence Vocal Theater refined my weekend with a little "Frenchiness," the kind you should experience with a glass of bubbly (pinky up), rich bon-bons and those dresses that make your butt stick out. Juxtaposing poetry, dance and French music composed or arranged for voice and harp, soprano Misha Penton, harpist Joanna Elliott Whitsett, dancer Meg Booker and actress Miranda Herbert created a deliciously sensual ambiance of refined ecstasy.

Claude Debussy's harp transcription of "En Bateau" from Petite Suite was nothing short of sublime and multi-scensory in the presence of exquisite impressionist visual masterpieces. Misha Penton's interpretation of Reynaldo Hahn's Paysage showed her exquisite and succulent vocal range, technically and artistically. 

Someone get me a fan. Is it getting hot in here? Good music should whisk you away and turn you on.

Onwards. What's on deck this week? Here is your weekly list.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at Rice University

What is wrong with our educational system? Netflix's own Reed Hastings will address the challenge in attaining sustainable excellence in education. Why Hastings you ask?

He is an active education advocate with many philanthropic activities in the area, serving on many boards and leading political campaigns promoting more charter schools. Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.

Houston Symphony plays Verdi's Messa da Requiem

If you are looking to experience an emotional roller coaster ride, Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem (funeral mass) is a powerful work that roams from delicate melodies to fiery and impassioned passages, the kind one would hear in horror movies.

For a piece you are most likely to recognize from films and commercials, the Houston Symphony brings in Thomas Dausgaard to lead this performance. Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Glasstire and Fresh Arts Coalition Blackball

Two fabulous organizations renowned for helping fellow artists and arts organizations, Glasstire and Fresh Arts just know how to throw a party, always with some sort of "ball" theme. And who doesn't like balls anyway?

This "Blackball" encourages guests to dress as their favorite scandal. Think Lindsay Lohan, Tom DeLay or maybe BP. Friday at 8 p.m.

Houston Girls Choir Inaugural Concert

Presented by the American Festival for the Arts  (AFA) in collaboration with Houston Grand Opera community engagement arm, HGOco, conductor Amy Lewis has been working tirelessly to put together a full-length concert with diverse repertoire. The program will also feature selected chamber groups from AFA's Academy program. Friday at 8 p.m.

Upside Down, Inside Out at Rienzi

This is a once-a-year opportunity to get down and dirty, figuratively speaking, and turn the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston European decorative arts center Rienzi inside out, outside in, downside up and upside down. What does that mean?

With the help of a specialist, selected pieces of furniture, objects and even the pantry will be exposed to reveal their contents and inner workings. Think of flashing furniture. This year, it will include the Masterson's cookbook collection and original 1950s appliances. Sunday at 1 p.m.

My illustrious colleagues' picks?

Social Media Editor Fayza Elmostehi's pick: Ozzy Osbourne

Fayza says: "He might be the most incoherent man ever to grace your television set, but the man still (somehow) makes sense on stage. And trust me — you don't have to wait 'til the weekend to let your inner freak flag fly." Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Assistant Editor Caroline Gallay's pick: Wine and Cheese Night Hike at the Houston Arboretum

Caroline says: "it's such a pretty time of year to get outside and remember that there's more to this city than pavement and traffic! It's the perfect alternative kickoff to your typical Friday night." Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Art columnist Nancy Wozny's pick: Houston Metropolitan Dance Company: 15 Two-Part InterACTiONs

Nancy says: "Houston is a virtual dance factory this weekend with numerous fresh out of the studio offerings. 15 Two-Part InterACTIONs pairs Houston Met Dance Resident Choreographer Kiki Lucas and jhon r. stronks (yes he likes his name in lowercase) in a series of improvisations based on Bach's 15-Two Part Inventions at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Studio. Stronks and Lucas are always an interesting mix and I can't wait to see what they have come with." Friday at 7:30.

Editor at Large Shelby Hodge's pick: Art4Life/arts for AIDS

Shelby says: "More than 50 national and international artists of note have donated works, curated by gallerist Barbara Davis, for this phenomenal silent auction, highlight of the evening benefiting AIDS Foundation Houston. The fundraiser begins with an artists reception, followed by the auction and concludes with dancing." Saturday at 7 p.m.

Assistant Editor and arts savant Steven Thomson's pick: Opening of CHUNKS

Steven says: "This is SKYDIVE's first exhibition in its new location at 2041 Norfolk St. As always with SKYDIVE, expect experimental forays that challenge your preconceptions of what materials mean in artwork. If you're left with any questions, just ask the artists — all eight will be in attendance." Saturday at 7 p.m.