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Top 5 Art Videos

Top 5 arts videos: From devil fiddle to dancing on water, Houston is a creative powerhouse

Top 5 arts videos prove that Houston is a creative powerhouse

FrenetiCore presents Quench
What started as a short video turned into a mini-documentary that featured FrenetiCore Dance Theater's Quench. Photo by Joel Luks
Hardanger fiddle Apollo Chamber Players
The Apollo Chamber Players has been featured in a handful of CultureMap videos, but this one spotlights an instrument that reveals the group's purpose. Photo by Joel Luks
2 Kirill Gerstein prepares piano for Houston Symphony performance September 2013
Pianist Kirill Gerstein, in town to solo with the Houston Symphony, working with a piano technician to adjust the key action to his liking. Photo by Joel Luks
Grant Manier, Bayou Bend Art Festival, March 2013
Grant Manier is the poster child for what it means to always look on the bright side. Photo by Joel Luks
Printmaking Anna Mavromatis Archway Gallery INK PrintHouston
Ahead of an exhibition at Archway Gallery, three printmakers invited me into their studios to get a glimpse of their world. Photo by Joel Luks
FrenetiCore presents Quench
Hardanger fiddle Apollo Chamber Players
2 Kirill Gerstein prepares piano for Houston Symphony performance September 2013
Grant Manier, Bayou Bend Art Festival, March 2013
Printmaking Anna Mavromatis Archway Gallery INK PrintHouston

I was bored. I had a little bit of cash from my birthday and I had an itch to spend it. An hour or so later, I had a video camera in my hands. In a nutshell, that's how my journey with video making began.

I created the "Art and About" adventures on CultureMap to highlight the many artsy offerings that kept me creatively engaged. These videos have taken on many versions — some co-hosted by the lovely Nancy Wozny (aka "CultureSis"), others shot from the comfort of the front seat of my car. The first one ever is particularly "special," my speaking portion having been filmed inside of my garage but pretending to be somewhere else, with a kitty emergency in the middle of it.

Five years later, the enjoyment that comes from seeing artists at work hasn't subsided one bit. If anything, telling their story has morphed from a fun activity into a huge responsibility.

As CultureMap prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary, here's a nostalgic look at my favorite five arts videos that reveal Houston as a creative powerhouse.

Amazing video combines dance and water: Get drenched in euphoria with Quench summer show

While my intention was to capture enough footage to craft a three-minute (ish) segment,  I couldn't bring myself to cut down all the gorgeous moments and beautiful visuals that I witnessed during a FrenetiCore Dance Theater rehearsal. It may have been the first time that the company came in contact with this original choreography's main element, water, but perhaps it was this thrill that roused the dancers to give it their all. So much so that while editing I had to hide my watery eyes from my colleagues. Thankfully I have an impressive monitor. Like really big.

Don't be afraid: A mysterious devil fiddle is headed to Houston, but it means no harm

You could say that I've been following the Apollo Chamber Players since before their formative days: All of the founding members were my colleagues at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. I've watch them grow from a talented string quartet to a determined nonprofit with a clear mission and purpose. The group has been featured in a handful of CultureMap videos, but this is by far my favorite as it spotlights an exquisite devilish instrument that gets to the root of the ensemble's purpose: To highlight the intersection between classical and folk music.

Musical daredevil: Pianist takes big risks for Houston Symphony, debuts $140K concert puppy

It's not everyday that a world class traveling virtuoso invites you to hang out with him as he prepares to perform one of the beasts of the repertoire. Pianist Kirill Gerstein, who was in Houston to perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Houston Symphony, wasn't just practicing, he was working with a piano technician to adjust the key action just to his liking. He prefers the response to feel as a race car — quick, responsive but risky.

Autistic artist Grant Manier is a rising star: "Coolages" king racks up awards and changes thinking

You can't help but fall in love with this young man. Grant Manier — he was 17 years old at the time of the video shoot — is the poster child for what it means to always look on the bright side. He may have autism, but that doesn't stop him from creating art, from running an art business and from helping others just like him. If this video teaches one thing is that there's always something to be learned from every situation. 

Inked in mystery: Hot-off-the-press summer exhibition explores hand-rolled ancient art

The difficulty in understanding printmaking lies in the many variations of the art form as well as the confusion that arises from using the term to describe a reproduction. We may call a reproduction a print, but it's far removed from the ancient technique that's alive and well in Houston. Ahead of an exhibition at Archway Gallery, three printmakers invited me into their studios to get a glimpse of their world.

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CultureMap is celebrating its fifth birthday with a big party on Oct. 10 from  7 - 10 p.m. at the new JW Marriott Houston Downtown, with a portion of proceeds going to Casa de Esperanza. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.