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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events, including the tea lady's goodbye

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Sandor Ostlund
Ostlund will bow and pluck his oversized fiddle at River Oaks Chamber Orchestra Chamber Concert Series at Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Annex. Courtesy of Sandor Ostlund
Thia McKann, The Path of Tea, December 2012
On Christmas Day, Houston lost a representative of what's good about the city: People willing to do whatever to help others. Thia McKann's life will be celebrated at Unity of Houston. The Path of Tea/Facebook
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Untitled (Ophelia) by Gregory Crewdson from the Twilight series. As featured in Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, a film by Ben Shapiro. A Zeitgeist Films release. Photo by © Gregory Crewdson
Neuro Presents Magnificent 7 Ice Carving Competition
Sandor Ostlund
Thia McKann, The Path of Tea, December 2012
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
News_Joel Luks_head shot_column mug

On tap this first week of the year are a cool competition, an artsy shopping spree, an artful affair, tunes by an unlikely instrument, a visually rich film screening and a get-together that lauds the life of one of Houston's beloved pathfinders who departed much too soon.

To better organize your outing, click on the links below each event. There, you'll find helpful features like the ability to save the information to electronic calendar alongside handy tips for where to eat, drink and shop near your final destination.

A Memorial Service Celebrating The Life of Thia McKann

I remember the first time I patronized the Path of Tea. I was clueless. I was looking for healthier options to satiate my need for caffeine. There she was, Thia McKann, smiling, inspiring, full of joy, willing to take the time to help me in my quest.

I bought tea, and lots of it, though what I received was beyond mere infused beverages. I gained a friend, a confidant, a trusted kindred spirit with whom I shared many laughs and tears.

On Christmas Day, Houston lost a representative of what's good about the city: People willing to do whatever to assist others. Her vibrant, colorful life will be remembered at this celebration.

Forgo traditional gestures for this type of occasion. Instead, make a donation to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in Thia McKann's name in honor of her late daughter, Misty Mahon Purcell.

Don't dress in black. Opt for bright attire that mirrors her effervescent, vivacious soul.

The deets: Thursday, 3 p.m.; Unity of Houston.

Neuro presents the Magnificent 7 Ice Carving Competition

The weekend forecast calls for chilly temperatures, perfect for ice sculptors to morph huge blocks of ice made from 1,500 gallons of recycled rain into works of temporary art. Using drills, blow torches, chisels and chainsaws, seven magnificent ice smiths, including Aaron Costic, Buddy Rasmussen, Danny Bloss, Steve Brice, Heather Brice, Max Zuleta and Benjamin Rand, will vie for people's choice, cash and best in show.

The deets: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Discovery Green; free event.

First Saturday Arts Market 2013

The monthly gathering of local merchants celebrates a milestone this week: The First Saturday Arts Market turns 9 years old. Artists of various genres will exhibit their goods on 19th Street on the parking lot between Wind Water Gallery and Gen's Antiques while strollers enjoy entertainment courtesy of Joe Holmesly, Ken Gaines, CowJazz, Wild Rabbit Salad and Springfield Creamery and sustenance from H-Town StrEATS and Vintners Own Winery.

Organizers feature a different charity at each event. On Saturday, guests will learn about Harley's Angels — Cruzin to Cure, a coterie of ladies on wheels on a speedy mission to spread awareness about cancer.

The deets: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; 548 W 19th St.; free event.

Art opening reception: Lizbeth Ortiz solo exhibition with Blue OneThirty

I suppose you could call Lizbeth Ortiz one of the contributors to the city's underground, alternative art scene. Except her colorful aesthetic has found its way into the galleries of more traditional art collectors because of the Fauvist-like treatment of hues and the strength by which she portrays extroverted and introverted emotions.

This solo show, titled Azulfrida, comprises a new series of photo-realistic portraits in oil, not multi-media, mused by recent studies at the Glassell School of Art. Works by Blue OneThirty will also be on display.

The deets: Friday, 6 to 8 p.m.; East End Studio Gallery; free event.

River Oaks Chamber Orchestra Chamber Concert Series at Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Annex

The double bass is an instrument that's often felt, not always heard. In traditional orchestral works, it's frequently the harmonic support that allows treble voices to do their thing. Yet a capable bass player has the prowess to pull off virtuosic feats just like their higher counterparts. 

ROCO principal Sandor Ostlund wowed listeners when he premiered Scott McAllister's Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra in 2010. Bigger is better at his solo recital, where Ostlund will bow and pluck his oversized fiddle with music by Edgar Meyer, Bach, a showpiece arranged by Frank Proto on themes by Bizet's Carmen and popular tunes by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

The deets: Sunday, 4 p.m.; Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Annex; tickets are $20.

Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop film loving gal Nancy Wozny's pick: Screening of Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Nancy says: " 'My pictures are about the search for a moment, a perfect moment,' Gregory Crewdson explains in Ben Shapiro's documentary Gregory Crewdson Brief Encounters. Shapiro's film takes us deep into the heart of how Crewdson meticulously constructs his surreal and melancholic images. Shapiro followed Crewdson around from 2005 to 2009 during the creation of his series Beneath the Roses.

"Listening to Crewdson talk about his Brooklyn childhood, including stories about his psychoanalyst father who treated his patients in the basement, sheds light on the photographer's famous psychological narratives of small town life. With influences such as Diane Arbus, Edward Hopper and David Lynch you know you are in for a wild visual ride."

The deets: Friday, Saturday and Jan. 18; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; tickets are $9, discounts are available for students, seniors and MFAH members.

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