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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events

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Hunter Gorham,  audio photo essay, July 2012, Swelling with Neon
Hunter Gorham opens his gallery to the public for the first time for Paradise Found: Cuba Unveiled + Beauty from Around the World, where art lovers can meet this zestful creative, enjoy sweets, cocktails and music by DJ Sun. Photo by Hunter Gorham
Preservation Houston's Heights Walking Tour
Preservation Houston offers a look back at what life may have been in the Heights East Historic District, established in 1892. By learning about Victorian houses, quaint cottages and Craftsmen style bungalows, guests will be able to trace the development of residential architecture. Photo by David Bush
Ai Weiwei, never sorry
Still from the film, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Courtesy of Sundance Cinemas
Hunter Gorham,  audio photo essay, July 2012, Swelling with Neon
Preservation Houston's Heights Walking Tour
Ai Weiwei, never sorry
News_Joel Luks_head shot_column mug

On tap this week, I bring you a diverse cross section of what's nifty about this city, which often feels like a town where everyone knows your name. Read on to learn how to partake in agility demos at the Rothko Chapel, shorts from emerging playwrights, exotic travels captured in photography, a lewd costume fete, historic architecture tour, delicious barbecue and a film about a renegade artist.

Here's what you should do. Click on the hot link below each event. There, you will find a new page with a cool feature to download the information to your electronic calendar, and listings for bars, restaurants and attractions to get the most out of day/night out on the town.

Summer Sounds Concert: Brazilian Arts Foundation

It's easy to mistake the tenor of all programs at the Rothko Chapel as being serious, somber, quiet. After all, Mark Rothko's intense panels evoke a sense of reverence for the unknown while the ambience of the interiors fosters stillness and inner contemplation. But the chapel also advocates for action, and many of the activities that take place around Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk are joyful, lively and, best of all, interactive.

The Summer Sound concert series closes with the Brazilian Arts Foundation in a family-friendly demonstration of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial arts practice that mingles dance, discipline and live drumming in a circle formation.

If the weather doesn't cool off by 7 p.m., look for Fat Cat Creamery, which will be on site selling its homemade ice cream.

The deets: Thursday, 7 p.m.; Rothko Chapel; $10 suggested donation.

Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company presents Museum of Dysfunction V

From more than 200 submissions, the brains behind Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company have curated a collection of shorts from new writers itching to break into the scene. The fifth of the indie troupe's Museum of Dysfunction, it has now become an important forum to discover trends in theater and performing arts — and is best for art lovers with short attention spans.

The show runs over two weekends, and each weekend will present a completely different set of playwrights. Yes, there are some adult situations and naughty language — because it's Jennifer Decker's group — but it's cool to bring high school kids to this one. Rated PG-13.

The deets: Thursday through Aug. 18; Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios; tickets are pay-what-you-can.

Art Opening Reception: Paradise Found: Cuba Unveiled + Beauty from Around the World

Fine art photographer Hunter Gorham one day decided to leave his career in finance to pursue a passion, one which he never envisioned. He was deeply committed to journey from his days as a Rice MBA student to "slaying" it in New York City. But as they say, his life was busy making other plans.

During travels to Figure 8 Island in North Carolina, New Mexico, the islands of Ibiza, Cuba, Guatemala and many other destinations where he came onto pristine landscapes, Gorham found energy in capturing what he saw and how he felt (take a look and listen to this audio photo essay interview with Gorham).

Gorham opens his gallery to the public for the first time for Paradise Found: Cuba Unveiled + Beauty from Around the World, where art lovers can meet this zestful creative, enjoy sweets, cocktails and music by DJ Sun.

The deets: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Hunter Gorham Gallery; free event.

Planned Parenthood's "Party Like a Rock Star"

Party like you've always wanted to — but do it responsibly with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. This yearly costume fete is where you can unleash your inner megastar and get the attention you deserve, either by emulating your favorite celeb or creating your own badass persona. 

That this carouse is hosted by Planned Parenthood Young Leaders and chairs Lauren and Michael Reeder means you will surely have a good time.

The deets: Saturday, 8 p.m.; House of Dereon Media Center; tickets start at $40.

Preservation Houston's Heights Walking Tour

We have a bad habit in Houston of demolishing old buildings to erect new ones, though some pockets here and there have managed to safeguard the charm of when they were originally planned. One of them is the Heights East Historic District, established in 1892.

Preservation Houston offers a look back at what life may have been during the area's formative beginnings. By learning about Victorian houses, quaint cottages and Craftsmen style bungalows, guests will be able to trace the development of residential architecture. Who knows, perhaps somewhere in all that information is the reason why we think bigger is always better?

The deets: Sunday, 5:30 p.m.; meet at Cohen Plaza; tickets are $10, $7 for members.

Associate editor and CultureMap's resident gourmand Sarah Rufca's pick: Foodways Texas' "Low and Slow: An Evening of Smoked Food & Film"

Sarah says: "There's nothing like some classic Texas barbecue on a hot Texas evening. Scratch that: There's nothing like eating barbecue while watching short films about Texas barbecue traditions and enjoying craft beer from Saint Arnold Brewing Co. and bites from Haven, Hugo's, Reef, Revival Market and more.

"That's the draw on Aug. 9 for Foodways Texas' "Low and Slow: An Evening of Smoked Food & Film" at Saint Arnold's. Tickets are $50 and go to support Foodways Texas' mission of chronicling and promoting Texas' unique food culture."

The deets: Thursday, 7-10 p.m.; Saint Arnold Brewing Co.; tickets are $50.

Staff writer and most adorbs Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Rod Stewart & Stevie Nicks

Whitney says: "Rod Stewart! Stevie Nicks! Need more be said? Why on earth would you miss it?"

The deets: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.; Toyota Center; tickets start at $49.50.

Staff writer, architecture savant and all around awesome guy Tyler Rudick's pick: Space City Con

Tyler says: "On the heels of Comicpalooza's successful run in May, Space City Con is looking to bring a more Texas-centric geek fest this weekend. The comic convention has scheduled appearances from area celebs, like Power Ranger-turned-martial-artist Jason David Frank and Robin Shelby, who actually played Slimer in Ghostbusters 2.

The star of this year's Space City Con is the legendary Nichelle Nichols, best known for her breakout role as Uhura in the first Star Trek series and its subsequent films. Check the festival website for details and scheduling.

The deets: Friday through Sunday; Westin Galleria; tickets start at $25.

Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop dance maven Nancy Wozny's pick: Screening of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Nancy says: "The Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads may have left Hermann Park, but we can still continue to be graced by Ai Weiwei's presence. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by Alison Klayman is playing at Sundance Cinemas now.

"The film chronicles China's most famous international artist and outspoken critic. A victim of censorship and a brutal legal system, Ai tells his compelling story. First time director Klayman gives a nuanced portrait of one of the world's leading artists and activists.

The deets: Exclusive engagement at Sundance Cinemas; tickets are $7.50-10.50.

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