On deck this week are a five-day film festival, a classical music brawl, an art auction that supports neighborhood economic development, fabulous cars, an architecture tour and a French story of revolution.
More than just a list of Houston happenings this week, be sure to click on the link below each event. There, you will find a page with helpful features, like the ability to download the details to your calendar and information about nearby amenities just in case you need a bite to eat or a place to crash for the night.
Houston Cinema Arts Festival
More than a festival screening fabulous films, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival also showcases video art that moves away from the conventions of motion picture presentation. The five-day film binge includes live electronic music and multimedia performances by The Light Surgeons and a piano musicale by Lincoln Mayorga, director of A Suitcase Full of Chocolate, a work that chronicles the life of Sofia Cosma, a Jewish pianist whose artistic journey was stifled by the Nazis and the Soviets.
Though if you are looking for bad ass flicks, independent films, lectures, chats, industry celebs, an appearance by Robert Redford, and parties, help yourself. There's an overwhelming menu of options available a la carte.
American Festival for the Arts "Piano Smackdown"
Forget proper etiquette for this classical music concert-cum-fundraiser, hosted by the American Festival for the Arts. Instead, this melodious rumble challenges local pianists to spank the ivories with big rep in benefit of the nonprofit's music education programs.
Inside the tuneful ring are Rodolfo "The Mad Dog" Morales, Jasmine "The Hammer" Hatem, Michael "The Zapster" Zuraw, Shawn "The Hurricane" Heller and Julie "The Psycho" Sacks. I expect Michael "The Mouthpiece" Remson, aka AFA's executive director, to keep things sassy and hilarious.
Don your ringside chic attire. And take that you filthy piano thang.
16th Annual "Art on the Avenue"
Let the bidding begin — and the eating and drinking, because your competitive spirit may up your ante after a kicking back a few adult beverages.
Proceeds from the sale of the work by more that 300 Texas artists will raise funds for the Avenue Community Development Corporation, a group that aims to improve communities around Washington Avenue and Northside through affordable housing and economic development.
The preview party (Thursday, 6 p.m.), chaired by Sandi Seltzer Bryant, includes goodies by Arturo's Uptown Italiano, Beavers, Café Brussels and Jenni's Noodle House and entertainment by Two Star Symphony and jhon r. stronks. The silent auction continues on 6 p.m. Saturday, with bidding ending at 9:30 p.m.
Quads, Courts & Axes: Rice University Walking Tour with Architecture Center Houston
Guilty. I am a Rice grad but know very little about the architects responsible for its signature look and feel. Douglas Newman's film Beyond the Hedges whet my curiosity to delve into the history of the buildings, particularly as the institution celebrates its centennial.
Featured on the tour are designs by Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson; John Staub; William Ward Watkin; Michael Graves; Kieren Timberlake; Ricardo Bofill; Cesar Pelli and Lake/Flato Architects, as well as art by James Turrell and Michael Heizer.
Seventh Annual Ferrari Festival
I can't afford one and I don't think I'll ever be able to — or feel the need to own one. But I sure love admiring the more than 50 exotic vehicles on display at the Seventh Annual Ferrari Festival, including a Michael Schumacher's 2009 Championship Formula 1 car, one of 17 Ferrari FXS ever made worth $1.5 million each, a race car that finished third at Daytona and the Ferrari FXX.
If out-of-this-world luxury cars aren't your thing, perhaps that the event benefits Texas Children's Cancer Center will convince you to check it out.
Staff writer and savvy Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: 25th Annual Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead Papel Picado Workshop
Whitney says: "Lawndale Art Center is wrapping up its annual Día de los Muertos celebrations with a 'papel picado' workshop on Thursday afternoon, led by art educator Jean King. Why wouldn't you want to learn, first hand, the history and the techniques behind the delicate, decorative Mexican cut paper folk art?"
Associate editor and CultureMap's resident gourmand Sarah Rufca's pick: Society for the Performing Arts presents "Good vs. Evil: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert"
Sarah says: "Anthony Bourdain's bad boy chef schtick is nothing if not practiced, so I'm excited that his return to Jones Hall will pair him with Adonis-like Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert for an appearance dubbed 'Good vs. Evil.' As Ripert's appearances on No Reservations showed, Bourdain is at his most interesting when challenged and engaged by his friend, so who knows where the night's discussion will lead."
Staff writer, architecture savant and all around good guy Tyler Rudick's pick: Screening of Ornette: Made in America
Tyler says: "Texas-born jazz innovator Ornette Coleman gets the royal treatment from acclaimed documentarian Shirley Clarke for her 1985 bio of the irreverent musician, which will be screened this weekend as part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. Mixing everything from vintage footage and video art to interviews with William Burroughs and (get this) Buckminster Fuller, Clarke weaves together a collage that covers the saxophonist's storied career and lasting imprint on the history of modern music.
A newly-restored print of the film, titled Ornette: Made in America, will be shown at Sundance Cinemas.
Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop happy-go-lucky gal Nancy Wozny's pick: Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center presents Les Miserables
Nancy says: "How fitting that Victor Hugo's story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant who does time for stealing a loaf a bread then inspiring a revolution opened on election night. Whether your guy won or not, who doesn't get teary eyed during "Bring Him Home" at the now 25 year old Les Miserables, a total phenomena in the history of musical theater.
"This version now touring through Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby has been buffed up with a new design based on paintings of Hugo using projections of the actual paintings as a moving backdrop. Expect richer orchestrations as well."