Greetings from the Windy City.
I eloped to Chicago to catch up with family and show my respects to the matzah holiday, if only for a couple of days. While my time is filled with familial obligations, a little field trip to gallivant down Michigan Avenue led me to the footsteps of one of my favorite institutions: The Art Institute of Chicago.
Imagine my surprise when my MFAH membership granted me reciprocal benefits: Free admission and 10 percent off at the store. Score.
As I waved hello to George Seurat's pointillism masterpiece A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Gustave Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day, Van Gogh's The Bedroom and Monet's Wheatstacks series, I am reminded that there is beauty in revisiting works I have known for decades. They haven't changed much in 20 or so years. But how I look at them has.
We may consider these paintings to be traditional today, but some caused quite a riotous discourse when first shown.
A caption quoting Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1967 stating, "With the belief that what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow" points to our constantly changing attitudes to what is customary.
In Houston, Divergence Vocal Theater broke convention and presented yet another standing-room-only show. Klytemnestra continues DVT's continuum to define the genre of vocal theater, honing in on the character's deep psychological struggles rather than action. Artistic director Misha Penton rocked the role of the subversive female. Composer Dominick DiOrio's post-modern, yet accessible, style clearly draws inspiration from the past.
Karen Stokes and Leslie Scates, dance giants at the University of Houston, continue to push the envelope in Between the Lines with colleagues Sophia Torres, Becky Valls, Teresa Chapman and Toni Leago Valle. If improvisational choreography taught me anything, it's that to property execute it dancers need the rigorous contextual training of past and present styles to have the appropriate dance vocabulary to engage in its practice.
And this week? I'd encourage you to get out and partake in these:
Florescence at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
A floral competition where contestants are charged with interpreting art found in the MFAH's collection, Florescence brings out the best and a slightly fighting edge in designers from the Garden Club of America as they prune, cut and arrange their way to the top for best in show awards. The multi-day horticultural bacchanal is open for viewing on Tuesday and Wednesday ($7 general admission; $3.50 students and seniors).
On Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., guests are invited for tea and floral demonstrations ($50) followed by an opening reception at 7 p.m. with former First Lady Barbara Bush as honorary chair ($150). On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., a lecture and luncheon will also crown the kings and queens of artful floral design.
11th Annual Chefs’ Dinner benefiting the Houston Food Bank
It's baffling why a city with so much wealth has food insecurity challenges. While we concentrate on helping those abroad, we must also look at our neighbors and help those in our own city. Eat while you do so.
Chef Mark Cox of Mark’s American Cuisine and chefs Jeff Everts and Catherine Rodriguez of Olivette at The Houstonian Hotel will craft an unforgettable fine dining experience to help the Houston Food Bank continue to provide hunger relief efforts. Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.
LUMA: The Human Light Show at Miller Outdoor Theatre
You may remember this show from 2009, when capacity crowds graced the grounds of Miller Outdoor Theatre for this enlightening show. It's flashy, cutting edge, full of techie effects and fun for the whole family. Expect gravity defying acrobatic moves and powerful gymnastic displays turning humans into fireflies and meteors. And it's free. Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
Bat Tours along the Buffalo Bayou
So perhaps bats have gotten a bad rep thanks to gross depictions of blood sucking vampires. While I'd never claim that these are cute creatures, they certainly have made their home, all 250,000 (or more) of them, along the Buffalo Bayou. This 90-minute tour on the "Spirit of the Bayou" boat gives insights about the Mexican free-tailed species, how they eat, sleep and how they fit into the Houston urban landscape. Friday at dusk.
Third Annual Earth Day Festival
We could all sharpen our "green" skills and take better care of our planet by learning how to make better choices. The Earth Day Festival at Discovery Green is for the whole family filled with activities and workshops to discover ways to efficiently conserve water, air, land and energy. Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with musical entertainment all day.
My colleagues picks:
Art columnist and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: This at Main Street Theater
Nancy says: "Grief can be funny, no really it can, especially with Melissa James Gibson behind the pen. Her play This, is so ripe with witty banter that it almost makes you forget about its underlying heartfelt theme.
"Gibson's play examines the messy lives of a gang of college friends dealing with the aftermath of a spouse's death. They will crack you up while they figure it all out. This week is your last chance to check out This, too Expect terrific performances by Carolyn Johnson, Justin Doran, Daria James, Sean Patrick Judge and Mark Roberts as well." Runs through April 24.
Assistant editor and art savant Steven Thomson's pick: Texas Medical Center walking tour
Steven says: "You may be too busy rushing between appointments to realize the architectural marvels that have risen in the Texas Medical Center. This tour will allow you to appreciate the beautiful buildings, from classic Art Deco to cutting edge contemporary, that populate the nation's 12th-largest business district. Bonus: Saturday morning offers a reprieve from the area's terrible traffic." Saturday at 10 a.m.
Assistant editor and nightlife expert Caroline Gallay's pick: Bunnies on the Bayou
Caroline says: "It's one of the most OOC (that's out-of-control) outdoor parties of the year, and it's all for the benefit of local charitable organizations. I'm hitting church, then hitting the Bayou. Hope to see you there!" Sunday at 1 p.m.