For our art exploration this month we journey across the globe, visit with a former president and first lady, view Houston through the eyes of students and take a drive and stroll through the best and weirdest of outdoor art.
From the return of the Art Car Parade to an afternoon with the Obamas, April blooms a garden of new art experiences.
“Obama Portraits Tour”at the Museum of Fine Arts (now through May 30)
Hail to the chief and first lady as the Obama Portraits from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery have landed in Houston. “Barack Obama” by Kehinde Wiley and “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama” by Amy Sherald have become a portrait sensation since they were first unveiled in 2018 in Washington D.C..
The portraits drew so many crowds at the usually stately and quiet Portrait Galley it’s perhaps no wonder immediate the decision was made to send the paintings on a museum road trip to give the rest of the country a prime view. The MFAH will be the only Texas stop on the tour.
“Not only do these iconic portraits feature history-making subjects but they were created by groundbreaking artists,” said MFAH director Gary Tinterow of the tour. “The MFAH is excited to provide our visitors the opportunity to experience the power and beauty of these celebrated works in our museum.”
“Houston, Sie Haben Ein Problem!” at Contemporary Arts Museum (now through August 28)
For first this first major solo U.S presentation of Paul Renner and Richard Hoeck’s work, the Austrian artists attempt to decipher the enigma of Houston with new exhibition taking the form of art objects, nose-to-tail cooking, and a temporary social club.
The CAMH describes their multidimensional art as encompassing unconventional ideas about food, humor, performance art, and the social potential inherent in coming together for a meal. Their work offers intimate and joyous experiences of art, eating, and community.
“The Eye On Art Program” display windows at The Ion (now through late fall)
Lina Dib’s “Self-Portrait in the Garden” and Preston Gaines’ “Fantasy Landscape”make for an artful window onto the new Ion District, as part of this new program of commissioned rotating art installations that will celebrate the building’s history and mission to draw in community.
Dib’s garden windows blossoms as a kitschy world of plants, astro- turf, pink flamingos, and bright screens, but one that changes with the viewers’ movement. Viewers also go on a fantasy journey with Gaines’ windows filled with explosive color, mysterious pre-recorded sounds, giving us a look into a hypothetical future and ever-changing landscape.
2022 True North Sculpture Project in The Heights (now through December)
Located along the 60-foot-wide esplanade of Heights Boulevard from White Oak Bayou to 20th Street, the annual True North large-scale sculpture exhibition always brings a bit of beauty and whimsey to spring in the Heights.
The 2022 lineup features work by Houston artists Jim Robertson, Israel McCloud, Guadalupe Hernandez and Rachel Gardner, Texas artist Will Larson Art Fairchild, Elizabeth Akamatsu and international artist Suguru Hiraide.
Highlights include a steel and aluminum solar-powered maneki cat, a foam and metal black giant hare, a Sphericity with a theme of connectivity, and steel clouds. True North sculpture installations always makes for one of the most artful strolls or viewing drives amid a greening and blooming landscape.
"Eye on Houston: High School Documentary Photography" at MFAH (now through winter 2023)
For 27 exhibitions, the MFAH and HISD have partnered on this annual program to encourage young Houstonians to document and celebrate the city’s diverse neighborhoods through photography.
This year, the budding artists represent nine high schools: Bellaire, Carnegie Vanguard, DeBakey, Eastwood Academy, Furr, Sam Houston, Westbury, Westside, and Jack Yates.
The students documented daily life in their respective communities, capturing moments that reflect the unprecedented year as well as their sense of self, their future, and their imminent transition into adulthood.
“Extractive Republic” and “Cherish the Clear Skies! Vitality in a Ukrainian Village” at Houston Center for Photography (April 8-June 19)
Though half a world away in subject matter, these two solo exhibitions will both explore human relationships with the land and Earth in their own ways.
Edi Hirose’s "Extractive Republic" examines challenging realities of his homeland, Peru. The artist’s photographs work against popular visions of a Peru of pristine land to exposes dramatic changes of the natural landscape stemming from human activities, such as stone-quarrying and mining.
For Jake Eshelman’s very timely photographic exploration of one Ukrainian village, the artist celebrates the vibrancy and exuberance of Ukrainian rural culture and its deep, symbiotic relationship with the lands that have spurted it.
Since 2018, Houston-based artist and visual researcher Jake Eshelman has been working in Heisykha, Kyiv Oblast, focusing on a single family and its life on a tiny ancestral farm.
35th Annual Houston Art Car Parade along Allen Parkway (April 9)
The ultimate in keeping-it-weird, only-in-Houston art events, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art’s Art Car Parade finally returns after a pandemic hibernation.
Featuring over 250 mobile masterpieces designed and created by local, national and international artists, individuals, schools, non-profits, corporations, the parade rolls the breadth of humanity’s creativity and auto-love down Allen Parkway. Gift shops, restrooms, beverage booths, food trucks, and more are dotted along the parade route.
While the parade makes for one of Houston's favorite main events, don’t forget the Art Car Ball on Friday and the Award Ceremony on Sunday both at the Orange Show Headquarters. While at the Orange Show Center, look for the new series "Entry Points," six immersive, environmental pieces by contemporary Houston artists
“Bastard of the Diaspora” at Houston Museum of African American Culture (April 16-June 15)
This new exhibition of Nigerian-American photographer Hakeem Adewumi’s work showcases the artist’s exploration to map his place within the African Diaspora.
Born in the U.S. to an American mother and Nigerian father, the artist was largely influenced by Black American culture. With his series of life-size self-portraits, Adewumi asks viewers to contemplate the concept of voyage and how it shapes identity.
“My Nigerian heritage was something left for everyone else to define for me,” explains Adewumi of his experience and art. “I had no understanding of what it meant to “be” Nigerian. So I had to take the space on the margin to claim that identity for myself.”
“Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw” at Menil Drawing Institute (April 22–August 7)
Feature more than 80 drawings from the self-taught African-American artist who also claimed Native American heritage, the exhibition will explore Yoakum’s vivid creativity, imaginative vision of the land, and deep spirituality.
Organized along themes and drawing concepts of memory, landscape, portraits and technique the exhibition will also touch on Yoakum’s extraordinary life. Born 25 years after the end of the Civil War, Yoakum served in a segregated noncombat regiment during World War and didn’t begin his artistic career until he was 71.
“Joseph Yoakum holds the rare and coveted designation of an ‘artist’s artist,’ reflecting his foundational importance to art historians, critics, members of the creative community, and other artists, all of whom continue to be inspired by his work,” explains Menil director Rebecca Rabinow in a statement about the exhibition. “Recognizing Yoakum’s agency in transforming his visual memories into extraordinary works of art has been a main goal of this exhibition and accompanying catalogue, which the Menil is delighted to bring to audiences in Houston.”