In one of the most eclectic visual art months in recent memories, look for art of the birds, bees, and bikes this May.
Several art organizations open multiple summer exhibitions and a new outdoor art festival with an Orange pedigree rides into town. Plus, get ready for a weekend art crawl, as art galleries across town spring fling their doors open for a special 3 day open house.
“Transcending Audubon”at Houston Museum of Natural Science (now through October 10)
This special exhibition features 29 framed works by acclaimed wildlife watercolor artist, and Birds and Trees of North America author, Rex Brasher, who committed to painting all of the birds of North America in their natural habitat. The framed works featured in the HMNS exhibition were selected from the their collection of the complete 12-volume set from 1929 to 1932.
Houston Art Gallery Association Spring Art Gallery Celebration (May 13-15)
Art galleries across the city will throw their doors open for a special spring weekend celebration of art. This different kind of art party offers a beautiful chance to spend an evening art crawl with friends, and maybe discover your next favorite gallery or local, national, or international artists.
Admission is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. HAGA member galleries include Anya Tish Gallery, Bill Arning Exhibitions, Bisong Art Gallery, Catherine Couturier Gallery, Deborah Colton Gallery, Dimmitt Contemporary Art, ELLIO Fine Art, Foltz Fine Art, Foto Relevance, G Spot Contemporary Art Space, Gallery Sonja Roesch, Heidi Vaughan Fine Art, Jack Meier Gallery, Laura Rathe Fine Art, McClain Gallery, Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Redbud Gallery, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, The Grogan Gallery, and Thornwood Gallery.
“The Architecture of Bees” at Architecture Center Houston (May 18-August 26)
We’re buzzing for this honey of an exhibition bringing together designers, architects, naturalists, and beekeepers to illustrate the importance and influence of bees in human design and construction.
Highlights of the show include an immersive human-scale Bee Space; art and architectural examinations of the hexagon; commissioned artwork from architect and designer, Marcus Martinez, of honeybees descending on Downtown Houston.
The exhibition will also show how bees anatomy and engineering hold inspiration for possible future human architecture solutions. The show will offer a peek into the artists’ studio in the form of a living bee hive.
Art Bike Festival at MacGregor Park (May 21)
Bikes get into the art vehicle phenomenon in this new festival from Houston Parks Board and the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Building on the success of the iconic Art Car Parade, the Art Bike Festival will bring together Houstonians of all ages to celebrate Houston’s great parks and trails through art and creativity. The day-long celebration kicks off at 9 am in MacGregor Park, with the bike parade pedaling in at 10 am.
Individuals can then join the parade of art bikes some created by students from more than 100 HISD schools. An organized bike route along Brays Bayou Greenway from MacGregor Park to the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art campus will invite community members, families, and friends to cycle together to an afternoon of awards, activities, and art.
“Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks” at Contemporary Arts Museum (May 27–October 2)
Working primarily in figuration, the Ghanaian artist, known for his vibrant use of color and thick improvisational gestures, has become one of the most influential artists of his generation.
The title of this new CAMH was inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’s the Souls of Black Folk, with the show featuring Boafo’s paintings that represent the nuance and complexities of Black life globally. The CAMH notes that Boafo creates images that actively center Black subjectivity, Black joy, the Black gaze, and radical care as a foundational framework for his artistic practice.
The exhibition features over thirty works created between 2016–2022, including a site- specific wall painting made specifically for CAMH.
“Boafo’s portraits are vital and urgent celebrations of Black joy, with unique tactile painting methods that go beyond representation to add life to each of his subjects,” says Hesse McGraw, CAMH executive director.
“Sad Girls” at Art League Houston (May 27-July 23)
The title of the exhibition of multi disciplinary, first-generation Honduran- American artist Jasmine Zelaya reference to Chola culture, the distinctive style characterized by dark, undulating hair, winged eyeliner, and dark lipstick.
Zelaya references Chola imagery in her paintings and sculptures of these Sad Girls, but also applies graphic floral patterns over the faces.
Art League describes that these flowered patterns mask the tensions that lie beneath the surface of portraits’ appearance, but also offer a kind of personal protection from the world. These floral elements also serve as symbols of not only a familial narrative, but the contrast of the natural and artificial world.
“Never Free to Rest” at Art League Houston (May 27-July 23)
This multidisciplinary exhibition of work by award-winning Detroit artist Rashaun Rucker features a body of work that compares the life and origins of a commonly found bird in cities around the world known as the Rock Pigeon, to the stereotypes and myths of the constructed identities of Black men in the United States of America.
Of the art, Rucker says the work “...intends to communicate how the environment we have been placed in as Black people, created by generational systemic oppressions, becomes a reluctant contentment rather than a fleeting station—the ‘why’ of ‘Black men often don’t fly’ (achieve)—even though we can fly beyond these constructed circumstances.”
“Pressure Cookie” at Art League Houston (May 27-July 23)
This installation of abstract large paintings and small sculptures by Houston artist Melinda Laszczynski were created from dyed and cast paper pulp encrusted with paint, glitter, found objects, and other materials.
The artist layers color and texture to create dense, tactile landscapes, some of which are multiples cast from a single painting. Embedded within these forms are fragments of cassette tape, documents, and notes that the artist’s grandmother shredded as she began to struggle with dementia.
Through a process of soaking, blending, pouring, drying, folding, and layering, these materials are altered much like memory-rearranged, forgotten, recalled, and rearranged again.
“A Dressing the Future: The Ecofiction of Nicole Dextras” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (May 28-September 10)
Craft meets film in this new exhibition of environmental artist Nicole Dextras’s set and costume designs from her dystopian film trilogy, A Dressing the Future (2016—present), including Waiting for Spring: Persephone and the Pomegranate, Chronos: Time of Sand, and the third film currently in development.
The show will feature the art that goes into the making of film art, including video excerpts; a selection of plant-based costumes; and ephemera that includes props, models, and other set components.
HCCC notes that Dextras was inspired by the environmental art movement that emerged in the 1960s in her artistic practice, “which incorporates her meticulous use of materials, encourages sustainable decision-making on an individual level, as well as within the fashion and film industries.”
“Made to Last: The Legacy of the Jubilee Quilt Circle” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (May 28-September 10)
Held in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of The Community Artists’ Collective (The Collective), the exhibition showcases a selection of quilts made by current participants and founding members and honors the quilting traditions and narratives of the African American community.
As The Collective has always made quilting and sewing an important part of their programming, they officially named The Jubilee Quilt Circle in 2007 as a regular program. The exhibition offers insights into the importance of the program while celebrating the transformative process of quilting and the powerful connections this art form creates across generations.