Pick Five (Plus)
Your weekly guide to Houston: Unbeweavable finds at HCCC, Salsa for the streetsand living the luxe life Paris-style
Busy week? It sure beats the other extreme — boredom. Here at CultureMap, we are feeling the beginning buzz of the 2011-12 art season and social calendar. Whether you prefer an informal gathering, an artsy evening or a back-tie soiree — with so many things to do, why stay home? That's my philosophy.
Here are a few of last week's highlights:
Think art crime is sexy? With images of foxy Hollywood stars carrying out art heists, it's tempting to see why we would almost excuse anyone worthy of a magazine cover if they decided to dabble in art theft. Robert Wittman, retired FBI art crime investigator and author of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures told a different story. With on-the-job anecdotes and even video of actual arrests, guests at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston got the inside scoop on the realities of the cultural black market.
Houston Symphony opened its classic series with a joyful bang, literally. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Ode to Joy" set the tone for what promises to be a tuneful season, though we did notice that the wind section had changed drastically — no more Robert Atherholt on oboe, bassoonist Rian Craypo is on leave, piccoloist Allison Jewett is on medical leave hoping to overcome focal dystonia (she did sing the in the chorus) and principal flutist Aralee Dorough was absent.
That didn't stop the performance from being highly spirited, just as the piece should be, earning a roaring standing ovation.
Bering Omega Community Services' Sing for Hope marathon black-tie gala kept guests out and about from 5:30 p.m. to late into the night — and morning. The lovely musicale delivered a mix of art songs, arias and hilarious and soulful show tunes. The highlight of the musical evening was a soaring duet between soprano and Sing for Hope founder Camille Zamora and tenor Michael Slattery, accompanied by a small harmonium, vocalizing — with a touch of antiphonal improv — the melody of "The Water is Wide" as arranged by British composer Benjamin Britten.
At the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Mark Vorderbruggen had quite the spread of our city's wild edibles, including amaranth, black walnuts and plenty of leafy veggies we might otherwise think of as weeds. If I ever find myself lost in the woods, I can say that I now know what to eat — and what not to eat. His Edible Wild Plants class was packed.
Now for this week. Pencil these in your must-do calendar:
Sunset Picnic Foodie Float
Now that the weather has cooled down — even if only slightly — can I entice you with a genteel cruise through Houston' urban wilderness? What if we threw in some vino and tasty bites? Hop aboard Buffalo Bayou Partnership's pontoon tour boat for just such an afternoon on Thursday, where friendly guests mix and mingle while getting a tour of the waterways that gave birth to the Bayou City.
You'll never know who you'll meet. The company is always chatty and delightful. Toss in picnic favorites from Café Luz — I hear charcuterie, mini pies and pickled seasonal veggies are on the menu — and you have a float worth your time and your $50. Meet at the Sabine to Bagby Promenade.
Aurora Picture Show presents Media Archeology 2011: "Rewind-Play-Fast Forward"
When the quirkiest art venues in the city come together, cool things transpire. One such happening is Aurora Picture Show's Media Archeology 2011, in collaboration with Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
During this series of performances, installations and interactive presentations inspired by how artists connect with the gaming industry, you'll find yourself hanging out with a cyber dog and serenaded by FrenetiCore's Robert Thoth to the sounds of 1970s and '80s songs accompanied by a low-tech orchestra.
It's a three-day media fest from Thursday through Saturday at Chick and Chica on Main, The Menil Collection, Aurora Video Library and The Orange Show.
Houston Symphony presents Brahms’ Violin Concerto
It doesn't matter how many times you've heard — or more accurately, experienced — the Brahms Violin Concerto. Its rich sonorities, timeless melodies and delicious harmonies resonate with classical music lovers and novices alike. James Ehnes brings a fresh approach to the piece, so I'll be curious to check out what I learn from listening to his interpretation.
Plus, Pierre Jalbert, a composer on faculty at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, will have a piece premiered by the Houston Symphony that he wrote as a memorial to 9-11. It's emotional, though it ends with hope, peace and healing. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jones Hall.
"Salsa y Salud" - A Salsa and Health Event at Miller Outdoor Theatre
It's where the cool kids will be heading on Saturday night. Miller Outdoor Theatre will host a Latin dance bacchanal that mixes sassy beats with a citywide health initiative. For those that are a little rhythmically challenged, the eve begins with a free salsa dance lesson for anyone that cares to join.
The concept is well thought out — we wouldn't expect anything less from Raúl Orlando Edwards. He has one foot in modern music (at the Foundation of Modern Music) and another in dance. As director of the Strictly Street Salsa troupe, he knows how to dazzle audiences. Expect more than 60 performers shaking their groove things to the sounds of the All-Stars Salsa Orchestra. Saturday beginning at 6 p.m.
Life and Luxury Concerts: Music for a Paris Salon with Ars Lyrica
On Sunday, a new exhibition opens at MFAH that couples 18th-century French paintings with objects, clothes, furniture and personal items that epitomize the lavish lifestyle of the day. Vignettes set up throughout the exhibit halls chronicle exactly how the upper echelon lived day to day. That silver brush so deliciously depicted in that painting? Look, it's over here in this display box. And that stunningly intricate coat worn by the man in that portrait? Displayed conveniently right next to it.
What better way to understand the spirit of the day than by layering yet another art form? Ars Lyrica is just the Grammy-nominated ensemble to do so. Led by harpsichordist Matthew Dirst, two concerts will be performed Sunday at 3 p.m. (non-ticketed) and 7 p.m. (ticketed).
Lifestyle contributor and Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Contemporary Handweavers of Houston's 27th Annual Sale "Weaving and Beyond"at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Whitney says: "Ask any of my friends: I'm a total sucker for a lovely textile. My favorite part of traveling is winding through market stalls in search of nice patterns, delicate embroidery, woven blankets and colorful rugs. This is why I'll be heading to the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston's 27th Annual "Weaving and Beyond" sale at the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts over the weekend." Thursday through Saturday.
Arts contributor and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Third Coast Dance Film Festival at Rice Media Center
Nancy says: "Yes, the camera can dance. Third Coast Dance Film Festival moves into its second year on Friday and Saturday with an impressive line-up of local and international dance filmmakers. Curated by Rosie Trump, the festival hones in on recent work, mostly made by women choreographers. I'm especially proud that the festival includes four local artists: Lydia Hance, Y.E. Torres, Ashley Horn and Emily Lockard. It all goes down at Rice Media Center, and it's free."
Photo editor and design junkie Barbara Kuntz's pick: Discovery Green Flea Market
Barbara says: "You never know when a broken piece of jewelry (future collage?), old lamp base (painted and topped off with a new shade?) or fabric remnants (string-drawn pouches for potpourri?) will come in handy for spontaneous projects. So, I'm there at the Discovery Green Flea Market on Saturday to restock on stuff. I'll probably find inspiration, too, from a prize fix-up treasure. I usually do."
Arts contributor and urbanist Tyler Rudick's pick: Italian Neorealist Classics Screening Series at MFAH: The Bicycle Thieves
Tyler says: "Cited as a major influence to Hollywood’s gritty Film Noir and France’s free-wheeling New Wave, Italian Neorealism is known for its untrained actors, location shots and the often painful details of everyday life. Filmed in the genre’s trademark quasi-documentary style, Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 classic The Bicycle Thieves ranks among one of my personal faves, and I’ve never seen it on the big screen.
A tale of poverty and desperation in postwar Rome, De Sica’s film follows a man’s search for a his stolen bicycle, which he needs for his new job pasting movie posters around town. I’ll admit, the plotline is on the dark and tragic side — but the film as a whole is truly unforgettable." Saturday at 7 p.m.