Your weekly guide: Five (plus) don't-miss events — a wild Betty White & Menilbirthday included
On the schedule this week are a couple of big name comediennes, musical fabulousness, foodie heaven, a fundraiser to enliven preservation efforts and world premiere performances featuring the oeuvres of women.
Here's how I can help: Click on the link below each event description to visit a page with helpful features that will make planning your outing easier. Download the details to your calendar and check out what's around your destination, in case you have the urge to shop, drink or find a place to crash for the night — because you never know what will ensue from painting the town.
Planned Parenthood's "I'm here for you" with comedian Lizz Winstead
The first time funny lady Lizz Winstead had sex at age 16 — picture a nice, proper, popular cheerleader Catholic dating a hunky hockey player — the pill didn't work. She got pregnant.
"Well you dumb bitch, you are on your own here," she remembers her beau saying in 1978. Needless to say, that wasn't the answer she was hoping for. She was in a pickle. She thought she had found help at a random health center, but that didn't pan out very well.
That experience is why she's an advocate for Planned Parenthood, turning to comedy to tell her story.
If you are not familiar with her work, she is the co-creator of The Daily Show, the executive producer of Weekends with Maury and Connie and she writes for the Huffington Post. Winstead is in town to make audiences laugh and raise funds for the nonprofit's Action Fund, a separate, political faction that lobbies for sex education and supports pro-choice electoral candidates.
Ars Lyrica presents "It Takes Two "
Two is company, so they say. Though in the case of Ars Lyrica, two is all it takes to blow you away, musically that is. The first time I heard harpsichord badass Matthew Dirst and baroque oboist/recorder doyen Kathryn Montoya at a Museum of Fine Arts, Houston intimate musicale, I was stupefied by how their artistry isn't confined to the physicality of their respective instruments.
How they communicated is akin a seamless, impromptu dialogue, escaping the limitations of the written page.
Brilliant Lecture Series presents Betty White
I haven't met anyone who doesn't have some sort of connection to the work of Betty White. For me, it all began with her delightfully naive Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, of which she is the last surviving cast member, her conniving role in Boston Legal, where her silly antics with James Spader's Alan Shore still tickle my funny bone, and now, Hot in Cleveland. She celebrated her 90th birthday in January — and hasn't slowed down much.
There's more to White than her characters reveal, of course. She's passionate about animal wellfare, philanthropy and using her you-can-trust-me persona for good. Aren't you just dying to know what she has to say? Brilliant Lectures hosts this sassy dame for two performances.
"Autumn Concerto in Eight Courses: A Choreographed Celebration of Music, Food & Wine" with Triniti and Mercury
I predicted the second coming of this feast for the ears, eyes and mouth, because last year's was an overwhelming success. Though I didn't attend, and I regret not doing so, the reports from my colleagues are tempting me to savor the tastes and sounds of the collaborative efforts between chef Ryan Hildebrand and sommelier Fred Zennati of Triniti with Mercury's maestro, Antoine Plante.
As Mercury expands its ethos to encompass music beyond the baroque period, it's also doing so across genres — and that includes the culinary arts. Music and gastronomy commingle to rouse what promises to be a multi-sensory escapade. Yum!
We are in.
Menil 25th Birthday Party
The Menil has been the talk of the town lately. The John Cage Musicircus debaucherie last weekend, Yo-Yo Ma's performance as part of a museum benefit and the upcoming Philip Glass concert, which includes a commission from this minimalist composer, has heightened everyone's awareness of what's happening inside the Renzo Piano-designed building.
And yet I've heard more than a handful people say, "You know, I should really go there sometime." I am enticed to respond with a pimp-plus-bitch slap a la mode of sassy gay friend and judge with a shrewd, "Look at your life, look at your choices."
This al fresco anniversary celebration welcomes the Kashmere Reunion Stage Band, the TSU Jazz Ensemble — each will offer their own version of "Happy Birthday" — and City Dance Company. We recommend packing a picnic blanket, having the little ones participate in the scavenger hunt, grabbing a slice of birthday cake and feeling free to dance to the groovy tunes.
To understand more about why the Menil Collection is such a source of pride for Houstonians — and a cultural destination for tourists — peruse the anniversary exhibition Dear John & Dominique: Letters and Drawings from the Menil Archives and call in to the Voices of the Menil: A Cell Phone Audio Walk.
Associate editor and CultureMap food writer Sarah Rufca's pick: CultureMap's Backyard Burger Grill Off
Sarah says: "It's not just burgers, although there will be plenty of those — classic burgers, over-the-top burgers, ethnically inspired burgers, you name it. It's all these burgers, plus samples from six of Houston's awesome local breweries, music, shuffleboard, bocce and more. Add perfect weather at Discovery Green, and you've got the ultimate way to say goodbye to summer."
Photo editor and design savant Barbara Kuntz's pick: Historic Houston Salvage Warehouse Fundraiser "The Art of Restoration"
Barbara says: "Who's to call for period items like claw-foot tubs, pedestal sinks or glass door knobs? Historic Houston's Salvage Warehouse, of course, as the organization moves toward reopening at a new location with its first fundraiser, 'The Art of Restoration.'
Enjoy great food and wine, tour this circa-1900 house in early stages of renovation and make a donation to help 'restore' Salvage Warehouse, the local source for reclaimed historic building materials for a decade. Ashton Martini, Martha Turner Properties realtor and Heights resident, is hosting the benefit for Historic Houston Salvage Warehouse; Lynn Edmundson is the warehouse's founder and executive director.
Staff writer and savvy Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Pretty Lights in concert
Whitney says: "After the sun went down on Sunday at Free Press Summer Fest, the crowd thinned, the temperatures cooled and I danced to Pretty Lights on the steep hillside with total abandon, trying my best to avoid pizza boxes and mud leftover from the slip-and-slide.
"Bayou Music Center may be a slightly tamer venue. Monday morning may come early, but that electronic music is so universally infectious that you'll adopt an inhibition and a devil-may-care sensibility — perfect for dancing the night away."
Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop dance pundit Nancy Wozny's pick: Houston Ballet presents "Women@Art"
Nancy says: "The first time I saw Aszure Barton I was bleary-eyed after watching 40 hours of dance at the presenters conference in New York. Barton said it was fine to hoot and holler during her work, and my next thought was, bring this girl to Texas. And SPA did end up bringing her riveting Busk two years ago.
"Good thing Houston Ballet chief Stanton Welch was in the audience. Houston Ballet premieres her newest creation, Angular Momentum, set to a dynamic Mason Bates score. I got to sit in early in the creation process so I can guarantee that you are going to see one exciting and complicated ballet. Barton's highly idiosyncratic movement makes a perfect fit for Houston Ballet's versatile tribe. Julie Adam's moving Ketubah and Twyla Tharp's neoclassical masterwork, The Brahms - Haydn Variations, rounds out the program."