Across the nation, fall means fair time. But in Houston, where we always do things in our unique style, October brings a veritable art harvest in the form of fairs, markets, and festivals. Whether you’re looking to begin your holiday shopping for crafty gifts a bit early or are a serious collector of contemporary art, this month brings the perfect art-buying opportunity.
And for those who want to a visual Halloween treat, a few museum and gallery exhibitions showcase everything from Monet to LEGO sculptures.
So, mark your calendars for an October filled with some of the coolest fair-weather art.
Art markets and festivals
Texas Contemporary at George R. Brown Convention Center (October 10-13)
For art collectors, mid-October presents one of the most important weekends of the year. Texas Contemporary brings 75 national and international renowned exhibitors to town to give Houston a chance to explore in one place the best up-and-coming and already-arrived contemporary artists. Look for a VIP opening night party, intriguing installations throughout the Convention Center venue, panel discussions, and informative programming on topics ranging from artistic activism to Houston postmodernism.
stARTup Art Fair at Hotel Icon (October 11 - October 13)
A new art market comes to town for one of Houston’s biggest art buying weekends, bringing a unique way of connecting artists to art-admirers/buyers. Look for a full transformation of the third and fourth floors of the Hotel Icon into what the fair representatives are calling “an immersive, contemporary art experience through the exhibition of artwork by a diverse group of independent artists, local art nonprofits, artist performances, installations and panel discussions.”
Bayou City Art Festival Downtown (October 12-13)
Nearing its 50-year anniversary, the Art Colony Association event has become an art tradition for many Houstonians. Spend the day or weekend downtown strolling the art-filled streets and view the work of 300 artists from around the world, representing 19 different disciplines. Look for food venders throughout the festival as well as live entertainment in the City Hall tent, roaming performers, and a children’s creative zone.
Art @ Discovery Green (October 25)
Art buying season is still not over, as the night belongs to this annual juried art festival featuring over 70 artists selling their fine arts and crafts. Recently named one of the Great Public Spaces in America, the whole park joins in this celebration of independent artists with a demonstrations stage and cultural performances on Avenida de las Americas.
Exhibition and installation openings
"The Art of Brick" at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (October 7-March 29, 2020)
For a bit of art and fun for all ages, head to the HMNS for the world’s largest display of LEGO art and sculptures by contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya. It’s probably the only exhibition where you’ll see recreations of Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa alongside a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton (comprised of over 80,000 LEGO bricks).
Houston Sculpture Month, citywide (October 12-November 30)
Houston goes 3D with its annual focus on sculpture in venues and public spaces throughout the city. Look for the opening show at SITE Gallery (with the theme "Outta Space"), which is housed in the re-purposed physical structure of the old Success Rice Silos. Also look for eclectic venues like The Hangar at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum and the entry rotunda of City Hall, as well as galleries throughout the city.
"Monet to Picasso: A Very Private Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (October 20-January 12, 2020)
The MFAH gives us two things we love in one exhibition: Impressionism and a good mystery. We don’t know who the collector is, but we do know MFAH director Gary Tinterow will curate and the MFAH will be the only venue for this exhibition presenting over 30 major paintings from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and 20th-century abstraction periods. Look for Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Mary Cassatt, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger.
"Berthe Morisot: Impressionist Original" at the MFAH (October 20-January 12, 2020)
This companion show to "Monet to Picasso" focuses on the work of the revolutionary female Impressionist especially known for depicting women’s lives with intimate glimpses their private spheres. This new exhibition will showcase her figure paintings and portraits with Impressionistic depictions of faces that perhaps reveal the inner lives beneath the surface.
"Riding the Tiger: The Art of Bert Long, Jr." at Houston Museum of African American Culture (October 24-November 9)
HMAAC partners with Deborah Colton Gallery for this exhibition of the acclaimed late artist's work. A mostly self-taught painter, sculptor, and photographer, Long’s work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Dallas Art Museum, and the MFAH. HMAAC established its Bert Long, Jr. Gallery in 2015, and since has showcased the work of more than 20 emerging artists there.
"Jacqueline Nova: Creación da la Tierra" at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston (October 19-January 4)
Contemporary art isn’t only about the eyes, as the pioneering figure of electroacoustic music in Colombia, and one of Latin America's most important avant-garde and experimental musicians of the 20th century teaches us. "Creación da la Tierra" is the first installation of the late Colombian composer's soundscape work presented in a United States art museum. In this immersive sound installation, the late composer explores the boundaries between music and noise, and between the oral and the aural.