We have a lot of art to unwrap this month, from a pharaoh’s treasures to history documenting photography to light sculptures inspired by the shapes of Houston.
December presents a wealth of new visual art exhibitions and installations to explore. And if you’re still looking for that perfect gift for someone special, especially yourself, we’ve got our eyes on the hottest art markets this month.
“Maryam Jafri: A Broad and Narrow Point” at Blaffer Art Museum (now through January 9, 2022)
This exhibition of the acclaimed contemporary media artist will combine some of her earlier and newer series to give viewers an extensive perspective on Jafri’s film, photography and installation creations.
This “Point” will juxtapose works from Jafri’s newer series “Everyday Model” with earlier artworks “Home Office” and “Hi Maryam” along with Jafri’s “Disappearance Online” and “Getty vs Ghana.”
Together the artworks highlight her explorations of the alternative economies that circulate within the branding of products and people.
“Mosaic of Light” at Discovery Green (now through February 27, 2022)
Downtown’s favorite and most eclectic park has always brought us something special to light up the holidays — and this year is no different, with this commissioned large-scale installation by California design studio, HYBYCOZO.
Consisting of 24 sculptures made of laser cut metal, these giant ornament-style pieces hang within the oak trees of Brown Promenade. During the day they hang as golden baubles in the trees but at night the glowing sculptures create light and dancing shadows throughout the park.
Two of the sculptures were even inspired by Houstonians answer to the question: What shapes evoke Houston? Check out the Discovery Green website for winter programming around this resplendent “Light.”
“Frame of Reference” at Houston Museum of African American Culture (now through March 5, 2022)
This new installation spotlights the work of Houston’s own April M. Frazier, the acclaimed documentary and lifestyle photographer. Both personal and cultural, the photography in “Frame” focus on sacrifice and love that are the foundation of Black families’ accomplishments and survival.
The installation includes portraits from “Black Chronicles” on loan from Autograph, the London based photographic art institution. HMAAC describes that Frazier uses 16 portraits from “Black Chronicles” to correspond with images in the installation “to show the universal beauty, style and significance of AfriDescent peoples.”
“Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs” at Houston Museum of Natural Science (now through June 19, 2022)
This monumental exhibition of art and artifacts premieres in Houston before heading off on a global tour. Focusing on the life and centuries of later influence of one of the greatest Egyptian pharaohs, Ramses the Great.
The exhibition will be the ultimate present for history buffs and amateur Egyptologist, but show also the reveals the art fit for a king that surrounded Ramses in life and then death.
Look for 181 rare Egyptian artifacts including sarcophagi, jewelry, royal masks, and amulets. “Ramses” even gives visitors a 3000 year old view into the artists process with beautiful ostraca pieces, the slates of limestone the artisans used to draft their designs.
From art most ancient to cutting-edge, immersive animation, "Ramses" also offers a separate ticketed VR experience, "Ramses & Nefertari: Journey to Osiris." "Tickets to “Ramses” also allow patrons exclusive access to the HMNS’s newly renovated Hall of Ancient Egypt.
“Wall Drawing Series: Marcia Kure” at Menil Drawing Institute (now through August 2022)
This latest large-scale commission for the MDI’s ongoing series of ephemeral wall drawings bring the internationally renowned Nigerian artist a wall stage for her multidisciplinary work.
The Menil notes that Kure is well known for works featuring the curvilinear Uli line, an abstract design motif associated with Nigeria and best known for its application in temporary circumstances like body painting and murals.
For her Menil commission, Kure says “Line, I’ve always understood, is not a mere mark on paper, it’s something that contains memory, purpose, and thought. Line is something that we all engage with daily, our entire body participates in making the mark, implicating us all in a vast interconnected and entangled network that continues beyond the wall.”
“Collection Close-up: Bruce Davidson’s Photographs” at the Menil Collection (December 10-May 22, 2022)
The pioneering artist of documentary photograph in the 20th century gets the spotlight in this new exhibition featuring 70 of Davidson’s photographs.
From circus performers to Welsh miners to New York City neighborhoods to the civil rights movement, Menil director, Rebecca Rabinow, notes that “Davidson’s work focuses on the many challenges faced by American and European multiracial, multiethnic societies that promise liberty yet struggle to achieve racial and economic equity and justice.”
The “Close-up” works come from an anonymous gift to the museum of approximately 350 of Davidson’s photographs, which have never before been on view at the Menil and will strengthen the Menil’s already large collection of civil rights era photograph.
Holiday Art Sales and Markets
The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft has reopened their gift shop as the Asher Gallery Holiday Popup market (through December 24) for one of the best selections of craft-centric and handmade gifts in the city.
Discovery Green’s Flea by Night, the open-air market featuring local artisans and small business owners selling vintage, handmade, recycled, repurposed, and local goods, hits the park December 11 and 18.
Sawyer Yards' Second Saturday (December 11) open studio and outdoor market always gets into the holiday and community art spirit this month.
Though they took a COVID year off in 2020, one of our favorite shopping events to collect works by the freshest up and coming artists, the MFAH Glassell School’s Student Sale is back December 10-12.