In a year most horrible, art survived. And as our favorite museums, galleries, and installations reopened across Houston, they sometimes became places of respite amid the upheaval. Now as we enter the last month of 2020, new exhibitions and shows continue to open to bring us some joy to the season.
This month also brings some of the coolest art and crafts markets to gift a bit of beauty and fun. Finally, December rings in the last chance to see several of our favorite exhibitions from the fall, before a new year brings in a flurry of spectacular shows for winter 2021.
Art and gift markets
While we think it’s probably a coincidence, Saturday, December 5, has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year for those looking to buy locally and artfully for the holidays. Check out a special holiday shopping event at Silver Street Studios featuring art, jewelry, photographs, and sculptures from many of the studio artists themselves.
Levy Park host its annual outdoor holiday market (December 4-6) with local vendors offering arts, crafts, clothing and edible treats. Discovery Green brings back Flea by Night, December 5, and its funky offerings ranging from artful kitsch, recycled collectibles, and arts and crafts by local artisans and designers.
Meanwhile, if you’d rather shop virtually the beloved Nutcracker Market has gone remote this year. Online shoppers can find unique holiday items, home décor, gourmet food, apparel, jewelry, toys, accessories, pet items, candles, and more through December 11.
Exhibitions and openings
New Galleries for American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The opening of Nancy and Rich Kinder Building reverberates throughout the MFAH’s Sarofim Campus bringing large and small changes to the other exhibition spaces. Case in point, the American galleries in the Beck Building. With many of the modern works now moved to the Kinder building affording more space in the Beck, it gave curators a chance to rethink and reimagine what American art stories could be told with some of our favorite cherished works from the American collection along with new acquisitions. The MFAH says the reinstalled galleries will highlight stories of “class, race, immigration and gender that defined, and continue to define, this nation.”
"Between Sea and Sky: Blue and White Ceramics from Persia and Beyond" at the MFAH (now through May 31, 2021)
One color combo that never goes out of style, at least when it comes to ceramics, is blue and white. This new exhibition organized at the MFAH traces the origins of these classic color. Using exquisite works from the Hossein Afshar Collection of Persian ceramics, on long term loan to the museum, the exhibit traces the meeting of cobalt blue from the Persian Gulf and the ceramic techniques from China.
Sailing through time on a sea and sky of blue and white, the exhibition follows the evolution of shapes, techniques and glazes into contemporary ceramic history with additional works from Bayou Bend and Rienzi collections, as well examples of Japanese Arita ware from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Collection.
"Breaking Tradition: Contemporary Approaches to the Decorative Arts" at the Center for Contemporary Craft (now through January 2, 2021)
The exhibition highlights the work of three artists, Sophie Glenn, Steven Young Lee, and Beth Lipman. Challenging the dominant cultural narratives of the decorative arts these artists create unconventional furniture, porcelain, photography, and cast-metal pieces.
“By recontextualizing traditional archetypes, patterns, and decorative motifs in a modern world, these three artists look critically at how they identify with these cultural artifacts,” describes HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall. See how this rebel craft works break all the rules.
"Steven Holl: Making Architecture" at the MFAH (December 4-February 14, 2021)
After spending time roaming through the Glassell School and new Kinder Building, take a trip into the mind and designs of the architect who envisioned them, Steven Holl. With water color, models, drawings and photographs, the exhibition examines the inspirations and process of Holl’s designs, including such buildings as the The Kennedy Center Expansion, Washington D.C.; the Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in London; and the campus redevelopment master plan for the MFAH.
Second Saturday Open Studios at Sawyer Yards (December 12)
The last open studios plus the monthly outdoor market of the year might be the perfect chance to do some more art gift giving. But the second Saturday is also always a good excuse to take a look at the latest exhibitions within the different studio venues. Be sure to check out the just opened “Wabi Sabi” show at Silver Street centered around the concept of finding beauty in simplicity and imperfection.
Dance fans shouldn’t miss “Boundless” at the Silos. Ashkan Roayaee took photos of Texas dancers, including several Houston Ballet dancers, and then invited 12 Houston artists to transform those images using their own medium, including paint, ink, and other materials. Together, performing and visual artists depict the beauty in collaboration.
"Asymmetry of Entropy" at SITE Gallery (December 12-February 13, 2021)
This interactive experiential installation from Daniel Fuller reinterprets the process of entering a black hole. Visitors enter the piece one at a time to a simulated journey through the accretion disk, across the event horizon, and into the black hole. Fuller installed this light and sound piece inside the old rice silos that we now know as SITE Gallery and because of the interactive nature Asymmetry will be available to experienced at certain dates/time corresponding with Sawyer Yard’s Second Saturday events.
"Monuments" at Discovery Green (December 12-January 18)
Houston’s unsung heroes become art in Australian artist, Craig Walsh’s site specific video installation in the park. Monuments uses the Discovery Green trees as canvas, projecting the faces of these heroes onto the leafy canopy. These heroes were nominated by regular Houstonians and selected by a committee composed of respected community leaders, and their stories will be told on the Discovery Green website and social media.
Last Chance to See
“Mandela: Struggle for Freedom” at the Holocaust Museum Houston (closes January 3)
This U.S premiere of the extraordinary, international exhibition focusing on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy is on our must-see list. Divided into five zones: Apartheid, Defiance, Repression, Mobilization, and Freedom, the exhibition gives visitors a new perspective on history. Featuring art, artifacts and oral histories, the exhibition tells the story of Mandela’s life, but also reminds us of the continuing struggle for human rights and freedom.
“States of Mind: Art and American Democracy” at the Moody Center for the Arts (closes December 19)
The Moody Center reopened its door with this special exhibition just in time for the election. Featuring a mix of emerging artists making their Texas debut and acclaimed contemporary artists, the multi-gallery spanning show will likely provoke audiences emotionally and intellectually. Some of the current issues addressed in “States of Mind” include immigration, gun control, the police, social unrest, and the very nature of democracy.
"Glory of Spain: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library" at the MFAH (closes January 3, 2021)
The monumental exhibition from the collections of the New York–based Hispanic Society Museum & Library focused on the art and culture of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines, from antiquity up until the early 20th century. Look for 200 objects, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, maps, textiles, porcelains and ceramics, and metalwork and jewelry and masterpieces from El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya.