Even in December, Houston art never hibernates. Don’t settle down for that long winter’s nap, because there’s still so much art to see and hear. With that flurry of family and friends coming to town, we have the answer for what to do with them all: take them to the city’s museums, galleries and especially downtown public spaces. Local artists might even have the solutions to all your gift giving quandaries.
Check out these art happenings for December.
"Jasper Johns: 100 Variations on a Theme" at the Museum of Fine Arts (now through February 16, 2020)
One of the MFAH fall extraordinary sleeper exhibitions, this Jasper Johns’s monoprint series was originally created by the artist in 2015 with the intention of accompanying his "Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures." It exemplifies Johns’s innovation, displaying a series of 100 monoprints that incorporate elements he used throughout his career, including handprints, stenciled numbers, the alphabet, ASL symbols, and the string from his Catenary series of 200. Together, the 100 prints creates their own kind of narrative for viewers to explore.
"Norman Rockwell: American Freedom" at the Museum of Fine Arts (December 15-March 22, 2020)
Showcasing Rockwell’s representational paintings depicting what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s four freedoms could look like for all Americans, the exhibition includes all four paintings: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want — as well as other iconic works, including The Problem We All Live. Historical documents, photographs, videos, artifacts, and interactive digital displays also immerse visitors into Rockwell’s life and work.
"Geoff Winningham: Changing Houston" at The BioScience Research Collaborative (6566 Main St.), (December 17-March 17)
The latest project from photographer and Rice University professor Geoff Winningham, the exhibition will present selections of images of the changing Houston landscape taken over the past year. The photographs document the changing elements and interaction of both the natural and the human-made landscape of the city.
"Center of Attention" at Anya Tish Gallery (now through December 31)
This mini-solo exhibition of work by sculptor and installation artist, Dan Lam, showcases multi-textural psychotropic objects that resemble hazardous organic matter from a different universe. Her alien-like sculptures trick the senses and entice a paradoxical sensation that both repels viewers and begs them to come closer.
"Segments & Spaces" at Archway Galleries (now through January 2)
The show features new paintings and sculptures by Veronica Dyer. Dyer creates dynamic paintings and sculptures in a style that she refers to as, “abstract, with an industrial tendency.” In both her paintings and sculptures, areas of the composition are defined with geometric forms.
"Gael Stack: Flu Shot and Other Considerations" at Moody Gallery (now through January 11)
Stack’s work evokes both memory and the “gaps, sinkholes, and other chasms” found in our experiences. Her work uses fragments of words and images, often layered over one another like a palimpsest, to create a visual language which explores the past’s implacable hold on the present, and with what is unknown and unspoken occasionally poking through.
"Cheers to 50!" at Hooks-Epstein Galleries (now through January 11)
Celebrating the gallery’s 50th anniversary, this group exhibition showcases some of its past and present artists. "Cheers to 50!" will represent works in a variety of media, through exhibiting a single piece by each of its participating artists.
Downtown public art for the whole family
"Paloma and Here and Now" at Discovery Green (now through February 24, 2020)
Two pieces in one for the eyes and ears land in historic live oak grove in the park. See these lit origami styled birds from the French art collective Pitaya and hear the music of the birds from Houston sound artist Lina Dib.
"Prismatica" at Avenida Plaza in front of George R. Brown Convention Center (now through January 5, 2020)
Giant interactive prisms light up the night along Avenida de las Americas. Created and designed by RAW Design in collaboration with ATOMIC3 and produced by Quartier des Spectacles Partnership of Montreal, Canada, this installation was meant to be touched. Give these colorful art pieces a gentle rotation and sound mixes with light as soundtrack composed of bell sounds plays.
"Chimes" at Fish Plaza in front of the Wortham Center (now through December 28)
The third downtown light and sound installation was created and designed by Collectif Blackbox and produced by Quartier des Spectacles Partnership and Spectra (Illuminart). Visitors (or even the wind) become artists as they touch what looks like traditional wind chimes in the center of the installation. As the Chimes move they set off 36 light towers and eight speakers to create a kinetic light and sound art experience.
For those looking for gifts while supporting local artists, there are still some art organizations presenting holiday arts and crafts markets this month. So buy art locally at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft Maker Market (December 13-15) and Winter Collection, a Pop Up Art Shop/Market featuring works by Fifth Ward artists (December 14).
December 14 is also Sawyer Yards’ last Second Saturday Open Studios monthly event of 2019. Wander through the studios and check out the outside Market at Sawyer Yards for holiday gift-giving possibilities. This would also be a great time to catch several exhibitions that close in early January, including "You Are So Naive," "Flight of the Monarch," "Excavations," and "Urban Landscapes."