Pick Five (Plus)
Your weekly guide to Houston: Young Professionals Olympics, a foodieValentine's, lion feeding & The Lemonheads
I would feel horribly guilty describing the white, sandy, desolate beaches sprinkled with oversized beach beds and hammocks aplenty that served as my backdrop for a week-long holiday in the Dominican Republic.
I couldn't bring myself to talk about how lovely it was to be sequestered in a seaside private villa staffed with a chef and equipped with a secluded pool and an endless supply of equatorial fruits.
Or, the countless hot men wearing white eager to fetch indulgent potations, the kind crowned with a pineapple chunk, a maraschino cherry and one of those whimsical yellow cocktail parasols.
So I won't.
Instead, I'll just report that even for an arts junkie like myself, I needed a sojourn from my routine to refocus, re-energize and re-connect with what gives me the greatest joy: Family.
Yes, I was away all last week. Miss me?
So this week, I have amassed a lineup of happenings and gatherings around the organizations — and the people behind them — that I have a cultural affair with, and those that never cease to do meaningful work in Houston.
Seems appropriate with Valentine's Day approaching. Agree? Love's in the air.
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater February Performance at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
My forte is classical music — schooled and trained in the art form. But I'm obsessed with dance, particularly troupes that challenge the boundaries of their respective genres while remaining grounded in the classics. Meet Dominic Walsh Dance Theater.
This week's mixed repertory performance offers an opportunity to experience a wide variety of genres within contemporary ballet. As a principal for many years at the Houston Ballet, Dominic Walsh's experience is evident in his fusion of exquisite technique with emotional content that often brings me and those around me to tears.
Expect a smorgasboard of dance, including works by Jiří Kylián, excerpts from Walsh's The Trilogy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and an appearance by one of Houston's beloved danseuses interpreting the company's The Dying Swan, set to the music of Camille Saint-Saëns. Lauren Anderson, Walsh's partner at the ballet, was in the spotlight at the October performance.
Who's on tap this time around? Find out Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $15.
Young Texans Against Cancer (YTAC) Olympics at Spotts Park
Now here's a Young Professionals group that means business. Sure, many organizations have them, but not all can produce results, bring in the cash and gather support. But the folks behind Young Texans Against Cancer manage to do it all with events that bring a smile to everyone involved.
At the Third Annual YTAC Olympic Games, teams of 10 will pit their physical skills against one another. Think tug-o-war, relay race, bike race, obstacle course and hill sledding. Brave enough to take on the challenge?
While doing so, help yourself to an adult beverage, burgers by The Counter, drinks by Bud Light and Vitamin Water and take home a T-shirt, make new friends and keep plenty of hilarious memories.
Sunday at 1 p.m. at Spotts Park. Team entry fees range from $400 to $600.
Tapas on the Trails at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
This foodie plus nature event is your answer to Valentine's Day planning woes. Forget fancy restaurant reservations, the obligatory dozen roses or box of candy filled with unnecessary sugar and empty calories.
On Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, meander hand-in-hand with your better half, or one you'd like to romance, through the wooded 155-acre nature sanctuary and savor the culinary skills of Randy Rucker and pastry god Dan Budd, who incidentally, is also teaching a chocolate class on Friday at 7 p.m. ($45-$55).
Food stations and wine pairings will be set up through the trails, ending at the Meadow Deck across the pond, where guests will enjoy a little bubbly, a gourmet cup of java and aphrodisiac desserts. Tickets are $75 for Arboretum members are $85 for non-members.
Beastly Brunch at the Zoo
Love kitty cats? I like the big ones. So I won't miss the opportunity to be the one person selected to help feed a lion at Houston Zoo's Beastly Brunch hosted by Flock young professionals. Set for noon Saturday, the brunch mingles education with leisure activities. Expect a cool crowd in close encounters with delightful creatures.
Will Ernie the porcupine make an appearance? He loves to say hello.
Who's behind the event? Sarah Atwood, Gloria Luna Bounds, Ted Bowen, David Cordúa, Denise Furlough, Adam Gibson, Liz Gorman, Jennifer LeGrand Howard, Jared Lang, Jennifer Pettine, Katherine Orellana and the zoo's senior director of development, Nick Espinosa.
The event is free for Flock members (memberships can be purchased for $150), $25 in advanced or $40 at the door.
American Heart Association Gala and After Party at Hilton Americas
It's the No. 1 killer in most developed nations. Be it a disease of affluence or an effect of diet and lifestyle, one can't have many Valentine's Days without a healthy heart. Coming from one whose family has been affected by heart disease, it's never too early to take care of yourself.
The American Heart Association's black-tie gala, set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Americas, is where big spenders (individual tickets start at $1,000), business executives, physicians, philanthropists and community leaders will lend their support and cash.
But the hip and fabulous will continue the fete at the young professionals after party, "The Beat Goes On," in the second floor lobby beginning at 9:30 p.m until the wee hours of the morning.
Chaired by Carrie Carson, Amy Reeves and Liz Stepanian, tickets are $40 for Young at Heart members and $75 for non-members in advanced, $100 at the door, and can be purchased here or by calling 713-610-5003.
Women of Wardrobe February Fling at Jackson's Watering Hole
I am no girly girl, but do love women's fashion, especially at the service of greater good. Women of Wardrobe (WOW) supports Dress for Success, an organization that helps disadvantaged women gain economic independence by providing sleek, professional attire and career development skills.
At Jackson's Watering Hole on Saturday at 3 p.m., guests will delight in food and select beers. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
Arts smarty pants and beer loving lovable dance maven Nancy Wozny's pick: Mistakes Were Made at Stages Repertory Theatre
Nancy says: "I know, a guy the phone for 90 minutes doesn't sound like such an enticing premise for a play. But when that guy is David Matranga, it's time to pick up the phone and call Stages Repertory Theatre for tickets to see Mistakes Were Made, Craig Wright's sort of one man, one fish show.
"OK, sometimes, he talks to his fish and his mostly off stage secretary. (Yes, that's the same Craig Wright who penned and produced Lost.) Matranga delivers a wonderfully athletic performance, and this is just off the heels of his performance in Uncle Vanya at Classical Theatre Company. Right after Mistakes, he heads straight into Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room or the vibrator play, also at Stages. One busy guy."
Plays through Feb. 19. Tickets start at $19.
CultureMap's hip in-the-know intern and live music junkie Karen Labuca's pick: The Lemonheads at Fitzgerald's
Karen says: "On Friday, I want to check out this influential alternative rock band that formed in '86 because I'm apparently too young to remember them so I'll be taking it all in. The band went on hiatus for a while and has recently released some albums. This is a bit of a comeback tour.
"I'm excited and curious for the turnout. The band's career peaked during the '90s and is cited as one of the most important alternative rock groups. The group's latest album, Hotel Sessions, is an early 1990s recording with a fantastic nostalgic sound."
Tickets are $15.
Assistant editor and all around party gal Caroline Gallay's pick: Rory Miggins Irish Stew Cook-off at Lucky's Pub
Caroline says: "My pick this week is the annual Rory Miggins Irish Stew Cook-off, set for Saturday at noon ($15), which is making a move this year from Continental Club to Lucky's Pub in Eado. Besides being an awesome fundraising event that memorializes one of Houston's best loved figures in the Irish community, it's a heck of a good time tasting everything from Irish stew to Guinness bread pudding and dancing the day away to the Blaggards, Dead Rabbits and Murder the Stout."
Associate editor and CultureMap's resident gourmand Sarah Rufca's pick: 11th Annual Chicken Soup Cookoff at Congregation Emanu El
Sarah says: "The forecast for Sunday is rainy and cool — in other words, the perfect weather for chicken soup. At the 11th Annual Chicken Soup Cookoff at Congregation Emanu El, 40 of Houston's best restaurants will be presenting their take on the classic comfort food, including chicken noodle soup, chicken gumbo, chicken chili, chicken tortilla soup and more, all to benefit the Houston Food Bank. Best of all, yours truly is on the judging panel."
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12.
Photo editor and fashion and design junkie Barbara Kuntz's pick: Urban Market Houston Antique Show at Bayou City Event Center
Barbara says: "Enjoy al fresco-style shopping while discovering over-the-top finds and home and garden items perfect for any home at the Urban Market Houston Antique Show, set Saturday and Sunday at a new locale, the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd.
"Market-goers are treated to wares from dealers across the country, as well as a delicious variety of sandwiches, sweets and gourmet coffee, as they move from cozy tent to tent perusing and purchasing to their hearts' content. A sentimental favorite of mine: Watch for adorable dogs available for adoption through Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue."