Pick Five (Plus)
Your Weekly Guide to Houston: Spicy food, "Forgotten Heroes" & Jewish FilmFestival
Spring break is upon us and that should mean a slight decline in things to do. We assume people will prefer out-of-town destinations rather than enjoying our own city's offerings. I will remain happily in Houston reminiscing about a not-so-quiet week, as events do not seem to let up, at all.
Last week, Spacetaker brought a couple of fundraising powerhouse speakers to its resource center for an informational workshop aimed at helping individual artists become financially stable. Fiscal sponsorship (Fractured Atlas) and crowdfunding (IndieGoGo) are not new platforms, but are relatively unused in Houston.
I followed CultureMap's own Fayza Elmostehi as she was getting ready to show me her adventure racing muscles on camera. The Buffalo Bayou Regatta brought a record number of participants — 700 enthusiasts up from 650 last year — out on a lovely Saturday morning. From the über competitive to the leisurely cruisers, Fayza happily maneuvered her 14-foot kayak off into the distance.
I am thinking CultureMap needs a communal canoe next year. Who's in?
Opera Vista kicked-off its 2011 festival with an emotional performance of last year's winning entry, in addition to two other works — Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Arvo Pärt's In Memory of Benjamin Britten. Though I was confused at first by the programming choices, artistic director Viswa Subbaraman gave me a historically accurate musical context to better experience Lembit Beecher's And I Remember. The work is based on familial stories of escape and survival through World War II Estonia, Germany and America and juxtaposes sound recordings of his grandmother with live music and images.
And this week, the fun continues.
Seventh Annual Jewish Film Festival at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Jewish Community Center
The festival proceeds with multiple screenings, but ends on Sunday. So if you haven't leashed out your inner yid, you have many opportunities this week to do so.
Amnon's Journey explores the recovery and restoration of violins played in camps and ghettos. The Matchmaker weaves prostitution, gambling and love. Berlin '36 is a historical telling of German high jumper Gretel Bergmann as she is pushed away from competing by her teammate Marie, who is really a man.
2011 Opera Vista Festival at Moores School of Music
After observing a haunting opening performance, my interest in following Opera Vista's competition is twofold. A tireless committee has narrowed down the entries to six semifinalists. With serial killer, film noir, a monkey and Oscar Wilde themes, the open format where everyone has a vote, including the audience, allows insights into the compositional and creative process of realizing a work.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
"Eat the Heat" Cooking Class: Hot or Spicy at Central Market
Do you know the difference between hot and spicy? Cookbook author and traveling cooking instructor Molly Fowler, the Dining Diva, does and she will teach you through her spicy Southwestern ranch Salad, deep-fried avocados, chipotle honey-glazed pork tenderloin, jalapeno corn cakes, grilled zucchini and Mexican brownies.
Seventh Annual Empty Bowls Houston at Lawndale Art Center and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
A myriad of gorgeous one-of-a-kind handcrafted bowls donated by local artisans serve as a reminder of those that so often go without food. This fundraiser helps the Houston Food Bank continue to meet its mission of combating food insecurity. For $25, guests get to pick a bowl, have a light lunch of soup and bread and enjoy live artist demos and live music.
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lotus Project Benefit: "Forgotten Heroes" at Mosaic
A fashionable late lunch, guests will have the opportunity to peruse a private classic couture collection featuring designs by Galanos, Chanel, Halston and Dior while raising funds for an organization that helps female veterans after service. These heroes should never be forgotten.
And my colleagues' picks:
Associate editor and food gourmand Sarah Rufca's pick: StarChef's Rising Star Revue Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel
Sarah says: "It's not every day you get a dinner from twelve top chefs. But at the StarChefs.com Rising Stars Gala and awards dinner at the Four Seasons on Thursday, Houston's best chefs are not only the awardees, they're the caterers, serving the dishes that got them on the list."
Assistant editor and art savant Steven Thomson's pick: Spacetaker's Seventh Annual Gala "SOLD OUT"
Steven says: "Spacetaker ditches the buttoned-up pretense of other non-profit galas, opting to invite all to this most irreverent themed party. You'll want to come to "SOLD OUT" not just for the costume watching, but there will also be an unusual milieu of performances, art auction and complimentary bites."
Lifestyle contributor and fashionista Dillon Sorensen's pick: Thomas Mason Bespoke Fabric Preview
Dillon says: Since the Industrial Revolution, the Thomas Mason mill, now located in Albino, Italy, has been producing some of the finest fabrics in the world. Houston's own Hamilton Shirt Company has been using their shirting fabrics to create custom shirts since 1883, but they were recently selected to be the exclusive U.S. carrier of the Thomas Mason Bespoke collection.
To celebrate the launch of the collection, Alberto Pallante and Tim Neckebroeck of Thomas Mason, who can be spotted in J. Crew's J. Crew Goes to Italy video, will be at the Hamilton showroom.
Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Arts diva and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Master Pancake Theater: Twilight with Live Comedy Commentary
Nancy says: "I thought I was the only one talking during Twilight movies. Turns out, Ben Bartley and John Erler, the cut-up movie mocksters of Master Pancake Theatre are coming to Houston for two shows. Expect live comedy, commentary over the movie, (way funnier than mine), a sketch half way through the movie and a drinking game.
Named Best Comedy Troupe in Austin for the past three years, it should be some rowdy Texas fun and really the only sane way to watch a Twilight movie, whether you are "Team Edward" or "Team Jason."