Pick Five (Plus)
It's been roughly five months since my first day as listings editor at CultureMap. Wondering ... are you enjoying these weekly guides? Do you like the events I am highlighting? Is there anything you'd like to see more of?
Don't be shy, I don't bite. Comment or e-mail me, whatever floats your boat.
About boats, the Dragon Boat Race last weekend brought out a friendly competitive spirit in a splashing colorful scene. Starting at Allen's Landing, the original port of Houston, 30 teams fought for top dragon honors while spectators enjoyed cultural performances, food, drinks and camaraderie.
Alley Theatre's world premiere of Monster at the Door by Rajiv Joseph, the same playwright who brought us Gruesome Playground Injuries a few years back, was a surreal journey into confusion. I wasn't the only one questioning "What the hell was that?"
But if good art is meant to keep you thinking, I suppose Joseph has succeeded. My advice? Smoke pot before you go.
On deck for this week?
Capital One Bank Culture Collision at Advantage BMW Midtown
A yearly social and cultural soiree, Culture Collision assembles major players in the Houston art scene allowing guests to explore how they can better incorporate their favorite creative activities into their daily lives. It's also an opportunity to learn what's new an exciting in the art world, mingling and nibbling while watching an aerial dance performance by Amy Ell's Vault. Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Horse Head Theatre's Essential Self Defense at Frenetic
Throw away any conceptions you have about going to the theater. Horse Head Theatre Company replaces the traditional set up with restaurant style tables and chairs. Thirsty? No worries.
The additional bar inside has you covered. The work, Essential Self Defense, deals with characters pushed to the breaking point while trying to make sense out of children disappearing from a local middle school.
Maybe a little weird. The best theater usually is. Just grab a brew and kick back. Runs Friday through May 28.
Psophonia Dance Company's Rip in the Atmosphere with 6 Degrees at Barnevelder
As I continue my "Art and About" dance explorations with Culture Sis Nancy Wozny, I keep learning about all the wicked people that make Houston a major center for dance, movement and choreography. In Rip in the Atmosphere, three giants, figuratively, present cutting-edge dance that expand the boundaries of the art form.
Psophonia's Sophia Torres and Sonia Noriega explore extraordinary human challenges and audience perception in their works. 6 Degrees' Toni Leago Valle evokes the themes of loss and recovery. Thursday through Sunday.
Opera Vista's Vera of Las Vegas at Rich's
"Ladies, get your stripper poles." According to CultureMap sources, this phrase is heard repeatedly atVera of Las Vegas rehearsals.
Not that I am surprised. Opera Vista finds forward thinking works, this one, dealing with ex-IRA operatives falling in love with a transvestite while being stranded in Las Vegas. Think cabaret, '70s folk-rock and Broadway, brought to you by composer Daron Hagen, who was recently in Houston to judge Opera Vista's yearly competition. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Bering Omega Community Services. Thursday through Saturday.
Texas Barbeque and Star Party at Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Before the weather gets sultry and unbearable, enjoy a delightful evening at the Houston Arboretum star gazing and feasting on traditional barbecue fare and libations. The forecast calls for a low of 66, perfect for a stroll at dusk through the forest, full moon and star gazing from the Meadow Deck with members of the Houston Astronomical Society. Saturday at 7 p.m.
My colleagues' picks:
Editor at large Shelby Hodge's pick: The Glassell School of Art Benefit and Auction
Shelby says: "The Glassell School of Art Benefit and Auction is always a cool way to spend a Friday night and this week will be no exception. Glassell School artists donate works, some of them quite amazing, for the silent auction that takes place in the Laura Lee Blanton Gallery.
"But the casual fun soon moves outdoors to the Cullen Sculpture Garden where dinner is served and the dance music cranks up." Friday at 7 p.m.
Assistant editor and art savant Steven Thomson's pick: Opening of DARKFIRE and VOODOO POP
Steven says: "Perhaps you've read about Trey Speegle's forays at Koelsch Gallery and Art Basel Miami Beach. Now is your chance to understand the inner workings of the artist's life through this exhibition as it traces his friendship with Houston artist Mary Hayslip. The opening promises an innovative melange of sculpture, photography, printmaking, painting, collage, textile and found art. Get in on the artist talk at 7 p.m." Friday at 6 p.m.
Arts contributor and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Mosaic Theatre Company Presents The Good Thief
Nancy says: Santry Rush goes thug again in Conor McPherson's The Good Thief, a Mosaic Theatre Co. production. The Good Thief is an Irish gangster's tale of confession, regret and the consequences of a life of crime. Most known for The Weir and This Lime Tree Bower, the Irish playwright nails the one-man show like no other scribe.
After Rush's riveting performance as alpha creepster in Horse Head Theatre Co's Among the Thugs, I can't wait to see him portray this seedy guy. Rush also directs this harsh tale with artistic advisement by Alley's John Tyson.
Expect an intense hour of theater performed by one of the city's most compelling actors." Runs Saturday through May 23.