Photo by Studs

Popular ear piercing barStuds made a name for itself by offering a customized piercing experience for those who aged out of places like Claire's but wanted an alternative to a tattoo parlor for piercings. With 19 locations nationwide, Studs offers a wide assortment of earrings that range from classic shapes, to huggies, flatbacks, and dangling charms.

Studs has once again added to their earring selection with their latest collaboration with Shake Shack. They created an adorably beefy earring to add to any burger lover's Earscape.

Studs and Shake Shack created a limited-edition Burger huggie earring and Earscape set. Photo by Studs

Retailing for $32, the limited edition Shake Shack burger huggie comes as a 14K gold-plated hoop with a loaded hamburger charm. Shoppers can opt for the $64 pair, but Studs is also currently offering a discount on the Shake Shack x Studs set. For $78, earring enthusiasts can get the two Shake Shack burger huggies, the 14K-gold Smiley Stud and the 14K-gold Micro CZ Stud.

What's even better than cute earrings? Free Shake Shack! On Thursday, September 28th customers can enjoy free bites from Shake Shack while they shop the new Shake Shack Charm Huggie collection at Stud's Rice Village location.

For $78, earring enthusiasts can get the two Shake Shack burger huggies, the 14K-gold Smiley Stud and the 14K-gold Micro CZ Stud.Photo by Studs

Shake Shack is known for their always made-to-order fare including ShackBurger, crinkle-cut fries, hand-spun shakes and their new Veggie Burger and non-dairy offerings.

Interested shoppers can RSVP here.

Studs Rice Village, 2567 Amherst St.; (832) 981-2869. RSVP here.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Gift experiences this holiday and you might just win Blake Shelton tickets

Celebrate More, Waste Less

What do you get the person who has everything? Hint: It's not another "thing."

This holiday season, consider gifting experiences instead of items — and you won't even have to wrap them.

According to Take Care of Texas, a statewide campaign to conserve and protect our one and only Lone Star State, about 8,000 tons of wrapping paper is used each year. Most wrapping paper contains glitter or metallic materials —which means it can’t be recycled — and ribbons, bows, and gift tags also aren’t recyclable.

To help you get into this new holiday groove of gifting time together instead of stuff, TCOT has a pretty amazing experience to give away.

Sign the Take Care of Texas pledge this winter and you'll be entered to win two tickets to Blake Shelton's Back to the Honky Tonk Tour, presented by Kubota.

Shelton's only stop in Texas is at the world-class Moody Center on March 1, 2024, where he'll be backed by opening acts Dustin Lynch and Emily Ann Roberts. This is your chance to hear Shelton sing "Austin" in Austin!

The prize package also includes a one-night stay at the luxurious Thompson Hotel Austin, so you can return from the Friday night concert and sleep in style.

To enter, simply click here and take the pledge to help keep our air and water clean, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste.

The contest is open through December 31, and you only need one entry per person. The winner will be drawn on January 2, 2024.

Spring Branch sows Wild Oats with opening of Underbelly's Texas tribute restaurant

now sowing in spring branch

A new option for Texas comfort food has arrived in Spring Branch. Wild Oats has started a quiet soft opening ahead of its official opening day of Friday, December 8.

Previously located at the Houston Farmers Market, Wild Oats is Underbelly Hospitality’s restaurant that pays homage to Texas’ various culinary traditions. After closing its original location in September, Wild Oats has relocated to a new development at 1222 Witte Road next to its sister concept, Underbelly Burger, and The Decoy, a new bar from the owners of Wakefield Crowbar with volleyball courts and a high-energy atmosphere.

Underbelly Hospitality culinary director Scott Muns tels CultureMap that the move gave the company an opportunity to make some changes to Wild Oats’ menu, which was developed by his predecessor, chef Nick Fine. He wanted to respect the restaurant's original vision while expanding to include traditional favorites that hadn't appeared on the menu before.

“There’s room for new items and new ideas,” Muns says. “It’s a new team with a new chef. I wanted them to be able to have a voice in the menu also.”

Those new items start with a wild boar shank that’s braised in salsa verde and served with grits that are treated like masa. For Muns, having a wild game dish on the menu feels appropriate for a restaurant devoted to Texas foodways. “If people think of it as pork, they’re going to be surprised by how much more depth of flavor you can get,” he says.

Muns and chef de cuisine Omar Munoz collaborated on a new seafood boil. Currently, it comes with shrimp, blue crab, and snapper, but the flexible format allows the kitchen to utilize whatever comes in from the restaurant’s seafood purveyors. Instead of a large steak, the menu now offers a smoked short rib as its beef option, which more explicitly pays homage to Texas barbecue.

Puffy tacos, a request from Underbelly Hospitality president Nina Quincy, allow the restaurant to put its spin on a dish that’s identified with San Antonio. In this preparation, the grits gets turned into the masa that becomes the tortillas, which are fried until they’re puffy. Diners can choose from beef suadero, smoked chicken, or pastor mushrooms as a filling.

“It takes technique to get a good puff,” Muns says. “Yesterday was the first day we had it on the menu. From one day’s data, it seem to be something people are going to gravitate towards.”

Menu staples have also been reworked. The chicken fried steak now comes with one patty as a default with the option to “Texas size” it by adding a second patty. When Wild Oats opened, the dish, which is made with wagyu beef from Texas-based R-C Ranch, cost more than $40. Now it starts at $18.

“We’ve tried to be mindful of pricing and making sure things don’t get too high,” Muns says. “The idea of a 40-something dollar chicken fried steak can seem ridiculous, even if you’re using wagyu and expensive products. I don’t want to go out and spend that much money on a chicken fried steak.”

The opening of Wild Oats completes a busy 2023 for Underbelly Hospitality. In addition to opening a second location of Underbelly Burger, the company recently welcomed Comalito, a taqueria developed in partnership with acclaimed Mexican chef Luis Robledo Richards, to Wild Oats’ original location at the Houston Farmers Market. Earlier this year, the company opened Pastore, an Italian seafood restaurant, next to its Georgia James steakhouse in the Regent Square mixed-use development.

“We’re thrilled to plant roots for Wild Oats on Witte Road,” Underbelly Hospitality partner Jeff Lindenberger said in a statement. “Community has always been our core vision for the reintroduction of Wild Oats, and we have drawn inspiration from our neighbors to build a space that reflects the warmth and diversity of Texas. This is a concept and menu we all really love and are eager to share it with our newfound neighbors and loyal patrons.”

Wild Oats food spread

Photo by Becca Wright

Wild Oats officially opens this Friday, December 8.

MFAH completes monumental task of erecting historic, 24-foot tall sculpture by star Black artist

the satellite lands

Score another major get for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The city’s official destination for all things fine arts is now the first museum in America to acquire, install, and showcase for permanent display a globally renowned sculpture by a rising American art star.

Satellite, a towering, 24-foot-high bronze sculpture from noted American artist Simone Leigh, has just been erected at MFAH grounds near the entry plaza of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art.

As CultureMap previously reported, the MFAH released word that it had acquired Leigh's celebrated work that headlined the 59th Venice Biennale last year. Her prominent placement made her the first Black woman to represent the U.S. at what is considered arguably the most important art event in the world.

After that history-making run, Leigh approved a U.S. display of her massive sculpture, making the MFAH piece only the second exhibition of her work — ever.

A monumental task

In the case of Satellite, the term “monumental” is more than art-speak hyperbole. In order to install the 6,000-pound, MFAH staffers spent months of planning and prepping the site for a day-long installation. As Satellite is comprised of two elements — a torso bearing four supports topped with a disc-like head — the torso was planted into place onto a reinforced, engineered cement slab by a crane operator and then fastened with 16 anchors for ultimate, safe stability.

After the torso base was securely installed, the team of engineers, art handlers, and the aforementioned crane operator gently lowered the massive disc head — measuring 10 feet across and weighing 2,980 pounds — onto the sculpture’s body.

In bringing a 3-ton, 24-foot-high sculpture to public view, Leigh paid homage to myriad, proud Black and African traditions. Meant to evoke a feeling of primal maternity and dignity, Satellite invokes the form of traditional D’mba (or nimba) headdresses carefully crafted by the Guinea’s Baga people, the ceremonial ladles of the Dan peoples, and various, vernacular traditions across the African diaspora, according to press materials.

Big sculpture, bigger issue

More than just a cultural nod, the Satellite monument is a way for Leigh to make a grand statement on an enormous issue: the historically undervalued labor – physical and intellectual – of Black women. For more than 20 years, Leigh has explored ideas of race, beauty, and a sense of community while visiting a wide range of historical periods, regions, and traditions. Notably, many of her works hark to vernacular and hand-made processes from across the African diaspora.

Fittingly, Leigh has been the subject of Leigh a nationally touring retrospective, first at the Venice Biennale and currently at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

She has also been seen solo exhibits in notable arenas such as the Guggenheim and New Museums in New York, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and many more. She has been featured prominently in a host of collections, including the Whitney and the Guggenheim, in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the ICA/Boston, and more.

Space City, a fitting home for a Satellite

Large pieces in big cities are a forte of hers, of sorts: Leigh’s equally mighty sculpture Brick House was installed on New York City’s High Line Plinth from 2019 to 2021. Now, Houston — already home to towering structures, the nation’s most diverse populace, and Johnson Space Center — is a fitting home to her iconic Satellite.

“I am certain that this powerful work will become an iconic presence in front of the Kinder Building, noted Gary Tinterow, MFAH director and Margaret Alkek Williams chair, in a press statement. “It is an honor to be the first U.S. museum to acquire Satellite and install it for permanent display, and we are thrilled to have Simone Leigh represented at the Sarofim Campus, where her extraordinary work is in the company of recent monumental works by Ai Wei-Wei, El Anatsui, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Byung Hoon Choi, Ólafur Elíasson, and Cristina Iglesias.”