Photo via Houston Methodist

After releasing initial details for next year’s Texas Medal of the Arts Awards (TMAA), the Texas Cultural Trust (TXCT) has revealed the full lineup of 2023 honorees — and Houstonians, especially artists or those in the Medical Center, will no doubt recognize one name.

Taking place in venues across Austin, the two-day biannual event recognizes the creative contributions of Texans across multiple disciplines, from music to architecture, film, design, and beyond. Next year's honorees also span multiple geographical regions, with recipients representing Houston, El Paso, and everywhere in between.

“We are beyond thrilled to resume the TMAA celebration, after having to postpone and cancel in 2021 due to the pandemic, with an extraordinary lineup of talented Texans who have each inspired and captivated their communities, our state, and beyond,” says Texas Cultural Trust CEO Heidi Marquez Smith. “Our organization strives to spotlight the vital role the arts play in our state and our everyday lives. Texas has such a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be recognized, invested in, and celebrated.”

Without further ado, the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts Honorees are:

  • Arts/Health: Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston (part of Houston Methodist Hospital)
  • Lifetime Achievement/Musical Theatre: Carole Cook, Abilene
  • Music: Christopher Cross, San Antonio
  • Music/Songwriter: Miranda Lambert, Lindale
  • Architecture: Miró Rivera Architects, Austin
  • Visual Arts: Deborah Roberts, Austin
  • Design: Lela Rose, Dallas
  • Literary Arts: Benjamin Alire Saenz, El Paso
  • Film/Producer: Taylor Sheridan, Weatherford
  • Dance: Septime Webre, Brownsville
  • Film/Actor: Luke Wilson, Dallas

The innovative Center for Performing Arts Medicine is the only operation of its kind in the U.S. Here, more than 100 physicians work collaboratively to address the specific demands placed on artists; Houston Methodist estimates that many of the more than 2,000 professional and amateur artists who live in and around Houston are treated there.

Elite artists and performers from the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and other performing visiting artists receive personalized care and treatments, specific to their discipline and case. Hallmarks of the center, per Houston Methodist, are:

  • Specialized health care and wellness education of performing artists.
  • Effective and meaningful integration of the performing and visual arts into the hospital environment.
  • Therapy that utilizes the arts in clinical patient care.
  • Research that seeks to harness the broadest potential of the arts in therapy, rehabilitation and human performance.

As for the awards: The TXCT's signature two-day event will begin on February 21, 2023, with the Arts Alive! Reception at Commodore Perry Estate, culminating with an Awards Show and Gala Dinner at the Long Center for Performing Arts on February 22, 2023. This year's events are co-chaired by Linda LaMantia, civic leader and artist dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts and education; Judy Robison, philanthropic advocate for prioritizing equity in access to the arts for all children; and world-renowned fashion designer and 2019 TMAA Honoree Brandon Maxwell.

Besides Maxwell, previous honorees have included Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, H-E-B, Robert Rodriguez, Walter Cronkite, Lawrence Wright, Sandra Cisneros, Lyle Lovett, Texas Monthly, and many more. In total, the TMAA have celebrated 118 Texas leaders and luminaries since its inception in 2001.

Photo by Kate Robinson

9 haute Houston boutiques for breezy dresses to beat the summer heat

so cool for the summer

While August for fashionistas means looking forward to fall, the relentless Houston heat means we’re still thinking cool looks for hot temps.

Fortunately, comfort has been the forefront of summer 2022 style, with dresses being the ultimate wardrobe staple to elevate style, day and night. From maxi to mini and everything in between, these styles span a multitude of styles.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up nine local boutiques with the perfect summer dresses for every occasion. From the quintessential coastal granddaughter aesthetic to some sexy summer spice, these stylish Houston spots keep it chic and cool in those three-digit days.

Abejas Boutique
Those looking forthe ideal Western woman ensemble should look no further than Abejas. Located off of Kirby, this boho-based boutique offers uniquely vintage apparel that reimagines minimalist fashion. Studded with beads, fringe, tailored lines, and effortless coolness, Abejas dresses are a must-grab for any neutral yet spunky western-inspired wardrobe.

à bientôt
Over the past 16 years, this River Oaks boutique has been a hidden haven for every coastal granddaughter connoisseur. Outfitted with colorful hues and beach-bound patterns, à bientôt’s dresses are the perfect preppy pairing for waterfront excursions and sandy shore festivities this summer.

Alchemia Style
Nuzzled in the heart of River Oaks, Alchemia boutique serves nothing but glitz and glam to Houston fashionistas. Founder Jen Grigsby’s curated dress selection incorporates luxury looks at a reasonable price, leaving customers to dazzle the night away one dress at a time.

Good vibes and happy times are a guarantee when shopping at this oh-so colorful boutique. Open in Rice Village, Beehive’s vibrant dress collection offers everything from crochet cover-ups and puff-sleeve shift pieces, to sassy satin slip dresses at an affordable price.

Favor the Kind
Here, effortless hipster chic meets upscale fashion. This oh-so-popular shop is the hub of playful boho dresses at bargain cost. Customers can expect vibrant pieces perfect for summertime.

Forth & Nomad
This rendition of farmland fashion incorporates neutral linens and textures with contemporary lines, elevating the countryside aesthetic to modern day chic. Consider these designs the perfect to wear while frolicking in a field of daisies.

French Cuff Boutique
Whether it be a weekend wedding, yacht club soiree, or backyard barbecue, French Cuff Boutique’s looks are flirty yet timeless. Open in three locations around Houston, French Cuff Boutique’s acclaimed dress collection includes trendy brands such as Vince, MISA Los Angeles, Generation Love, Velvet, and Love the Label and offer one-of-a-kind dresses that will have you claiming best dressed at any event.

Open in five Houston locations, Hemline boutique offers an exotic assortment of apparel sure to appease any boho-chic fanatic. Hemline’s lust-worthy dress collection includes popular brands such as For Love & Lemons, MISA Los Angeles, Love Shack Fancy, ASTR The Label, and many more.

Katia Boutique
This one-of-a-kind, appointment-only retail store is tailored for Houston’s elite fashionistas. Clients can anticipate a personal stylist to outfit them to the nines with racks of sophisticated yet trendy designer dresses.

À bientôt's red-hot Daughter Kaftan brings that coastal, beachy summer vibe.

\u00e0 bient\u00f4t Daughters kaftan Houston
Photo by Kate Robinson
À bientôt's red-hot Daughter Kaftan brings that coastal, beachy summer vibe.
Photo courtesy of Mejuri

Celebrity favorite international jewelry brand drops into hot Montrose development

from canada, with love

A pioneering and popular international jewelry brand is headed to Houston for its first location in the city.

Mejuri, the Canadian company that disrupted the jewelry industry with innovative drop models (launching short collections quickly to create buzz and demand) and a women-first approach, will open in the hot Montrose Collective this summer.

Kathy Maldonado of Radom Capital, the developer behind Montrose Collective, tells CultureMap exclusively that the store will span some 1,500 square feet. Shoppers can expect the brand’s stylish-casual looks made for the everyday, with reasonable price points.

Given Mejuri’s ability to create FOMO with its limited-run lines, fans can most likely expect more drop pieces in-store here. The brand’s best sellers include its trademark, 18-karat gold pieces such as croissant-shaped earrings, simple gold necklaces, understated bracelets, and rings that come either in all gold or with gemstone accents.

Founded in Canada in 2015 by third-generation jeweler and entrepreneur Noura Sakkijha, the Mejuri quickly developed a faithful following with its clean designs, affordable prices, women-focused mentality (at least 80 percent of the company is female), and smart use of social media for drops; Mejuri boasts 1 million Instagram followers.

Since then, Mejuri has gained popularity with celebrities; notable fans include Selena Gomez, Lizzo, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Oprah, Margot Robbie, Emily Blunt, and Bella Hadid, among others.

Always socially minded, the company launched The Mejuri Empowerment Fund in 2020, which assists higher education for underrepresented women as well as non-binary individuals.

Already one of Montrose’s biggest draws, the massive and walkable Montrose Collective is home to a dozen retail and dining destinations, boasting more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and more than 100,000 square feet of office space. Radom Capital is also behind familiar and noteworthy developments such as M-K-T Heights.

Mejuri CEO Noura Sakkijha founded the brand in 2015.

Mejuri Noura Sakkijha
Photo courtesy of Mejuri
Mejuri CEO Noura Sakkijha founded the brand in 2015.
Priscilla Dickson Photography

Texas-based Neiman Marcus fashion guru Ken Downing appointed creative director of Halston

our loss, their gain

Ken Downing, longtime former fashion director of Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, has been named the new creative director for Halston.

According to a July 21 release, Downing will oversee the evolution of the American luxury fashion brand and will serve as its public face and voice.

Among his responsibilities will be hosting Halston livestream sessions online with media company Xcel Brands, one of the largest apparel and jewelry providers for interactive TV. According to the release, New York-based Xcel produces and distributes apparel and accessories under the Halston label, available at premium retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s, as well as HSN.

“Ken’s creative vision and expertise in brand building are unparalleled and his magnetic, warm personality has made him one of the most highly recognized and respected people in fashion,” says Robert W. D’Loren, chairman and chief executive officer of Xcel brands, in the release. “We’re extremely pleased to bring Ken on board to guide the creative vision of Halston as we solidify our leadership within the fast-growing retail livestreaming marketplace.”

Downing, a Dallas resident and fixture on the fashion and society scene in both Houston and Dallas, was a legendary senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus, where he “was credited with revitalizing the retailer’s voice by bringing a freshly relevant and global point of view to the brand,” the release says.

With a fearless approach to trend-forecasting, he often supplied daring style proclamations (for this publication and others around the world). He was known in Texas for forging close relationships with loyal customers and designers alike — all while “catapulting Neiman Marcus to a position of international fashion leadership, while driving unprecedented sales volumes both in-store and online,” the release acknowledges.

Downing also served as chief creative officer of Triple Five Group Worldwide, an international retail developer, for which he helped launch American Dream, a revolutionary 3.3 million square foot shopping, dining, and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He joins Halston from Hearst’s HLC Commerce division, where he served as Chief Brand Officer, the release says.

“It’s an honor to re-envision and evolve the future of Halston, an iconic American luxury brand that has been a cultural touchstone for more than 50 years,” Downing said in a statement. “Live selling through livestreaming platforms will continue to be a key way for Halston to communicate and engage directly with customers and fans and the momentum Xcel is building through these channels makes this an incredibly exciting time to join the company.”

His tenure begins August 1.

Photo courtesy of Marc Jacobs

Chic NYC brand Marc Jacobs bags first full-line store in Texas with new Houston boutique

on your marc

Fashion extraordinaire Marc Jacobs is ushering in a new era of effortless chic in Houston. The New York-based designer’s highly anticipated Texas debut, slated for late summer in the Galleria, marks the first full-line expansion into Texas.

Spanning 3,094 square feet and located on Level 1 (near The Galleria Financial Center), the boutique will be neighbored by Tag Heuer and Nespresso.

Shoppers can expect a true full expansion of the brand’s line: including handbags, accessories, fragrances, ready-to-wear selections, and men’s, and women’s shoes.

“Incorporating designer Marc Jacobs to the Galleria further enhances our vigorous assortment of fashion-forward offerings that can only be found here,” says Chris Lane, director of marketing for the Galleria. “With the arrival of Jacobs’ diverse products and inclusive brand, there’s an even more compelling reason to stop in and shop.”

Founded in 1985 by Jacobs, a former creative director at Louis Vuitton, the NYC brand has grown to a global presence, popular for its design and affordability. Jacobs has launched ready-to-wear lines, handbags, fragrances, cosmetic collections, and book launches.

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Disney's Little Mermaid remake goes swimmingly despite new so-so songs

Movie review

The biggest problem with the majority of the live-action updates to classic Disney animated films is that they haven’t been updates at all, choosing to merely regurgitate the moments audiences know and love from the original in a slightly repackaged form. That’s great for nostalgia, but if that’s all viewers wanted, they’d just go back and watch the original.

The Little Mermaid falls into much the same trap, although the filmmakers get at least a little credit for trying to offer something new. The story, of course, remains the same, as Ariel (Halle Bailey) has a fascination with everything above the surface of the ocean. Her rebellious nature, at odds with strict King Triton (Javier Bardem), leads her to spy on a ship with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) and his crew, putting her in position to save Eric when the ship crashes into rocks.

Now totally enamored of Eric, Ariel is convinced by the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to give up her voice for a chance to live on land and make Eric fall in love with her. Trouble is, despite the help of Sebastian the crab (Daveed Diggs), Flounder the fish (Jacob Tremblay), and Scuttle the seabird (Awkwafina), Ursula has no plans to let Ariel succeed fair and square.

Directed by Rob Marshall and written by David Magee, the film clocks in at nearly one hour longer than the original, going from 83 minutes to 135. They accomplish this feat with the addition of several songs, including ones “sung” by Ariel while she is without voice, a relatively clever way to get into her thoughts during that long stretch. There are also additional scenes that give Prince Eric more of a backstory, making him more than just a pretty face on which to hang all of Ariel’s hopes and dreams.

The new songs are hit-and-miss; Ariel’s “For the First Time” is a fanciful number that fits in nicely, but “Wild Uncharted Waters,” a solo song for Prince Eric, feels unnecessary, and the less said about “The Scuttlebutt,” a rap performed by Scuttle and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the better. What most people want to see are how the original songs are done, and they come off well for the most part. The actors’ voices are uniformly good and the staging is engaging.

Other changes seem half-hearted, at best. A vague environmental theme broached at the beginning is quickly dropped. The cast is very multicultural, but haphazardly so. The film is obviously set on and around a Caribbean island, making it natural for The Queen (Noma Dumezweni), Eric’s adopted mother, and other islanders to be Black. But giving Ariel “sisters from the seven seas,” allowing for mermaids of several different races and ethnicities, feels odd and forced, and a little creepy given that King Triton is supposed to be the father of all of them.

The fact that Bailey herself is Black, while great for representation, is neither here nor there in the context of the film. Bailey has a voice that is equal to everything she is asked to sing, and her silent acting is excellent in the middle portion of the film. McCarthy makes for a great Ursula, bringing both humor and pathos to the role. Hauer-King, who bears a similarity to Ryan Gosling, plays Eric in a more well-rounded manner.

The live-action version of The Little Mermaid, like almost all of the Disney remakes, never truly establishes itself as its own unique thing. Still, it’s a thoroughly pleasant watch with some nice performances, which clears the bar for success for this era of Disney history.


The Little Mermaid opens in theaters on May 26.

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid

Photo courtesy of Disney

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid.

New Jersey-based Viet-Cajun seafood restaurant steams up first Houston location with crawfish, po-boys, and more

be nice to the crabs

A New Jersey seafood restaurant has debuted in West Houston. Nauti Crab is now open in the former Hank’s Cajun Grill space at 11660 Westheimer Rd.

Open since 2016 in Metuchen, New Jersey, Nauti Crab owner Ryan Mai has chosen Houston as the next outpost for his Viet-Cajun fare. The restaurant specializes in boiled seafood such as crawfish, shrimp, mussels, crab, and lobster paired with different sauces and spices.

“Continuing our incredible journey started in New Jersey; we are excited to bring our unique flavors and unforgettable dining experience to seafood enthusiasts in Houston,” Mai said in a statement. “We chose Houston as a second location because Houston is one of the most diverse food cities in the United States. Houstonians are passionate about Cajun cuisine, just like we are! Houston is a perfect match to continue the Nauti Crab brand.”

Meals at Nauti Crab are built around boiled seafood. Diners may select different shellfish such as lobster, king crab legs, Dungeness crab clusters, blue crab, shrimp, and crawfish. From there, choose one of five flavors, including the signature Nauti Cajun that blends garlic butter, lemon pepper, and Cajun spices. Finally, select a spice level (ranging from mild to extra hot) and optional add-ons such as corn, potatoes, garlic noodles, or andouille sausage.

The menu also includes appetizers such as wings, fried calamari, and shrimp tacos. Nauti Crab offers sandwiches like the shrimp po’ boy and crab rolls as well as rice and noodle dishes including Dungeness crab over garlic noodles and shrimp fried rice.

Pair them with drinks from the full bar, including wine, beer, cocktails, and sodas. Sit at the bar to follow sports on the restaurant’s flatscreen TVs.

Nauti Crab comes to Houston after having been well received in New Jersey. The restaurant maintains a solid 4.7 stars on OpenTable and 4.5 stars on Yelp.

Nauti Crab food spread

Photo by Rebekah Flores

Nauti Crab offers different varieties of boiled seafood.

To celebrate its grand opening, Nauti Crab will be offering a 10-percent discount on Saturday, June 3. In addition, a DJ will play music and giveaways will take place throughout the day. After that, the restaurant will be open Monday-Friday from 3-10 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am - 10 pm.

Houston scores surprise spot in new ranking of top summer travel destinations for 2023


We now know that Houston has seen one of the biggest gains in new residents in the U.S. But how high does the rest of the nation rank our fair city as a place to visit?

Perhaps not as high as we may think, per a new list of the best places to visit in the summer. Houston comes in at a surprising No. 38 out of 100 of the largest metro areas in America, according to the 2023 edition of WalletHub’s report.

The report compared the cities across 41 metrics, including number of attractions.

Taking the top spot in Texas San Antonio at No. 11, with Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown at No. 14. Behind Austin and San Antonio in the 2023 rankings is El Paso (No. 18), Houston (No. 38), Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 45), Corpus Christi (No. 62), and McAllen (No. 86).

Dr. Susan Weidmann, assistant professor in the department of recreational management and physical education at Appalachian State University, said in the report that summer 2023 is going to be a “good season for travel” despite recent economic downturns that have many worried about a recession.

“Coming out of Covid, I think many people have taken these last few years to really evaluate what they want out of life, and for those that love travel, I think they have probably put it at the top of their list of things to do,” she said. “As far as economics are concerned, many may have saved their traveling money from the last multiple years, so will have money to spend. That being said, after the airline chaos of last year, many people may be thinking about domestic travel over the long-haul, just to alleviate many of the concerns that airlines, especially in Europe, are still grappling with, such as reduced staffing leading to flight cancellations.”

Dr. Weidmann predicts the time period between July and early August will be the most popular season for National Parks, like Texas’ Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains.

Despite none of them being in Texas, the top 10 destinations in WalletHub’s report are all popular cities worth a glance in sun-friendly states like Hawaii, New York, and Florida.

The top 10 best summer destinations are:

  • No. 1 – Atlanta
  • No. 2 – Honolulu, Hawaii
  • No. 3 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 4 – Wichita, Kansas
  • No. 5 – New York City
  • No. 6 – Chicago
  • No. 7 – Tampa, Florida
  • No. 8 – Orlando, Florida
  • No. 9 – Richmond, Virginia
  • No. 10 – Springfield, Missouri

The full report can be found on WalletHub’s website.