• William Betts is the new interim executive director at DiverseWorks
    Photo by Fulton Davenport: PWL Studio
  • Diane Barber will leave DiverseWorks at the end of September
    Photo by Gary Fountain
  • "City Council Meeting" by Aaron Landsman
  • Zoe Scofield in "A Crack in Everything"

As the fall arts season kicks off, DiverseWorks ArtSpace is making some major changes.

Diane Barber, the center's co-exeutive director and visual arts curator, is leaving Sept. 30 "to pursue independent curatorial projects," according to a press release. She has curated more than 60 projects in her 14-year tenure with the center.

William Betts, artist and board member, took over the helm Tuesday as interim executive director, and, if his role will be anything like the one that he played at Lawndale Art Center in 2006, this will be a period of transformation for the innovative art center. Betts will oversee the center's administrative and development functions.

"I can look at things objectively ... It's a little bit on the mercenary side, but I can make the hard choices," Betts said.

As part of the changes, the co-executive directorship has been abolished and former co-executive/performing arts curator Sixto Wagan has become artistic director. He will oversee programming and work with guest curators.

Betts, whose primary focus remains a career in painting, told CultureMap that his first priorities as executive director are to strengthen the balance sheet, grow the board and cultivate development. "I can look at things objectively ... It's a little bit on the mercenary side, but I can make the hard choices," he said.

"It's hard to say exactly what [this transformation] will look like," Betts explained. "We have to work within the organization, and with the mission of the organization, to set finite goals and objectives and implement a strategic plan ... We've got a lot of work to do."

The more stringent delegation of DiverseWorks' administrative duties comes at an interesting time, as artistic designations are becoming less and less focused.

"We are excited to re-define how an art space serves artists and audiences in a time when contemporary artists consistently blur the boundaries between visual and performing arts," Wagan said in a statement.

"Beyond the Internet and social media’s effect on how and who is making art, the new economic climate fundamentally changes how artists are making work. Through this transition, we hope to bring DiverseWorks to a place where we are proactively responding to these shifts, helping our audiences navigate them and strengthening DiverseWorks’ infrastructure to support artists."

DiverseWorks also announced that two crossover performers with upcoming shows have received grants which will help the artists to develop and promote their work. Writer Aaron Landsman received a New England Foundation for the Arts Grant for his piece, City Council Meeting, part of the center's 2012-2013 season. Choreographer Zoe Scofield was awarded a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship for her installation/performance A Crack in Everything, which will be on view at DiverseWorks Jan. 19, 2012.

An event to celebrate Barber and welcome Betts will be held later in September. All members of the Houston arts community, current and past DiverseWorks' staff and board members will be invited to attend. More details to come.

  • Kim Stoilis of Bayou City Arts Festival
    Photo by Anthony Rathbun
  • Bayou City Arts Festival

Festival shakeup: Kim Stoilis resigns as the Bayou City Art Festival's executivedirector

40th anniversary year

Little more than a month before the Bayou City Art Festival’s 40th anniversary downtown fall fest, the organization’s leader Kim Stoilis is resigning as executive director, CultureMap has learned. Stoilis will leave her post in a matter of weeks.

Art Colony Association Board of Directors president Mike Piana confirmed to CultureMap that Stoilis announced her resignation to the board (Art Colony runs Bayou City Art Festival) last week and that they have begun to make preparations for her departure. Stoilis could not be reached for comment.

“We have started a committee to find the next executive director, but sufficient staff is in place to put together a wonderful festival in October,” Piana said.

Stoilis served as the executive director of Art Colony and the festival for more than four years and Piana said the board was pleased with her tenure and contributions.

Since joining the Art Colony Association, Stoilis helped bring Bayou City Art Festival attendance and revenues to record-high levels. The Texas Festivals and Events Association honored Stoilis with its top award — TFEA/Carson Watt Professional of the Year Award — earlier this year. Piana said he could not comment on what Stoilis' future endeavors will be.

The Bayou City Art Festival Downtown takes place Oct. 8 and 9. Juried by professionals at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the two-day street party features more than 300 artists and draws thousands downtown.

  • Artists in a production of "Cabaret" at the Dallas Theater Center
    Photo by Karen Almond/Dallas Theater Center/Facebook
  • A scene from The Alley Theatre's production of "Wonderland"
    Photo by Michael Daniel
  • The Alley Theatre
    Photo by Alley Theatre
  • Wyly Theater in Dallas
    Photo by Bryan Amann

Is Dallas theater suddenly eclipsing the Alley? The New York Times says yes

Albee damned

In the interminable Houston versus Dallas wars, Houston has always had a couple areas of excellence that Dallas couldn't match. With a world-class company like Alley Theatre as a cornerstone — the only company in Texas ever to win the Regional Theatre Tony Award, in 1996 — dramatic theater has for years been a force in Houston that had no equal in Dallas.

But is all that changing? Christopher Kelly writes in The New York Times (and Texas Monthly) that the Dallas Theater Center has recently taken a few pages out of the Alley's playbook, garnering national attention while the Houston company has stumbled.

Though the Alley remains the state’s heavy hitter, with an annual budget north of $14 million and recent world premieres like Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, the theater earlier this year sustained a high-profile disappointment. Gregory Boyd, the Alley’s artistic director, was the co-author of and directed the musical Wonderland, which had a short run at the Alley before opening on Broadway in April. But the show was a flop; it received mostly negative reviews and closed after just 31 previews and 33 regular performances."

Perhaps more notably, the Texas theater buzz has traveled north, to the Dallas Theater Center, a company that has recently made impressive strides. It presented the premiere of a musical comedy in early 2010 called Give It Up!, which recently had a successful Off Broadway run in New York under the title Lysistrata Jones and will open on Broadway this year, with a number of the original Dallas cast members. Another world premiere, a reworked version of the 1966 musical It’s a Bird ... It’s a Plane ... It’s Superman, was staged during the summer of 2010."

Frankly, Mr. Kelly — who is also the critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and thus promoting his own turf — doth protest a bit too much.

Yes, the Dallas Theater Center has new digs in the form of the plush Charles and Dee Wyly Theater, part of the new cultural arts megaplex known as the AT&T Performance Arts Center. And it's great that the DTC has actually hired a resident company of actors, something that the Alley has had, oh, forever.

Certainly Dallas, as a major American city, deserves a top-level theater program. If Dallasites and outsiders want to give the resurgent company credibility by comparing it to Houston, that's fine. But a theater town isn't made in one or two strong seasons — nor is it unmade with one New York non-starter. When Dallas has more than just whispers about getting Tony attention, or relationships with legendary talent like Edward Albee, then maybe I'll concede a general parity.

Until then, the Alley is still the Texas program to beat.

  • "In "Witness to War" you feel you've entered the inner landscape of a great mindwho has witnessed too much. But what he's seen must be shared."
    Photo via Stadium Museum Houston/Facebook
  • George Gittoes
    Photo by Dallas Kilponen
  • "Witness to War"
    Photo via Stadium Museum Houston/Facebook
  • "Witness to War"
    Photo via Stadium Museum Houston/Facebook
  • Photo via Stadium Museum Houston/Facebook
  • "Witness to War: George Gittoes"
    Photo via Stadium Museum Houston/Facebook

The economics of art: George Gittoes bears Witness to a cultural dilemma intelling horrific truths

No one buys, no one can look away

We often say art is priceless. Some art, at least.

And yet we also know that art and economics constantly collide. The Houston Arts Alliance, for instance generously supports individuals and organizations with funds from a hotel tax. In evaluating applicants, the HAA tries to assess the impact of grants on local tourism. And in these wobbly financial times, some worry about efforts to defund the National Endowment for the Arts while others assess the contribution of the arts to the larger economy so as to argue for their importance and relevance.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we look to the almighty dollar for validation of the arts. But we still also cherish the belief that art is beyond money. This contradiction is quickly apparent when we consider the art market. Rumors that a painting from Cezanne's 1902 series "The Card Players" sold for $259 million surfaced earlier this year.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we look to the almighty dollar for validation of the arts. But we still also cherish the belief that art is beyond money.

Titian's magnificent Diana and Actaeon, recently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, didn't even break the top 10 list of record art sales when the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London agreed to buy the painting, in 2009, from the Duke of Sutherland for £50 million (just over $70 million). They're currently raising funds to buy Titian's accompanying work, Diana and Callisto, for another £50 million.

What about art that doesn't sell? Sure, there's the art that might never sell. Take the genre of "cafe art."

I've been generally impressed with what makes it on the walls of Houston-area coffee shops and wine bars, relative to other cities. I was wowed by Katya Horner's photography on display at Beans after a Public Poetry reading at the Kendall Neighborhood Library that I took part in. But while I'm sure some will disagree with me, most work of this genre never will sell and perhaps never should.

But there's another category of art, art is so disturbing that, no matter how much it may be admired, one wonders if it will ever appear at all, no less widely, in homes, galleries, or museums. For many, this may be a dubious goal for artists to aspire to. But display helps guarantee that great art outlives its creator. And no doubt it's also true that some works that once struck viewers this way are now displayed by art collectors and museums all over the world.

These contradictions bring me to the art of George Gittoes, whose work is currently on display in "Witness to War: George Gittoes" at the Station Museum (the run's been extended through Sept. 18). I attended the packed opening of the show in April and witnessed, with everyone else, the profound and disturbing subject his works address: Conflict, violence and terror.

Great artists need an unflinching eye and a fearless willingness to follow where their inspiration takes them. Where major geopolitical conflicts of the last decades have erupted, Gittoes has been: Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq. The resulting works range from massive, spectacular oil paintings to diaries full of text and images, a mock DVD store, and Mosque, a reconstruction of a mosque which plays looping video of a blood-stained survivor describing a recent massacre.

There is a surreal, post-traumatic quality to all of the work. Exhaustion is everywhere, even in the vivid colors and the torturous depictions of violence and its aftermath. Still, I find it impossible to look away, and as I look at these works I realize that it is a privilege not to see the horrifying consequences of contemporary politics. Why should anyone have the right to look away from such enormities?

In "Witness to War" you feel you've entered the inner landscape of a great mind who has witnessed too much. But what he's seen must be shared. You might already be in hell, much of the work seems to say, but it does not look away in fatigue or disgust. Though there is no real tenderness in the work, such acts of witness are in truth acts of great compassion. Real compassion rarely leaves behind warm and fuzzy feelings.

I realize that it is a privilege not to see the horrifying consequences of contemporary politics. Why should anyone have the right to look away from such enormities?

This art is neither dogmatic nor politically hectoring, but it has a real mission — a mission of truth. In an era in which the most reality-oriented forms of media seem to do the least truth telling, even including much documentary and most journalism, Gittoes is a much needed antidote.

As you might guess, however, even in the relatively wealthy and friendly arts culture of Houston, people don't seem to be lining up to snap up these works. Gittoes told CultureMap's Theodore Bale just that:

"When I asked about his relationship with dealers and collectors, he replied matter of factly, 'Nobody buys my work. Everyone says how much they like it, but they never buy it.' "

It's not that Gittoes or nearly anyone else takes up a vocation in the arts to get rich. And I would guess that anything Gittoes makes as an artist funds his lifelong act of witness. I would also guess that the Station Museum, an institution committed to politically and socially engaged art, isn't exactly flush relative to other museums and galleries in Houston or elsewhere.

Still, there's something to be learned at the Station Museum and in the presence of the works of George Gittoes, who literally risks his life in geopolitical living hell, death zones.

What is truly priceless about art is often the discomfort it brings. No matter how disturbing that art can be, we are far richer for being exposed it its truths.

  • Come Fly Away brings together the music of Frank Sinatra and the creative visionof Tony Award-winner Twyla Tharp. The show hits the Hobby Center April 10-15,2012 as part of the Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center 2011-2012 season.
    Original Broadway Cast © 2010, Joan Marcus
  • Marc Bamuthi Joseph, "Life Is Living Festival: Chicago"
    Photo by Bethanie Hines
  • Main Street Theater is looking forward to the most ambitious project in its36-year history: Tom Stoppard’s epic trilogy, The Coast of Utopia.
  • Jermaine Spivey and Martin Schmidt of Matmos in Ayman Harper's The LID atDiverseWorks Jan. 13-14, 2012
    Photo by Tomi Paasonen

Fab arts faves include Stoppard trilogy, Sinatra dancing & music from Houston'sbrainiac twins

Don't Miss List

Editors Note: We've asked Houston arts leaders and CultureMap contributors to pick the jewels from Houston's upcoming arts season — the events that they don't plan to miss. Here are CultureMap contributor Nancy Wozny's favorites:

Lists are tricky things. I don't even like "to do" lists. As a performance writer with roving eyes, it's hard to leave out Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective at The Menil Collection. You can find my early thoughts about must-see events in the true parts of My Fantasy Season column. Now that I have actually surveyed the entire performing arts season, here are five more events that I can't live without. Feel my pain/joy.

red, black and GREEN, a blues, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center For the Arts at UH, Nov. 4-5

When I first saw Marc Bamuthi Joseph perform at the Mitchell Center's Systems of Sustainability conference, I wasn't sure if he was a dancing poet or a spoken word artist with strong hip-hop chops. Who cares? He's on to something, a hybrid form of crafting work based on community-based research conducted through his Life is Living festivals, which democratize the environmental movement. I witnessed a sneak peek of this piece last fall at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. He's one dynamic performer.

The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard, Main Street Theater, Part I: Voyage Jan. 12-29, 2012; Part 2: Shipwreck, Feb. 10-March 11, 2012; Part 3: Salvage Feb. 24-March 11, 2012

I can't get enough of Tom Stoppard's headiness. No worries there, it's unstoppable Stoppard at MST with the entire The Coast of Utopia trilogy. I know my head is going to hurt, so I'm studying up now. Stoppard expects you stayed awake during your history and literature classes. Let it be known that MST has been Houston's leading Stoppard producer, having mounted 11 of his plays in its 36-year history. I'm still processing their brain-bending production of Stoppard's period hopping Arcadia.

Come Fly Away, Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center, April 10-15, 2012

Twyla Tharp got her Moving Out mojo back with Come Fly Away. The great genre-defying choreographer knows her way around Ol' blue eyes' tunes. Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs in already considered a contemporary classic. Having grown up with Sinatra crooning from the living room, I competely look forward to Tharp's new dansical. Tharp gives hope to dance on the Broadway stage.

Ayman Harper with Matmos and Jermaine Spivey in (theLID at DiverseWorks, Jan. 13-14, 2012

I've been watching Ayman Harper since seeing his compelling ballet, Bed Fears, Dream Piles, created for Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. And it's not been easy, as the native Houstonian lives in Berlin. Harper has been telling me about his collaboration for a year now, and the wait is finally over. Since leaving the legendary Forsythe Company, Harper has moved into his own as a creative artist. Matmos makes atmospheric, idiosyncratic electronica using samplers, analogue keyboards. Spivey, also a Forsythe veteran, now dances with Kidd Pivot, Crystal Pite's amazing Frankfurt-based troupe.

River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), Anthony Brandt's new work, Maternity, with a libretto by David Eagleman, April 21, 2012
Houston's brainiac twins, David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt, merge gray matter when Brandt sets Eagleman's words to music, featuring soprano Karol Bennett on April 21. Brandt, Musiqa's Artistic Director, Rice professor and music and the mind wiz, is an ideal composer for neuroscientist/novelist Eagleman's poetic musings on life and the great beyond. Grammy-nominated Alastair Willis conducts.
That's Life from Come Fly Away, moves by Tharp, music by Frank Sinatra

Take a sneak peek at Ayman Harper's (theLID with Matmos

  • Tom Stoppard's "Utopia" trilogy won seven Tony Awards for its New Yorkproduction. Now Houston will become the first U.S. city outside of the Big Appleto stage all three productions.
  • The Wonderettes are getting a sequel.
  • Ensemble has a play about the Lotto's "luck."
  • Main Street will put on one about a beloved quarterback who's committed a"senseless crime." Not that it's based on anyone in real life.

Drama outside the District: From Stoppard to the vibrator play to QB crime,great theater stretches Houston's boundaries

Beyond the biggies

The 18th annual Theater District Open House happens Sunday, allowing Houston’s biggest performing arts organizations to — sometimes literally — toot their own horns about their upcoming 2011-2012 seasons.

These performance giants certainly deserve their day-long preview celebration, but when it comes to H-Town’s great live theater, it can’t be confined to one district. This might be a good time to remember some of the other companies that might be upstaged during this time of year.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2011-2012 drama outlook for some our outside-the-District theaters.

Stages Repertory Theatre

Winter musicals and a one-woman show keep Stages busy for the rest of the year. In October, one of Stages’ favorites actors, Susan O. Koozin, plays seven different characters with seven different perspectives on the same event in Robert Hewett’s The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. Then when November hopefully brings some cooler weather, Stages will be ready with two musical comedies, The Winter Wonderettes and a Panto Red Riding Hood.

Stages kept extending the run of The Marvelous Wonderettes last season, so it’s no surprise that it's presenting a sequel. Its yearly offering of a new Panto play is a good antidote to those of us who like a little holiday cheer but have had enough of the same traditional shows every year.

Once the year turns, Stages will stage an intriguing mix of contemporary plays. Playwright and television writer Craig Wright depicts the life of a Broadway producer in the comedy Mistakes Were Made. In recent years, The Alley Theatre has produced several of Sarah Ruhl’s works, like Clean House and Eurydice, but in March it’s Stages who will probably excite audiences with her more recent play: In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, which wins my vote for most memorable title of the season.

Next up is an earlier play from one of today’s most acclaimed female playwrights, Yasmina Reza and her The Unexpected Man. The season ends with the 2009 Tony winning musical, Next to Normal.

Ensemble Theatre

The 2011-2012 season also just happens to be the 35th anniversary of Ensemble, the Southwest’s oldest African-American theatre. Ensemble begins with Cliff Roquemore’s Lotto, a play that looks at how one stroke of 10 million dollar luck can change a family. The theatre rings out 2011 with the African American Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Cinderella, like Stage’s Panto, a welcome bit of holiday show variety.

2012 begins with Ifa Bayeza’s Edgar Award winning The Ballad of Emmett Till, a play Ensemble describes as a work “told through contemporary prose with the infusion of jazz.” Then, contemporary life in an African-American barbershop is depicted in Charles Randolph Wright’s comedy Cuttin’ Up. Over many seasons Ensemble has been working its way through the 10 plays of the late, very great, Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning playwright August Wilson’s Pittsburgh (or Century) Cycle.

In May, Ensemble completes the project with King Hedley II. It ends the season with Javon Johnson’s “gospel comedy” Sanctified.

Main Street Theater

Main Street might have the city’s most ambitious seasons as it takes on several world premieres, attempts a Tom Stoppard trilogy and continues its relationship with the Prague Shakespeare Festival. Main Street begins the season in September with the world premiere Woof by Y York about a beloved quarterback who commits a “senseless crime” on camera.

With a title like Woof it will be interesting to see if the play is based on any real life people or events.

The other world premiere, the two-woman play Cakewalk by Nalsey Tinberg depicts the relationship between a Holocaust refugee and her American daughter.

The New York production of Utopia won seven Tonys and Main Street will be the first United States theatre outside New York to produce all three plays in the series.

On Jan. 12, Main Street rings in the new year with the production I’m personally most excited about, Sir Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia trilogy. The three-play set “chronicles a group of real-life Russian intellectuals dreaming of revolution” between 1833-1866.

Stoppard tends to create plays that truly play with ideas, ranging from quantum physics and chaos theory to history and economics to the nature of reality and memory, but his characters are always nuanced and alive, never just flat representatives for those abstract ideas. The New York production of Utopia won seven Tonys and Main Street will be the first United States theatre outside New York to produce all three plays in the series.

Spring brings another co-production with the Prague Shakespeare Festival and one of the best loved of Shakespeare’s villains, Richard III. In May, the official season ends with the regional premier of the Alan Ayckbourn comedy, My Wonderful Day, which tells the “recommended for mature audiences due to profanity” story of 9-year-old Winnie’s wonderful day.

Still not enough theatre to fill your every evening and weekend? 
In September, Catastrophic Theatre performs Mickle Maher’s There is a Happiness That Morning Is, with dialogue spoken entirely in rhymed verse. And then in December, Catastrophic brings to Diverse Works Obie award-winning Lisa D’Amour’s Anna Bella Eema, a “ghost story to be spoken and sung.”

If cabaret is more your thing, one of Houston’s newest theater companies, Music Box Theater celebrates Damaged Divas of the Decades in the fall and then puts another new holiday production under the city’s tree with Fruitcakes.

Want to help influence a company’s play selection process? Check out Mildred's Umbrella’s Fresh Ink Reading Series

And if you’d rather not be warned your evening is recommended for mature audiences, head over to the A.D Players, where founder Jeannette Clift George’s comedy Faces begins in September and the Blue Ridge Mountains set musical Foxfire goes on stage in February.

Whew, that’s an abundance of drama, comedy and musicals to choose from, yet it’s only a partial summary of what the 2011-2012 season holds. We have almost as many theatre (and theater) companies as we do bayous, so keep the CultureMap Events Calendar bookmarked and hold on for a very dramatic performance year.

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Luxe plastic surgery center injects River Oaks with cutting-edge techniques, posh recovery suites, secret access, and more

A-list treatment

With the holiday season in full swing and many prepping for a new look for the new year, image-conscious Houstonians have a new option for cutting-edge cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery in one of Houston’s most elite neighborhoods.

Nuveau Plastic Surgery + Medical Aesthetics, a local leader in cosmetic medical procedures, has quietly opened a sleek new facility in River Oaks (3720 Westheimer Rd.). Owned and operated by renowned (and board-certified) plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Lee, the facility offers myriad reconstructive surgeries for men, women, and children, as well as beauty treatments, touch-ups, and more.

Aside from top-of-the-line technology, instrumentation, and treatments, the boutique center has personalized service and features to the tony RO crowd. A secret entrance ensures privacy for discreet clients, much like similar operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Another top-drawer feature: Tastefully appointed pre-op and post-op suites keep patients in-house, rather than having to leave posh treatment centers and head to crowded hospital rooms for recovery.

In keeping with Lee’s insistence on a medicine-first approach, anesthesia for patients is provided by Medical Anesthesia Associates, an MD-only group.

A cut above

Notably, the center places a primary focus on plastic surgery, which, for the uninitiated, has a clear distinction from cosmetic surgery. Randy Rakes, managing partner, tells CultureMap that it’s important for clients to understand the difference.

“You have to understand, you have to go through hundreds of hours of training and cases — face and the entire body — to get that board certification, and go through rigorous testing in order to meet that specification,” he says.

Why is that important? The industry, Rakes notes, is rife with practitioners such as “OBGYNs or dermatologists or people who have not really been trained in the art of plastic surgery, who take a class somewhere and learn how to do liposuction or a fat transfer — and then they're ‘experts’ in aesthetic surgery.”

That’s especially key when selecting a provider for highly invasive — and potentially serious — procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast lifts and augmentations, breast reconstruction, and more, Rakes adds.

In an era of Instagram beauty demands, more choosy clients are opting for streamlining facial features. To that end, Lee is one of a select few surgeons in the U.S. who regularly performs “V-Line '' surgery. The set of procedures, popularized in South Korea where Lee honed many of his skills, aim to narrow the width of the jawline and the face.

Aesthetics with an expert eye

Lee’s elegant, 5,500-square-foot center is adorned with CASA Houston designs, Italian-influenced finishes, and soothing elements evocative of a modern art museum or luxury spa. The facility houses a Visia Skin Analysis Studio and seven treatment suites aesthetic work such as Botox, microneedling, VI peels, Halo Laser Resurfacing, Moxi Non-Ablative Laser, Broad Band Light Photofacials, Coolsculpting, Emsculpt, and more.

Rakes says that his registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and estheticians are elite, by design, as he and Lee insist on credentials. “All of our injectors are licensed in the State of Texas,” he says. “Most places don't have that, the reason being is that they are much more highly skilled than a traditional, regular nurse injector. So they have a much higher skill set. The people who do our lasers and things of that nature have 10 to 15 years of experience, so clients know that they're getting the best possible treatment with the best possible devices — we own every medical device that's considered cutting edge in the industry.”

Facing forward

Rakes, a longtime medical industry processional with a keen eye for trends and technology, says that his clients aren’t just looking for traditional services, but new technologies and treatment, such as PRP and other regenerative therapies. “I think patients are kind of moving a little bit away from the traditional Hyaluronic fillers like Restylane and really looking for something with a more natural approach.”

His treatment teams stimulate collagen with fillers such as Radiesse, “and then we combine that with energy-based devices to even further lift the tissue and work as a synergy between using the injectable and the device, because the combination of both of those things give the patient the best possible results,” Rakes notes. Lee and Rakes also focus facial care on medical-grade skincare brands Alastin, Revision, and Elta MD.

A global scope

Aside from his board certification in plastic surgery, Lee has also trained in craniofacial and pediatric surgery. His medical mission work has taken him to Thailand, Haiti, and Cambodia, where he has performed surgeries for nonprofits such as Operation Smile and Smile Train for those in need.

Those in need of non-traditional treatments can also trust Lee, says Rakes, who points to Lee’s work in the cosmetic and plastic surgery-obsessed Korea. “Some of the Korean techniques are much more advanced than the techniques that are available here in the United States,” says Rakes. “Dr. Lee does a lot of things that other physicians here just don't do.”

Those interested should book early, Rakes advises, as the holiday and new year rush is in full swing. The center offers “pre-buying” slots where clients can reserve space and time. “We’ve been very busy,” says Rakes, noting the local celebs who’ve shared the work they’ve received there on social media. “I think people come here because they know they’re getting the very best treatment and results available.”

Photo courtesy of Nuveau PlasticSurgery + Medical Aesthetics

Nuveau's sleek River Oaks center boasts designs from CASA.

Beloved Houston urban farm toasts local culinary legend with new cooking courses and classroom


For longtime Houston food insiders, Peg Lee needs no introduction. A lifelong local culinary instructor, she has been a fixture in the food scene since the 1970s, where she (often humorously) led cooking classes at Houston Community College.

She was a no-brainer to found and direct Rice Epicurean's cooking school. And the newly launched Central Market made waves in 2001 by enticing her to launch its now wildly successful cooking school, which, thanks to Lee, has lured top national and international chefs and food names.

Along the way, Lee mentored now well-known chefs such as Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin, and Mark Cox.

Quite apropos, the Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city's most beloved urban green sanctuaries, Hope Farms. The Peg Lee Culinary Classroom in Hope Farms' Gathering Barn now hosts field trips, classes, tastings, and free cooking demonstrations for children and adults.

Locals can also book the charming space, spearheaded by Recipe for Success/Hope Farms founder Gracie Cavnar, for cooking parties and cooking classes for anywhere from four to 24 students. Those interested can find more information on classes, which center on Cavnar's passion for healthy eating, and more here.

As for the classroom, visitors can expect a white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances, all reflective of a home kitchen. Butcherblock countertops, matte black accents, and farm-made tables and more adorn the space, while a Wolf Induction cooktop, A GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven, and other state-of-the-art appliances get folks cooking.

Fittingly, classroom water is tied into the farm's new rainwater capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.

“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” Cavnar noted in a statement. “Then, when we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”

New craft brewery bringing 'bold American beer,' Texas comfort food, live music, and more to Sugar Land

Sugar land's new craft brewery

Houston’s growing craft brewery scene will add a new outpost in Sugar Land. Talyard Brewing Co. recently began construction on a 15,000-square-foot production and tap room that will open in early 2024.

Located in Imperial, a massive mixed-use development on the site of the former Imperial Sugar refinery, Talyard will occupy a three-and-a-half acre site that will include a beer garden with shaded seating areas, pickle ball courts, a playground, and a stage for live entertainment.

Principals Keith Teague and Chuck Laughter are Sugar Land natives and neighbors who bring experience from the business world to Talyard. In a release, Teague says that intend to serve “bold American beer” paired with a food menu of Texas comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients.

“We want to push the boundaries of style and tradition by combining old practices and new,” Teague added.

Ultimately, the brewery’s 20-barrel brewhouse will be capable of producing 10,000 barrels per year. For now, brew master Sean Maloney is dialing in recipes on a test system. Formerly of 8th Wonder Brewing, Maloney has been working on the West Coast and recently finished the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewer Program, administered by the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the Doemens Academy in Munich.

“As I’m sure is the case for many ventures like ours, the idea of starting a craft brewery was hatched over beers in the backyard,” Teague said. “Sean attended high school with Chuck’s son, and over the years, we’d see him at family gatherings during the holidays when he was visiting from the West Coast. Those backyard beer sessions turned into area brewery tours together, and eventually the idea of sharing our passion here locally was born.”

Talyard will add to Imperial’s extensive entertainment options. The area also includes Constellation Field, home to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, a weekly farmers market, and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.