Free for All: Art Without a Price Tag

Categories: Film and TV

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Untitled by Chris Thompson
Friday's your last day to see the "Saddest Love Story Almost Never Told: Based on a True Idea" exhibit by Sketchy Neighbors, a free-wheeling artists collective. The group is known for its unorthodox approach. Members pull ideas for materials and concepts literally out of a hat.

One idea for "Love Song" was "Texas is on fire as a snow globe." Artist Chris Thompson's response? A snow globe constructed from a motorized one-gallon fish bowl. "It doesn't actually contain any water; when you push the button, a fan blows torn bits of plastic trash bags around a small copper Alamo." The design includes some air holes to facilitate the circulation; as an unintended consequence, bits of plastic bag fly out of it, sort of artistic litter. "It's an environmental piece," Thompson deadpans. Other participating SN members include Brenda Cruz, Katsola and Devon Moore.

Viewing hours are by appointment. Spacetaker Artist Resource Center, 2010 Winter Street Studios, Studio 11. For information, visit sketchyneighbors.com or call 713-868-1838. Free.

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There are lots of options for grown-up New Year's Eve celebrations on Saturday, but Kemah Boardwalk has something for the whole family. There are fireworks (10 p.m.) and live music featuring the group Velvet Punch (6 to 9 p.m.). Discount tickets are available for all of the usual Kemah Boardwalk rides. In case you have a little money to spend, opt for the Boardwalk FantaSea Fireworks and Dinner Cruise (8 p.m), where you'll see the fireworks from a great on-the-water vantage point of view while you have dinner.

Event times vary. Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp Avenue, Kemah. For information, visit www.kemahboardwalk.com or call 281-334-9880. Most events are free.

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In the 1930s, Norwegian ice-skating sensation Sonja Henie won three Olympic Gold Medals. She parlayed that success into a movie contract. But for all her icy brilliance, she couldn't do anything else a major movie star is supposed to do -- like, oh, act. The studio head instinctively knew how to handle this shortcoming, writing in a 1937 memo: "I caution you against giving Sonja Henie too many lines. You should work it...where we get the impression that she is carrying the whole thing, whereas if you analyze it, you will see that everything is happening around her, and only occasionally does she speak a line." This policy worked surprisingly well for Zanuck and Henie, and was quite lucrative.

Shown on Sunday through Houston IKEA's Silver Screen series, It's a Pleasure was Henie's first film in luxuriant Technicolor. Basically, it's an ice-inspired A Star Is Born in which skater Sonja rises, while her hubby, a former hockey pro played by Michael O'Shea, drinks more and more. The ending is happy, though, as is the scrumptious lensing from ace cameraman Ray Rennahan and those mad nightclub settings from famed art director Wiard Ihnen, fresh from his Academy Award-winning job on Wilson.

6:30 p.m. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit www.discoverygreen.com. Free.

D. L. Groover contributed to this post.


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