UPDATED: Rice Students Put Together a Rubik's Cube Mosaic of Nelson Mandela

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Photo by Jeff Fitlow
Nelson Mandela tribute created through Rubik's cubes.
Students from Rice University came together to produce a mosaic with 600 Rubik's cubes featuring former South African president, Nelson Mandela who died last year on December 5. In honor of Black History Month the montage will be on display at Rice University's BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) building.

Cory Thigpen, president of the Rice Club, wanted to pay tribute to Mandela in a creative way and him and his team found out a way to do that by incorporating Rubik's cubes.

"The project was time sensitive and we really wanted something that was going to capture people's interest," said Thigpen. "Nelson Mandela had just passed and we thought it would be a great way to honor him."

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Students to Put on "One Stop Hip-Hop Shop" at Hobby Center May 10

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Pictures courtesy of Julie Lambert
Primary and secondary students practice their hip-hop routine in anticipation of Friday's show.
Music Doing Good, Inc. is a fine arts organization serving at-risk schools and students in the Houston area. According to Julie Lambert, press and media manager for Music Doing Good, Inc., the nonprofit organization's mission "is to inspire and transform lives through innovative, music-based programming."

One way they are doing this is through Music Doing Good in Schools, a division of the elder organization, which provides after-school enrichment programs that teach students about select music genres.

This year, Music Doing Good in Schools will conclude two semesters of hip-hop music appreciation with a performance at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. With the first semester spent learning about hip-hop, the current semester has consisted of students from MacGregor Elementary, Stevenson Middle School and Wheatley High School rehearsing and perfecting the musical and artistic sides of the genre for a performance entitled "One Stop Hip-Hop Shop." This performance of old-school and new-school will showcase every facet of hip-hop.

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Wes Anderson's Rushmore, AKA St. John's Revisited in an Interview


Houston: The Rushmore School

In a story on The Onion's serious site, A.V. Club, writer Kyle Ryan who used to attend Strake Jesuit, delves into the St. John's/Houston background of Wes Anderson's film Rushmore.

As Ryan starts:

The world of Houston prep schools is small. Students who attend one of them are familiar with the others, and at some point, probably spend some time at them. As a student of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, I spent some miserable nights running track and field's worst races--the 800; 1,600; and 3,200--on the cushy track of St. John's School. That's why, when I saw Wes Anderson's delightful 1998 film Rushmore, I recognized exactly where it had been filmed.

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Dennis Quaid, Brett Cullen & More Return to UH to Honor Theater Prof Cecil Pickett's Memory

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Cecil Pickett, who died in 1997, is a revered name not only in Houston theater circles but across the United States among his former students. But when Steve Wallace, director of the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance, arrived here from Tennessee five years ago, he wasn't familiar with Pickett or his legacy.

What Wallace was looking for was a way to reunite the UH theater school and its students with some of its most prominent alumni. Actor Brett Cullen (Apollo 13, The Replacements, Ghost Rider) came back to the campus some and talked to students, but Wallace wanted more.

At a football game two years ago, Wallace had his chance. He'd flown out to a UCLA-Houston game and met Cullen. It was Cullen who told him that if he was looking for something to pull everyone together then Cecil Pickett would be the linchpin. Cullen, in turn, introduced Wallace to actors Dennis Quaid (Breaking Away, Far from Heaven) Robert Wuhl (Bull Durham, Batman) and eventually Cindy Pickett (Pickett Fences, St. Elsewhere) -- all alumni of UH's theater program.

On Saturday, April 14, all three are coming back to UH for An Afternoon with the Artists, a benefit for the Cecil J. Pickett Scholarship Fund.

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Let Me Be Your Star: NBC's "Smash" Comes to Sharpstown High School

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Martin Johnson works with the students at Sharpstown High School.

Tell a story, Martin Johnson says.

It's Tuesday, April 3. Since 10 a.m., Johnson, the iTheatrics Junior Theater Project director of education, and the students at Sharpstown High School have been breathing ("Dum, dum, dada, dada"), singing ("Who can tell me why we sing in a musical?") and posing ("Make a circle! Make a circle!"), all in preparation for Fame, JR., the play they will present to the public on May 24. For the four hours that he is there, Johnson will impress the same theme over and over upon the young thespians: Tell a story.

Fame, JR. isn't just any play. It's a collaborative effort underwritten by NBC in celebration of their new musical television drama Smash (Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee) and the aforementioned iTheatrics, a nonprofit that works with children of all ages to perform renditions of Broadway musicals, to create "sustainable" musical theater programs in 20 underprivileged high schools.

How did NBC get to Houston? It all started with first-year theater director and Sharpstown graduate Julio Morales, who wanted to establish something to replace the arts programs that have been slashed at Sharpstown High. After hearing about the "NBC 'Smash': Make a Musical" project, he applied to it. A few months later, he got his wish.

"They had such great teachers that were passionate," explained Johnson of the decision to include Sharpstown, the only Houston-based high school in the chosen 20. He is one of four iTheatrics staff members who have visited -- and will visit -- those 20 high schools in the coming months. Johnson initially came in January for a seven-hour workshop to get the ball rolling on the production. Tuesday's visit is the wrap-up of musical, acting and technical tutoring, for both the students and the teachers involved. After the debut of Fame, JR., a one-hour amended version of the original two-hour Broadway hit, Johnson and Morales hope the newly minted musical theater program will continue to produce and perform musicals every year, thus "sustaining" the project.

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Barry Carter Scores Champion Work of Art at the Houston Rodeo, Taylor Power Takes Reserve Spot

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Photo courtesy HLSR
This year's Grand Champion Work of Art by Barry Carter of Magnolia ISD.
Proving once again that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has room for all kinds of champions, HSLR picked its top two winners among student artists for this year's competition.

The title of Grand Champion Work of Art went to Barry Carter, a senior from Magnolia ISD, this weekend for his painting "Smokey and the Bandit." Carter, who plans to attend Texas Christian University and major in art and business -- so that he can paint and own and operate his own art gallery some day -- saw the cows in a field and captured their sense of peace.

The Reserve Grand Champion Work of art went to Taylor Power, a junior from Katy ISD, for her colored drawing "Sergeant in Charge."

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Public Art on Display: Watch Artist Edgar Bustillos Create His NASA Mural

The space shuttle program may be history, but motorists on NASA Road in Webster can still see rocket ships and the beauty of space, courtesy of area artist Edgar Bustillos.

Bustillos, who also teaches P.E. at McWhirter Elementary School, designed and painted a mural, an homage to the space program, on the side of the school with the help of his students.

Bustillos tells Art Attack that the project encompassed everything art should be: made by the community, for the community.

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TSU's "It Gets Better" Song, Penned By Broadway's Andrew Lippa, Now on iTunes

Musical theater fans wanting to listen to Andrew Lippa's song "It Gets Better" no longer need to keep pressing "play" on Youtube to hear the song over and over again. With "It Gets Better" now available on iTunes, listeners can just hit "repeat."

Lippa, the Tony-nominated composer of The Addams Family, wrote and recorded the song with students in Texas State University's musical theater program as part of the It Gets Better Project, an anti-bullying campaign that supports LGBT youth.

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Art Review: Up-and-Comers at HSPVA's Annual Juried Show

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Jesus Hinojosa
Expendable Youth
This popular annual exhibit is an interesting look at the up-and-coming artists at Houston's own High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Texas's premier arts magnet school. The works span a broad range of media and technique (painting, sculpture, photography, collage, printmaking, drawing, mixed media, Photoshop), and there's terrific skill on display, but nothing particularly risky or provocative in terms of concept or content.

A handful of artists show signs of future brilliance: Soon-to-be sophomore Hazel Fricke's Deep Waters is a deftly drawn graphic image of a mermaid; recent grads Adrienne Duncan, Hillary Henderson and Gray Crawford deliver nice work in mixed media, Photoshop and abstract drawing, respectively.

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Hot New York Design Firm to Renovate UH's Blaffer Art Museum

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WORKac's Diane von Furstenburg headquarters
Nothing gets us excited around here like "a dialogue between contemporary materials and the renovated elements," and that's likely what the Blaffer Art Museum had in mind when they commissioned young-but-renowned New York architecture firm WORKac to renovate the art museum at the University of Houston.

And according to New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission, WORKac accomplished that dialogue with their construction of Diane von Furstenburg's swank New York headquarters, an adaptive reuse of a historic Manhattan meatpacking district building--also hailed as a "new model of adaptive reuse for the city." Rawr.

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