Exploring a "New World" Through Japanese Photography at MFAH

Courtesy of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Nobuo Yamanaka's "Pinhole Room Revolution 1"
Grainy and swirling, yet starkly revealing images bridge the past and present in For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, "For a New World to Come" focuses on avant-garde Japanese works produced during a time seminal to Japan's own history, as well as that of the global art world. Featuring approximately 250 photographs, photo books, paintings, sculpture, and film-based installations by 29 artists, "For a New World to Come" reveals the explorations of contemporary art as manifested through the Japanese lens.

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Painting in the Texas Tradition: Contemporary Texas Regionalism

Courtesy of William Reaves Fine Art
"Mockingbird in the Hill Country" by Billy Hassell
The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts takes its visitors on a journey exploring Texas' land- and cityscapes, wildlife, and home-life in Painting in the Texas Tradition: Contemporary Texas Regionalism. Produced in collaboration with the William Reaves Fine Art gallery, this exhibition features work from 15 of the state's most established regionalist artists, whose paintings, drawings and prints act as windows to vistas and vignettes across Texas.

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Five Don't-Miss Fashion Events in Houston in November

Image courtesy of fashionhouston.net
The weather is cooling down just in time for fashion season in Houston to heat up! Clear your calendars (and your credit card balance) because in addition to this onslaught of fashion--Christmas is coming. You know it, I know it, and the retailers in the Galleria know it. (Seriously, the decorations are going up already).

The first stop on our November fashion tour requires fast action--you only have until Sunday, November 2, to pick up (and use!) your Houston Holiday Shopping Card. Purchase the card for $75 and start shopping: you enjoy 20 percent off of purchases at hundreds of area stores, and a donation will be made to the American Cancer Society for each purchase. The card is only valid through November 2, so get to it!

Now, let's go get us some fashion.

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Monet Gets Rollin' on the River at MFAH Exhibit

MFAH/Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund
Claude Monet, "The Seine at Lavacourt," 1880, oil on canvas.

Throughout his lengthy artistic life, Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted a lot of different subject matter. But he had a particular fondness for water. And then for one certain body of water.

"I have painted the Seine throughout my entire life, at every hour, at every season," he once said. "I have never tired of it. For me, the Seine is always new."

Things get rollin' on the river when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents a unique exhibit of 52 works by the leading light of French Impressionism in "Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River."

The exhibit was put together by the MFAH and the Philbrook Museum of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Works were borrowed from a variety of museum, corporate, and private collections.

The paintings - which span decades - detail Monet's fascination with the waterway, and include many from his groundbreaking 1896-97 "Mornings on the Seine" series, which were exhibited to great acclaim.

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Pet a Shark at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Categories: Museums

Jef With One F
The Texas State Aquarium is one of the top aquariums in the country, but the tank that holds the small sharks people are allowed to touch could use some work. So they've partnered with the Houston Museum of Natural Science in order to beta test a new set-up for the seven months Shark! will be running open to the public.

There are two circular tanks measuring 9 feet in diameter and containing 700 gallons of water. The sharks in the exhibit are smaller species that do not need to keep moving to breathe, are bred in captivity, and have mouth positions that make biting a hand from above more difficult. Small as they are, though, there is still a huge thrill in petting a shark.

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Seven Fabulous, Fashionable Functions in Houston in September

Schedule your style fix in advance to meet your September quota. Looking for a trunk show for the season's latest styles? Got it. Wishing for a museum exhibit to whisk you away to a stylish, bygone era? Done. Hoping to meet a designer along with the excitement of seeing brand-new collections? We're on it. September is a big month for fashion all-around, and that's certainly the case here in Houston. Apologies in advance if there are simply too many awesome, fashion-y things for you to fit into your schedule.

Dress for Dinner Season VI with David Peck: Tuesday, September 2

Dress for Dinner--or D4D, for short--isn't just a celebration of the Season VI kickoff, it's the grand opening of Peck's new showroom in Houston. Now located at 2515 Morse (at Westheimer), David Peck USA will be donating 20 percent of the evening's sales to support Recipe for Success. Sounds yummy, all the way around.

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The Best Giant Robot Bugs in Houston

Categories: Museums

Photos by Lynda Rouner
When I was a kid my favorite thing every year was the Houston Museum of Natural Science's annual Dinomation. This was long before we had the amazing Morian Hall of Paleontology, and our dinosaur offerings were far more meager. Once a year, though, the museum turned into forest full of jerky, but still convincing prehistoric beasts brought to life as animatronic statues.

It was pretty much the best thing ever.

The Houston Zoo is offering something similar through the end of August in the form of Extreme Bugs. The difference is that instead of showing us behemoths from before the time of man, the robots are common insects and arachnids. Bascially, the Zoo decided to recreate Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and while there are a few flaws, it's still an impressive sight.

The animatronics themselves are fantastic in their scope and majesty. An Emperor Scorpion is one of the very first of the robots to be encountered, and it is terrifying even for a grown person than can spot the pneumatics under the plastic. The poisonous tail towers easily twenty feet in the air, maybe more, and the front claws are the size of a motorcycle.

It's like a '50s horror movie come to life. A Madagascan Sunset Moth looms huge, flapping it's beautifully colored wings slowly and elegantly (The bright, diurnal moth is often mistaken for a butterfly according to the plaque in front of the giant). You're even allowed to control the movement of the giant Stag Beetle, which I encourage everyone to do while cackling madly and screaming, "Nothing in the world can stop me now!"

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Superhero Sequel at the Children's Museum

Categories: Museums

Last year the Children's Museum of Houston hosted the Summer of Epic Adventure, a superhero-themed series of days and activities that my four-year-old dragged me to at least four times. It was such a big bit that the Museum decided to go for a sequel, and all joking aside it was a lot of fun last year so I couldn't wait to try it again.

For the most part, the expansion has worked well. Various big-name costumed heroes have been signed up to appear, and my daughter certainly wasn't going to miss a chance to hug Spider-man when he was in attendance last week. Super Why will be the next one on August 16.

Funny thing about Spider-man. I'd always read that such costumed performers were supposed to avoid too much physical contact with children and stick to high-fives mostly. Spidey just picked the girl child right up, which delighted her, so maybe things have gotten a bit more trusting.

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Places in and Around Houston That Feel Like You've Stepped Back in Time

Photo by Eric Mueller
A car would help to visit these places, but it doesn't have to be a DeLorean.
Sometimes the pace of modern life can get to anyone, and we long for a simpler time. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, your only option for really reaching back in time is to find places that keep elements of the past alive.

Fortunately for us would-be time bandits (okay, if you can travel back in time, I don't condone stealing anything), there are a few places in and around Houston that will give us a taste of a bygone era without the need for an expensive time-traveling 1980s sports car to get there. Places like...

1. Yale Street Grill & Gifts, 2100 Yale

This Heights diner is one of the oldest left in Houston, occupying a space in what originally was the Yale Pharmacy. The diner area is exactly what one would expect from an old-fashioned malt shop, and the food and drinks are excellent diner fare. The area that used to be the pharmacy is now an antiques mall, so there's cool stuff to browse through if that's your thing. I'll be there for an old-fashioned burger and milkshake. The atmosphere is pleasantly anachronistic, and worth the lines that form on weekends.

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Menil Collection Exhibit 'A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James' Opens & Other Musings on Fashion

Photo Courtesy of The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection opened a new exhibit this weekend dedicated to one America's greatest fashion minds. A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James is an homage to the work of couturier Charles James and one of his most supportive patrons John and Dominique de Menil. On display are pieces from Dominique de Menil's personal collection of James fashion and decor created by James for the de Menil's home in Houston.

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