The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Paquito D'Rivera, Houston Press Artopia 2014 and More

Categories: Top 5

Photo Courtesy of Paqito D'Rivera
Saxophonist and composer Paquito D'Rivera is one of the few artists to conquer both classical music and Latin jazz. D'Rivera made his symphony debut before he was in his teens, went on to become a founding member of the legendary Afro-Cuban music group Irakere, was an original member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, led his own Latin jazz orchestra, appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic orchestra, and recorded with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Over his career -- now spanning some six decades -- D'Rivera has earned 11 Grammy Awards; the first was for the 1979 album Irakere, which took home the Best Latin Jazz recording award, and the latest was the 2011 release Panamericana Suite, which earned him his fourth Latin Grammy. D'Rivera comes to Houston, thanks to Da Camera, for a one-night performance on Friday with guitar duo João Luiz and Douglas Lora. The program includes music by D'Rivera as well as Jacob do Bandolim, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Astor Piazzolla.

8 p.m. Friday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $35 to $65.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Other Desert Cities, The Tenderloins, Chevron Houston Marathon and More

Categories: Stage, Top 5

All photos by John Everett
Elizabeth Bunch and Richard Bekins in Other Desert Cities
A daughter returns to her parents' home for Christmas and reveals she is about to write a memoir -- a bit of unwelcome news that further strains already tense relations among her relatives, both liberal and conservative. As Jackson Gay, director of the Alley Theatre production of Other Desert Cities, one of our choices for Friday, explains it, playwright Jon Robin Baitz (think Brothers & Sisters on TV) has put together a really good dysfunctional-family drama set in 2004 that is funny and also an activist-kind-of play about politics.

The parents are old-school conservatives whose best friends are Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Daughter Brooke (Alley company member Elizabeth Bunch) is a liberal Democrat, and her aunt is "a raging old-school liberal Democrat," Gay says. Her brother is the one person who's mostly apolitical, and he refuses to enter into any of the family's fights. All is complicated and affected by the earlier suicide of another brother, an antiwar activist, and the family decisions that immediately followed his death, including the parents' move to Palm Springs in a sort of self-exile, Gay says.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Pilobolus, Mercury, The Pervert's Guide to Ideology and More

Categories: Top 5

Illusionists Penn and Teller collaborated with members of the inventive, outside-the-box-thinking Pilobolus dance company for [esc], one of the works the group will perform on Friday. The work premiered in the summer of 2013 and is on the program for the performance along with other pieces from the company's repertoire. As its title implies, the piece is about escaping from a variety of contraptions. During [esc], one dancer is sealed inside an oversize bag while volunteers from the audience assist in the assembly of a large wooden box. The dancer is put into the box, which is then secured with heavy-duty straps. Another dancer is tied up and crammed into a locked duffel bag while yet another is strapped to a chair using duct tape, a plastic bag tied around her head, and two other dancers are handcuffed and chained to a pole. (Penn and Teller created the devices.)

Pilobolus, founded in 1971, has often collaborated with artists from other mediums such as Penn and Teller. The company's latest creative challenge to the definition of contemporary dance, [esc] has received mixed reviews. One critic objected to the fact that the woman taped to the chair found it necessary to rip open her blouse along with the plastic bag, for example. Others have enthusiastically embraced it as a sterling example of "don't-try-this-at-home" choreography by a daring company. Decide for yourself at Friday's performance.

7:30 p.m. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit $25 to $70.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Space City Con, A Sodomite's Christmas, Monster Jam and More

Categories: Top 5

Jason Momoa as Khal Drogoin Game of Thrones
Space City Con's winter gathering, which starts on Friday, has something to satisfy every sci-fi, fantasy, comic book and cosplay desire. Actors from the hit HBO series Game of Thrones are attending: Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo), Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell), Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor) are on the list. Star Trek is also well represented this year across all brands, so bring your autograph book.

On the artist front, make sure you drop by to visit with one of Houston's rising comic stars, Jamie Kinosian. Maybe she'll share a glimpse of her upcoming series, Face the Music, with fellow local talent Meredith Nudo. At the very least, you can pick up some amazing Zelda art from her. There'll be screenings of Carlos Tovar's upcoming Web series, More Than Human, starring Joe Grisaffi (In a Madman's World) and a steampunk take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Trey Stokes, the only man ever to create a Star Wars fan film that actually launched a character into the official expanded universe of the franchise, will show off his legendary Pink Five Saga.

Noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa, & Convention Center, 7 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, visit $15 to $45.

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The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: D. L. Hughley, The Painting and More

Categories: Top 5

D. L. Hughley
Ubiquitous comedian D.L. Hughley is making his second stop in Houston this year with a holiday run that includes a Friday night show and, later in the week, two New Year's Eve shows. The author of I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America, Hughley finished in ninth place on the mega-hit reality television show Dancing With The Stars this year.

"We live in a world where reality shows now are the fare of the day, and everything's kind of a derivative of it," he reflected, laughing during a CNN interview. "Our country is so devoid of actually 'living' that we go home to watch other people live. We DVR other people living. And now, you have serious news anchors--or, people that are supposed to be serious news anchors--telling you about the most asinine, banal bullshit you've ever seen in your life. And they have to actually cover it! Do you think Dan Rather would ever think he would have to say 'Snooki' in a sentence? And be serious?"

8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit $30 to $70.

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The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Max and the Junkmen, "The Age of Impressionism," Santa and More

Categories: Top 5

Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider in Max and the Junkmen
Claude Sautet's 1971 crime drama Max and the Junkmen ("Max et les ferrailleurs") never hit American theaters, but fans have a chance to see it on Friday: A 35mm restored print is being screened as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Revival film series. The story follows Max (Michel Piccoli), a wealthy Paris detective who's passionately devoted to stopping crime. Having lost his faith in the justice system after seeing a guilty criminal go free in court, Max contrives a convoluted plan to entrap a gang of local scrap thieves. While undercover, he convinces them to rob a small bank. All the while he's planning to foil the crime and hand them over to the police, becoming a hero. Things get complicated when he falls for Lily (Romy Schneider), a young German prostitute who happens to be the gangleader's girlfriend. Max and the Junkmen is a gripping film that spends long, wonderful moments building up its players before unleashing them on the ill-fated heist with shocking consequences. Piccoli plays Max with crazy urgency, and his performance is bolstered by Schneider's angelic performance.

7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit $9.

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The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Dueling Art Shows, A Musical Grinch, A Screwy Scrooge and The Little Soldier

Categories: Top 5

Untitled (Green) by Sandy Ewen
On Friday, we've got dueling art show openings. Luckily, the openings are staggered so you can easily attend both. First is ">20 Square Feet." Independent art curator Matt Adams noticed a lack of exhibits of large-format works, so he organized one, (The show's title refers to the minimum size of each of the works.)

"There are artists creating large works," Adams tells us, "but there aren't many places to exhibit paintings that big." Working with Arts Brookfield, Adams arranged exhibition space in the lobby of a downtown office building. Among the 19 works from Houston and Austin artists included in the show are Sandy Ewen's polymer microcollage Untitled (Green) and Adam Brackman's time-lapse photograph Zoom.

The show includes a Buy-the-Square-Foot program, in which several artists have agreed to sell sections of their work by the square foot. "If someone wants to buy just a part of a painting, after the show the artist will sell it to them. They can say they want a square foot or whatever size they want. They can even select which section they want."

There's an open reception for ">20 Square Feet" at 4 p.m. on December 13. Regular viewing hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through January 31. 1600 Smith (formerly the Continental Center 1). For information, visit Free.

Courtesy of Graham Franciose
The Morning Tromp
Also on Friday, it's the opening of "NeoPopStreetFunk 5." Curators Nicky Davis and Kevin Sechelski started their own group show when they found a lack of local exhibiting opportunities. Focusing on guerrilla art with an attitude, the two called it "NeoPopStreetFunk" in order to cover the range of styles it included. This year, the duo has put together a collection of work from 22 artists including Houston's DUAL, Ho Chi Minh City's Kristopher Kotcher, Austin's Graham Franciose (see his The Morning Tromp above), Miami's Alex Yanes and local organizers Davis and Sechelski.

There's an opening reception for "NeoPopStreetFunk 5" at 7 p.m. on December 13. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Through January 5. Gallery M Squared, 339 West 19th. For information, call 713-861-6070 or visit Free.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: "The Gun Show," the Gerald Clayton Trio, and More

Categories: Top 5

Detail of The Defender by Daniel Bernal

Once a year, the Art Car Museum holds an open-call exhibit. This year's event, "The Gun Show,", our first choice for Friday, centers on firearms. Selecting a rather polarizing topic isn't really a surprise, since the museum regularly pushes the envelope with its shows.

A combination of emerging and professional (and local and national) artists on both sides of the issue have contributed works to the exhibit, including a painting showing a man, rifle in hand, sitting in what seems to be a living room, spent shells surrounding his feet. The piece, by Houston artist Peter Daniel Bernal, is titled The Defender.

There's an opening reception with many of the artists at 7 p.m. December 7. Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Through February 21. 140 Heights. For -information, call 713-861-5526 or visit Free.

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Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Pop Shop Houston, Memphis: The Musical and Yep, It's Christmas

Categories: Top 5

Houston boasts a tremendously eclectic artist community, and there are a multitude of people creating so many wonderful works all around the city. The only question is: where to find them all at once? Brittany Bly created Pop Shop Houston: Indie Craft, Art, & Music Festival last year as a solution. The festival runs Friday and Saturday.

"What makes Houston so unique is its diversity," Bly said by e-mail. "We can have Fat Tony, indie craft, an arcade, gorgeous sculptures and kids' crafting all in the same space, [and] it fits together." Some 100 individuals and collectives will line the booths at Silver Street Studios showing off everything from paintings to comics, sculptures to jewelry, clothing (see the handmade felt booties above) to things beyond any practical definition. Urban Izzy and Shoe Bar will be at the festival, and Park Boutique is having its grand opening at the event.

Noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Silver Street Studios, 1501 Silver. For information, call 713-659-9491 or visit the event's website. $17.

Courtesy of The Grand 1894 Opera House
Felicia Boswell in Memphis, The Musical
On Friday and Saturday, Felicia Boswell reprises her role as a black singer in love with a white DJ in the 1950s for Memphis: The Musical. The show won a fistful of Tony Awards -- Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book and Best Orchestrations -- when it first hit Broadway. Memphis is loosely based on the life -- more, on the spirit -- of mid-20th century DJ Dewey Phillips, who was responsible for bringing a black-sounding Elvis Presley to the segregated radio waves. The musical, by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (yes, David Bryan, the Bon Jovi keyboard player), reimagines what might have happened, sort of, had Elvis been a black woman. (The show's tag line is "His vision. Her voice. The birth of rock -n- roll.") Think Hairspray without the drag or Dreamgirls without the diva-tude.

8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 409-765-1894 or visit the Grand Opera House's website. $28 to $48.

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The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: "See Food," Kathy Griffin and More

Categories: Top 5

Courtesy of Corey Arnold and Charles A. Hartman Fine Art
Detail from Ben and King from the Graveyard Point series by Corey Arnold
Three years ago, Natalie Zelt, then curatorial assistant for photography for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, noticed an increase of food-related images in the portfolios she was viewing. "A lot of photographers and visual artists were engaging in food issues in a visual realm," Zelt tells us. "There's been a lot of buzz about the slow-food movement...and it was interesting to see the different ways that it had begun to be explored visually. I realized that not only was this happening among visual artists, but it was becoming part of our culture, people documenting their food [via social media]."

Fast-forward to today and Zelt, now in graduate school, has curated "See Food: Contemporary Photography and the Ways We Eat," an exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography and our pick for Friday.

Local artist Emily Peacock contributes images from her Whiskey Tango series. "'Whiskey tango' are the military [-alphabet] for 'w' and 't,' which Peacock uses for 'white trash.' She's starting to be more careful about the food she eats and she's realized that the food she ate as a child was so plasticized and almost toylike," Zelt says. "Her images reflect her looking back at the food she ate as a kid; she's essentially creating these vibrant, toylike images.

Portland, Oregon photographer Corey Arnold is represented by several images of commercial fishermen working on the open sea, including Ben and King (seen above). Those often bloody action shots contrast with the work seen in Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat series. He traveled around the country making portraits of people by documenting the interiors of their refrigerators, basically posing the question 'What happens when the body, the person, is replaced by the food that they eat?'"

There's an opening reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 22. Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through January 12. 1441 West Alabama. For information, call 713-529-4755 or visit the Houston Center for Photography's website. Free.

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