Designed by award-winning architect Gunnar Birkerts, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's stainless steel building safeguards a multitude of work designed to intellectual engage viewers and invoke complex reactions. The museum's two galleries, the Brown Foundation Gallery and the Zilkha Gallery, collectively host 8–10 free exhibitions every year.
The Brown Foundation spotlights work by internationally renowned artists and pieces organized around themes; past exhibits include a Kiki Smith survey and a showcase of performance art by black artists. The Zilkha, meanwhile, hosts the museum's Perspective Series, which gathers the work of emerging artists. The museum's Teen Council curates a biyearly edition of Perspectives, unveiling work by young, Houston-area artists that mine for deeper feelings than the normal teenage angst toward parents, teachers, and singing animatronic bears. The Teen Council also contributes to the museum's numerous programs, which include lectures and discussions for each show, as well as Musiqa concerts based on each Brown Foundation Gallery exhibition.
Trees for Houston has been dedicated to planting, protecting, and promoting trees for more than a quarter century. In that time, the organization has helped more than 420,000 trees spread their roots in the Houston community. Its mission is to use the benefits of lush vegetation to improve air quality, slow storm-water runoff, reduce urban heat, and reestablish the connection of people with nature.
Volunteer projects educate communities about urban forestry and reforestation. In addition to planting at schools, parks, and medians, Trees for Houston's volunteers donate seedlings at events, and work with third- and fourth-grade students to impart the importance of trees.
Teaching life skills as much as stage skills, Drama Kids' curriculum helps kids learn how to express themselves, while also fostering creative thinking and boosting self-esteem. Prepare your proto-adult for later-life triumphs such as winning an Oscar or fast-talking their way out of a questionable real estate deal with Drama Kids' Lower Primary or Upper Primary programs. Kids in the Lower Primary drama program, for ages 5 to 8, will further refine their vocal delivery and hone their social skills, interacting with classmates through the art of theater. In the Upper Primary program, for kids ages 9 to 11, students will explore more complex components of acting, such as speech, movement, and improvisation. Drama Kids' instructors motivate and inspire, helping a social butterfly hatch from the egg that is each child's personality.
In Houston, September beats out July and August for the hottest month of the year—it has nothing to do with the weather, however. The culprit behind the elevated heat level is the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. This annual event brings together exhibitors from across the country to sell and hand out samples of their signature hot sauces, salsas, jams, dips, and other spicy foods. Luckily, vendors also supply plenty of cool beverages, thus eliminating the need for bite-size fire extinguishers.
Live entertainment complements the spicy goods. Blues artists, jazz bands, and other musician play throughout the festival, and each day brings special events, such as salsa eating competitions or fire eating performances.
Wayne Davis first discovered Pilates after pulling his hamstring in the 2000 Olympic trials. For a professional athlete and collegiate long-jump record holder, a pulled hamstring was more than just an injury. He turned to Pilates to rehab his leg and realized that what he had seen as a tool to fix his leg was actually improving both his speed and strength. Wayne decided he wanted to extend his knowledge to others and now leads up to seven Pilates classes per day using the Allegro Pilates reformer. The reformer challenges students to a core-tightening, flexibility-focused workout without putting stress on joints or forcing students to throw expensive refrigerators off a four-story building. To supplement the Pilates classes, Wayne and his team of seasoned instructors lead spinning classes and cardio-Pilates classes that combine core-strengthening moves with blasts of high-energy cardio.
Chefs at Aztecas Margarita Bar & Grill prepare a full menu of authentic Mexican fare including guacamole made to order, dark mole poblano sauces, and fresh ceviche. The pollo Azteca—marinated and chargrilled chicken breast with Azteca sauce, grilled onions, and chili con queso—ignites palates with more flavor and fewer missing teeth than chewing firecrackers. Meanwhile, mariscos mex-tex enchiladas with sautéed shrimp and crab topped with house-made ancho poblano cream sauce follow up orders of Azteca nachos and twice-fried, cheese-filled jalapeños rellenos. The red, green, and yellow walls adorned with exposed bricks and flat-screen TVs surround diners during the day and dancers twirling to live music or DJs throughout the night. Behind the full bar, bartenders pour signature margaritas, frozen or on the rocks, infused with fruit flavors such as guava or mango. An outdoor patio holds additional seating for dining alfresco or picnicking without bears.