While other cities are feeling the crunch of skyrocketing oil prices, Houston is thriving on the growing demand for its chief commodity. But if places like Boomtown Coffee ever become the norm rather than the exception, you might see coffee turn into another of Houston's most precious resources. Boomtown’s small-batch roasts are always remarkably fresh, thanks to owners who care about sourcing and roasting their coffees locally. Though these coffees are a constant on Boomtown's menu, the choice of food items is liable to change as quickly as the price of gas. Daily options may include anything from a chocolate-crusted cheesecake to a vegetarian quiche, so it pays to make frequent return visits. On a nice summer day, there’s no better place to hang out than on the outdoor patio. In the winter, you can combat the occasional chill by perusing the local artwork inside the shop or by pouring a steamy cup of coffee over your head.
The 14-acre Bayou Bend estate, the former abode of philanthropist and informal First Lady of Texas Ima Hogg, was finished in 1928 and donated to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts by 1957. Hogg then transformed her mansion into a de facto museum, accumulating one of the largest collections of American decorative art in the world. The nearly 5,000 masterly pieces range from furniture to ceramics, and in age from Colonial America all the way to the end the Civil War.
It might seem strange to see a Gutenberg Bible page pulled using mid-1400s technology, or the Declaration of Independence being printed on an authentic 19th-century iron hand-press. At The Museum of Printing History, where local artists give live demonstrations of real, working artifacts, these sights are almost commonplace. In its mission to preserve and share the history of written communication, the organization functions as part museum and part interactive classroom. A permanent collection highlights preserved prints and gear from around the world?from ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets to Civil War-era newspapers. This collection even includes a display of equipment and documents belonging to Texas' first printer.
However, the museum's four galleries and 14,000 square feet of space aren't just reserved for relics. Every year, staff curate 12 rotating exhibits that, in the past, have covered the work of contemporary printmakers and photographers or explored the evolution of modern printing around the world. Meanwhile, an on-site print shop holds hands-on, all-ages workshops in typography, paper-making, and other forms of print-based art.
Art can foster a sense of community and inspire social change. It is this belief that drives artists Reginald and Rhonda Adams, who founded Museum of Cultural Arts, Houston in 1999 when they noticed a lack of community participation in the arts. Using their vibrant center as a springboard, the couple and their staff have brought art programs to more than 30 public schools and 15,000 underserved youth, helping the youngsters unleash their innate creativity and heighten their social awareness. Within the museum, rotating exhibits, such as May’s Queens of Creativity Mother Earth Exhibition, carry pertinent social messages such as the importance of calling Earth’s core on Mother’s Day. Community projects such as a recent mural painting for a school and collaborations with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society help carry out the museum’s mission as a vehicle for expression.
FastFrame’s certified, professional framers encapsulate a range of photos, prints, diplomas, and sports memorabilia, preserving them with skilled craftsmanship and custom artistry. Many projects start at around $100, but prices vary greatly, depending on size, scope, and if the framed goods are pilfered from the Louvre. Openly browse through the store's 2,000+ collection of frames, including classic guilds, ornate frames wearing a mantle of gold bedecked in raised flowers and vines, and the Funky and Fun wood frames spackled with a dense coating of glitter. FastFrame's preservationists also honor a 30-day guarantee on all custom designs, allowing owners to return pieces for a redesign if they don’t complement the tree house’s décor. All materials and workmanship are guaranteed for life.
$10,000. That's what creativity and innovation can get you at Texas Contemporary Art Fair. Each year, judges award that sum?and the Texas Contemporary Award?to one of the exhibited artists.
It's no easy decision, since the fair showcases more than 70 art galleries and the artists all look at the judges with such big, hopeful eyes. A trip across the convention floor or into the history of fairs past reveals works of sculpture, paintings, and other media from both established and emerging contemporary artists. Some come from Texas, while others arrive from New York, San Francisco, and other cities.