John and Dominique de Menil began collecting art in the 1940s, shortly after they had relocated from France to the United States. It didn't take long for the couple to amass nearly 16,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and rare books. Tired of tripping over Byzantine statues on the way to the kitchen, the de Menils decided to share their collection with the world.
The result is The Menil Collection, which opened in 1987 and has since become a fixture of Houston's Museum District. Here, visitors can browse priceless artworks and artifacts with origins that span the globe. With its minimalistic exterior and sweeping stretches of glass, the building itself is also something of a masterpiece. This is no accident—Dominque de Menil made sure that its design allowed for plenty of natural light to enhance visitors' experience and help the artworks grow big and strong.
Today’s Groupon offers an upgrade from your biography audio books. For $20, you’ll experience legendary lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s candid confessions at The Society for the Performing Arts on Sunday, October 25, a $42 value. New York Times columnist and former chief drama critic Frank Rich will prompt the esteemed composer to reflect on his career, collaborations, and creative process during the 7:30 p.m. performance at Jones Hall. Gypsies: “Boy, I was pretty sure I was going to get sued for this one. To make the lawyers happy, I added a scene where giant robots fight each other and changed that song to ‘Everything’s Coming Up Robots’.” A Different West Side Story: “You can’t copyright a part of town! The story is basically the same as the regular West Side Story, but some of the characters in mine are giant robots who have forbidden love.” Sweeney Ted: “I didn’t change much in this case because the original seems to also be about robots. A huge hit!”
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.
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.
Blooming from a family-run arts-and-crafts business more than a quarter century ago, Woodland Art & Frame now focuses on accentuating masterpieces with complementary borders. Aside from performing traditional services, such as dry-mounting posters and retouching oil paintings, certified framers enlist a virtual framer program to help patrons visualize their artwork in different mattes, frames, and ’80s hairstyles before finalizing selections. Framers also transform flat-screen TVs into functional artwork by crafting screen-hugging frames, and sometimes visit homes or offices to assess aesthetic needs.