If you're like many of us, your dog is more an extension of your family than a pet. It's been an evolution decades in the making, but Fido has certainly made his way out of the backyard doghouse and into the comfort of our beds.
With this ongoing canine invasion of every facet of our lives, it's little wonder that this Friday Houston will celebrate Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Organized by the Houston Humane Society to bring attention to animal cruelty, there's even a proclamation for this special "holiday" of sorts. And if you are so inclined to bring your pup to the office on Friday, be sure to swing by the "official" after party at Little J's Bar on Washington Ave. You'll find themed drinks on special--$3 greyhounds, salty dogs and Jack "Russell" Daniels and Coke (from 5 to 9 pm).
Dogs are always welcome on the patio and inside at Little J's but it's not the only local watering hole that's popular for canine lovers. Here are a few other spots where your best friend is welcome:
- The Boneyard
- Porch Swing Pub
- Little Woodrows in the Village
- Christian's Tailgate in the Heights
- Capitol Bar Midtown
- Luke's Icehouse
- Celtic Gardens
- Local Pour
- West Alabama Ice House
- Saint Dane's
James Turrell is an artist working with the simplest of mediums. For five decades, Turrell has used light--in all its glorious hues, intensities and saturations--to create awe-inspiring installations in far flung locales around the globe. Now, a new retrospective of his life's work is open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcasing some of his most beautiful creations.
The exhibition titled James Turrell: The Light Inside is named after the tunnel installation that links the two buildings of MFAH. The Light Inside was installed more than a decade ago, and it was at that time that MFAH began planning this major retrospective with the artist. Other retrospectives of Turrell's work are going on simultaneously this summer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York. The MFAH exhibit runs through September 22.
At a press conference unveiling the exhibit, Turrell talked about the relationship we as humans have with light and why he chose to focus his career on harnessing and manipulating light to create moving art. Turrell explained that few other things in the natural world have the capacity to evoke such guttural feeling as light.
The new exhibition is installed in 22,000 square feet of gallery space at MFAH's
Brown Pavilion. Surveying the artist's ongoing exploration of light, the installation opens with the simple white light of Tycho, an early double projection from 1967 that pays tribute to the "zips" of Barnett Newman, and closes with the evolving and nuanced color harmonies of Aurora B (2010-11) from the artist's "Tall Glass" series. Both these works will have their public debut with this installation.
Other works in the exhibition will engage and challenge viewers to test the limits of their perception, culminating with the magnificent End Around (2006) Ganzfeld, or "complete field," which engulfs the viewer in a pure, seemingly limitless field of light that gradually changes color.
In addition to The Light Inside installation, Houston is home to two other permanent examples of Turrell's work: at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House in the Heights and the most recent installation the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University.
It's big, it's green and it's found a new home at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
A 10-foot, sarcophagus that may date back to 664 BC will soon be on display in the museum's new Hall of Ancient Egypt. This week museum staff allowed media a sneak peak at the new 10,000-square-foot hall and the sarcophagus of Gemshuankh, a priest of the god Hersihef. The hall opens to museum members Memorial Day Weekend and to the general public May 31.
The new permanent Egypt hall is part of HMNS' major expansion that began with the opening of the Hall of Paleontology last summer. Thousands of years after the Egyptians ruled the Nile Valley, people remain fascinated by this civilization that flourished for more than three millennia. The hall's exhibits will explore everything from writing and religion to natural resources and burial practices of the ancient culture.
Hundreds of artifacts, including the museum's mummy, Ankh Hap, will be on display in the hall. Instead of displaying staid exhibits, the hall aims to immerse visitors in the daily life of ancient Egypt.
Click here for more on the hall.
It's been quietly turning out quality theatrical performances for nearly four decades, most recently in its intimate space on the edge of Rice Village. Now Main Street Theater is embarking on a $3 million capital campaign to renovate and add to that space-and it's already almost halfway there.
The independent theater company has raised $1.3 million toward its goal, money which will go toward paying off the debt on its building purchase and expand. Plans call for adding a second level of classroom/rehearsal space as well as new restrooms, a major redo of the lobby and concession areas and more.
The theater company hosted a kickoff event at its facility on May 13. Major construction will likely start in early 2014 and should be complete by the end of next year.
The Houston Endowment is responsible for getting Main Street part of the way toward its goal with a $500,000 gift. Other donors include The Brown Foundation and the Simmons Foundation.
Later this month Main Street will stage its last production of the season, Close Up Space.
The website Causes.com has ranked Houston the 10th greenest city in America.
The organization cited the city's efforts to become more environmentally conscious, developing a city Office of Sustainability, increasing recycling efforts and more. City-sanctioned farmers markets, electric municipal vehicles and a growing bike share program were other elements that probably helped Houston's placement on the list.
Meanwhile, the city is also getting attention for the Bayou Greenways Initiative, a bond-funded effort that will connect all of the city's bayous via hundreds of miles of hike and bike trails.
Click here for more details.
The Alley Theatre is about to get a major makeover that will elevate Houston's resident dramatic company to a new level.
This week officials with the Alley announced a $73 million capital campaign that will fund the renovation, enabling the theater to offer more shows, a greater variety of shows and provide patrons with an enhanced experience (can anyone say larger restrooms?).
Designed in the "brutalist" architecture form epitomized by unadorned poured concrete, the Alley building hasn't undergone a major overhaul since it opened in 1968. The plan calls for a major cleaning of the building's exterior, a new "fly space" that will allow for rapid scenery transformations and several tweaks to the stage set-up.
"This is not just about the building," Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd told the Houston Chronicle. "We're excited about the prospect of what will feel like a new facility, bringing it into the 21st century in terms of what we can create on stage, as well as the comfort of the audience. Yet also keeping the 'Alleyness' - the building's iconic architecture and the intimacy between actor and audience that our patrons love. The whole campaign is about the artistic product and the experience it affords to the artists and the audience."
Beyond the major renovations, money raised through the capital campaign will go toward two other initiatives: artistic enhancement and an expansion of the theater's endowment.
The company has so far raised $30 million of the planned total of $74 million, but it must raise another $16 million before it can finalize a timeframe and other details for the project.
Founded in 1947 by Nina Vance, the Alley is one of the oldest resident theater companies in the country. The company operated in two smaller locations, before opening its downtown complex housing the 824-seat Hubbard Stage and the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage.
Click here for more from the Chronicle. And click here for more renderings of the planned renovation.
Have you seen the racks popping up around Houston?
The city's B-Cycle program kicked into high gear in April, expanding from a pilot phase of just three bike racks around Downtown to a total of 22 racks stretching from Montrose to the Museum District.
The bike-share program allows member users to check-out cruiser-style bikes free of charge for up to an hour and just $2 for each additional ½ hour. The obvious goal is to give Houstonians a vehicular alternative for relatively short jaunts. There is a membership fee on the front end, ranging from just $5 for a 24-hour pass or $65 for an annual membership.
Users can sign up for a membership online or at any of the stations. Click here for a map of stations across the area.
B-Cycle is ideally suited for those looking for an inexpensive way to tour around the city's core, along Buffalo Bayou or through the tree-lined streets of Montrose.
For more information, visit the B-Cycle homepage.
A new mural in Downtown Houston's Market Square District aims to boost local pride by drawing attention to the city's more celebrated characteristics.
The colorful mural from acclaimed graffiti artist GONZO247 is going up on the side of a historic building that currently houses Treebeard's restaurant, just across from Market Square Park. Work began on the mural in mid-March and should be complete by early April (see a time-lapse progression below).
The mural is an offshoot of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau's new Houston Is... ad campaign. The half-million dollar, national imaging campaign now appearing in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal uses local trendsetters in the culinary and arts scenes to showcase the arenas visitors come to Houston to experience. The finished piece will show the Houston skyline in silhouette surrounded by a bright, abstract mosaic of vibrant color and some of the words used in the campaign, such as hip, tasty and inspired.
The mural is being executed in partnership with the Downtown District and the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.
"The design of the mural is set up so that these words that represent what Houston is about are stacked in a way that they're actually holding the city up. They make the city what it is," says GONZO247. "Then from behind the skyline you have this explosion of color that represents the energy of the city, our diversity and culture."
The artist says there is also a more subliminal element to the image, which suggests a butterfly in flight. "Houston has been overshadowed for so long, sort of written off. But quietly we've been developing, sort of in a cocoon," he says. "Now the city has become what it was always intended to be, it's really taking flight."
GONZO247 launched his spray paint-based career in Houston 25 years ago. Since then, he's opened his Aerosol Warfare gallery/studio and worked with top brands such as Converse and Red Bull on urban-inspired ad campaigns. In addition to creating numerous murals around town, he's also produced videos documenting street art.
In its fifth year, the Free Press Summer Festival will bring together bands spanning from indie-rock to punk to hip-hop.
Top performers at this year's event set for June 1 and 2 include Iggy and the Stooges, Social Distortion, rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Grace Potter, Alabama Shakes and electro-pop duo Postal Service.
In just five years, the festival held at Eleanor Tinsley Park on the banks of Buffalo Bayou has grown from just a few thousand attendees to more than 80,000. The event is a put together by the alternative publication Free Press Houston and promoter Pegstar Concerts.
Other groups will include:
Devin the Dude
Head and the Heart
Los Amigos Invisibles
Matt & Kim
the Octopus Project
Of Monsters and Men
TV on the Radio
More local acts are also on the roster and others have yet to be announced.
For more on the festival and the lineup, click here.
Maybe it was the green Mohawk that brought them together. Marley and Jeff Wisnoski met when she was a freshman, and he a sophomore, at Baylor University. Marley served as the makeup designer during the run of a live theater version of School House Rock, and Jeff was one of the actors. Each night, it was her responsibility to get his green Mohawk just right before the curtain. That began a friendship that would eventually lead to dating and, in time, marriage.
"From the very beginning, we shared this love of theater," Marley says. "And it still continues."
Today, the two are working side by side on the current Theatre Under the Stars production of Man of La Mancha. Marley is assistant directing her first production at TUTS and Jeff is the show's fight director, choreographing all of the action scenes of the rather physical musical.
"We're very fortunate in that we work really well together," Jeff says. ""We did it on several productions in London and now we're getting a chance to do it at TUTS. Working on the same show is a dream because we get to see each other more."
After Baylor, the couple moved to London where she earned a master's degree and he started his career in the energy industry. While overseas, Jeff also honed his love for mixing martial arts with theater. A blackbelt at age eight, he would come to learn that stage combat was a lot like martial arts. He studied with the Society of American Fight Directors and earned his certification as a fight choreographer from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat.
"You don't realize it but there's a lot of physical contact in theater," Jeff says. "It's not just actual fights, but any time a character so much as slaps another, directors will usually consult with someone who is trained. It's really to the benefit of the production because you can get someone who is either too cautious, which makes the whole interaction look fake, or someone who takes it too far, which can result in injury."
The couple returned to Texas in 2011 when Jeff was offered a position in procurement for the engineering company Fluor. Marley got a job working in the box office at TUTS and slowly became involved in other parts of the Houston musical theater organization. Now, Jeff is lending his staged combat expertise to this new production of the classic Don Quixote tale.
For Marley, Man of La Mancha is the perfect production for her to begin directing at TUTS. "My background is mostly in straight plays--I did a lot of Marlowe and Shakespeare, when we were in London. I think La Mancha is a good way to break into musical theater because it marries the world of musicals and straight plays well."
It's that shared desire to bring a story to life on stage that inspires this couple.
"What I love about theater is how universal it can be," says Jeff. "You take these different characters and the different aspects of their lives and it's all up there on stage at different angles. When you go to the theater, you become part of the performance. You get to step into that world and the emotion you can get from these characters is unbelievable."
As Man of La Mancha opens this week, Marley and Jeff have something else to look forward to. The couple are expecting their first baby this spring.
Man of La Mancha runs through March 10. Click here for more.