Elizabeth Rhodes
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Real Life Connections: The Hidden Agenda

Real Life Connections: The Hidden Agenda
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Miguel Martinez, “Violent Spring,” 2024. Courtesy of Lawndale Art Center.


This week offers up an array of unique arts events, including four new exhibitions at Lawndale Art Center and a print media festival at The Menil Collection.


Tuesday, May 2


Discussion — What It Means to Be American: Do We Still Know How to Be Good Citizens? at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

From 7:30 to 8:30 pm, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1001 Bissonnet) will present What It Means to Be American: Do We Still Know How to Be Good Citizens?, a panel discussion as part of the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square’s lecture series that considers whether it’s possible to raise American standards of citizenship. The discussion will be led by Houston Chronicle editor Nancy Barnes with panelists including former U.S. congressman Mickey Edwards; Jennifer Mercieca, historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University; Johann N. Neem, civil-society historian at Western Washington University; and Washington Post columnist Steven Petrow. Admission is free and a reception will follow the discussion.


Wednesday, May 3


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Project Row Houses.

Discussion — Real Life Connections with Edra Soto at Project Row Houses 

From 6 to 8 pm, Project Row Houses (2521 Holman) presents a talk by Chicago-based artist Edra Soto, a resident of the 2:2:2 Exchange initiative co-led by PRH and Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center. Soto will discuss the parallels between the Houston institution and her community of East Garfield Park, an historic African American neighborhood in Chicago. Following the talk, Soto will offer an open house experience, Home Feelings, which explores the domestic space as a site for social gathering, production, and interaction.


Thursday, May 4


Performance — Musiqa presents Atlas, Plural, Monumental at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

From 6:30 to 7:30 pm, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (5216 Montrose) presents a special concert by Musiqa, inspired by the museum’s current exhibition Atlas, Plural, Monumental from Paul Ramírez Jonas. The concert will feature world premieres of pieces by Chapman Welch and Timothy Roy, created especially for the exhibition, and both pieces will involve audience participation in response to the works featured. Admission is free.


Discussion — Sergio Prego: High-Rise - Dystopia into Utopia at Blaffer Art Museum

From 6:30 to 8 pm, Blaffer Art Museum (4173 Elgin) hosts a new lecture by Basque artist Sergio Prego as part of the annual speaker series “Till Now: Contemporary Art in Context.” Prego, known for experimenting with the notion of sculpture by redefining how people relate to space, will discuss his practice with reference to the presence of dystopia in utopian models.


Friday, May 5



Nick Barbee, “Marfacello (JefferJudd),” 2024

Opening Receptions at Lawndale Art Center

From 6 to 8 pm, Lawndale Art Center (4912 Main) will host the opening reception for four new exhibitions. Melinda Laszczynski, Sarah Welch and Randi Long, the current residents of Lawndale’s Artist Studio Program, present a group exhibition curated by Dean Daderko of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Marfacello (JefferJudd), a solo exhibition from Galveston-based artist Nick Barbee, examines space and memory through comparisons between Thomas Jefferson and Donald Judd. Ricardo Rivera’s exhibition, The Memory of a Particular Image, explores the flexibility of our own memories and how photographs can alter our perceptions of the past. The Room Nobody Lives In, a solo exhibition by Miguel Martinez, uses paintings to delve into the visual language of “otherness” through personal and shared experience. The exhibitions will be on view through June 11.


BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) at The Menil Collection

From 8:30 to 11:30 pm (rescheduled from last weekend due to inclement weather), The Menil Collection and Aurora Picture Show are co-hosting the fourth annual BYOB: Bring Your Own Beamer event at the Menil campus (1533 Sul Ross). The event brings together a new wave of filmmakers and videographers aiming their beamers (projectors) at the museum’s exterior, creating a free-form display composed of an array of media types.


Saturday, May 6


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The Menil Collection.

MenilFest and Gulf Coast Indie Book Fair at The Menil Collection

From 11 am to 6 pm, The Menil Collection is hosting MenilFest, a day filled with performances, readings, panel discussions, live music, food trucks and the Gulf Coast Indie Book Fair, a showcase of dozens of talented artists, authors and publishers from across Texas. Also, be sure to catch the Houston Center for Photography‘s Collaboration Print Sale with prints by emerging and established local photographers, all of which are priced under $100. Check the MenilFest website for the full schedule of Saturday’s events, which includes a poetry slam competition and a musical performance at Rothko Chapel. Admission is free.


“Public Trust” by Paul Ramírez Jonas at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

From 1 to 5 pm, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston will present “Public Trust,” an interactive artwork by Paul Ramírez Jonas as part of his exhibition Atlas, Plural, Monumental. The piece asks museum visitors to examine the value of a word by declaring a promise, the words of which are recorded in a drawing that is shared with them and posted on a marquee board alongside similar pronouncements made by notable figures from the week’s headline news.


Closing Day — Exhibitions at Art League Houston

Visit Art League Houston (1953 Montrose) as Saturday marks the final chance to view their three current exhibitions. The solo exhibition by Houston-based artist Prince Varughese Thomas, The Space Between Grief and Morning, explores the process of personal and communal grief and mourning through a series of interdisciplinary works, combining drawing, video and photography. How Do I Say Her Name?, a group exhibition organized by Houston-based artist Ann Johnson, features multidisciplinary works made in response to the violence committed against women of color and are indicative of the broader demand of social justice. An exhibition by New Zealand-born and California-based artist J. Pouwels, Dysfunctional Systems, explores the issues related to water resource mismanagement in the artist’s home of Chico, considered one of the agricultural heartlands of California.


Monday, May 8


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Raúl Martínez, “Sin título (Untitled),” 1969–70. Courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Tour — Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950 at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

As the first comprehensive display of contemporary Cuban art ever presented in the US, Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950 at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston offers a glimpse into the complex relationship between artistic production and the spirit of Cuba’s revolutionary period. As part of the programming for the exhibition, which presents works that have never been seen in the US as the result of Cold War tensions, the museum presents two exclusive, expert-led tours. The first takes place at 1:30 pm, led by Maria Gaztambide, associate director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, and another starts at 6:30 pm, led by Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art, who played a lead role in the international team that organized the exhibition. Tickets for the tours start at $55 for members and $65 for non-members and the exhibition will be on view through May 21.