Songs of My People Later in the week, the Museum of Fine Arts will open an exhibition of more than 150 photographs by 53 of our finest African-American photographers; tonight, you can get a sneak peek at the works and hear a lecture by photographer, author and filmmaker Gordon Parks. Parks will talk on his career and the exhibition, "Songs of My People." Michael Cheers, also a photographer, author and filmmaker and one of the architects of the exhibition, will introduce Parks and offer some opening remarks.
The exhibition is a chronicle of the mind and spirit of contemporary black America and is full of surprises. A photo of a young Muslim girl might be expected, but a young Muslim girl holding a Cabbage Patch Doll? The gentle portrait of a father rocking his daughter before the hearth was taken not on some farm, but in San Francisco. Allison Leland Brisco and Houston Ballet dancer Sandra Organ are among the subjects photographed, and the works of two local shooters -- Geary Broadnax and Morris Richardson -- are featured. Parks and Cheers speak at 7 p.m. in the Brown Auditorium -- seating is first come, first served. Exhibition Aug. 28- Nov. 20. Regular museum hours: Tue.- Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thu., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 12:15-6 p.m. Sculpture garden open daily, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. $3; $1.50 students, children 6-18 & seniors; free to children under 5 & museum members, and on Thursdays. 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300.
Poison Amore: A Collaborative Installation by Terry Allen and James Drake There is some plinky string music and then he says, "A waitress asked me what I did. I told her I tried to make art. She asked me if I made any money. I said, no, I have to teach to do that. She asked me what I taught, and where. I told her. She told me she liked art, but that she couldn't draw a straight line. I told her if she could reach for something and pick it up, she could draw a line that was straight enough. She said she wasn't interested in that kind of drawing, but had always liked horses. I said I did too, but they are hard to draw. She said, yes, that was very true. She said she could do the body okay, but never get the head, tail or legs. I told her she was drawing sausages, not horses. She said, no, they were horses." And then there is some more strumming and Terry Allen has said all anyone ever needs to say about art.
There is no way to make anyone go to their reception and gallery talk, but the exhibition runs until October 9. Anyone who doesn't go see their art while it's in town was not raised right. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. Gallery hours Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 1-5 p.m. Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Entrance No.16 off Cullen, 743-9530.
Ten by Ten Once again, it's time for the popular Ten by Ten showcase of home-grown talent. Ten new ten-minute plays by Texas playwrights will be produced for three performances only.
Nine of the winners of the Scriptwriters Houston contest are from the old hometown, while one is from Austin. There's no way you can go wrong on a night like this -- even the most horrible theater can be endured for ten minutes. Not that any of these are horrible ... in fact, How to Conduct Yourself at a Meeting by Mary Ellen Whitworth looks quite promising. The other titles indicate this will be an evening of variety. Lee Charles' All My Wars could be exciting, perhaps even violent.
There will be a matinee of Ten by Ten Saturday at 2 p.m. Evening performances tonight and tomorrow 8 p.m. Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 486-5565. $10, matinee $5.
Narrative Paintings The senior citizens at the Harbach-Ripley Facility present works they have created. The artists will be present at the opening reception. At 2 p.m. project coordinator Beth Secor will give a brief talk, explain how she came to hatch this project, what the artists are like, what means gouache and so forth. Rena Minar, owner of RM Gallery and contemporary folk art specialist, will speak after Secor. Opening reception 1-3 p.m. Exhibition thru Sept. 3. Gallery hours: Wed. & Fri., 12-5 p.m.; Thu., 12-8 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Inman Gallery, 1114 Barkdull, 529-9676. (Works are for sale and proceeds will be split between the artists and the Harbach-Ripley Facility.)
Tenth Annual Giorgee Awards The Ensemble Theatre named these prizes after the theater's founder, the late George Hawkins. This gala is to honor the artists, technicians and other participants of the 1993-1994 Revival Season and celebrate the presence of the Ensemble in the Houston theater community and the Houston African-American culture. It's also a party. A champagne buffet, comedy, dramatic vignettes, entertainment by Jazz After Hours and an after party are on the agenda.
This year's theme is "This Year is for You!" The "You" would be the people who have helped the theater in the past and the people who have been meaning to check out our oldest continuously operating African-American theater. 7 p.m. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main, 520-0055. $25 per person; for groups of two or more $20 per person; the after party only is $5.
Ensemble Mariposa The musicians promise scintillating Italian music from the 16th and 17th centuries and piacere -- which is, to say, pleasure. The historical instruments used in this concert: harps, portative organ, lute, rackett, krumhorn and recorder. The players will be: Becky Baxter, Bob Brewer, Bruce Brogdon, Kevin Ellis, Nancy Ellis and Bonnie Goodrich. 3 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Cullen Hall, 4001 Mount Vernon. For additional information call 356-2658. $8.
Theater District Open House Following the wild success of the Houston Grand Opera open house, all the downtown theaters and major arts organizations put together today's tour. The Alley, the Wortham Theater Center, Jones Hall and the Music Hall will pack the spaces with entertainment, games, costumes to try on and Opera to Go singers making fun. The point would be that the fine arts are fun. Last year, 3,000 humble folk attended the HGO open house. This should be even bigger. The Park Shops trolley will be scooting people from place to place for free. The corner of Louisiana and Texas is a good central starting point. Free parking on the streets and for-pay parking in select area parking garages. For more information call 853-8074.
Rich Hall The author of Sniglets offers this sordid detail from his past: his father was an Army MP who muscled Vic Damone to the ground in a German bar. Hall does not say if this family connection to fame is what drove him to enter show business. One never knows the source of inspiration. It may be that, like many of our local heroes, he met his muse while spending every afternoon of his senior year riding around with two friends drinking beer. In his case, the car was a Firebird and the friends were Tim McLeod and Larry Braswell. Either way, Hall's contributions are legion: Emmy-winning writing for David Letterman, Ace-winning writing for Not Necessarily The News and inspired and fantastic writing for Onion World on the Comedy Channel. Tonight, and tonight only, you have a chance to see his lanky frame and beautiful baby blues on a small stage. He'll be within spitting distance and speaking words of wisdom right into your shell-pink ears. You can prepare for this show by reading his recently released book, Self Help for the Bleak. 8:30 p.m. Comedy Showcase, 12547 Gulf Freeway (at Fuqua), 481-1188. $8.50.
High Anxiety: The Source and the Solution James Thurber's counsel was "let your mind alone." Thurber, however, was able to channel his neurosis into memorable cartoons and big bucks.
The rest of us should probably think of other ways to deal with anxiety, panic disorder, post traumatic-stress disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety and then get on with our lives. No, don't be thinking that way -- getting weird enough to go on Oprah is a dead end. Seek help. No, don't call the Psychic Friends Network; they don't really care about you. They're not your real friends. And you knew that, didn't you?
KindfriendsatTERRAP (Territorial Apprehensiveness) Anxiety & Phobia Care feel they have the answers you need. Go to them. An anxiety seminar will be presented at 7:30 p.m. (Don't obsess about being too early or a little late.) 3821 Amherst, 266-5111. Free.
30Retired and Senior Volunteer Program The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program has a new group, the Professional Placement Network. This new group of do-gooding seniors will meet quarterly to discuss various volunteer opportunities around town -- and there is no shortage of work to be done. Snacks will be served at the first meeting and door prizes given away. No one under 55 allowed. 1-3 p.m. St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer. For more information, call 520-4619.
Tribute to Sherman Thomas Tom Potter's Zydeco Showcase continues with a special tribute, complete with special menu. Mr. Thomas has been ailing of late and the good people at Billy Blues thought it was high time someone did a little something for the bass player. Thomas' career includes stints with Clifton Chenier, Rocking Dopsy and Otis Redding. The Billy Blues kitchen will complement their usual menu with spicy dishes from the other side of the Sabine. 8 p.m.-midnight. Billy Blues Barbecue, 6025 Richmond, 266-9294. $3.
Jason Stuart: I'm Out ... Jealous! The comic who came out on Geraldo is in town and, he says, "I'm looking for a cowboy, a cowboy with a belt buckle so big he should be serving fruit off it." He belongs with rugged types, he thinks. After all, he says, "I'm a trailblazer -- how many openly gay headliners do you know of?" The former actor decided boldly to go on-stage as a queer because, he says, "I was just exhausted. I hated being a second-class citizen." And perhaps, a little tense. His gays-in-the-military joke: "I know what they're all afraid of: 25,000 gay guys with M-16s saying, 'Did you call me faggot?'" Now he's out. So out, he frequently quips, "I am so gay, I am so out. I could redecorate this room just by looking around." Previously, he says, "I did not get a lot of positive feedback about being gay." Since he came out on Geraldo, his career has been in high gear. Jason Stuart plays the Laff Stop thru Sept. 4. Tue.-Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 8 & 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 p.m. 1952 W. Gray, 524-2333. $6.50-$9.
Houston Hotshots The Hotshots are all over this baseball strike. They offered brief employment to Orbit (battle of the mascots last week), and to you, you left holding Astros tickets, they offer discount indoor soccer tickets. Hotshots veep Darrell Rogers says the Summit box office will offer indoor soccer tickets two-for-one to all holders of major league baseball tickets, and they will continue this offer as long as the strike continues. "All we are asking is that people show their baseball tickets, they will not be taken," Rogers promises. Today's game is exciting, super-fast indoor soccer against the Las Vegas Dustdevils. Why not trot on out to the Summit and get acquainted with the new team in town, and the Hotshot's own mascot Pico de Goalie. Today is poster day, to boot. 7:35 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. For tickets call