Press Picks

The Pirate We goofed. The Minnelli matinees are on Sundays, not Saturdays, so if you were at the MFA looking for a dose of song and dance yesterday, we're sorry. But check this one out. While it's not Vincente Minnelli's best, the interplay between Judy Garland and Gene Kelly is marvelous, and it did introduce the standard "Be a Clown." Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 639-7515. $5.

january 23
Those eyes If reading this is making your head hurt, don't blame me. Perhaps your aqueous humor is building up and squishing your optic nerve. Glaucoma is not one, but a group of eye diseases -- all of which can cause blindness. This is National Glaucoma Awareness Week, and the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness has set up several free screenings. The screening exam checks eye pressure and peripheral vision, but does not take the place of a complete eye exam. Today's screening: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Northwest Assistance Ministries, 4610 West FM 1960. For details of this, or other free screenings, call the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness, 526-2559.

january 24
Lawndale Art & Performance Center Take the "M Train" and see slides from the L.A. Metropolitan Transit Authority. You remember the L.A. train -- it got blowed up real good in Speed. You'll get an entirely different, although no less exciting, impression of that rail system from Jessica Cusick, the public art director of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. Tonight she talks about what artists can bring to "built structures" (for the lay audience, that means public and private buildings and parks). Meanwhile, in the small gallery, lecture-goers can see a wonderful installation by Wisconsin-born and Dallas-based artist Kathy Lovas. This "M Train" uses slides from multiple slide projectors, lights, a soundtrack and rocking-chair seating to create the sensation of a rail journey. Lovas' "M (for memory) Train" is based on a train she used to ride as a child from Indiana to Chicago, but the images that fill out the trip at Lawndale aren't limited to the actual scenes she saw on that stretch of the Great Plains. They go back in time, incorporating photographs that appear to be from the last century, pictures of people who clearly had something to say, even if we don't know what that something was. Lovas' photographs can bring to mind the images in a volume that rare book collectors, and other weirdoes, may know about, Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip. This work is a collection of photographs and news clippings and writings from Wisconsin's 19th-century settlers, and it has an unsettling effect. Lovas' work evokes a similar mood. A title Lovas superimposes over one of her old photos says, "Remembering is one of the most important things you do." And she seems to mean that we must not only remember our own lives, but also the lives of our ancestors. Cusick speaks tonight at 7 p.m.; Lovas' installation is on view through February 25. Lawndale Art & Performance Center, 4912 Main Street, 528-5858. The show and tonight's talk are free.

Women read The first Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading of the new year features Pulitzer Prize winner E. Annie Proulx and feminist poet Marilyn Hacker. Last year was a very good year for Proulx: she was honored with a Pulitzer for her novel, The Shipping News. She was also given the National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award. Hacker has a National Book Award, something many poets would kill for, and eight published books of poetry. Moreover, she has a flair with sonnets and other excruciating forms. Both women will read about their earthy subjects with sophisticated style. 8 p.m. Brown Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For details, call 743-3014. $5 suggested donation, free for seniors and students.

january 25
Tribes of the Buffalo: A Swiss Artist on the American Frontier Plains Indians ... we all have romantic ideas about the Apache, Blackfeet and Cheyenne; even the names of lesser-known peoples evoke rich images. But what do we really know of the Blackfeet? Or of the Assiniboin, Mandan and Hidatsa? Tribes of the Buffalo has 123 objects from 19 different 19th-century Plains (and Woodlands) Indians. Those who attend the exhibit will see, along with these compelling objects, a complete set of vivid aquatints by Karl Bodmer. These engravings were created by Bodmer following a 183234 expedition to North America. Prince Maximilian, a noted naturalist from Wied-Neuwied, Germany, hired Bodmer to accompany him on an expedition to what was then, at least to Europeans, a very new world. Bodmer created engravings and prints for Maximilian's Travels in the Interior of North America (1832-34). The book was, for many years, an important record of the Plains and Woodlands Indians. With the advent of photography, and later studies, Bodmer's prints and Maximilian's writing were superseded. (Superseded purely because of faddism. Their book is detailed and accurate.)

Both the collection of prints and the collection of artifacts come from the John Painter Collection, and neither has ever been given a public display before. This exhibition opens January 27. Tonight, David C. Hunt, an expert on Maximilian's expedition and Bodmer's art, will introduce Tribes of the Buffalo with a lecture. Coffee and dessert will be served after the lecture and preview. 7 p.m. Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive; for reservations, call 639-IMAX. $15.

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