Press Picks

thursday
february 5
"Bound/Books by Artists" Many of Houston's top visual artists (and a couple of out-of-towners) contributed to this group exhibition focusing on the medium of the book "as a vehicle for the artists' self-expression" and/or "a point of departure." And there are a few departures. Bill Davenport's Things in My Apartment, March 30, 1988 is an obsessive-compulsive compendium of every one of the 3,143 items in his Rhode Island flat on that particular day in '88 (art -- what a gig). Mel Chin's offering -- an homage to Duchamp's "Valise and Green Box" series -- comprises a garbage bag stuffed with the objets and ephemera Chin used to document his creative process on the large-scale piece Landscape. Chance Books (The Book of Depletion/The Book of Accumulation) by Brooklyn's Tamalyn Miller is billed as "the poem as game board as mandala as clock." And one of Jabari Anderson's submissions -- a bound edition on primed canvas -- is accompanied by an ink pad that encourages the participant to "fingerprint himself before turning each page." Why? "... to simultaneously humble the viewer and mark his presence as an integral part of the ... creative process." Fun with books -- cool. Wei Hong, David McGee, Caroline Huber, Virgil Grotfeldt, Tierney Malone, Mark Flood, Jim Love and Natalie Lovejoy also contributed to "Bound," which was organized by William Steen. The exhibit can be viewed daily, through February 28; the secured cases the works are displayed in are opened for closer inspection and viewer interaction between 4 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.

Wendy Liebman There's a difference between this comic and most of the other comedians prowling the cable ghetto and the late-night talk-show circuit: She's funny. From L.A. by way of Long Island, the winner of last year's American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand-up was schooled as an undergrad at Wellesley College near Boston (she calls it "I.O.U."). But Liebman's self-trained in the fine art of the one-two punch line, the well-turned zinger with the two-second trap door -- that is, the delayed-reaction verbal twist that takes a moment or two to wend its way through the higher consciousness before striking the lo-fi funny bone and making it hum like a tuning fork. A Wendy sampler: (on romance) "I was incompatible with my last boyfriend. I'm a night person ... and he didn't like me"; (on reunions) "I recently went to my 30th class reunion from nursery school. I didn't want to go because I've put on maybe 90 or 100 pounds since then"; (on workplace [im]politics) "I kept my secretarial day job, though I would call in sick a lot. I would say I had 'female problems.' My boss didn't know I meant her." Chard Hogan and Anthony Andrews share the stage. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. (see Thrills for other dates and times). The Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $10-$14.

"Slide Jam!" The intimate, intermittent series of slide shows provides a window to the world of Bayou City visualism, promising informal and easily digestible programs about contemporary art and artists, who show and discuss their works, answer questions and do the meet-and-greet thing. Highly inventive folk artist Jesse Lott and abstract painter Brian Portman are featured this time. Seating is limited. 7 p.m. The Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, 284-8250. Free.

Gene Mann's Wild Game Cook-off Among other things, Texas is one of the last remaining strongholds for the carnivorous; we are unapologetic meat-eaters who dine hard and die young, clutching our hammy hearts in our fists as we fall ashenly -- though filled with bliss and beef -- to the floor. And Gene Mann's 18th annual festival of exotic flesh is so Texas. Goose, pheasant, pickled livers, quail, venison, sport fish and various oddball strains of Lone Star varmint and roadkill are on the menu; related events like the Wild Mann Beer Tapping Party, the Ms. Wild Game Contest, concerts by the Sidewinders and Jesse Dayton, and final judging in the cook-off proper are on the agenda. Today's hours are 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. (for this weekend's schedule, see Thrills). The Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, 6111 Richmond, 974-2739. Free for all tonight; $5 Friday and Saturday; free anytime for accompanied kids 15 and under.

friday
february 6
Garth Fagan Dance Jamaica-born dancer/choreographer Fagan likes his troupers physically fit and wildly virtuosic, the latter at least potentially, as he recruits most of them fresh off the farms -- or in this case, the universities and even the dance academies. His company's hallmark is a graceful, semiformal naturalism mated with acrobatic, antiformalist invention. P.S. Fagan's non-GFD credits are simultaneously impressive (the choreography for Duke Ellington's "swing opera" Queenie Pie and the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream) and stultifying (the retooling of Disney's The Lion King for Broadway). Fagan Dance, which hasn't visited Houston in almost a decade, performs at 8 tonight and the same time Saturday. The Cullen Theater at Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 237-1439. $23-$33 (Houston Ticket Center: 227-ARTS; Ticketmaster: 629-3700).

"Pablo Picasso: Buffon's Natural History -- Rare Proofs" In brief, this exhibit includes previously undisplayed animal representations by the great 20th-century Spanish artist, commissioned by publisher Ambroise Vollard in 1936 to accompany a reissue of the massive Natural History (Histoire Naturelle, generale et particuliere) by 18th-century French taxonomist George Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. The significance of the so-called "Buffon suite," created by Picasso after the style of master printer Roger Lacouriere, is that the pieces are presented in their original subtlety, in prints made previous to "steelfacing," part of the printing process. The installation opens with a reception from 6 to 9 tonight and continues through March 16 (see Thrills for more info). The Gerhard Wurzer Gallery, 1217 South Shepherd, 523-4300. Free.

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