They say youth is the best time of your life, but I think maybe they've got it backwards. I'm sure the self-proclaimed "Geritol gypsies" would agree. They may be old, but they've said shove it to sedentary suburban retirement in favor of an RV and the adventures of the open road. Their senior-citizen-society-drop-out lives have been lovingly documented by video artist Ellen Spiro, who took to the road alongside them in her own Airstream. Roam Sweet Home, Spiro's third major project (she also did DiAna's Hair Ego and Greetings from Out Here), combines beautiful Texas cinematography with the poetic "narration" of her dog, Sam. 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts' Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet. For more information call the film department at (713)639-7531. $5. Tomorrow night, February 20, Spiro, who also teaches film production at the University of Texas, hosts an evening of videos by Austin filmmakers at Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora St. in the Sunset Heights. Call (713)868-2101 for information about that event.
It begins simply enough: Hans Staartjes creates a piece of abstract sculpture. Then, he photographs it in an abstract way. Next, he digitally manipulates and enlarges the photographs to 42' by 60' (yes, that's feet). And finally he calls frequent collaborator Johannes Birringer of the performance art group AlienNation Company. Birringer then adds a video and sound installation inspired by outer space and the hallucinations of Italian-Russian cosmonaut Generico Vespucci. Go figure. The exhibition of "Emotional Landscapes" and "Vespucci" opens from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Winter Street Art Center, 2123 Winter Street, off Washington. Gallery hours are by appointment through March 13. Call (713)861-3782 for more information. On March 5 and 6, the show will expand to encompass even more disciplines with a related theatrical dance/music concert featuring everyone from mezzo-soprano Isabelle Ganz to DJ Flux.
Where would we be without opposable thumbs? That'll be the question on everyone's minds at the first ever Darwin Day, brought to you by Borders Books and Music and the Houstonians for Secular Humanism. Dr. Keith Parsons will discuss "Fossil Records and Evolutionist Theory"; Dr. Gregory Brown will speak on "Darwin's Anti-Creationist Arguments"; John Koonz from Pflugerville ISD will tell you how to "Get Involved in Evolution Education in Your Area" and a guy in an ape suit will jump around, grunt and scratch himself while passing out pamphlets. We're such a highly evolved species. Teachers are particularly encouraged to attend. Noon to 6 p.m. at Borders, 9633A Westheimer. Call (713)782-6066 for information. Free.
Perhaps the secular humanists should walk (upright, of course) over to the Laff Stop to convince comedienne Kathleen Madigan who, feigning bafflement in her comedy set, asks: "Then why are there still monkeys?" Madigan knows a bit more about career evolution. Just ten years ago, the woman who's played for both Letterman and Leno (a rare accomplishment) and won Best Female Standup Comedian at the 1995 American Comedy Awards, was just a freelance journalist and waitress who stumbled into a comedy club amateur night. Why such success? It's not her thumbs. Critics say it's her relaxed, girl-next-door-with-an-attitude stage presence, her avoidance of man-bashing jokes and her winning original material (like comparing kids to the homeless: "Hey, can I have a dollar? I lost my shoe, and I need a ride!") Madigan headlines the Laff Stop at 8 p.m. Also, Thursday, February 18, at 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, February 19 and 20, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. 1952-A W. Gray, (713)524-2333; www.laffstop.com.
There are fewer than 100,000 Amazon Indians still practicing their traditional rituals in the great river basin. As these indigenous peoples disappear, folks like curator Adam Meklar and the Museum of Natural History are collecting their stuff. Forget ecotourism. In "Vanishing Arts of the Amazon," you can see a seven-feet-tall, eight-feet-wide headdress and body costume used in the Kamayura Tribal healing ceremonies and Makiritare ritual daggers never before shown in a museum. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 8. Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Dr., (713)639-4629, www.hmns.org.
If the Winter Street Show is a bit abstract for your tastes, printmaker Charles Criner will simplify things. "I am not a great believer in abstract art," he says. "Most of my art reflects the colorful history of black people and my favorite past times." Criner's show, "Where I Come From," is the third in the "Houston's Undiscovered Printmakers" series at the Museum of Printing History. MPH started the series because stone lithographers often have a tough time gaining exposure and recognition for their work. Galleries are reluctant to handle original prints, which usually sell for much less than paintings. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Criner's show runs through March 20. Admission is $2. An opening reception on Thursday, February 18, at 7 p.m. will include a stone lithography demonstration. $10. 1324 W. Clay, (713)522-4652.