Artist David McGee is back in town with his first show in five years. Many of the paintings in "Tetelestai: Notebooks of the Black Sea" are autobiographical. The exhibition is named after Conrad Aiken's poem "Tetelestai," which tells the story of a man's life, loves and regrets. The works delve into such diverse subjects as losing one's virginity, drug addiction and the business side of art.McGee's boldly colored paintings are part pop, part classical and pure sarcasm. For example, Isis: Northern Girls depicts two women, one white and one black, fondling each other. Both are wearing Sambo masks, with the white one in blackface, and the black one in whiteface. The piece, McGee explains, is about being fake and comments on his experience with art dealers.
McGee's art is sometimes shocking, sometimes witty and always dramatic. Sambo is a recurring theme is his paintings. He strives to make people think deeper than the brush stroke. "If you're gonna collect me based on some stereotype," he says, "I'm gonna let you know you're not just buying some decor. You're buying something that you're gonna have to be responsible for."
People have called McGee arrogant and histrionic, two things he claims he isn't. The melancholy and humor in his new work reveals that there's a sensitivity behind the perceived arrogance. "I want to make people look at my stuff," he says, "and remember what it's all about." Opening reception: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, December 4. Through February 7. DiverseWorks Main Gallery, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Free. -- Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc
Tour La Table
The way downtown has blossomed into an after-five destination brings tears of joy to our eyes -- especially now that we can park our cars and walk between hot spots. Walk! The Houston Downtown Alliance is offering a way to sample this new pedestrian lifestyle along with the fruits of some new and classic eastside eateries. The restaurant crawl starts with cocktails and nibbles at Hilton Americas, continues with main dishes at Massa's Seafood Grill and ends with after-dinner drinks and dessert at Quattro. All the crawl stops are within a two-block radius, so you can still choose style over comfort in footwear. 6 p.m. Thursday, December 4. Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar. For information and reservations, call 713-658-8938 or visit www.downtownhouston.org. $50; $40 for Downtown Alliance members. -- Lisa Simon
Decades before the country's patriotic fervor was ignited in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an unprovoked assault on a U.S. military base in Hawaii sparked the country's joining of the Allied forces during World War II. The local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is hosting a commemorative ceremony to honor those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. While you're there, take a tour of the Battleship Texas -- which was used for several scenes in the megabucks 2001 Pearl Harbor flick -- and see the 89-year-old ship decorated with wartime Christmas decorations, a festive contrast to the grim task faced by the ship's crew in support of the D-day and Iwo Jima invasions. 11 a.m. Saturday, December 6. Battleship Texas state historical site, 3523 Highway 134, La Porte, 281-479-2431. Ceremony free. Ship tours $5; $4 for seniors; $3 for kids. -- Greg Barr
A new musical comedy perverts Christmas beyond recognition
What do a toymaker, a snowman and a mutant reindeer have in common? Childhood scars, an orgy of greed every December -- and, of course, Slump XXXmas.This musical comedy celebrates the teen traumas of Christmas icons. Issues like adoption (Jesus) and being made almost entirely of ice (Frosty) are explored in rock, jazz and classical numbers. Slump XXXmas began in 1999 with five people performing for 50 cents at the Atomic Cafe. The fifth annual show sports a string quartet and a cast of more than 20.
Journey back to the manger as Mary gives birth amidst a lesbian animal orgy. Witness Santa's banishment to the North Pole. Sing along as Islam and Judaism are slumped with Christianity to form what show creator Keith Reynolds calls "a more perfect holiday vision." Selah. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from December 4 through December 20; 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. Barnevelder Arts/Movement Complex, 2201 Preston. For information, call 713-529-1819. $5 opening night; $10 Thursdays; $12 Fridays; $15 Saturdays. -- Scott Nowell
Say "Milk Bone"
Looking to commemorate Puppy's first Christmas? The Humane Society offers snapshots of your pet on Santa Paws's lap. Just like at Sears or on school picture day, a variety of photo sizes and print packs will be available. Proceeds go to fight animal cruelty and overpopulation. "Most of the pictures will be of cats and dogs," says Stacey Wilbanks, spokesperson for the Houston Humane Society. "But if someone prefers one of his horse, you betcha, we'll do it." Just remember the old pooper-scooper. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7. Houston Humane Society, 14700 Almeda Road. For information, call 713-433-6421, extension 5538 or visit www.houstonhumane.org. $10. -- Bliss Foster