Break out that beret and those thick-soled Timberlands, art lovers: Downtown Stomp Around is back around. For the sixth year running, the event is heralding the start of the Houston arts season. Five different downtown galleries are putting on lavish simultaneous openings, and we -- artistic aficionados, consumers and connoisseurs -- are encouraged to agitate the pavement between all of them, feasting our optic nerves till our collective visual cortex is fit to burst. As befits an election season, this year's Stomp Around has a political bent. 2004: America and the Globe, by Margaret Crane and Jon Winet, will be on display at DiverseWorks all the way through the November showdown, offering up-to-the-minute artistic interpretations of the election as it unfolds. The art even extends to the parking lot: In White House/Greenhouse, artist Karin Giusti has created a voter registration booth in the form of that most famous piece of real estate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But there's plenty on display here for the apolitical gallery-galumpher. The O'Kane Gallery has pulled together an exhibition of rarely seen works by the legendary, late Texas found-objects painter Walter Cotton, and Joan Wich & Co. is presenting recent revisionist portraiture by Houston's Nicholas Bakaysa. Meanwhile, shutterbugs can traipse on over to FotoFest to view decades of unapologetic soul-stealing from across the international landscape, including works from Latin America and the former Czechoslovakia. Opens at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 16. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For a list of participating galleries, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold
From Nellie, with Love
"Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you," said Nellie Connally, first lady of Texas, to John F. Kennedy as they drove past throngs of waving, cheering locals in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963. As the president smiled back, a bullet ripped through his throat and into Governor John Connally's back. Her husband critically wounded and the president of the United States murdered in front of her, Nellie Connally didn't decide to share her story until recently. Now, in an era of endless conspiracy theories, you can get a perspective from someone who witnessed the assassination firsthand. Connally discusses her memoirs, From Love Field, at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 18. Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 7026 Highway 6 North. For information, call 281-861-6842 or visit www.barnesandnoble.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
Greek to You
You may not be able to pronounce Greek dishes like dolmades, spanakopita or souvlakia, but it's hard to talk with your mouth full, anyway. The second annual "Greeks in the Kitchen" allows foodies plentiful samples of saliva-inducing Greek appetizers, entrées and desserts from more than a dozen Houston restaurants. "Eating [like a Greek] is about more than just food. It's enjoying and celebrating life, good people and good conversation," says Sharon Papadopoulos of organizers the Sisters of Penelope. The event doubles as a fund-raiser for the group's affordable housing project for seniors. Papadopoulos (try saying that ten times fast) hopes the Olympics will inspire more people to go Greek this weekend. Women's beach volleyball attire, however, is optional. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 16. S.P. Martel Hall, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum. For information, call 713-771-2875. $25 to $30. -- Bob Ruggiero
Jessica Stockholder's art is off the "Wall"
Stumbling into one of Jessica Stockholder's art pieces is like finding yourself in a dreamlike alternate version of daily reality. Consider the hodgepodge of materials used in her work: 1989 is made out of a car door, Sheetrock, cloth, oil, acrylic and latex paint, orange light, yellow electrical cord, wood and hardware, while 1988 includes underwear and newspaper. Blaffer Gallery is presenting an overview of 15 years of Stockholder's installations, dubbed "Kissing the Wall: Works 1988-2003." Is it painting? Sculpture? Both? Neither? You decide. Opening reception 7 p.m. Friday, September 17. Through November 21. University of Houston, 120 Fine Arts Building. For information, call 713-743-9530 or visit www.blaffergallery.org. Free. -- Scott Faingold
Showing Off Baby
A dark film set in rural Texas circa 1962, Baby follows a young couple, Chrissy and Bud, whose domestic tranquillity is shattered when Bud and his ex-con brother Joe Pete attempt to sell daughter Baby for $10,000. “It’s film noir,” says Polly Palomino, who produced the film in Houston with her sister Nikki. Fans of Orson Welles and Hitchcock, the Palomino sisters hope to garner interest in their Texas-based films and maybe even become as famous as another Hollywood sibling film duo. “If we get as lucky as the Cohen brothers,” says Polly, “we’ll be doing good.” Baby screens at 8 p.m. Monday, September 20. Fitzgerald’s, 2706 White Oak Drive. For information, call 713-781-6978 or visit www.palominoproductions.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam