The muscles, the mayhem -- the masks! What's not to love about Mexican wrestlers? The paintings of San Antonio-based artist Angel Rodriguez-Diaz are a bizarre, compelling confluence of fine art technique, Hispanic trash culture and sly sociopolitical commentary. In his show at Rudolph Projects/ArtScan Gallery, Rodriguez-Diaz, originally from Puerto Rico, depicts a variety of colorful and malevolent luchadores (that's "masked wrestlers" to you, gringo) who talk through the magic of speech balloons. Indeed, the artist's work suggests nothing so much as an ungodly gene-splice between Frida Kahlo and Jack Kirby, with occasional bulging eyeballs popping out amid the kitsch, adding a spooky spiritual element to the proceedings. One piece, Antifaz...Forget the Alamo...Yellow Rose, is a 40-inch-wide replica of a 54-foot mural he did in downtown San Antonio. Another painting depicts a King Kong-size wrestler gripping a tiny Superman while pontificating: "...But the key to mastery lies not in simple brute strength..." Eat your corazón out, Señor Lichtenstein. Opening reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Exhibit runs through June 24. 1836 Richmond. For information, call 713-807-1836 or visit www.rudolphprojects.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold
Remember The Diezmo
Author Rick Bass unveils a dark tale of Texas independence
"We were less like a military expedition than a very large and extended hunting trip." So says the laconic, Ishmael-like narrator of Rick Bass's bloody and compassionate new historical novel, The Diezmo. The story follows the horrific progress of the Republic of Texas forces' Mier expedition into Mexico in the early 1840s, a few years after their triumphant post-Alamo victory at San Jacinto. Dispatched by Sam Houston, a ragtag regiment sets out with nebulous and fragmented orders along with a lethal combination of blood lust, vainglory and plain dull boredom. Things get gruesome fast, as an elderly version of the fresh-faced, teenage protagonist reports disaster after disaster with such alarming sangfroid, you can almost feel his schizophrenic detachment unfold before your eyes. Uplifting, huh? Bass will read from The Diezmoat 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do!
I've just braved downtown traffic (and parking), and now Clutch -- the Houston Rockets mascot -- is trying to yank my hair out. The bastard.
The scene playing out in front of me: On the floor of the City Hall's Visitors Center, Clutch, the lovable, pelvis-thrusting bear, is engaging in his typical high jinks. Standing with him are mascots from all over the city. There's Captain Plus from the Children's Museum of Houston (nice guy, but his voice is making my toenails curl). I see a dinosaur from the Houston Museum of Natural Science hanging with Flea from Traders Village (get it, "flea" market?). There are some actual "humans," like Houston Grand Opera's Tanieka Blackmon from Carmen and, um, Peter Pan. Rounding out this crew: Jacobi, a tiny mammoth-eared fox from the Houston Zoo.
We've gathered for the announcement of a new promotion by the City of Houston and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Seems folks at the GHCVB have come up with "Houston 365," a new tourism promotion designed to get locals to stay home and instead visit Houston. You can jump on the site, www.visithoustontexas.com, and get rah-rah-type info, like Mayor White's favorite thing to do in Houston. (FYI: He digs riding his bike in Memorial Park.) You can also register to win stuff, like 70 different gift certificates for activities all over town, and even 365 "days of fun" in Houston.
The always charming Mayor Pro Tem Carol Alvarado and the GHCVB's Jordy Tollett (who, dressed in a red shirt and red spectator shoes, looked like a mascot himself) dispensed factoids: Did you know that 30.9 million people visited the greater Houston area in 2004? Or that visitors spent $7.4 billion annually on our town? Hell, I sure didn't. As a homer, I'm always up for stirring up city pride. (The Houston Press, being a homer as well, is a sponsor of "Houston 365.") All in all, the conference was good fun.
But next time I see you, Clutch, your ass is mine. That's all I'm saying." -- Steven Devadanam
You don't need to be a model to enter the 2005 Miss Houston U.S. Galaxy, Mrs. Texas U.S. Galaxy or Miss Teen Texas U.S. Galaxy pageants. You also don't need to be especially good at, well, anything, as there's no talent competition. Yep, as long as you're female, between 13 and 45 years old, single or married (for, duh, Mrs. Texas U.S. Galaxy), you can apply today for the pageants, which all take place in July in San Antonio. The winners could score a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to the Miss Galaxy International pageant next year. Practice your wave at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 22. Renaissance Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East. For information or registration, call 713-699-9858 or visit www.houstonpageants.com. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
Bunch of Fruits
They've been having the Strawberry Festival in Pasadena for 32 years, so you might as well give in now. Mmmmm, can't you just feel those tiny nubs and that burst of sweetness flooding the surface of your tongue as you bite in? As if the sheer sensual pleasure of strawberry consumption weren't enough, there'll also be beauty pageants, a barbecue cook-off, a washer-pitch contest and the inevitable mud-volleyball tournament. 3 p.m. to midnight, Friday, May 20; 10 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, May 21; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 22. Pasadena Fairgrounds, Fairmont Parkway at Red Bluff. For information, call 281-991-9500 or visit www.strawberryfest.org. $4 to $8. -- Scott Faingold