In a 1982 issue of Image magazine, Geoff Winningham remarked, "In the late 1960s there wasn't a photography collection anywhere in Houston. There was no institution exhibiting photography." Winningham had opened Latent Image, Houston's first art gallery devoted to photography, in the fall of 1970. Since then, the quintessentially modern art medium has exploded worldwide, revolutionizing image-making and muscling its way into art-world recognition. Houston's biennial FotoFest is proof that our city now seduces international eyes (and lenses) to satiate its photographic jones. In fact, the addiction is so chronic that FotoFest now produces "inter-biennial" events as teasers to the big score. Okay, maybe the title could be a little more euphoric. Simply called "Photography in Houston Galleries," the show features 12 galleries and 41 artists. Generic nomenclature aside, though, this mini-festival is a great way to bone up on Houston's photo scene in preparation for the sprawling monster that is FotoFest. Opening reception 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, November 16. Exhibit runs through December 17. Vine Street Studios, 1113 Vine Street. For information and a full list of participating galleries, visit www.fotofest.org. Free. -- Troy Schulze
The brothers Rothbart take their memento show on the road
Something special happens when you find a memento of someone else's life. Whether it's a journal or a grocery list, it makes you wonder about the life you've glimpsed. Davy Rothbart knows all about these moments of intense intimacy. Since 2001, the co-creator of FOUNDmagazine and author of the book of the same name has been amassing a huge collection of lost, tossed and forgotten pieces of others' lives. Now Rothbart is debuting a different collection of stories -- they're officially dubbed fiction but, he explains, "might very well have happened" -- in The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. The title story was inspired by a highway sighting Rothbart had of a boy on a surfboard in the cornfields of Kansas. Other real-life moments were the basis of all the stories, according to Rothbart, who says he's endlessly inquisitive about strangers. He explains his voyeurism without apology. "Part of being human is to be curious about what other human beings are like," he says.
Travelling along with Rothbart is his younger brother Peter, whom Rothbart describes as "the highlight of the show" with his rousing musical takes on material sent to FOUND headquarters. One such hit is a folksy cover of a song with the repeating lyric "Damn the booty don't stop, girl" from a found mixtape. Rothbart the elder promises that between his readings and Peter's songs, it will be a "rowdy music and literary event." Bring your FOUNDsubmissions and see the Rothbarts at 8 p.m. Sunday, November 13. Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $5. -- Mary Templeton
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I never thought I'd say this, but stitching's a real bitch.
I'm ambling around the George R. Brown Convention Center on a Saturday afternoon, watching the thousands of frenzied ladies who've shown up for Houston's annual quilt show. I've heard people come to the show from around the world, and that this thing gets a little crazy. But it's not until I walk by a few chatty journalists -- from England -- and see women who are actually weeping at the sight of some of these quilts that it really sinks in.
Admittedly, the quilts look like works of art; they're priced like them, too (we're not even allowed to take pictures of the really nice ones). These ain't Grandma's snuggly blankets, but rather abstract and Warholian paintings on fabric. As I pause and check out a quilting fashion show, I start to complain about how girly the whole thing is to my fiancée and her mom, aunt and friends (all quilting fans, lucky me). I'm then directed to "Men of Biblical Proportions," a series of quilts that pays tribute to men of the Holy Book. (Great.)
I finally have my moment when I take a quilting lesson, showing my companions how I can bump and roll the needle. They may be the quilting pros, but thanks to my prowess -- or lack thereof -- I can say I've bled for the art. -- Steven Devadanam
Why should you catch the Houston Film Commission's Texas Filmmaker's Showcase 2005? The eight film shorts received rave reviews at recent screenings in L.A. and at the Austin Film Festival, so you'll want to hobnob with these filmmakers before they go all Hollywood. Watch for standouts like Houstonian Gary Watson's noirish, politically charged After Twilight, or Scott Calonico's kooky documentary about acid, LSD A Go Go. Meet the future stars at the screening at 7 p.m. Friday, November 11. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $4 to $6. -- Steven Devadanam
The latest permutation of 12 Minutes MAX!, the DiverseWorks series, finds local and visiting artists breaking the proverbial fourth wall in 12-minute-long skits. Look for a piece involving brooms, one featuring a visiting high school cheerleading squad, and our fave, the work of artist Kathryn Williamson, who'll be "wrestling inanimate objects," according to curator Rachel Cook. Williamson has been known to wrestle futons on stage, so we can only imagine what she'll be squaring off against this weekend. 8 p.m. Friday, November 11. 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. $10 to $15. -- Steven Devadanam