Shabby chic: Slokar's burlap-and-silk couture.
Shabby chic: Slokar's burlap-and-silk couture.
Raj Natarajan

Suburban Outfitters

Suburbia's not all it's cracked up to be. Sure, it can be a relief to escape the noise and crowding of the city, but what of the sacrifices made in the name of all that tranquillity? For the "Fashioning Arcadia" exhibit at Gallery 1724, clothing designer Mary Slokar and photographer Raj Natarajan have teamed up to explore the ramifications of our creature comforts.

Photos and clothing interact to create a kind of installation in the gallery. Construction-zone images illustrate the toll that concrete and aluminum siding take on natural habitats. Slokar's specially designed outfits of burlap and silk (arguably the alpha and omega of textiles) emphasize suburbia's have/have-not, consumerist culture. They're meant to show the extremes of punishment and luxury that clothing can represent, with "one, a symbol of status and wealth," according to an artist's statement, "and the other worn as penitence." Fashion shots of models decked out in Slokar's class-conscious couture, presented within structures of unfinished wood, drive the artists' point home -- however long the commute might be. Through July 15. 1724 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-2547 or visit Free. -- Scott Faingold

Take a Cab

Show off your Sauvignon savvy at Wine Week in The Woodlands

Yeah, Sideways was a great flick and all, but you knew about the joys of Pinot Noir before the movie made that little grape famous. Truth is, you've always been an oenophile, delighting in wine minutiae like Syrah versus Sauvignon, or what pairs best with hot dogs. You'll be right at home at Wine Week in The Woodlands. The event starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, with "Wine and Dine" dinners at swank eateries such as Fleming's Steakhouse and Amerigo's Grille. Other highfalutin events follow, like our fave, "Wines of the World for $12 or Less" (5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 17). You'll enjoy cheap wines from California, Texas, Italy, France and other regions at a happy-hour-style event that also features cooking demonstrations by Food Network chef Joey Altman. Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 19, at various venues. For tickets, schedule and information, visit Tickets start at $15. -- Steven Devadanam


Hobbit Forming

Jack's -- um, sorry, Gandalf's -- beard is slipping off his face as he extols the virtues of The Lord of the Rings to me. I'm standing with the 66-year-old wizard impersonator in the lobby of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Along with several hundred semi-crazed LOTR fans, we're awaiting the 12:01 a.m. opening of "The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition."

The event is a mix of costume party, Renfest and comic book convention. Folks mill about in medieval costumes, sing medieval songs and generally act, well, medieval. I meet a delightful ten-year-old mini-Gandalf named Eric, along with 16-year-old Andrew, who's a dead ringer for Elijah Wood, from head to toe -- literally. "Please tell me that's not real hair," I ask queasily, referring to his hairy hobbit feet. "Nah, it's from my head," he says. (Whew.)

At midnight, people start wandering the exhibit. There are costumes, swords and saddles; hobbits, Rohan women and elves. Linda, who saw the Return of the King premiere in New Zealand and this exhibit in Boston, is now shedding tears of joy here in Houston. "It's overwhelming being here with all these other fans," she tells me.

At 2:30 a.m., we gather for a costume contest. My vote is for Kent, who came all the way from Los Angeles and could be a twin of Viggo Mortensen's character, Aragorn. But Tyler steals the show as Gollum, hopping around the floor, grabbing the microphone and hissing, "Hello, my precious, we're here for the precious." He wins a replica of the One Ring, which he later tells me he'll keep in his room and "enjoy."

Hey, isn't that how all this ring crap got started? -- Steven Devadanam

Multi-Stop Shopping

SUN 6/12
We all have those friends who love to brag about their shopping exploits and how all their stuff is from an obscure Web site, thrift store or insanely expensive boutique in Prague. Well, screw 'em! Hop on a bus for "Shopping Below the Radar," the Orange Show's latest Eyeopener Tour, and you'll be whisked away to obscure but hip little folk art shops and stops in the Heights and beyond. Watch for the Cactus King, a purveyor of funky folk art and, duh, cactus. Group meets at noon; tour departs from the Orange Show, 2401 Munger, at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12. For tickets and information, call 713-926-6368 or visit $35 for Orange Show members; $50 for nonmembers. -- Steven Devadanam

Screening Cycles

FRI 6/10
What ever happened to drive-in movie theaters? The extinction of anything that increases one's chances of making out in the backseat is a crime. This Friday, Aurora Picture Show will put an eco-healthy spin on drive-ins with the Bike-In Movie. At 8 p.m. cyclists of all ages and skill levels will meet at the Third Ward Community Bike Center (Elgin at Dowling) for a leisurely group ride. Don't stray too far, as you've got a 9 p.m. date at Dupree Sculpture Park (2500 Francis at Dowling) for a screening of Joey Garfield's Breath Control: History of the Human Beat Box. (Hmm...handlebars. Now there's a challenge for makeout partners.) Friday, June 10. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit Free. -- Steven Devadanam


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