Roll out the red carpet because Houston is celebrating the grand opening of two venues this weekend: the Moody Center for the Arts and Upper Kirby's Levy Park, which is unveiling $15 million in upgrades. That makes for a great start for a staycation in the Bayou City, plus we've got a jam with Jawwaad, pin-up-inspired art in the East End and even a pet parade in Galveston. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and nine of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
20HERTZ with Jawwaad Taylor
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
6:30 p.m. Thursday, free
Houston-born trumpet player and rapper Jawwaad Taylor isn't content to play in just one sandbox. For CAMH's next 20HERTZ lecture, the multi-disciplinary artist will discuss his many spheres of influence (hip-hop, jazz, improv, visual arts) and also treat audience members to a mini concert of his signature electronic and trumpet music. He's ready to chat about everything: his musical projects, his collaborations with visual artists and how visual aesthetics can change the way listeners interact with music.
Art + Poetry Artist Talk
Gspot Contemporary Art Space
5:30 p.m. Thursday, free
Artist Valyntina Grenier asks visitors to look beyond the colorful surfaces of her paintings, installations and encaustics to see that they offer reflections on this moment in our nation's history, a time when ruin, bigotry, evil, violence and fear threaten to take hold. Stop by for this intimate gathering in the Heights as Grenier reads from her poetry and shares the works in her solo exhibition.
Saint Dane's Bar & Grille
9 to 11:55 p.m. Thursday, free admission
It's time for H-Town's comics to step into the spotlight and see if they've got what it takes to bring the laughs, because Laff Town Comedy has returned to this laid-back Midtown eatery. Host Bryan Biggio will kick things off with a mini-set, then we'll hear from almost a dozen funny men (and women) before featured comedian Ku Egenti takes the mike. Be sure to belly up to the bar for the super-tasty burgers and drink specials.
eteam: Space Delay
Aurora Picture Show
7:30 p.m. Friday, free to $10
If a film's success hinges on the plot, we might just have a winner here. The premise is that the New York-based art collective eteam purchased a plot of land on eBay but, when the deed didn't show up in the mail, they headed west to track down the shadowy landowner and claim their piece of the American dream. The artists (Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger) will be in attendance for this Houston premiere, and also will screen their recent short, Track One. Aurora Picture show members are invited to a reception at 6:30 p.m.; a Q&A follows the screening of Space Delay.
"Pin-up" Art Group Show
East End Studio Gallery
6 to 9 p.m. Friday, free
In the late 19th century, burlesque performers and Hollywood actresses created photographic promo cards to drum up business and build their fan bases. These inexpensive adverts were often tucked into mirrors or pinned up on the wall, and we can't wait to see their vintage beauty echoed in contemporary drawings, paintings and photographs in the new "Pin-up" Art Group Show at East End Studio Gallery. Can't make it opening night with the crowds, food trucks and vendors? Then be sure to come back for closing night, scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. March 3.
"Nature & Politics" by Thomas Struth
Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, free
It's the first full day of operations for the brand-spanking-new Moody Center for the Arts, so go easy on the gallery guides. Just ask them to point the way to the chromogenic prints by German-based artist Thomas Struth, where he depicts scientific research and manufactured landscapes in "Nature & Politics." The exhibit is free for the viewing, but if you're hungry to learn more about the technological developments that make space travel possible, experiments in plasma physics or industrial facilities such as offshore oil rigs or blast furnaces, then pony up the $20 for his panel discussion at 2 p.m. in the Lois Chiles Studio Theater.
10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, free
Dogs are wagging their tails at the news of the totally spruced-up Levy Park in the Upper Kirby District. Mayor Sylvester Turner will be on hand at 11 a.m. for the ribbon cutting, then it's time to begin exploring six acres of fun, rain or shine. The shebang includes food trucks and face painting, gardening demos and a piano concert, plus performing arts, poetry and animal rescue groups. Fido is welcome to come; just make sure he's got you on a leash. Hang around, folks, because the Grammy Award-Winning Band Grupo Fantasma hits the stage at 6 p.m. in the new performance pavilion. Bonus: Scout out the crowds and weather beforehand on the nifty Levy Park webcam.
19th Annual Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade
1:30 p.m. Sunday, free*
See or be seen this Sunday when costumed pets strut their stuff in the 19th Annual Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade. Come early because the costume contest begins at 12:30 p.m., when winners will be announced and ribbons awarded. This year's theme is PAW-Jama Party, just in case that gets your creative juices flowing with costume ideas. Line up at 21st and Harborside at Pier 21, then follow the parade as it proceeds down 20th Street to the Strand, travels west to 25th Street, left on Mechanic, and then back to the starting point. Beads are fine for throwing or catching, just no candy, please; we want to make sure no animals were harmed in the making of this fun. Proceeds from participant entry fees benefit the Galveston Island Humane Society. *Insider tip: Access to the Strand District is free this Sunday so that all can enjoy viewing the parades.
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Dark at the Crossing book signing
7 p.m. Monday, free
Author Elliot Ackerman (Green on Blue) is in Houston to discuss and sign copies of Dark at the Crossing, a contemporary love story set in Turkey. Main character Haris Abadi is an Arab American with a past who finds himself trying to cross into Syria to help fight Bashar al-Assad's regime. This exploration of loss, second chances and the origin of our beliefs is told with raw urgency and power. Ackerman is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and has served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart. He is based out of Istanbul, where he has covered the Syrian Civil War since 2013.
The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity
The Shepherd School of Music, Stude Concert Hall, Rice University
7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, free
Keith Sawyer, author of Zig Zag and Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation, has tips and tricks for maximizing our creative potential. Innovation and creativity have become even more important, especially in a workforce that depends so heavily on computer technology and outsourcing. Sawyer is a Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; this event is presented by The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University as part of its "Creativity Up Close" lecture series. Up your CQ and click here to register.