We've got the 411 on the Chevron Houston Marathon, so be sure to check our course map for avoiding road closures and staying on the move this weekend. The post-race hoopla actually starts on Saturday at Discovery Green after the ABB 5K, so come support these athletes on both Saturday and Sunday after the race. It's also a historic weekend for arts aficionados, with a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of works by John Biggers and his former students, as well as the closing of the Degas exhibit (the only North American stop). We're rounding out the weekend with a dark comedy inspired by the sitcom Friends and a multimedia concert, courtesy of Mercury.
Not only did John Biggers leave his mark on Texas Southern University, but the muralist and educator also inspired generations of emerging and established artists during his 34 years as a professor. Now Sally Reynolds has tracked down almost two dozen of his former students, ranging in age from their fifties to their nineties, in curating a new exhibition for Arts Brookfield, “On My Journey Now — The Legacy of John Biggers,” which includes early works by Biggers. “One of the collectors said to me, ‘There will never be another exhibit like this,’” says Reynolds. “[Biggers] always communicated to his students that everyone is on their journey and it’s an important journey to take.” Expect to see universal themes of man’s connection with nature and the universe, as well as feminine symbols of birth and rebirth. This show is a great opportunity to view works by this important artist, putting it on our list for Friday, but if you just can't get there, don't miss the opening reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. January 18.
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Continuing 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through April 3. Two Allen Center. For information, visit artsbrookfield.com. Free.
Whether television’s Friends conjures up personal memories of what you were doing during the show’s ten-year run, or you’ve adopted one of the characters as your spirit animal totem, or perhaps you recently fell down a rabbit hole binge-watching on Netflix, there’s no denying that the series influenced our culture, introduced new catchphrases and set the bar for sarcasm (thanks a lot, Chandler Bing). So when playwright Breanna Bietz ran across an article about the show’s heavy influence on society, she latched onto the theme for her next play. Cone Man Running Productions is presenting the regional premiere of Insomnia Cafe; the premise is that a couple of super fans try to live out the show in real life. “They kidnap someone to play the role of Chandler,” says Bietz, who likes taking things on the screen and filtering them back onto the stage. So if you consider Monica Geller, Ross Geller, Phoebe Buffay, Chandler Bing, Rachel Green and Joey Tribbiani old friends, then come check out this new take on Friends this Friday night.
8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through January 28. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 281-972-5897 or visit conemanrunning.com. $15 to $18.
The works of major United States composers Philip Glass, George Gershwin, John Corigliano and Samuel Barber will spring to life with Mercury’s newest multimedia-infused concert, American Skies. The string orchestra follows the country’s timeline, all told with not just moving music but also projected visuals that tell the story of the ever-shifting American skyline. “It’s based on several themes. We go through the history of America with a focus on the sky,” says Artistic Director Antoine Plante. “We see the first immigration to the States, then the introduction of trains, the building of the skyscrapers and finally space exploration.” A team of dancers as well as projected visuals and still frames help round out the full-bodied experience. While the music may or may not be familiar, the visuals help tie everything together to enhance the overall experience, making this one of our recommendations for Saturday.
Arrive early at 7:15 p.m. for a special pre-concert lecture by Plante. 8 p.m. Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $19 to $68.
For the thousands who cross the finish line of Chevron Houston’s 5K, half-marathon or full marathon, the accomplishment is thrill enough. For others, that’s where the fun begins. Join the racers and their sideline supporters afterward at the 2017 We Are Houston RunFest, presented by Michelob Ultra. The post-race hoopla entertains spectators, serves as a meet-up spot, and provides entertainment for family and friends. Houston’s Astros, Dynamo, Rockets and Texans, along with several Houston-based organizations and nonprofits, are offering interactive games and activities for participants to enjoy. “It’s a fun celebration of the runners, and it is so great for runners who visit from all 50 states and over 40 countries each year,” says Wade Morehead, Houston Marathon Committee executive director. Bonus: It’s a great way for newbie runners to network. Whether you've got a friend in the race or just want to come out and support the athletes, this looks like a blast for Saturday and Sunday.
7 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-957-3453 or visit chevronhoustonmarathon.com. Free.
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Art reviewer Randy Tibbits knows he should be impartial, but sometimes he fails. After viewing “Degas: A New Vision” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, last fall, he upped his plea from “God, if I’m ever stranded on a desert island with only one artist’s work to look at, please let it be Degas” to the effusive “God, please let it be this whole show.” This is the last weekend to catch the exhibit, which is the first comprehensive Degas retrospective since 1988. It was curated by Henri Loyrette, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, and Gary Tinterow, current director of MFAH. Houston is the only venue in North America, and the exhibit won’t go to Europe. (Take that, New York and Paris.) The miracle of Degas — one of them anyway — is that the people he shows us are real and in the room with us. No, the other way around. By magic, we’re in the room with them as they continue with their next mundane, perhaps piercing, comment, or their next mundane, certainly telling, gesture. Whatever they’re doing (or not doing) — sitting, reading, working, ignoring each other — is so diabolically compelling that we forget to remember ourselves as we struggle to understand more about them. Degas captured life as it was happening and as though he were an invisible recorder, having no impact of his own on the course of events — though better to say course of actions, since the goings-on seldom reached the threshold of “event”: women bathing; exhausted dancers rehearsing; family members ignoring each other over coffee or work. The exhibit closes January 16, so this weekend presents the last opportunity to catch this blockbuster show, putting Degas on our list for must-see art this Sunday afternoon. Although the museum is generally closed on Mondays, it will be open this coming Monday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Miss your wedding, miss your kid’s graduation, miss your funeral, but don’t miss “Degas: A New Vision.”
12:15 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Also 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. January 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. January 16. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free to $23.
Sam Byrd and Randy Tibbits contributed to this post.