Special Events

The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: "Shadow Monsters," Comicpalooza 2015 and More

Memories, according to artist team Shane and Peter Bernick-Allbritton, change over time.  The duo's latest exhibit, “Shane and Peter Bernick-Allbritton: Hazy Yet Vivid,” which opens on Friday, explores the fluid nature of memories, which they say can be hazy at one point and vivid at another. Memories are fluid, Shane tells us. “They change; they get intertwined with stories somebody told you. [I was told lots of] stories as a kid, and now, as an adult, I think I remember some of them. But they’re totally fabricated in my mind. I can see the movie playing in my head of things happening, but I know I was too young when that happened to really remember that. We think of our brain like a computer, but we’re human, so we’re imperfect and our memories are imperfect.”

Peter agrees, telling us, “Memory is so important. It makes us who we are, and it’s the most valuable thing we have. Paradoxically, it’s the most intangible thing as well.”

The pair use a variety of materials and techniques in their work. Freestanding wooden zoetrope sculptures, paintings, printed acrylic panels, photographs and multimedia creations make up the exhibit. One of the largest works is an installation, an eight-foot curtain that both obscures and reveals what’s beyond it.

There’s an opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 22. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through July 3. Spacetaker Gallery at Fresh Arts, 2101 Winter Street. For information, call 713-868-1839 or visit fresharts.org. Free. 

You'll have to drive a bit to see our next Friday pick - The Midtown Men are performing in Baytown -  but we're sure the smooth sound of the quartet is worth it.  The group is made up of stars from the original cast of the Broadway smash Jersey Boys,  which chronicles the rise and fall of the 1960s group The Four Seasons. 

The Midtown Men features three Tony® Award winners — Christian Hoff, who played debt-ridden Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys; Michael Longoria, who played budding actor Joe Pesci; and Daniel Reichard, who played keyboardist Bob Gaudio. Rounding out the group is Tony® Award nominee and Broadway veteran J. Robert Spencer, who played Valli’s vocal coach, Nick Massi, in the original production.

While Jersey Boys focused on The Four Seasons, this performance will also include other music from  that era. “You’ll hear ‘Sherry,’ all the songs from Jersey Boys, ‘Walk Like a Man,’” says Scott Vernon, director of the Performing Arts Center. “They also do some of the other songs popular during that time. It’s a very high-energy show.” The set list also includes classics by The Beatles, The Rascals, Motown Records and The Four Seasons. The quartet, who have performed live more than 2,000 times, wear Rat Pack-inspired suits and are accompanied by a seven-piece band.

Catch The Midtown Men at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Lee College Performing Arts Center, 805 West Texas Avenue, Baytown. For information, call 281-425-6255 or visit lee.edu. $55 to $75. 

Carnival Houston 2015 — Street Parade & Festival, a weekend of music, food and performances, is part street scene, part gala and all fun. There’s a masquerade ball, a costume parade, even a neon paint party — all with a nod to the festival cultures of the Caribbean and Central and South America. Multiple events are scheduled for Friday and Saturday (each at a different location, so check the web site for details). The street parade and outdoor festival, the most family-friendly event in Carnival, is set for Saturday in front of Toyota Center. It’s being billed as the largest block party in the Bayou City.

“It’s typical of carnivals celebrated around the world,” says one of the festival’s producers, Jasmine Warrican. “So you’ll see the cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean represented, as well as groups from Houston.” Warrican says carnival-goers should get ready for Caribbean beats, global street food and a limbo contest. DJs, rides, face painting, dance performances and food trucks highlight the bash, expected to draw more than 15,000 revelers. The parade, with participants dressed in costumes native to their countries of origin, runs for eight blocks around the festival grounds.

The Street Parade & Festival is set for noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. Toyota Center, 1419 Polk Street. For information, call 832-614-9337 or visit carnivalhouston.com. $15. 

We caught up with Comicpalooza founder John Simons just as he was “somewhere between insane and crazy.” The four-day event is the largest it’s ever been, and with several big-name guests on the roster, it's our suggestion for Saturday.

One of the names Simons managed to book for this year’s event is Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy). “This is the first con Jeremy has ever done and might be the only one he’ll ever do. No one has ever seen him at a con before,” Simons says.

Also on the big-names list is Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, A Nightmare on Elm Street). “He’s coming to the con to screen his new movie, Criminal Activities. It’s with John Travolta, and he’s doing a free screening on Friday night. And he, his son and possibly another cast member are going to be doing a Q&A after the screening. The movie won’t be out for months, but he’ll be screening it here.”

Along with Renner and Haley, a host of other stars will be on hand. Actors Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the con. Punk rock icon Marky Ramone, pro wrestler Sting, the legendary comic-book writer Stan Lee, über-popular Star Trek alum George Takei and novelist Mercedes Lackey are a few of the guests booked for the weekend.

“We want Comicpalooza to be a unique experience,” stresses Simons. “There’s a traveling-show mentality to a lot of cons. The same group of stars go from one show to another so the show in Milwaukee is the same as the one in Tampa Bay. At Comicpalooza, there’s close to 22,000 hours of programming. Even if you take out all the tabletop gaming, there’s 500 hours of programming. We’re not like any other show.”

Comicpalooza 2015 is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit comicpalooza.com. $25 to $200. 

Almost everybody has enjoyed the childhood game of projecting shadow puppets against the wall, but thanks to the creative vision of New York-based British artist Philip Worthington, those puppets will grow teeth and eyes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s exhibit “Shadow Monsters,” which is our choice for a Sunday visit.

The installation, which debuted in London in 2006, is popular with visitors of all ages. “I’ve seen photographs of full-grown men and women jumping up in the air and waving their arms,” says Alison de Lima Greene, curator of contemporary art and special projects at MFAH. “It’s a special algorithm written into the JavaScript, also known as magic.” Through vision-recognition software, hands become mouths with razor-sharp teeth, and tongues, eyes and fins grow out of arms and legs.

The installation is augmented by the sounds of dinosaurs and birds. “You’re going to feel like you’ve walked into a corner of the zoo or a very busy pet store,” says de Lima Greene. “When you make a jaw shape, you hear a jaw sound.” Worthington is working on upgrading the technology to incorporate colors and photographic keepsakes, but for now, visitors are encouraged to bring their telephones to take screen captures. (Use #ShadowMonsters to post your photos and videos on social media.)

“This will be the first time it’s been seen in Texas or in our part of the country,” said de Lima Greene. “It’s so rare we have a chance for a fully immersive art experience like this. Everyone becomes involved in not just viewing the art, but also creating it.”

Regular viewing hours for "Shadow Monsters" are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through September 20. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free with paid general admission (free to $15).

Susie Tommaney and Holly Beretto contributed to this post. 
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