Our pick for Friday is the opening reception for the art exhibit "Bās" Rabe'a Ballin, Ann Johnson, Delita Martin and Lovie Olivia" at Art League Houston. "Bās" (pronounced "base") is the third collaborative exhibit for the group.
Experimental printmaker Ann Johnson's work in the exhibit comes from a series she calls Nests. A university professor, Johnson says she often sees students "nesting," that is, creating emotionally private environments in public spaces (think of someone listening intently to music via headphones in the cafeteria). Johnson took photos of a few students, printed the images on feathers (we told you she was experimental) and placed those feathers into nests she crafted. Those nests will hang (from transparent wires) in the gallery at Art League Houston along with print works from fellow artists.
One student who appears in the series is Joel. "Every now and then, you get that one student who gets it," Johnson tells us. "That's Joel. He's really into his own creativity -- I have to calm him down sometimes. I tell him, 'You're having a creative convulsion; just chill for a minute.' He has these long, beautiful [dreadlocks], and I took some shots of him while he did this Beyoncé-type dance." The result is a lighthearted image of a young man seemingly having the time of his life. "Lighthearted" isn't exactly the word Johnson would use to describe the series. "There is a little bit of playfulness, but I don't want to say it's whimsical. I don't want to say it's serious, either, because I'm not always serious," she says. "I want to say it's loud in a quiet way."
There's an opening reception at 6 p.m. on Friday with an artist talk at 7 p.m. Regular viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through August 2. 1953 Montrose. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit the Art League website. Free.
Also on Friday is Turtle, Turtle. True story: Thirty years ago, a family's pet turtle suddenly went missing. The family looked everywhere but eventually gave up searching. Earlier this year, they finally found her...in their garden shed. She had lived there for three decades. The strange tale inspired puppeteer Emily Hynds to create the shadow play Turtle Turtle for Boo Town. (Boo Town is well-known to Houston audiences for its ongoing series Grown-up Storytime, an unpredictable pairing of writers and on-stage readers.) It mirrors the real-life story with a slight variation: In this case, Turtle takes refuge in the family's attic, where he delights in living among his family's castoff treasures right above their heads. Hynds is using several new technologies to tell Turtle's story, including multiple projectors and rolling screens to produce constantly moving images. "Shadow puppetry is interesting to work with as an artist because it challenges our concept of design and makes us strip down to just two colors and shapes," said Hynds by e-mail. "It really makes you think about the most basic way to convey an emotion...which in turn makes whatever image is created pretty universal and hopefully accessible to everyone."
11:55 p.m. Friday, 9 p.m. Saturday. Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh. For information, visit the Boo Town website. Pay what you want.
On Saturday, we'll be following up a full day at the Houston LGBT Pride Festival with the nighttime Houston LGBT Pride Parade, now in its 35th year. Join the 325,000 people who are expected to line the parade route as they cheer on the 100-plus organizations and businesses that have decorated floats and contributed entries to show their LGBT support. This is one of Houston's biggest parades as well as one of the largest Pride parades in this part of the country.
The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-show, and the parade itself gets under way at 8:15 p.m. Westheimer at Montrose. For complete route information, visit the Pride Houston website. Free.
The Ensemble Theatre's new show, From My Hometown opens this weekend, including a Sunday show. Hometown isn't exactly a jukebox musical; it includes original music. It's also not an original musical; it uses classic soul songs from the Motown era.
"It's a celebration of classic R&B songs," Robert Ross, who handles audience development and public relations for the company, says, neatly skirting the issue. The story follows three young men who arrive in New York City hoping to perform at the famed Apollo Theater. They form a group and, with each man contributing the unique style of his hometown -- Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia -- create a new sound, one they hope will lead them to win a spot at the Apollo. The musical lineup includes "(What a) Wonderful World," "Hold on I'm Comin'" and "Try a Little Tenderness." The trio of wannabe singing stars is played by Anthony Boggess-Glover (Sanctified) and Ron Johnson (Cinderella), both well-known to Ensemble audiences, as well as Jobari Parker-Namdar from Washington, D.C., who appears here in his first Ensemble show.
Ross promises that From My Hometown, which closes the Ensemble's season, is a fun, entertaining show. "Every season we really try to end on a feel-good note. We try to finish up the season on a memorable note to tide [the audience] over until we get started again."
See From My Hometown at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, 3535 Main Street. For information, call 713-520-0055 or visit the Ensemble Theatre website. $20 to $45.
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A highlight of our weekend is sure to be Sunday's screening of Ornette: Made in America, screening as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Jazz on Film series.In 1983, legendary saxophonist Ornette Coleman returned to his hometown, Fort Worth, for a concert. Filmmaker Shirley Clarke was there to capture the free-jazz pioneer's performance. It became the nucleus of her documentary "Ornette Coleman was a Texas hero, really a visionary artist. She's a great and often under-recognized American filmmaker," says series curator Peter Lucas, a winner of Houston Press Best of Houston® awards Best Curator award in 2012. "His music and her film have a lot in common: They both have very creative approaches. Jazz and film kinda grew up side by side in the 20th century, and there are fascinating intersections between the two."
Lucas was lucky enough to find a new 35mm print of the restored Ornette. "These days we think everything is available to us on Netflix, and the truth is it isn't, so I was really excited in showing some films that people either haven't heard of or haven't had the chance to see. I especially wanted to show the films in 35mm print."
7 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit the museum's website. $10.
Abby Koenig and Jef with One F contributed to this post.