Best of Houston®

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best New Effort to Inject Culture into Houston
<i>Homes & Histories Documentary</i>; Voices Breaking Boundaries

In order to inject culture, one must first observe, collect and acknowledge the culture that is already in place. "What does it mean to have a home?" is the question posed to us by this Voices Breaking Boundaries production that digs deep into the history of Freedman's Town and its current residents, who are dealing with an elimination of history through gentrification. For comparison, the filmmakers also look at the Baloch and Sheedi community of Karachi, Pakistan, whose roots are also in Africa. Music and visual artists also provided their talents during the community events that were held on and near several streets within the neighborhood west of downtown between West Gray and West Dallas. Near the end of the film, director Sehba Sarwar says: "It's clear that neither community is gone, histories are not lost and struggles are not over."

3201 Allen, Houston, 77019
MAP
713-524-7821
Best Band to Leave Houston in the Last Year

It's hard to imagine that we're less than three years removed from Robert Ellis's stint playing Whiskey Wednesdays at Mango's and then Fitzgerald's. From that small but loyal fan base — and even earlier in previous band Eyes Like Lions — Ellis has seen his star deservedly rise on the shoulders of his 2011 New West Records debut, Photographs. Along with his 2012 move to Wimberley and eventually Nashville, that year also saw Ellis nominated for an Americana Music Award for Best Emerging Artist alongside eventual winners Alabama Shakes. While all the praise being poured on Ellis is enough to make Houston proud, it's a damn shame you can't find Ellis at Fitz on a weekly basis anymore.

Best Artistic Renovation
Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston

This past summer, the Blaffer Art Museum, nestled on the University of Houston campus, paid the hefty sum of $2.3 million for total reconstruction surgery, and the money was incredibly well spent. The facade evolved into a stunning windowed parallelogram, which both sticks out and enhances the lackluster brick buildings of UH. The interior space is now sprawling and bright, an open and airy dedication to the visual arts. Thin tubes of light cover the ceilings, making for a modern yet classy feel. On the second floor, a balcony overlooks the main gallery, which the museum is now dedicating to emerging artists. If you haven't been since the renovation, do yourself a favor and go.

4173 Elgin St., Houston, 77004
MAP
713-743-9528
Best Reading Series
Inprint

Poets, novelists and essayists get rock-star receptions at Inprint's two popular reading series, the Margarett Root Brown Reading Series for adults and Cool Brains! for young readers. Authors scheduled for 2013-2014 season readings/onstage interviews and signing sessions include James McBride, George Saunders, Anne Carson and Khaled Hosseini. Past authors have ranged from internationally known Salman Rushdie to Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket. Local writers aren't overlooked, with Houston talent including the city's first poet laureate, Gwendolyn Zepeda, appearing at Inprint readings.

1520 W. Main, Houston, 77006
MAP
713-521-2026
Best Mural

Dedicated in 2006, this ceramic tile mosaic celebrates the rich history of Houston's Fifth Ward by featuring the faces of some truly amazing people who came from the neighborhood — Barbara Jordan, Mickey Leland and George Foreman. In a city known for bulldozing the past to make room for strip malls or townhomes, murals like this one — which reflect upon and teach about the area's cultural heritage — are all the more valuable. It's a remarkable piece of art and a reminder of a remarkable legacy.

Best Ensemble Production

Any dancer will tell you that there's a special connection that forms during the run of a performance; the intimacy and trust are necessary for a dance ensemble to be successful. Now put a group of dancers in the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park and make them perform in the streaming fountain, and imagine the level of confidence they must have in each other. In "Natural Acts in Artificial Water," renowned choreographer Stephan Koplowitz and his initiative TaskForce created a masterful ensemble production based on the architecture, history, culture and ecology of the park, and the result was one of the most stunning collaborative dance performance pieces this year.

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Best New Effort to Inject Culture into Houston: Homes & Histories Documentary; Voices Breaking Boundaries

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