The Xeroxed flyer that says "FOUND" steals your attention: Could it be a fluffy white house cat? On closer inspection, the joke settles in: "One Gold Bar, Could Be Worth Millions," it reads, listing detailed contact instructions. This kind of tongue-in-cheek artistic assault is the essence of I Love You Baby, a collective of local artists who meet up on Wednesdays at the Commerce Street Artists Warehouse to paint together, sometimes even over one another's works. The group, which once peppered Houston streets with its "missing" and "found" flyers, is appearing in a more conventional setting for "A Very Special I Love You Baby Christmas."
The show features mixed media including sketches, oils, latex, chalk and video. ILYB is known for its cartoonish figures, such as "Sad Mr. Bill," a simple smudged brown face dotted with blue eyes and a frown -- imagine the Saturday Night Live character smushed by a truck. You can meet members of ILYB at tonight's opening exhibition, but should you miss it, be warned: There'll no doubt be a flyer out for you. 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, December 17. Mackey Gallery, 5111 Center Street. For information, call 713-850-8527 or visit www.iloveyoubaby.org. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
The Contemporary Arts Museum debuts fresh "Perspectives"
Artists are doing the group thing at the Contemporary Arts Museum for "Perspectives 144: Amalgama." The exhibit features works by eight collectives and individual artists who involve audiences in their works. One group, the four-person Otabenga Jones & Associates, presents I Did It for Love, which examines the racial politics of the 1965 Los Angeles Watts riots. Artists Rachel Cook and Paul Druecke try to involve other people in their projects. For the video work I Want to Feel Some Tenderness, Cook recorded herself dancing to music on her headphones and trying to snag the interest of passersby. And for his series of self-portraits, Druecke coaxed a group of folks into snapping photos of themselves right after they woke up. Tuesdays through Sundays, through January 23. 5216 Montrose. For information and a schedule, call 713-284-8250 or visit www.camh.org. Free. -- Julia Ramey
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Her tiny form bouncing and shaking, soap opera hottie Kristian Alfonso is getting sweaty with her massive partner, George Foreman. The hottie and the former heavyweight champ are shimmying to a kind of step-aerobics routine. "Wow," she exclaims, "I can feel it in my arms, legs and even my 'problem areas.' " As they banter, he looks straight into the crowd of "fans." That's our cue"
Suddenly, off-rhythm, 100 of us blurt out, "Hello, George! Good-bye, fat!"
"Cut!" the exasperated director yells. We've flubbed it. A 30-foot crane cam sweeps overhead as we, the "audience," prepare to shout out the big finale -- again. We're standing in the middle of the food court in the dreary San Jacinto Mall to shoot Foreman's new infomercial. No, it's not for a grill, but rather for Walk It Off with George, his new workout/weight-loss program.
It hasn't been glamorous. We're coached on how to execute the infomercial audience staple: the "oooh, ahhh" face. "Your grill changed my life," I yell to Foreman, who winks back. (Not at me, I soon realize, but at the two elderly ladies standing behind me.) My patience is waning. I was content to watch Alfonso's "problem areas." But we've been here for hours, and the irony of a boxer and a sexy actress preaching to us about "taking off inches and pounds" while, um, large people nearby munch on waffle fries and pizza seems to be lost on the crowd. I'm tired, hungry and getting fed up with how hard it is for a bunch of Baytown folks to pull off one lousy line.
"So, is it 'Good-bye, George'?" a guy next to me asks.
That does it.
"Sure," I say, not looking back. He's on his own. I need some waffle fries. -- Steven Devadanam
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If you're staggering out of a downtown bar this evening and suddenly witness a gigantic Jimmy Stewart apparition, don't be alarmed. It's just the Downtown Entertainment District Association offering a little Christmas cheer by showing It's a Wonderful Life on a 50- by 30-foot screen. The 1946 Frank Capra film features Stewart in one of his edgiest performances -- he plays a suicidal businessman who has a run-in with a guardian angel atop a bridge on Christmas Eve. Take a seat outside and enjoy the big guy at 6 p.m. Saturday, December 18. Market Square, at Congress and Milam. For information, call 713-658-8938 or visit www.deda.org. Free. -- Greg Barr
Safari, So Good
For all you party animals out there, the Houston Zoo is hosting a Winter Wild Festival of Lights, complete with (imported) snow and twinkling lights. You and your little ones can take a ride in a tractor-drawn sleigh, listen to holiday caroling and make winter animal crafts. You also can visit Safari Santa, who will be taking requests from good little girls and boys, and Mrs. Claus, who'll be baking sweet treats in her kitchen. See the lights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, December 17, through Thursday, December 23. 1513 North MacGregor. For information, call 713-533-6500 or visit www.houstonzoo.org. $3 to $7. -- Amanda Orr