Things To Do

21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Sign Painting and Houston Strong

The Theater District's resident companies join together for Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes. One of them, the Society for the Performing Arts, will bring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Houston in 2018.
The Theater District's resident companies join together for Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes. One of them, the Society for the Performing Arts, will bring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Houston in 2018. Photo by Eduardo Patino

September 26

Chivalry might be dead, but sign painting isn’t, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is taking note with "For Hire: Contemporary Sign Painting In America." It’s bringing artists who will construct various murals and paintings to showcase this once nearly extinct art form. Curator Kathryn Hall says, “We see a lot of signs and advertisements being mass-produced through printing methods through LED and other modes of communication, but there’s still a draw for hand-printed signs. You see people having them in their homes and the handmade movement with restaurants that have hired people to add touches to their menus and on the outside of their building.” 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Continuing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Opening reception 5:30 to 8 p.m. September 22. September 22 through January 7. 4848 Main. For information, call 713-529-4848 or visit Free. — Sam Byrd

September 27
It’s time to throw minimalism out the door and embrace the amazingly ornate objects in this latest exhibit at Asia Society Texas Center. “Stunning detail, beautifully executed and with the richest of materials,” describes Bridget Bray, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, about “Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place.” While most Islamic exhibits concentrate on the Middle East, North Africa or South Asia, the more than 100 objects in this show also include pieces from Southeast Asia, the Americas and East and West Africa, ranging from the 9th century to contemporary works. There’s a free preview from 6 to 8 p.m. on September 21 and a curator talk at 11 a.m. on September 23. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Continuing 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. September 23 through February 25. 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713-496-9901 or visit Free to $5. — Susie Tommaney

As part of the burgeoning friendship and cultural exchange between the Italian berg of Spello and Sugar Land, an Italian film festival will take up in the Sugar Land Auditorium for a reception featuring Italian wine and foods and a screening of La Mia Italia (My Italy). Tiziana Triolo, the director of producing partner Project USA, shares her love of the event. “Since I moved from Italy to the Lone Star State in 2011, I have been incessantly promoting Italian culture, art and traditions. For me, bringing the project to Sugar Land was a choice of the heart,” she says. “[Sugar Land] is my American adopted city; I fell in love with [it] at first sight.” The seven films screened at Umbria in Sugar Land will be judged by an international crew of artists, appreciators and academics. 7 p.m. Wednesday. Also 7 p.m. September 28 and 29, 3 and 7 p.m. September 30. 226 Lakeview Drive, Sugar Land. 2 p.m. October 1 at Sugar Land Town Square, 2181 Highway 6, Sugar Land. For more information, call 281-275-20145 or visit visit $10. — Vic Shuttee

Before temporarily scattering to the four winds, the companies of the Theater District will come together for Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes. The free program, featuring the Alley Theatre, Da Camera, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts and Theatre Under The Stars, will benefit Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund; donations will be accepted on-site. On the program, a performance of George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, one of the choreographer’s most popular works, stripped of that pesky narrative to leave only the beauty of the dance, by the Houston Ballet; “Make Our Garden Grow,” the closing number from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, from the Houston Grand Opera; and an appearance by Houston’s own jazz great, Jason Moran, courtesy of Da Camera. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit Free. — Natalie de la Garza

September 28
There’s orphans galore, picturesque names (Rosa Budd, Reverend Crisparkle) and a plot more labyrinthine that most modern spy novels. The Mystery of Edwin Drood is vintage Charles Dickens made all the more complicated by the fact that he never finished it. Enter Rupert Holmes in the mid-1980s, who wrote the book, music and lyrics; while maintaining the integrity of Dickens’s text, Holmes made judicious edits and turned it into a comic musical that went on to win five Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Obsidian Theater and Standing Room Only Productions are bringing the show to Houston, and Rachel Landon, who is directing, says audience members should know ahead of time that this is an immersive theater experience. “At a certain point in Act 2, the actors stop what they’re doing. Because they have reached the point that Dickens died,” she says. “The actors turn to the audience, led by The Chairman, and they ask that you look back on all of the clues in the evening and that you, the audience, members choose who first of all is the detective in disguise. And then from the pool of actors that are left you are then able to choose who the murderer is. Majority vote. There is no fourth wall.” 8 p.m. Thursday. Continuing 8 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. September 28 through October 14. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 832?889?7837 or visit $27.50 to $37.50. — Margaret Downing

Just when we think we’ve heard enough about Russia in the news, the Houston Symphony and first-time guest conductor Vassily Sinaishy present Russian Masters, an all-Russian program featuring works by Borodin, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Shostakovich’s irreverent style provides a perfect contrast to Tchaikovsky’s dreamy melodies. Borodin, however, had a slightly different life than his contemporaries. Pressured to remain within the style of the time, he composed the Overture to Prince Igor to reflect his country’s history. However, he died before completing his masterpiece, and his friends finished the job. 8 p.m. Saturday and September 28; 7:30 p.m. October 1. Stude Concert Hall, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713?224?7575 or visit Because of recent venue changes, this concert is available only to season subscribers. — Sam Byrd

Mickalene Thomas’s creative vision knows no boundaries. For the first time, the celebrated artist will be the focus of her first solo exhibit in Texas. From panel painting and color photography to a room-size tableau that features an immersive short-film experience, the Brooklyn-based artist’s work crosses many dimensions. Her art is extremely relevant at a time when women in the corporate world are leaning in and speaking out, with far too few examples of black female empowerment in the mix. Thomas presents bold representations of the female experience intertwined with popular culture. Mickalene Thomas: Waiting on a Prime-Time Star is lavish, challenging and sexy. “Her work has a really rich underpinning of ideas and themes that explore relevant topics. She’s looking at what defines the female African-American experience,” says Alison Weaver, the executive director of Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Continuing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Opening reception 7 to 9 p.m. September 28. September 28 through January 13. 6100 Main, MS-480. For information, call 713-284-2787 or visit Free. — Camilo Hannibal Smith

Rock and roll’s mixed-race background has been crucial to its musical innovations and decorum-defying popular appeal since the beginning. In an unfortunate bit of irony, however, the achievements of musicians with Native American ancestry, such as Charley Patton and Mildred Bailey, have often been glossed over at best. Named for the devastating 1958 instrumental by Link Wray — the half-Shawnee guitarist whose thick metallic sound was a key influence on the MC5, Pete Townshend and Slash (among others) — Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana’s 2017 documentary RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World attempts to set the record straight, at full volume, through interviews with The Band’s Robbie Robertson, Little Steven Van Zandt, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and many others. 7 p.m. Friday. Also 7:30 p.m. September 28 and 5 p.m. October 1. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713?639?7300 or visit $7 to $9. — Chris Gray

September 29
Imagine a door becoming a seesaw, a 12-foot-tall stone mill morphing into a Ferris wheel, or a tunnel that narrows your point of view like a telescope. Now factor in a company of dancers, leaping and swinging, climbing and twisting against these transformable set pieces, and you’ve got NobleMotion Dance’s Catapult: Dance Meets Design. Husband-and-wife artistic directors and choreographers Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble agree that it would have been easy to make the five dance works mechanical, and therefore less human, but Sparkman Noble adds, “I think music and lighting and the dancers themselves soften the edges throughout, but it is true that these are real structures — there’s steel onstage, there’s a largeness, a grandness to the structures. I think we can only be human against them.” 7:30 p.m. Friday. Also 7:30 p.m. September 30. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit or $25 to $35. — Natalie de la Garza

Get your Halloween on early and take a step back in time to the days when live music accompanied silent films when Austin’s The Invincible Czars stop by the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Mason to play along with F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu. The Czars, one of several bands to create silent film soundtracks at the original Alamo Drafthouse, have composed scores for films like 1928’s The Wind, starring Lillian Gish, and 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with John Barrymore. For Nosferatu, based on Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, which serves as the basis for vampires ranging from Murnau’s Count Orlok all the way to Edward Cullen, the Czars will incorporate Bela Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances, which the composer recorded after spending time in Transylvania, home to the fictitious bloodsucker, in the early 1900s. 7:30 p.m. Friday. 531 South Mason Road, Katy. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit $17.74. — Natalie de la Garza

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