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

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 crafthouston.org. 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 asiasociety.org/texas. 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 sugarlandtx.com/umbria. $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 milleroutdoortheatre.com. 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 obsidiantheater.org. $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 houstonsymphony.org. 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 moody.rice.edu. 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 mfah.org. $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 noblemotiondance.com or thehobbycenter.org. $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 drafthouse.com/houston. $17.74. — Natalie de la Garza

The Brawlers take on the Psych Ward Sirens for the 2017 Houston Roller Derby Championship this Saturday.EXPAND
The Brawlers take on the Psych Ward Sirens for the 2017 Houston Roller Derby Championship this Saturday.
Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox

September 30
Sick of her school’s treatment of female students — from catcalling football players to unfair dress-code crackdowns — Vivian, the protagonist of Jennifer Mathieu’s newest YA novel, Moxie, creates an anonymous zine inspired by her Riot Grrl mother. “[She] feels like her word has been compromised and she speaks out about it,” says Blue Willow Book Shop owner Valerie Koehler. “It is very much about empowering teenage girls to speak up for themselves.” When Mathieu (the nom de plume of a Bellaire High School English teacher) swings by for her third launch at the bookstore, Koehler says to expect music, giveaways and a message about standing up for yourself — just like the book. “[I]t’s really good without hitting you over the head,” she adds, and Amy Poehler must agree: the Parks and Recreation funny lady has already optioned the book. 11 a.m. September 30. 14532 Memorial. For information, call 281-497-8675 or visit bluewillowbookshop.com. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

Tim Burton’s distinct cinematic style leaps right off the movie screen and sticks in the audience’s imagination, so it makes complete sense that he inspires many other visual artists. Just in time for Halloween, glimpse works inspired by the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning director of Batman, Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride at East End Studio Gallery’s Burtonesque: 2nd annual Tim Burton tribute. “It’s all very diverse. You’ll see a lot of painted artwork and fine art. It ranges from popster realism and sculptures, to wall art and LED pieces,” says show curator Blue 130. It elicits “a feeling of a dark whimsy. [It’s] creepy and melancholy but fun and whimsical.” 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Continuing Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Opening reception 6 to 10 p.m. October 1. September 30 through October 14. Hardy & Nance Studios, 902 Hardy. For information, visit eestudiogallery.com. Free. — Sam Byrd

Even if you’ve been partying all night and your mouth tastes sort of furry, come on out for hair-of-the-dog bloodies, bottomless bites and plenty of people-watching. It’s all part of the second annual The Morning After: A Houston Press Brunch Event, a walking wonderland of food and drink. Austin mixologists Bloody Revolution are challenging revelers to make the perfect cocktail using one of their gourmet mixes as a base — original, roasted garlic, rib eye with Worcestershire, habanero, pickle zest or wasabi ginger — then garnish to taste. “We set out to create some unique flavors and high-quality recipes that we felt were missing in the Bloody Mary world,” says managing partner Chantz Hoover, who tells us the team spent many years behind the bar fine-tuning the formula. VIP tix get you a 30-minute head start. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Bayou City Event Center Pavilion, 9401 Knight. For information, visit eestudiogallery.com. $35 to $75. — Susie Tommaney

Some horror stories take generations to unfold. In the latest from New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben, we’re taken back to the dawn of the Cold War with a top-secret missile base in the small town of Westbridge. As time goes by, rumors about what’s really happening take shape, especially with one group of high-school friends. Decades later, after a detective’s brother is killed along with his girlfriend, the hunt for truth leads readers to conspiracy theorists, a dead brother’s unethical career choice and rumors of the government’s experimentation with LSD. Coben tells us the idea for this standalone thriller was sparked by his own hometown experience. “There was a secret nuclear missile base located behind an elementary school. I started to wonder what would happen if some kids got a little too curious about it.” Sometimes curiosity kills more than just the cat. Coben will be on hand to sign and discuss Don’t Let Go at Murder By The Book; signing policies apply. 1 p.m. September 30. 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit murderbooks.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

By royal decree, it’s time once again for the Texas Renaissance Festival, which is entering its 43rd year. The extravaganza’s opening weekend is a journey back to old Bavaria with the best of the “wurst” and beer. The King and Queen will greet guests at the front gate at 8:45 a.m. before firing the village cannon to open the day’s festivities; each evening will close with Royal Fireworks. “We have traditionally opened with an Oktoberfest-themed weekend because it is a traditional European event which people love and also is part of this area’s German heritage,” says RenFest spokesman Travis Bryant. Besides the ever-popular turkey legs, events suited to the theme include polka dancing, costume contests and a Bratwurst-eating competition. Huzzah! 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and October 1. 21778 FM 1774. For information, visit texrenfest.com. Free to $30. — Sam Byrd

You knew Harvey couldn’t keep these ladies down for long. After having to postpone their championship game because of the storm, the 2017 Houston Roller Derby Championship is now scheduled for Saturday night and it promises to be a barnburner. To kick things off, the Bayou City Bosses take on The Valkyries for third place, and then the HRD Brawlers play the Psych Ward Sirens for the title. The Psych Ward Sirens are five-time champs with ten consecutive championship appearances under their belt, but they’ll have to contend with the Brawlers’ infamous "Wall of Brawl" if they want another one. The Brawlers have never won it all before, and this game marks their first appearance in a championship game in five years. Doors open at 6 p.m., get there early for a good seat. 7 p.m. Saturday. Revention Music Center, 520 Texas. For information, call 800-745-3000 or visit houstonrollerderby.com. Free to $200. — Natalie de la Garza

German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann’s infamous 1917 telegram, in which he offered several U.S. states – including Texas – to Mexico in exchange for aligning with Germany during World War I, is usually credited with pushing America into the conflict. So, what does this have to do with Galveston? That telegram traveled through the Galveston Western Union office, that’s what. Celebrate this unique connection to history during the WWI Commemoration at 1838 Menard House with a host of activities including a marker dedication, a lecture from historian (and Zimmermann Telegram expert) Thomas Boghardt, and a “History on Tap” event with specially created cocktails, a “rum rationing” station, and live rags, foxtrots and two-steps from Matt Tolentino and the Singapore Slingers. The dedication and lecture are free with RSVP; “History on Tap” is $30 per person. 2 p.m. Saturday. 1605 33rd Street, Galveston. For information, call 409-765-7834 or visit galvestonhistory.org. Free to $30. — Natalie de la Garza

Where can you celebrate African and African-American culture, sing along to “You’re the Only One” by Eric Benét, sit in on a panel of Black moguls, swing by a Health Village, and take the kids by a youth zone with Houston’s own Young Lyric (of The Rap Game fame), HBCU alumni bands and a step competition between local high schools? The Houston Black Heritage Fest Experience, that’s where. Returning for its third year, the one-day festival promises art, music (joining Benét on the bill are Tamia and Elle Varner), poetry, food and thousands of people. Not to mention with Benét and Tamia on the bill, there’s no way we’re not getting a duet of their 1999 Grammy-nominated hit single “Spend My Life with You,” right? Let’s keep our fingers crossed. 4 p.m. Saturday. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit houstonblackheritagefest.com. Free to $125. — Natalie de la Garza

Little more than a decade ago, Charlotte, North Carolina, was nearly torn apart by a production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Refused requests to censor the play led to threats of arrest, court injunctions and, eventually, a cut in funding to the arts, resulting in over $2 million lost. But it was hardly new; plays have been challenged from Aristophanes to Arthur Miller. And in honor of those works, the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund in conjunction with Queensbury and the Tribble School join forces for Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret, presented during Banned Books Week. Directed by John Feltch from a libretto written by John Weidman, president of the DLDF, the evening will feature selections from challenged works, including the aforementioned Angels in America, Rent, Chicago, Fun Home, Almost Maine and more. 7 p.m. Saturday. Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury. For information, call 713-467-4497 or visit queensburytheatre.org. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

October 1
Houston’s current team meets its former team, but bad blood isn’t the only draw for this Houston Texans-Tennessee Titans matchup at NRG Stadium. These teams are regarded as the two most likely to vie for the AFC South championship; Tennessee is even considered a dark-horse Super Bowl contender by some. Led by quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back DeMarco Murray, the Titans rely on a healthy mix of passing and running in one of the more balanced offenses in the league. The Texans, meanwhile, have turned to rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson to get the team’s offense on track. “The thing about DeShaun is he doesn’t get nervous…and I see that, so I don’t really concern myself too much about (inexperience),” said Texans head coach Bill O’Brien at his weekly press conference. Both teams look to make an early-season statement in a big division matchup. Noon Sunday, NRG Stadium, 1 NRG Parkway. For information, call 832-667-1400 or visit houstontexans.com. Tickets are technically sold out, but start at around $50 on a number of secondhand-ticket sites. — Clint Hale

October 2
One of the darkest tales from the Brothers Grimm features lost and hungry siblings abandoned by their parents who are captured by a wicked, cannibalistic witch. Hansel and Gretel was a favorite of librettist Adelheid Wette, who begged her brother Engelbert Humperdinck — the 19th-century German composer, not the panties magnet British pop star — to compose music for a fairy-tale opera. Now, as part of its nomadic Opera to Go! program, Houston Grand Opera is bringing all of the gingerbread goodness to Miller Outdoor Theatre with an adaptation by local playwright and librettist Kate Pogue. With big-name talent onstage, candy-colored set pieces and even an allergy-prone grandmother, this classic fable with a happy ending delivers the perfect bite-size opera for all ages at just 45 minutes in length. 11 a.m. Monday and October 3-4. 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

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