Art Attack Has Some Thanks to Hand Out This Turkey Day

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Several of our writers in Art Attack wanted to say thanks about things in the Houston arts community that are special to them. Feel free to add any ones of your own.

Jef With One F More than anything, I'm thankful for all the local artists I've met through the 100 Creatives column. I had no idea that Houston held such an eclectic and amazing group of people out there breaking every rule and turning in spectacular work. The more I become involved in covering the art scene the more I realize that this city is home to geniuses and benevolent madmen, and I am proud to know their names and sample their wares. Abby Koenig Start at the CAMH to find some of the biggest names on the contemporary art scene, head down to UST's Jone's Hall to catch a play, then find yourself at Wade Wilson Art for a swanky private opening of an artist you've never heard of, snap a picture of the current performance installation going on at the Photobooth, then meander over to the Art League Houston, for a much less swanky opening of an artist you want to hear all about because they inspire you to pick up some colored pencils at Texas Art Supply. You haven't even left Montrose Boulevard. Go Houston!

Meredith DeLiso Free to low-cost admission Go to New York, and you'll be coughing up 25 bucks to see the offerings at the MoMA. The Museum of Fine Arts, by comparison, is a measly $7. And most other museums and arts centers in this city are free. All the time. As if that's not enough, there's even a museum day every fall where arts institutions open their doors free of charge.

Saint Arnold's ubiquity Every Houston art event, large or small, you can pretty much count on Saint Arnold's to be there. Forget free wine -- the beer from this hometown brewery is the big draw at these openings and benefits. The generous folks behind St. Arnold's even host their own fundraiser every year for the Orange Show -- the uber-fun "Foam Raiser" -- coming up on December 2. What's not to love?

Not even a renovation can stop the Blaffer When the Blaffer Art Museum closed its doors for a $2 million renovation in July, that wasn't the last you heard from the pioneering space. Since, the museum's had a presence at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, lectures at the University of Houston, and, even, exhibitions, as the museum took over a window display downtown on Milam with "Window Into Houston." We'll be even more thankful once the space reopens this spring for more adventurous programming.

Margaret Downing I am thankful for all the arts in Houston, the street graffitti art that makes us a special city, the artists' lofts, the ballet, the symphony. Closest to my heart: the theater scene in all its iterations both big and small, and the Houston Grand Opera. I appreciate all the efforts they make to bring the arts to students with specially-priced tickets and by taking their programs to schools throughout the area -- dispelling the notion that theater and opera are elitist. I am amazed by their energy, determination and creativity.

Christina Uticone What I am most thankful for in the Houston arts scene is the diversity. Having never lived in a *big city* before, I love that I can hear all kinds of music, see all kinds of stage productions and dance companies, and experience both major art exhibitions and smaller, more alternative arts. I'm also thankful that I live in the museum district, and can take advantage of so much of what Houston has to offer seven days a week.

Olivia Alvarez Some families go around the dinner table on Thanksgiving and have everyone say why they're thankful. My family just eats. It's not that we're not grateful, we're just hungry. But, if, by some miracle, we did remember to pause and go through everything we're grateful for, the Houston arts companies that have free performances or free admission days would be at the top of my list. Some of the city's largest arts organizations including the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and Houston Grand Opera, give free performances in Miller Outdoor Theatre every summer. Other groups, like Da Camera, have free programs throughout the season. Some, like DiverseWorks and Mildred's Umbrella, include a pay-what-you-can option for certain performances.

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Menil Collection and Holocaust Museum Houston are always free; other organizations like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Natural Science Museum of Houston and the Children's Museum Houston have regular free admission hours built into their weekly schedule. (Children's Museum Houston, like many others, also gives away free passes so families can visit whenever they like.)

Everyone is struggling this year, especially arts groups that are chasing dwindling public and non-profit funds so it would be easy to say, "No more freebies!" But local arts organizations are dedicated to reaching all of Houston's audiences, even the ones that can't pay for a ticket.

So, thank you to all the groups that would rather lose the price of a ticket than lose out on touching someone's life. It's nice to know that culture can still be free.

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