Two thousand twelve has been a great year for Houston art. From theater to dance to visual arts, Houston has seen its fair share of brilliant artistic moments. As this is the time of year when everyone and their mom likes to put out their art and culture "best of" list, Art Attack decided to jump on board and share what we think were some of the year's best art and cultural highlights.
Olivia Flores Alvarez The Houston Ballet's Jubilee
The Houston Ballet's Jubilee with Amy Fote's retirement:
It was an emotional good-bye for Houston Ballet's principal dancer, Amy Fote, during the company's Jubilee of Dance: A Tribute to Amy Fote. The three-act Jubilee included Fote in a pas de deux from Marie, as well as excerpts from Manon and Merry Widow. Throughout the evening, Fote proved over and over that she didn't need big, dramatic movements or showy tricks to captivate her audience; her dancing is about more than endless pirouettes or gravity-defying leaps. She embodies her characters, revealing them through the subtle nuances of her performance.
Meredith Deliso Asia Society Texas Opening
Asia Society Texas's opening this past spring was a big deal -- major money, major architect and major attention for the Museum District. It's a stunning space.
Richard Serra at the Menil
"Richard Serra Drawing" at Menil was one of the space's biggest shows this year. It marked the first retrospective of the artist's drawings and was organized by museum curators, traveling to the MoMA and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art before opening here in March to much acclaim. It also featured two wall drawings commissioned by the Menil, not seen in the previous shows and a real treat for Houston audiences.
Twilight Epiphany James Turrell created his second sky space in Houston at Rice University, called "Twilight Epiphany." It's a major get for the city, given the artist's renown. It also is quickly becoming one of those places you must bring your friends when they visit.
Byzantine Fresco Chapel at the Menil
The frescoes leaving the Byzantine Fresco Chapel in March was a big moment. They were a beloved part of the Menil campus and scores of people came out to see them before they went back to Cyprus. What becomes of the chapel now remains to be seen.
Francisco Montes The Menil's 25th Anniversary with Philip Glass
The Philip Glass performance marked the end of the Menil's 25th Birthday celebration and it was a fantastic way to end it. Philip Glass is a world-renowned pianist, and the Menil was honored to have him not only perform, but premier a commissioned Etude (17) at the performance. It was an intimate performance and we were asked to limit photography. This special performance would just remain a memory for the audience. This made the entire experience that much more memorable.
"Soldier, At Ease," at the Houston Center for Photography
"Soldier, At Ease," at the Houston Center for Photography, the collection of three bodies of work by photojournalists Tim Hetherington, Louie Palu and Erin Trieb. Each of the artists has captured rare moments where soldiers aren't acting like soldiers but rather like human beings.
Zine Fest 2012
Zine Fest 2012 was a great highlight to this year's cultural lineup. Despite technology basically eliminating the need to create zines through the rudimentary process of literally cutting and pasting creative work, drawings, writings and ramblings onto a sheet of paper and then running off copies, zines are still happening. Proof of the rebirth (if it ever died) of the zine was out for all to see during Zine Fest 2012.
The First Houston Arts Resource Fair The inaugural Houston Arts Resource Fair happened this year! The Arts Resource Fair came together due to a consortium of Houston-based arts organizations including Dance Source Houston, DiverseWorks, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Theatre Alliance, Spacetaker/Fresh Arts, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) and Texas Accountants & Lawyers for the Arts. As this was the fair's first year, anticipation was high, as was the community's response.
Jim Tommaney Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson from Generations Theatre made all other theatrical presentations look old-fashioned. Director George Brock blended riveting performances -- especially Kregg Dailey in the title role -- spectacuar lighting, dramatic costuming and an exciting set with powerful rock music and an irreverent script that took no prisoners. An entertainment feast that will linger long in memory.
Very old-fashioned was Arthur Miller's The Crucible, at UH, set in the 17th century Salem witch trials, guest-directed by the brilliant Gus Kaikkonen, with Benjamin Reed capturing the dilemma of an ordinary man, John Proctor, facing impossible decisions. Kaikkonen found the moral compass to make the audience share in the suffering of Proctor, providing a breathtakingly powerful emotional experience.
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Adam Castañeda Big Range Dance Festival
The tenth anniversary of Big Range Dance Festival will most certainly be remembered for its hallmark piece, Afternono, a site-specific work choreographed by Suchu Artistic Director Jennifer Wood. The dance is set inside the West Oaks Art House, a space that was previously a J. C. Penney department store. Site-specific works are a postmodern development that rejects the limitations of the proscenium stage for an experience that is more organic for the audience. Onlookers did not merely sit and watch; instead, they inhabited the space of the dancers, thereby becoming a part of the performance itself.
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater's Uzume
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater presented the world premiere of Uzume, a collaboration with Asia Society Texas Center that showcased the talents of taiko master Kensaku Satou and DWDT staples Domenico Luciano and Hana Sakai. Even if the particulars of the Uzume myth are forgotten, the performances of Luciano, Sakai and Satou will not be. Uzume is like every other Dominic Walsh production: not just a dance concert, but an experience to be cherished forever.