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Catching Up With the Arts in Houston: A Lost Masterwork, the Irrepressible Tamarie Cooper & More

A forgotten film of note being aired by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Catastrophic Theatre's Tamarie Cooper's Quarantine Edition. A new participatory public arts project through the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.  While visual and performing arts venues are dealing carefully with the coronavirus, there is still plenty to see and do right now.

This week the Soul of a Nation series at MFAH features Cane River, a 1982 film by the late filmmaker Horace B. Jenkins that was shot in Louisiana and tells the story of a romance between a mixed race Creole man and an African-American woman whose skin is darker than his. Other differences such as religion — he is Roman Catholic and she Baptist — add to the challenges in this 90-minute film that was only recently rediscovered.

Actor and Co-Artistic Director for Catastrophic, Cooper brings her special brand of talent and humor to an online only summer series that begins streaming July 31. Tickets are now on sale and topics to be covered by Cooper and her fellow cast members include "John Hughes movies, talking cereal boxes, insufferable cabaret performers, actual dogs, conspiracy theorists, God, profanity, iPhone Man, isolation, sparkly hats and jazz hands," according to the website.

4th Wall Theatre Co. is continuing its interview series Beyond the 4th Wall whose segments are broadcast live on Zoom on Wednesday nights and then posted to the theater company's Facebook and YouTube pages the next day. This week: NYC-based writer, director, actor, and musician K. Lorrel Manning who has directed more than 30 productions off-Broadway. Upcoming guest artists are scheduled for July 29 and August 5 and 12 at 8 p.m. with Zoom registration.

Artist Ekene Ijeoma is ready to listen.
Artist Ekene Ijeoma is ready to listen.
Photo by Kris Graves

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is launching what it calls a participatory public art project. Ekene Ijeoma: A Counting. Ijeoma has been commissioned to conduct it — to capture the "voice portraits" in major U.S. cities. Ijeoma, who was born in Texas and has been New York and Boston-based, is the founder of the Poetic Justice group at MIT Media Lab.

According to the announcement from CAMH:

Conceived as an ongoing series, the generative sound and video work will ultimately feature voices of Houstonians counting to 100 in their native languages, with a different voice speaking each number in a unique language and with the number 1 spoken in an indigenous language. The Houston edition of A Counting will also include a separately editioned time-lapse video featuring participants of the first 100 days from the project’s launch, which will document the evolution of the work as more voices and languages are submitted during this period.


The Houston edition of A Counting can be accessed by visiting camh.org/beyond or by calling 281-248-8730.

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A spot of hope for local struggling artists: The National Red Bull Arts Microgrant Program has expanded to 20 cities including Houston. Apply on their website for the chance to win one of two $1,000 microgrants per city per month.

And for more program details from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston:

The Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus, which includes The Audrey Jones Beck Building (5601 Main Street), The Caroline Wiess Law Building (1001 Bissonnet Street), The Glassell School of Art (5101 Montrose Boulevard), The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza (5101 Montrose Boulevard), BBVA Compass Roof Garden (5101 Montrose Boulevard), and Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden (Montrose Boulevard at Bissonnet Street). House museums nearby include Rienzi (1406 Kirby Drive) and Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens (6003 Memorial Drive).

The Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street.

Exhibitions on view: Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power through August 30, 2020; Francis Bacon: Late Paintings through August 16, 2020; Through An African Lens: Sub-Saharan Photography from the Museum’s Collection through November 8, 2020; Sarah Charlesworth: Arc of Total Eclipse, February 26, 1979 through November 29, 2020; Spanish Colonial Paintings from the Thoma Collection through December 27, 2020; Eye on Houston: High School Documentary Photography through January 3, 2021.

The Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet Street.

Exhibitions on view: Glory of Spain: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library through January 21, 2021; Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection through July 5, 2020; Proof of Concept: Artistic Process in Contemporary Printmaking Selections from the Museum’s Collection through November 15, 2020; and Arts of Islamic Lands: Selections from The al-Sabah Collection Kuwait through December 27, 2020.

Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts, 1406 Kirby Drive.
Exhibition on view: Hats Off: Halston Hats from the Masterson Collection through January 3, 2021.

MFAHatHome Virtual Experience

Curated digital content about the Museum’s art collections and selected exhibitions, film screenings, art-making activities, recorded lectures, artist’s talks, and more available on social media, MFAH email subscription, and mfah.org/virtualexperience.

Virtual Zumba (Sunday, July 26, 11 a.m. on Facebook Live): Followers can participate in a free, virtual Zumba class led by Yuri Amor Perez from FiTMiX Communities.

Black Art through the Lens: “Soul of a Nation” Virtual Panel Discussion (Saturday, July 25, 3 p.m.): Artists Dawoud Bey, Adger Cowans, and Ming Smith talk about the exhibition, and how photographers have sought to represent Black communities in honest, multifaceted ways to counter stereotyped representations. The discussion is moderated by New York University professor Deborah Willis. Virtual discussion is available online.

Virtual Camp at Bayou Bend (July 27-31): Drawing from its vast collection of early Americana, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, the MFAH house museum for American decorative arts, is hosting a week of virtual summer camp curriculum for little artists, historians, and scholars at home. Register online.

Glassell School of Art Junior School Virtual Classes (Weekly through August 14): From ceramics, to cartooning, to architecture and beyond, the Glassell School of Art Junior School offers a diverse range of fun, live-streamed classes led by Junior School instructors for ages 4-18. Classes are $125 each. Register online.

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” Virtual Programs: A dynamic lineup of virtual programs brings you premier access to curators, artists, and community leaders as they discuss the landmark exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.

Now Streaming: MFAH Virtual Cinema
Weekly virtual film screenings available online.

“Soul of a Nation” Film Series: Cane River (Through August 30): Crafted by an entirely Black cast and crew, this recently rediscovered masterwork by Horace B. Jenkins is a racially charged love story set in rural Louisiana. On Tuesday, July 28, at 7 p.m., join Sacha Jenkins, the director’s son, for a livestream conversation with Houston music icon Bun B on the Houston Cinema Arts Society website. Film is $12 and provides access to film for three days. Streaming available online.

“Soul of a Nation” Film Series: Killer of Sheep (July 15-August 30): Focusing on the everyday life of working-class Black families, 1978’s Killer of Sheep follows Stan (Houston-born Henry Gayle Sanders), a sensitive dreamer exhausted by his job. This film is one of the first 50 films selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Film is $4.99 and provides access to film for three days. Streaming available online.

“Soul of a Nation” Film Series: John Lewis: Good Trouble (July 8-August 30): Declared “essential viewing” by Forbes, this new film chronicles the Georgia congressman’s more than 60 years of social activism and legislative action on voting rights, gun control, health-care reform, and immigration. Film is $12 and provides access to film for three days. Streaming available online.

“Soul of a Nation” Film Series: Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things (July 1-August 30): Trace the life and career of Ella Fitzgerald over six decades in this musical documentary. Just One of Those Things showcases her commitment to the Civil Rights battle, her musical innovations, and more. Film is $10 and provides access to film for three days. Streaming available online.

Armchair Travel “Exhibition on Screen” Summer 2020: Embark on a virtual trip to top museums and famed locations around the world. This immersive series allows viewers to tour major exhibitions, go behind the scenes, and see revealing biographies of the artists—from the comfort of their very own armchair. All films are $12 (or $10 with an MFAH discount code) and available through September 30. Full lineup and streaming links available online. 

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