The first week of November is finally upon us, but don’t look toward Thanksgiving just yet. There’s still plenty to do this week, including a Día de los Muertos concert, a ballet based on a popular Japanese folktale and a fine art and craft festival at Discovery Green. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and eight of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
The Unabashedly Beautiful Prints of Helen Frankenthaler
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
6:30 p.m. Thursday, free
For 20 years, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has hosted the Virginia and Ira Jackson Lecture, and this year the topic is Helen Frankenthaler, with Suzanne Boorsch, the Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings at Yale University Art Gallery, as the speaker. Frankenthaler famously invented a soak-stain technique, which involved staining pigment into raw canvas, for her 1952 painting, “Mountains and Seas.” The technique helped shape the art scene in the mid-20th century and inspired countless Color Field artists who followed, but Boorsch will focus on her achievements as a printmaker, which she argues are of equal, if not greater, importance.
Dia de los Muertos
7:30 p.m. Thursday, $10
Terra Nostra Ensemble opens its second season and continues its mission to bring the music of Latin-American and Iberian composers to Houston audiences with Día de los Muertos, a concert featuring Mexico-based, two-time Latin Grammy nominee Gabriela Ortiz’s “Altar de Muertos.” The piece, commissioned by Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington for string quartet, incorporates extra-musical elements and is separated into four movements, each referencing global concepts of death and death practices, including Ofrenda (offering), Mictlan (the place of the dead), Danza Macabra and La Calaca (the skeleton), which will add some of the humor typical of Day of the Dead celebrations.
Miller Outdoor Theatre
7:30 p.m. Thursday, free
Long ago, a crane fell in love with a man who freed her from a hunter’s trap. She transformed into a woman in order to marry him, and then wove fabric from her own feathers to guarantee his prosperity. But her selflessness took a physical toll, and the man realized her true identity. “The Crane Wife,” a popular Japanese folktale, doesn’t have a happy ending, but the Asia Society Texas Center-commissioned ballet Tsuru, created in partnership with the Houston Ballet, is a beautiful retelling. Led by co-creator and former Houston Ballet soloist Nao Kusuzaki, who recently retired after 12 years with the company, Tsuru promises to be a theatrical, elegant and sonically pleasing work of contemporary dance choreography, with music from multiple sources, including Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Divine Order
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
7 p.m. Friday, $7 to $9
In 1971, as Three Dog Night ruled the airwaves and A Clockwork Orange was redefining our relationship to "Singin' in the Rain," women in Switzerland were still fighting for the right to vote. Petra Volpe's film, The Divine Order, looks at a small-town woman unexpectedly swept up in the fight for equality. The New York Times says that Volpe's film has a "timely edge," because it shows how "[c]ollective silence, whether it’s from women unwilling to publicly press for their rights or men afraid to voice agreement with their wives for fear of looking weak around co-workers, proves more of an obstacle than any opponent." The Divine Order also screens at 2 p.m. November 4 and 5 p.m. November 5.
Breaking Through Boundaries / Beethoven for All: Axiom String Quartet
Cullen Hall, University of St. Thomas
7:30 p.m. Saturday, free
Da Camera celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and throughout the season it will present Beethoven's complete string quartet cycle in a series of free concerts around the city. Axiom String Quartet will join in the "Beethoven for All" fun when it performs Beethoven’s String Quartet in F. Major, Op 59 No. 1. during its upcoming concert, Breaking Through Boundaries. But not only will you get Beethoven’s first "Razumovsky," Axiom String Quartet will also perform Philip Glass's String Quartet No.5 and an arrangement of pop songs, including “Fame” by David Bowie, “High Hopes” by Pink Floyd and “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.
Art @ Discovery Green
10 a.m. Sunday, free
Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom, better known as The Color Condition, the duo behind the works of Arcade, the colorful streamer sculptures that adorn Avenida Houston, headline the second year of Art @ Discovery Green. The fine art and contemporary craft festival will feature more than 75 artists, a beer garden, live music and crafts courtesy of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Though the festival opens Saturday, and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., our bet is on Sunday, when the artists of The Color Condition lead a free streamer stick workshop from 2 to 4 p.m.
It Devours! A Welcome to Night Vale Novel book signing
Murder by the Book
6:30 p.m. Monday, free
It’s worth noting when the folks behind the most popular podcast in the world come to town, as Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are doing Monday to promote their second novel in the Welcome to Night Vale universe, It Devours! A Welcome to Night Vale Novel. In this installment, scientist Nilanjana Sikdar is given a secret assignment – investigate a mysterious rumbling in the desert. There, Nilanjana meets a member of the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God and, needless to say, they seem like they’re involved. When Fink and Cranor swing by Murder by the Book, they’ll join in conversation with Houston-based writer William Dylan Powell.
7 p.m. Monday, free
Karen Stokes has been choreographing original dance works since 1988 and, since 1998, she’s been busy creating, with eight evening-length works and more than 35 short program works on her résumé, while also expanding and incorporating video projection and site projects. Karen Stokes Dance will celebrate its 20th anniversary – that’s 20 years of original dance works – on November 10 and 11 with X20, a look back that includes former company members and the premiere of a new work, “Mapping & Glaciers.” But before that, join Stokes for a discussion about her own work as a choreographer and the role of arts in today’s society Monday night at The MATCH.
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8 p.m. Monday, free
November brings with it a new movie series at Axelrad; this month’s theme is “H-Town Proud,” and the first entry is Wes Anderson’s 1998 dramedy Rushmore. The film, about a high schooler on the verge of expulsion and the kooky rivalry he finds himself in for the affections of an older woman, stars Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray (turning in a performance Peter Travers called “indisputably great”) and was shot right here in Houston, with Anderson’s alma mater, St. John’s School, standing in for the titular academy. Travers added that “Rushmore manages to pay tribute to movies as diverse as The Graduate and Apocalypse Now and still brim over with the pleasures of the unexpected.” Axelrad’s series continues through November with screenings of Urban Cowboy, Reality Bites and Brewster McCloud.
The Old 97s with The Seratones
6 p.m. Wednesday, free
The Old 97s, “who over the past two decades have refined and perfected a radio-friendly alt-country sound that never actually gets played on the radio,” are edging ever closer to their quarter-century anniversary, which means only one thing: They have a lot of material to choose from when they play Party On the Plaza on Wednesday night, including from their latest album, this year’s well-received Graveyard Whistling. Joining The Old 97s are the Seratones, a four-piece from Louisiana whom Rolling Stone named one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” in April 2016, calling their sound “[a] fitful collision of punk, soul and jazz echoing out of a shed strewn with whiskey bottles.”