Free for All: Art Without a Price Tag

Houston gets a visit from architect Hermes Mallea who is dropping by Brazos Bookstore on Friday to sign his book Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style. The book features wonderful photographs of some of the most beautiful homes in Havana. One shows a courtyard, glowing in the evening light, two tiers of arches surrounding the formal garden at its center. Another shows an elegant pool house, a statue of Aphrodite stands in a lattice niche. Thick wooden beams span the ceiling while bronze lanterns hang over the pool. In another photo we see a front hall of a home designed by Carrère & Hastings. The classical Beaux-Arts design is done in a precious light pink, making the whole thing seem like an enormous cupcake.

Meet Hermes Mallea when he discusses and signs Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style today at 5:30 p.m. at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, visit or call 713-523-0701. Free.

Also on Friday is the Mayor's 2011 Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting. Two-time Grammy Award winner Diane Schuur and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard join the Mayor for the celebration.

The fun starts at 6 p.m. City Hall, 901 Bagby. For information, visit or call 832-393-0868. Free.

On Saturday, there's another holiday related event, Heights Mistletoe Madness 2011. Area businesses join in with local organizations, musicians, artists and residents to put on an "Eat, Drink, Shop & Be Merry" market. Participating shops are scattered throughout the area, so be smart and get a map from the event web site. There's a shuttle to take you from spot to spot, but you can cover most of the shops on foot. Most stops feature live entertainment or shopping specials.

Among the participating shops is the always colorful Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery (241 West 19th, 713-880-2420,, offering Mexican folkart and gifts by local artists. Just down the street from the gallery is Carter & Cooley Deli & Historical Photo Gallery (375 W. 19th St., 713.864.3354, Housed in a 1920s drug store, the deli is the perfect place to eat (we suggest the Mufaletta) and look over some historic photos of the Heights area. Dozens more businesses and organizations are also participating.

The Madness starts at 11 a.m. and ends through 6 p.m. Houston Heights. For information, visit Free.

On Sunday, we suggest the Sixth Annual Joseph Priestly Lecture Series: Science at the Solstice - David Eagleman, at First Unitarian Universalist Church. Eagleman, who'll be discussing Neuroscience and the Future of Justice, is a local star - after all, he's the founder and director of Baylor College of Medicine's initiative on Neuroscience and Law, New York Times best-selling author and a Guggenheim Fellow. His work on the intersection of law and neuroscience has had real impact on the way we view criminal behavior, criminals, punishment and rehabilitation. It's fascinating stuff. Is there such a thing as free will? Can we really blame someone for a crime if "his brain made him do it"? And if two people commit the same exact crime, should they sometimes be given different punishment because their brains work in different ways?

See David Eagleman at 2 p.m. 5200 Fannin. For information, visit or call 832-771-8618. Free.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez