It's a Wonderful Life and New Video from China">

Free for All: "Flying Solo," It's a Wonderful Life and New Video from China

Panoramic photographer, and former Best Photographer winner in Houston Press Best of awards 2011, Chuy Benitez had a "right place/right time" moment when he stumbled onto an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City recently. As police unexpectedly began to arrest and remove the peaceful protestors, Benitez looked for a way to get above the crowd and get some shots. Three of those shots are included in "Flying Solo," the new exhibit at Art League Houston, our recommendation for Friday.

See our 100 Creatives 2012 profile of Chuy Benitez.

Curated by Jennie Ash, the show includes works in various mediums by seven up-and-coming artists. Ann Wood serves up a bloody taxidermic pig installation while Daniel Anguilu contributes his characteristically bold and colorful graffiti-like paintings (including one that covers the building's entrance). The show's title refers to the fact that while noteworthy emerging artists, none of the seven are represented by galleries. At the same time, none of these popular and accomplished local artists are flying under the radar.

See "Flying Solo" 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through January 4. 1953 Montrose. For information, visit the Art League's website or call 713-523-9530.

The Christmas retail season has been in high gear since late August and we've been adamantly refusing to even acknowledge it, but Saturday is the first day of December, so we've got to admit, yes, Christmas is officially on the way. Our friends at Alamo Drafthouse are opening up a new Vintage Park location soon but in the meantime, they're presenting an outdoor screening of It's a Wonderful Life. (You can look for Elf a little later in the month.) Considered at the time a box-office flop, Wonderful Life didn't win any Oscars, even though it was nominated for five. But it went on to win legions of fans that count on the story of a down-and-out George Bailey (James Stewart) helped along by his guardian angel (Henry Travers) on Christmas Eve as part of their annual holiday celebration.

See Frank Capra's 1946 classic under the stars at 7 p.m. at 110 Vintage Park Boulevard. For information, visit the Alamo Drafthouse website.

On Sunday, you'll be able to see the second of three components of the ''Perspectives 180 -- Unfinished Country: New Video from China.'' That's because while much of the work is on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (projections, sculpture and installations by 11 emerging artists), a separate component of the exhibition is the two-part screening of several shorts at Asia Society Texas Center scheduled for this Sunday and later in January. The screening features work from artists Cheng Ran, Chen Xiaoyun, Wang Qingsong, Yang Fudong, Yu Ying, Zhai Chenglei, and Zhang Ding, among others. No piece is repeated, so to see everything, you have to attend the exhibit and both screenings.

James Elaine, an independent curator who has lived and worked in China since 2008, is the guest curator for ''Unfinished Country,'' a title that comes from a video of the same name by Yu Ying. That work is based on an unfinished painting from China's Cultural Revolution era. Via press materials, Elaine says, ''I borrowed his title intending it to portray contemporary China in a broader sense -- the country is in transition in every respect. 'Unfinished Country' provides us a small window through which to view what is going on in the minds and lives of these artists and to look at the ancient country of China as it rises to a new position in the twenty-first century.''

See Unfinished Country: New Video from China at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore. For information, visit the center's website or call 713-439-0051.

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