Free for All: Jane Alexander, Raul Gonzalez, Asia Society, Lou Berney and Baby Jesus

Two art exhibits open on Friday, the much-anticipated "Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope)" at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and "Raul Gonzalez: Farewell Show" at the Jack Meier Gallery.

In her work, Johannesburg-born Alexander creates sculptures, installations and photomontages. She often constructs intriguing hybrid human/animal figures and places them in unexpected settings. African Adventure, for example, includes several strange creatures. There's one with a bird's head (complete with long, curved beak) and long legs, with human genitals and body (sans arms), walking along a patch of dirt strewn with toy trucks and sickles. In Frontier with Ghost, we see a pale creature with a deer-like head and a human neck and torso standing amid rows of chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

There's an opening reception for "Jane Alexander" 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. The exhibit runs through November 4. For information, visit the museum's website or call 713-284-8250.


Also opening on Friday is "Raul Gonzalez: Farewell Show." Gonzalez is leaving Houston to begin fine art graduate studies in San Antonio. The Houston-born painter and mixed-media master has created works here since 2007, and he's a founder of the artist collective The Montrose Art Society. Before he goes, he's having one last solo exhibit, "Raul Gonzalez: Farewell Show." On display will be new installations and work he's completed over the last several years.

Gonzalez's work is often based on photographs taken around town. The music scene has been of particular interest. The exhibit will include works such as his portrait of the Reckless Ones, featuring a drummer with the iconic Fitzgerald's sign dominating the background. Don't miss your last chance to see what Gonzalez did during his time in Houston.

There's an opening reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday at the Jack Meier Gallery, 2310 Bissonnet. Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The exhibit runs through August 15. For information, visit the gallery's website or call 713-526-2983.

The latest addition to the Museum District, Asia Society Texas Center, opened last fall to great acclaim for its sleek, contemporary design by Japan-born architect Yoshio Taniguchi. (Taniguchi is well known for his expansion and renovation of New York's Museum of Modern Art; the center is first freestanding building in the United States.) Constructed with a combination of wood, stone and glass, the center includes a theater, two art galleries, a cafe, education center, water garden and water garden terrace. This Saturday, the center presents a guided architecture tour of the building. It's a chance to get an up-close look at Taniguchi's stunning design.

The guided tour starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore. For information, visit the center's website or call 713-496-9901.

We aren't usually in the business of giving life advice, but we can't help ourselves on this one: Don't borrow money from a thug named Baby Jesus. It won't end well. Our advice is too late for Charles "Shake" Bouchon, the main character in Lou Berney's novel Whiplash River. Berney stops by Murder by the Book on Sunday to discuss and sign copies of Whiplash, which chronicles Shake's adventures in Belize, where he owns a restaurant. He already owes the colorfully named crime lord big money when he prevents an elderly customer named Quinn from being murdered by Baby Jesus's goons. With two strikes against him, Shake becomes Baby Jesus's next target. His restaurant is torched and he's forced to go on the run. But trying to stay alive becomes exceedingly difficult with several thugs, two assassins and an FBI agent on his trail. Shake's only hope? Quinn.

We like novelist Berney; he's a talented and versatile writer. Not only does he have several feature film screenplays and television pilots to his credit, his short fiction has run in The New Yorker, Ploughshares and the Pushcart Prize anthology. His bio lists him as "an accomplished writer, teacher and liar."

Berney appears with fellow novelist Sean Chercover, who will be discussing and signing his new book, The Trinity Game, the story of Daniel Byrne, a Vatican agent sent to investigate a television evangelist's claims of a miracle. The trouble is that the supposed miracle-worker is Byrne's long lost uncle, a confirmed con man and swindler.

See Berney and Chercover on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, visit the bookstore's website or call 713-524-8597.

Jef with One F contributed to this post.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez