"Pablo Picasso: Buffon's Natural History -- Rare Proofs" In brief, this exhibit includes previously undisplayed animal representations by the great 20th-century Spanish artist, commissioned by publisher Ambroise Vollard in 1936 to accompany a reissue of the massive Natural History (Histoire Naturelle, generale et particuliere) by 18th-century French taxonomist George Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. The significance of the so-called "Buffon suite," created by Picasso after the style of master printer Roger Lacouriere, is that the pieces are presented in their original subtlety, in prints made previous to "steelfacing," part of the printing process. The installation opens with a reception from 6 to 9 tonight and continues through March 16 (see Thrills for more info). The Gerhard Wurzer Gallery, 1217 South Shepherd, 523-4300. Free.
The Pat Metheny Group See the story on page 75. Showtime is 8 p.m. Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas, 230-1600. $22.50-$37.50 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
"Witness: Endangered Species of North America" Produced by the California Academy of Sciences, the traveling exhibition of conservationist works by concerned camera-eye witnesses and CAS staffers Susan Middleton and David Liittschwager includes 50 color-dye-transfer prints and more than 100 black-and-white photos of some of America's most-threatened floras and faunas, including the bald eagle, the Florida panther, Heller's blazing star, the black-footed ferret, the thick-billed parrot and the Hawaiian monk seal. "Witness" opens today; viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit continues through June 14 (for more info, see Thrills). The Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive in Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $4, $2 for kids under 12 and members.
International Piano Festival This year's fest, the 18th annual, includes performances by IPF founder and University of Houston faculty member Abbey Simon, UH professor Horacio Gutierrez and guest artist Angela Cheng. The opening program, featuring Gutierrez in his local recital debut, includes Haydn's Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI:50, Schumann's Humoreske in B-flat Major, op. 20, George Ferie's "Phantasyplay" and Liszt's Sonata in b minor, S. 178. 7:30 p.m. (for info about the other performances, see Thrills). Moores Opera House, University of Houston entrance 16. $18; $10 for students and seniors (tix: 743-3167).
The Strange Demise of Jim Crow Subtitled How Houston Desegregated Its Public Accommodations, 19591963, director David Berman's documentary tells "the never-before-told [on film] story of how the city with the largest African-American community in the South" moved into the 20th century -- or, more to the point, was moved by a combination of protesting, behind-the-scenes power-brokering and pitched battles waged at Houston lunch counters, movie theaters and hotels. Jim Crow was scripted by journalist/author Tom Curtis, based on historian Thomas R. Cole's book No Color Is My Kind: The Life of Eldrewey Stearns and the Integretation of Houston. The screening concludes the "Local Spin: Independent Houston Filmmakers" series. 7:30 p.m. The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $5.
Kaddish Like The Strange Demise of Jim Crow, this 1997 film by Swiss filmmakers Beatrice Michel and Hans StYrm deals with the high human costs of racial politics and warfare, but it's about a very different sort of war in another place and time: Europe during Hitler's Holocaust. The movie's title, of course, refers to the prayer that Jewish mourners recite in memory of loved ones. Michel and Storm are scheduled to discuss the work following the screening, which continues the "Switzerland and World War II" series. 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University entrance 8 (off University Boulevard), 527-4853. Free.
Marian Barnes The author/performer is best known as an oral historian -- a collector and disseminator of African-American folk tales and traditional story poems. She relates some from her personal vault of memory in a program titled "Talk That Talk and Talk That Talk Some More." 3 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Road in Galveston, (800) 821-1894, (409) 765-1894. $10.
Houston Pan-Cultural Film Festival See the story on page 45. Today through February 15. Rice Media Center, Rice University entrance 8 (off University Boulevard), 527-4853; the Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300; Talento Bilingue de Houston, 2115 Runnels, 222-1213. More info: 527-9548. $6-$130.
Southern Culture on the Skids See Critic's Choice on page 80. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, 869-COOL.
The Only Thrill Diane Keaton, Sam Shepard, Diane Lane and Robert Patrick are the stars of the latest movie -- a love story -- by Houston-born director Peter Masterson (The Trip to Bountiful, Full Moon in Blue Water). Masterson and several unspecified cast members are scheduled to be on hand at tonight's world premiere, a fundraiser for the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP). The event, titled "21 Thrills & a Rose," also includes a tribute to the late Dominique de Menil, a SWAMP co-founder. A reception is slated for 6:30; the screening starts at 8. Angelika Film Center at Bayou Place, 510 Texas, CALL-AFC. $25 (advance tix: 522-8592).