Making the Art Dance! You may never get another chance to see such a performance. Tonight, the paintings from the MFA's current show, American Images: The SBC Collection of 20th-Century American Art, come to life. The Core Performance Company, the professional company within Several Dancers Core, dances the images right off the canvases and onto the stage of the Brown Auditorium in two short dance performances. 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., The Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. Free.
Contemporary Handweavers of Houston Annual Sale Yeah, we've all heard of Rapunzel and Penelope, but do real people spin and weave anymore? You bet they do, and this weekend they want to show off the fruits of their labor. Buy or just browse through the hand-crafted rugs, linens and fabrics created by local artisans, and watch spinning and weaving demonstrations. Your newfound know-how might come in handy if some strange little man starts hanging around your doorstep. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., The Log House, 1510 N. McGregor Way, 522-0396. Free.
Nutcracker Market It started as a tiny little church bazaar; now it nets over a million dollars in four days. And the Houston Ballet couldn't be happier, since it benefits from this Astrohall-sized holiday gift shop. Buy food, clothing and chachkas that you can't find anywhere else. And keep our lovely ballerinas employed. 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m., The Astrohall, 8400 Kirby, 523-6300. $7; free, children under 5.
The Platters With such all-time favorites as "Only You," "The Great Pretender" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," the Platters have to rank as one of the most beboppy romantic groups in the history of pop. The harmonies that the group's four men and one woman generate are as smooth as any in the last 40 years. 7:30 p.m., The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Rd., Galveston, (409) 765-1894. $11$23. (A pre-performance barbecue starts at 6 p.m.; dinner/performance combination tickets are $45.)
Good Housekeeping What's a middle-aged housewife with two teen daughters, a successful husband and a maid to do when she feels her family no longer needs her? Be horribly bored or create mayhem. Perhaps because boredom's not all that interesting on-stage, mayhem rules in this show about a 1940s family that argues, frets and feels as generally conflicted as we do today. Opens tonight at 7:30 p.m.; runs through December 14. (See Thrills, Theater for other showtimes.) Main Street Theater, 2540 Times, 524-6706. $12$17.
To the absent friend What would you do if your good friend and mentor were hospitalized for more than a year with a dreadful disease? Would you write him a letter? Draw him a funny picture? What about ten pictures? What about making a drawing every day during his entire hospital stay? That's exactly what artist Charles Howard did when Douglas MacAgy, a curator, museum director and Howard's mentor, was hospitalized with tuberculosis. These letter-sized drawings, on view through Dec. 21, are alternately humorous, ribald and touching, and provide an intimate glimpse into Howard and MacAgy's friendship and the artist's singular psyche. Preview reception 6-8 p.m., Rice University Art Gallery, in Sewall Hall, entrance no. 2 off Main, 527-6069. Free.
Roomful of Blues Roomful of Blues have been called "the most danceable swinging blues band on the planet." They've been around for over 20 years and their "little big band" sound, complete with horns and rich baritone voices, has all the grownup punch it needs to prove that some things improve with age. 9 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Ave., 869-8427. $22.
Warner Bros. Presents: That's Art, Folks There's an art to the way cartoon characters chop, blast, cook, kick, smack and otherwise abuse each other -- or at least there's an art market for the film cels in which they do it. Today Merrie Lasky, an archivist for Warner Bros., and Susan Barrios, a cel painter, reveal how cartoons are born as pencil drawings and mature into film. Their demonstration will include classic cartoon art from Looney Tunes, plus new stuff from the likes of Batman: The Animated Series. 1-5 p.m., Fine Toon Cartoon Art Gallery, 2427 Bissonnet, 522-6499. Free.
Opera for the masses For many of us, the opera is just too, too expensive and highbrow to enjoy. But Hansel and Gretel, Houston Grand Opera's latest production, is based on a fairy tale. And the familiar story is both easy to follow and full of grand blood and guts. The setting, designed by children's author Maurice Sendak, is charming, and the dark story of two kids who get kicked out of their home is weirdly current. But best of all, tonight you can see the performance for free. On a 22-by-30-foot screen mounted on the front of the Wortham Center, HGO will simulcast the final performance to anyone willing to brave the elements. Bring a cooler and a blanket or lawn chair. If you show up early, your kids can be part of a sidewalk drawing contest, or you can snag a seat on the bleachers. 6:30 p.m., pre-opera hoopla; 7:30 p.m., showtime. Fish Plaza, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas, 546-0200. Free.