Press Picks

february 1
Hare Attitudes One of the great things about art is that, in the hands of a thoughtful and skilled artist, anything can be a provocative topic. If you doubt that assertion, you need look no further than Nayland Blake's current show at the CAM, which uses the rabbit in all its many aspects -- from Easter candy to Bugs Bunny to the phrase "they breed like rabbits" -- as its theme. "Nayland Blake," says exhibition curator Lynn M. Herbert, "is a thought-provoking conceptual artist who, with deceptively simple means, explores complex and multilayered contemporary issues." The "simple means" she refers to are rabbit costumes and kids' toys, and the issues discussed are gay and racial. Sure, anyone can get complex racial issues from Brer Rabbit and Uncle Wiggily, but Blake's study of the hare goes all the way back to Renaissance iconography. Blake will talk about his disarmingly witty and revealing show at a gallery talk followed by a reception. As part of the show, Blake's 30-minute video Negative Bunny will be shown continuously. The show continues through February 25. Talk, 6:30; reception, 7-9 p.m. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, 526-0773.

David Burgess Can't get the soundtrack for Desperado out of your head? Hungry for the intricate, furious sound of Latin guitar? Well, then, this concert is for you. David Burgess studied with Andres Segovia, won many prizes at international competitions and now comes to Houston playing Spanish music. The program for Burgess' concert includes "Two Pieces" by Isaac Albeniz, "Three Pieces" by Joaquin Turina, "Intermezzo from Goyescas" by Enrique Granados and "Un Tiempo Fue Italica Famosa" by Joaquin Rodrigo. Music that Burgess learned while traveling through South America will also be presented -- tangos and sambas and melodies of the Incas. 8 p.m. Houston Baptist University, Mabee Theater, 7502 Fondren, 995-3338. $5; free, seniors and students with ID.

Caroline Rhea Possibly because she's Canadian, Caroline Rhea is a unique comedienne. While cable comedy shows are beset with herds of women who either dress for MTV and cling desperately to arch, tres hip aptitudes or are just grown-up bratty girls bitching about men, Rhea simply says funny stuff and is herself. She's a nice WASP girl who looks at her nice WASP girl life, and television and society, with an eye for contradictions and conundrums. She's done all the comedy shows and, briefly, had a sitcom, Pride and Joy, on NBC. Her Houston debut began Wednesday, and she'll be here through February 4. 8 p.m. nightly; 10:30 p.m. late shows Friday and Saturday. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $6.50, Thursday and Sunday; $10, Friday and Saturday. The two-drink minimum applies. No one under 18 admitted.

february 2
Gene Mann Wild Game Cook-off This cook-off, a tradition that dates back to "Houston Proud" days, began with local sportsmen searing flesh over an open fire at the Cattle Guard restaurant. From that playful beginning in the heady days of the boom, the cook-off has grown to a two-day event with world-class chefs, live musical entertainment on several stages and a Ms. Wild Game pageant. This year, for the first time, spectators will be able to sink their teeth into the wild game, along with, of course, fine food from reputable vendors. The cooks follow a refreshingly liberal "no rules" policy. Competitors include Charles Watkins of Sierra, the Road Kill team and three "Mystery Teams." (TV Food Network viewers may wonder if Emeril Lagasse of The Essence of Emeril is on one of the Mystery Teams. We don't know. We just don't know.) The 16th annual cook-off, 4 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065. $5 cover charge; bring cash for food and drinks.

Hollywood or Bust Pauly Shore is paired with a Baldwin, not yummy Brendan Fraser, in his latest movie; nonetheless Bio-Dome is true to an old formula. If you want to see a bumbling idiot and his straight man make good in classic style, catch Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin in Hollywood or Bust, one of several hundred movies made by the pair (okay, 17, of which this was the last). In Hollywood, as in the whole catalog of Martin/Lewis comedies, Dean sings and gets the girl, and Lewis, although he's playing an earnest, unmonied simpleton, wears a pinkie ring and a Rolex. That unlikely costuming is Lewis' way of saying, hey, babe, this is Hollywood. Hollywood or Bust will be shown with one of the worst movies ever made, the infamous rat pack movie Ocean's 11. 7:30 p.m. The Rice Media Center, Rice University (entrance no. 8 off University), 527-4853. $4.50 (for single or double feature).

P.S. 122 Field Trips P.S. 122 is not a public school, it's Performance Space 122 NYC, and it's taking its show on the road. Danny Hoch, Molissa Fenley, James Godwin and Reno each do solo pieces incorporating dance, theater, music, stand-up comedy and grotty East Village performance art aesthetics, but it would be a mistake to pigeonhole the troupe as just another pack of performance artists mewling about their neuroses. No, these performers, especially Danny Hoch, like to have fun. Two of the artists, Hoch and Reno, have had HBO specials, and Hoch has won an Obie and several other awards for his stage work. And, the group from P.S. 122 is not afraid of beauty. Godwin is a student of mask-making and puppetry, and his creations are magnificent. (Godwin uses his puppetry skills for commerce as well as art. One of his rent-paying gigs was handling a rubber shark in a Mattel toy commercial.) This show is the first of P.S. 122's 1996 season, and in keeping with the debut mood, Danny Hoch will present a work-in-progress, "Evolution of a Homeboy." See Thrills, Theater, Opening, for information on "An Evening with the Artists." P.S. 122 Field Trips, 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 227-ARTS. $20, $24 and $30.

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Edith Sorenson