Pop artist, curator and art gallery owner Dandee Warhol takes paint-by-numbers to new heights with an interactive mural project at this Saturday's downtown art market. It's just one of the many ways to have free fun outdoors this weekend; we've also got the pepperoni-hawking one-man-band Alex Meixner ("pep-pepperoni"), Sunday afternoon games at Discovery Green, and Footloose, The Musical. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and eight of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
Footloose, The Musical
Miller Outdoor Theatre
8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, free
Continuing 8 p.m. April 6-8, free
Everybody cut loose, because six degrees of Kevin Bacon brings us to the hill when HITS Theatre, H-town's incubator to the stars, presents two weekends of the toe-tapping Footloose, The Musical. Returning to the limelight is 17-year-old Mia Heckler; it's her eighth show at Miller and this time she plays preacher's daughter Ariel. She gets all googly-eyed over new kid in town Ren, this time played by Miles Marmolejo. You know the rest: Small town steps out of the '50s and realizes that dancing isn't the devil's work after all.
An Act of Justice: Undoing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration
7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, free
8:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, free
8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, free
Netflix regulars will by now have caught the documentary 13th, by director Ava DuVernay, which offers up a soupçon of conspiracy theories about how exactly our country came to lead the world in incarceration. If this topic is of concern to you, or you have family behind bars, then consider attending this cerebral three-day symposium that explores human rights and the criminal justice system. Don't miss the powerful virtual reality experience that places viewers inside a U.S. solitary confinement prison cell. This event is free but reservations are requested; contact Kelly Johnson at 713-524-9839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Build a Time Machine
7 to 9 p.m. Friday, free to $10
Mua ha ha! Mad scientists run amok in this upgrade to H.G. Wells' 1895 novel. Animator Rob Niosi, admittedly fixated on the time-machine prop, joins forces with theoretical physicist Ron Mallett, who is convinced that black holes are the gateway to time travel. Mix in a little archival material and Jay Cheel weaves it all together to produce this entertaining exploration of cinema as a gateway to the fourth dimension. Insider tip: Pay at the door and get in for a ten-spot, or become a member and get in for free.
Tomball German Heritage Festival
Old Town Tomball Near the Historical Train Depot Plaza
6 to 10 p.m. Friday, free
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, free
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, free
Break out those lederhosen and dirndls, because everybody's German during the last weekend in March in Tomball. Grammy-nominated musician and producer Alex Meixner, the accordion-playing, drum-beating, horn-blowing one-man band who marches in circles for Hormel pepperoni on TV, is one of the headliners. If that doesn't make you smile, the ethnic and festival food, beer, wine, street vendors and pony rides will. Extroverts will want to get in on the chicken-dance contest, the hollerin' contest and the best-dressed German contest.
Heartmade Art Market
Main Street Square
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, free
The artists behind Anvil Cards say they make cards because cards make people happy. That makes sense to us, and fits right in with the other exhibitors at the Heartmade Art Market, all of whom design for happiness. Come check out this downtown art market and see what Dandelion Glass Art, Fuzzy Grapefruit, Two Cats (in a bag), Moo-chila and other creative locals have been up to lately. Park at McKinney Place Garage, take the free Greenlink circulator, or hop on METRO's Red Line and get off at Main Street Square.
Alief Taylor High School
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, free
We're not sure who has more fun with this one: the organizers behind the event, the teens and adults who come out, or the authors who get to meet rabid fans hungry for the next release. With breakout panels like This Too Shall Pass, Bound by Death, Secretly Motivated and Will It Ship?, attendees might have trouble deciding which sessions to attend, but everybody gets to hear the keynote by the pink-haired Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy). Angie Thomas also is scheduled; she's riding the wave of success with her debut novel, The Hate U Give, which recently hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Bring cash for food trucks, pizza and, you know, books.
Sundays in the Park
2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, free
This weekend marks the kickoff for Sundays in the Park, when Discovery Green pulls out the games (Jenga, cornhole and bocce) for outdoor play with live local music and (we hope) sunny skies. This month's lineup includes Sparky Parker (April 2), Snit's Dog and Pony Show (April 9), an acoustic session with The Mighty Orq (April 16), Jalea (April 23) and Bourbon Street (April 30). Make Sundays your favorite day in the park, now through June 25 when that oppressive heat puts the damper on being outdoors. Bring a picnic, a blanket and your bestie.
Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series
7:30 p.m. Monday, $5
While the last few of Inprint's popular reading series have sold out, we've got a chance to get in on this one. Ada Limón will be on hand to discuss her recent poetry collection, Bright Dead Things, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award that also made the list of "Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year" by The New York Times. She'll be joined by Gregory Pardlo; his second collection of poetry, Digest, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and was shortlisted for the NAACP Image Award. After the authors read from their books, there will be an onstage interview followed by a book sale and signing. GA tickets are available at inprinthouston.org and also at the door. The reading will be live-streamed with Houston Public Media, available for viewing at inprinthouston.org or houstonpublicmedia.org/inprint.
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The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap book signing
7 p.m. Tuesday, free
A stranger comes for an extended stay and you spruce up the garage apartment with fresh linens, a big TV and plenty of peace and quiet. While Westerners would appreciate the privacy, those from the East might ask, "Why am I being treated like somebody not good enough?" It's these subtle cultural nuances that create a divide between our cultures, and author Gish Jen explores those differences through stories and personal anecdotes, as well as cutting-edge research in psychology. This event is presented in partnership with Asia Society Texas Center and Jen will be on hand to discuss and sign copies.
"What We Carried: Fragments & Memories from Iraq & Syria"
(Kickoff to the 4th Annual National Arab American Heritage Festival)
Arab American Cultural & Community Center
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, free
Oregon-based freelance photographer Jim Lommasson kicks off the month-long National Arab American Heritage Festival with the opening of his photographic exhibit, "What We Carried: Fragments & Memories from Iraq & Syria." Described as a collaborative storytelling project, the photographs document what refugees packed when they embarked on their journey to the United States: photographs, a Qur'an, jewelry, dominoes. Space is limited, so RSVP on eventbrite and view the other concerts and lectures that encompass this festival.