The Art of Retail

Pop artist Peter Max has said, "There's no such thing as too commercial," and he means it. Home-shoppers will already be familiar with Max's sales-friendly work. His prints are helpfully offered in small, medium, extra-large or oversize. Consumers can get matches for their couches -- whether they're love seats or sectionals.Max was known in the '60s for his psychedelic pop illustrations, which he parlayed into a graphic arts empire. In the '70s, he designed album and magazine covers and decorated everything from pillowcases to clocks. Expertly using the nostalgia hook, Max made a comeback in the late '80s. He's been hawking pop-esque works ever since. He's done a lot of celebrity portraits (including one of Britney Spears), seemingly trying to style himself in the Warhol vein. However, according to Max, he "was doing the multiple portraits way before Andy."

Gordon Bethune, chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, is apparently a big Peter Max fan. Max will be doing two 200-foot murals for Continental's terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Is this Houston's version of the Medicis and Michelangelo?

Max uses the music industry as a model for marketing his art. His product is widely distributed, and he tours and gives press interviews. Max will be stopping in Houston this week. Maybe you'll run into Gordon Bethune at Off The Wall gallery -- or maybe he buys art only while sitting in his jammies in front of a big-screen TV. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 14 and 15; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, November 15. Galleria II, 5085 Westheimer. For information, call 713-871-0940. Free. -- Kelly Klaasmeyer

Me Like Performance
THU 11/13

A lithe dancer takes the stage. She stands rigid for an eternity, then suddenly flails about like a wounded chicken and collapses to the ground. Everyone else in the audience gasps at the beauty of her performance, but you have no idea what the hell just happened. You've got two options: Either stroke your chin and fake your appreciation, or make plans to attend the latest ArtSpeak class at DiverseWorks, where dancer Joanna Friesen will lecture on how to talk about contemporary dance and performance art. It's the perfect opportunity to expand your cultural vocabulary beyond "Wow, that was...interesting." Cocktails at 5:30 p.m. Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 13. 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit $35. -- Keith Plocek

What a Man Wants
SUN 11/16

In his new book, Dr. Leonard Shlain argues that a man's primary question is "What must I do to convince her to let me have sex with her?" Anyone who's ever been to a nightclub knows this isn't a novel idea, but Shlain's take on the randy question is compelling: "The enigma was complicated enough to force a man to evolve a big brain with large frontal lobes capable of dealing with so complex a mystery." Well, if intelligence equals nooky, then it looks like all you fellas out there better start flaunting your frontal lobes. A good place to start would be at Shlain's lecture, where he'll be discussing the ideas behind his book, Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution. 6 p.m. Sunday, November 16. Brigid's Place, 1117 Texas. For information, call 713-590-3333 or visit $10. --Keith Plocek

Scrape It Off
Art that's meant to meet the pavement at El Dog Gallery
SAT 11/16

Ah, impermanence. Use a skateboard a few times, and the logos and deck art get scraped away (along with some of your elbow skin). Using these abuse-taking surfaces as canvases for one-of-a-kind artworks is like painting masterworks on toilet paper. But Aerosol Warfare's Gonzo247, organizer of this weekend's "Disposable Art" show at El Dog Gallery, doesn't seem to mind.Artists from Hollywood, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have signed on to create artworks meant to take a grinding. One deck features a pastel blue color scheme and an Izod-inspired alligator, perhaps heralding a preppy turn in skater fashion.

If a deck tickles you pink, you can make a bid to buy it. Then it'll be up to you to preserve the art -- or grind it into oblivion. Opening reception: 7 p.m. Saturday, November 15. Or see the works from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, November 16. 2320 Elgin. For information, call 713-807-7911. Free. -- Travis P. Ritter


The Sprawl of It All
TUE 11/18

If you don't pay attention, Houston itself can slip through your fingers. We experience here a restless turnover of buildings and places, which are reshaped almost without restriction, thanks to a lack of zoning that's unique among major cities. This cowboy-style freedom has made Houston a hothouse for bold and often successful architectural experiments. Our city's ebb and flow has been chronicled for 20 years in Cite, the journal of the Rice Design Alliance. Now the RDA has given us Ephemeral City, an anthology of articles from Cite intended to give readers a cohesive sense of the development of this impatient, impetuous teenager of a town. Reception and editors' talk: 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 18. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-348-4876 or visit Free. -- Lisa Simon

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