Three years ago, Natalie Zelt, then curatorial assistant for photography for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, noticed an increase of food-related images in the portfolios she was viewing. "A lot of photographers and visual artists were engaging in food issues in a visual realm," Zelt tells us. "There's been a lot of buzz about the slow-food movement...and it was interesting to see the different ways that it had begun to be explored visually. I realized that not only was this happening among visual artists, but it was becoming part of our culture, people documenting their food [via social media]."
Fast-forward to today and Zelt, now in graduate school, has curated "See Food: Contemporary Photography and the Ways We Eat," an exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography and our pick for Friday.
Local artist Emily Peacock contributes images from her Whiskey Tango series. "'Whiskey tango' are the military [-alphabet] for 'w' and 't,' which Peacock uses for 'white trash.' She's starting to be more careful about the food she eats and she's realized that the food she ate as a child was so plasticized and almost toylike," Zelt says. "Her images reflect her looking back at the food she ate as a kid; she's essentially creating these vibrant, toylike images.
Portland, Oregon photographer Corey Arnold is represented by several images of commercial fishermen working on the open sea, including Ben and King (seen above). Those often bloody action shots contrast with the work seen in Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat series. He traveled around the country making portraits of people by documenting the interiors of their refrigerators, basically posing the question 'What happens when the body, the person, is replaced by the food that they eat?'"
There's an opening reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 22. Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through January 12. 1441 West Alabama. For information, call 713-529-4755 or visit the Houston Center for Photography's website. Free.
It wasn't until the success of her Emmy Award-winning Bravo TV reality show My Life on the D-List propelled her from that lowly status to the top of the VIP list that Kathy Griffin, one of our picks for Saturday, became comedy royalty. Captivated by her hyper-enthusiastic love of show business and those who make it look ridiculous, Griffin's followers include what she lovingly calls "her gays."
The perennial, pants-dropping foil to CNN darling and gay co-host Anderson Cooper, Griffin has become a fixture on the annual New Year's Eve in Times Square broadcast, with her antics being more over-the-top each year. "If you think this is the part where I'm going to apologize for trying to go down on Anderson Cooper, you are sorely mistaken," Griffin told Dave Letterman shortly after last year's particularly heady holiday NYE appearance found her dropping to her knees in front of a mortified Cooper. "I tried, ladies and gays. I tried for you." What a trooper.
8 p.m. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713‑315-2525 or visit the Hobby Center box office website. $39.50 to $69.50.
Sophia Torres, artistic director of the Psophonia Dance Company, routinely asks a lot of her dancers. For Infinite Shapes of Creatures, an abstract work exploring sustainable food practices and one of our picks for Saturday, she also asked a lot of her collaborators, flautist Adrienne Inglis and harpist Shana Norton, both from Austin. Torres started by asking the musicians to memorize the music and perform onstage sans music stands. "I wanted them to be more mobile on the stage," Torres tells us. "If they have to move a music stand and carry their music, it separates them from the dancers onstage." Inglis and Norton agreed.
Then she asked if she could move them around the stage, incorporating them into the piece. They both agreed again. "It was a little more challenging with the harp. My husband built a stand for her and the harp, and we move her around on the stand. I said, 'Hey, Shana, how do you feel about standing on this platform? It has wheels, but don't worry, the dancers are going to be dancing around you and moving you and the harp around. It'll be great!'" Torres laughs, remembering the moment. "Then I told the flautist, 'The dancers are going to sit around you and pick you up, okay? All you have to do is bend.' Thankfully, they both said, 'Sure, we'll try it.'"
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. City Dance Studio, 1307 West Clay. For information, call 713-802-1181 or visit the Psophonia Dance Company website. $15 to $20.
When we look at Houston sidewalks, we see bricks and concrete. The folks behind Houston Via Colori® see an empty canvas. Our first pick for Sunday, this year's festival includes some 200 artists creating sidewalk masterpieces. Nationally invited artists are depicting images from iconic Houston industries such as energy, buildings and architecture, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, aerospace and technology, and the performing and visual arts.
Along with watching the artists, visitors will enjoy live music performances, a scavenger hunt (new this year), wine, food and even dirty car art masterpieces on MINI models. Kids can blast sand art and create their own works of art. Oh, and don't worry about missing the Texans' game. It will be playing on the big screen. Proceeds benefit the Center for Hearing and Speech.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hermann Square, City Hall, 900 Smith. For information, call 713-523-3633 or visit the center's website. Free.
We're starting our holiday celebration on Sunday at University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance's production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson's stage play shows Christmas the way it should be, with sarcasm, irreverence and a few "shazaaammmms!" thrown in for good measure.
The six Herdman kids -- certifiably the most awful children in history with a long record of lying, stealing, cussing and bullying -- wander into the rehearsal for the church Christmas pageant. As always, they take over. Ralph Herdman, the oldest of the family, casts himself as Joseph after pushing the pastor's son out of the role. Imogene Herdman, the oldest Herdman girl, connives her way into playing Mary. Leroy, Claude and Ollie Herdman play the three wisecracking men...sorry, we mean wise men. Gladys, the youngest Herdman, plays the angel.
It's Gladys who adds the "shazaaammmmms!" to the stodgy pageant script, turning "And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them..." into "Shazaaammmm! Out with a vengeance in the darkness, the mighty Marvel!" It's also Gladys who suggests they change the name of the pageant from the tired old Christmas Pageant to the more exciting, if not historically accurate, Revenge in Bethlehem. Ollie adds his own revision to the script, suggesting the wise men beat Herod up. (Needless to say, none of the other children want to play Herod after that.)
7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-2929 or visit the university's website. $20.
Karen Branch and Nancy Ford contributed to this post.