10 Best Bets This Weekend: Robert Frank on Film, Jeff Goldblum, and the Moon

View Kawita Vatanajyankur's The Scale 2 on September 19, part of Powerful Vulnerable.
View Kawita Vatanajyankur's The Scale 2 on September 19, part of Powerful Vulnerable. Film still by Kawita Vatanajyankur
Jeff Goldblum in concert, Bill Maher on satire, and the late Robert Frank on film are just a few of the stellar events this weekend in Houston. There's a two day jazz festival, experimental film by female artists, and the world premiere of a new dance by Houston Ballet's Oliver Halkowich. We're also still celebrating the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing with iconic and new art at the Moody Center for the Arts, and out of this world music by WindSync. Rounding out the weekend is a new immersive dance work, and a dance-music celebration of French Baroque courtesy of Ars Lyrica.

Female filmmakers from the past 50 years are the focus of Powerful Vulnerable, a curated series of experimental film and video art works. Aurora Picture Show Curator Mary Magsamen, who has taken her own cinematic trip to the moon, culled these rarely seen gems that span three generations. Local visual art darlings Thedra Cullar-Ledford and Joo Young Choi are some of the participants who are on deck to discuss their works on Friday night, while Magsamen and Carol Stakenas are co-hosting a free story circle on Saturday morning. Thursday's program includes something by Pipilotti Rist, who installed her "Pixel Forest" at MFAH two years ago.

Powerful Vulnerable is scheduled for September 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit Free to $10.

Ballet-goers will soon see a return of Edwaard Liang's Murmuration, with its seamless, emotional movements inspired by the flight patterns of birds. The favorite ballet is on the mixed repertory program for Locally Grown. World Renowned., along with James Kudelka's Passion that debuted here in 2013. But the big news is a world premiere by Houston Ballet First Soloist Oliver Halkowich: Following takes us through the ups and downs of a dancer's life and will be Halkowich's first solo choreographic work for the Company. Also making its world premiere is Elapse, by Chinese choreographer Zhang Disha.

Locally Grown. World Renowned. is scheduled for September 19-29 at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and September 19 and 27, 2 p.m. Sundays at Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit $25 to $200.

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"Straighten Up and Fly Right" with Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.
Photo by Pari Dukovic
Jeff Goldblum is the coolest cat around: one of those multi-talented performers who can dazzle on the big screen, jazz up the stage — and hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts — while also inspiring myriad tattoos, fashionable eyewear and a new cooking show. The Hollywood icon and his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, are stopping in Houston this Friday night, courtesy of Society for the Performing Arts. Mildred won't be there — the contribution of the childhood friend is in name only — but Goldblum will be accompanied by John Storie on guitar, Scott Gilman on tenor saxophone, Alex Frank on bass, Joe Bagg on organ and Kenny Elliot on drums. Expect to hear classics like "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Cantaloupe Island," "Nostalgia in Times Square" and other hits.

Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra is scheduled for September 20 at 8 p.m. Friday at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit $29 to $84.

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Dancers of the New York Baroque Dance Company in a previous collaboration with Ars Lyrica.
Photo by Pin Lim
Ars Lyrica went on a treasure hunt, looking for those defining moments in French, Italian, English, German and Spanish cultural history, to create this season's "National Treasures." The opener, Dancing at the Palais, looks to the long reign of the French Bourbon kings in this program that features a full orchestra of strings and winds and dance by the New York Baroque Dance Company, presented with period choreography and instruments. From André Campra's Suite from Hésione, accompanied by a modern world premiere of collected dance movements, to Suites from Jean-Philippe Rameau's best-known opera Les Indes Galantes, it's an exciting program that breathes new life into two Baroque operas that first debuted at the Palais-Royal in Paris. Dig deeper with a pre-concert discussion at 7:15 p.m.

Dancing at the Palais is scheduled for September 20 at 8 p.m. Friday at The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit $23 to $75.

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Hear some of the sounds that Carl Sagan's team selected to communicate with extraterrestrials during WindSync's concert this Friday.
Photo by Aly Hester
Celebrate Space City and our region's contribution to the Apollo program when WindSync presents A Trip to the Moon, a music and film concert experience that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing. The wind quartet will present a live soundtrack to Georges Mèliés silent film from 1902 as well as a funky and minimalist new commission by Mark Mellits that will be accompanied by film footage from the Apollo 11 mission. Rounding out the evening is Voyager Golden Record Suite that intersperses some of the very same sounds that were blasted into space as a time capsule communication for extraterrestrials.

A performance of A Trip to the Moon is scheduled for September 20 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call visit or Free.

Bonus event: WindSync also is presenting Sergi Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, accompanied by an old-fashioned Texas hoedown where the audience members clap rhythms in the finale. A performance of Stories In Sound is scheduled for September 19 at 11 a.m. Thursday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit Free.

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Still from To the Moon, a virtual reality work and physical set by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang.
Still by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang
Artists have long looked to the moon for inspiration, though it's amazing to see how that mysterious orb has been translated by iconic artists over the past 50 years. Moody Center for the Arts is set to present "Moon Shot," and it will be the first time that all 34 lithographs from Robert Rauschenberg's Stoned Moon series will be shown together since their creation. The exhibit includes Andy Warhol's Moonwalk and a new virtual reality work co-created by Hsin-Chien Hung and Laurie Anderson, as well as objects by Siah Armajani, Nancy Graves, Rachel Rose, Katy Schimert and Michelle Stuart. Don't miss the September 20th opening reception with complimentary bites and beverages, 6-8 p.m. Friday.

"Moon Shot" is scheduled for September 20 through December 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-2787 or visit Free.

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Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank screens at MFAH.
Cinematography by Robert Hanna, film still courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment
Photographer Robert Frank, who stripped off the rose-colored glasses to provide a gritty, monochromatic snapshot of our midcentury selves in the book The Americans, died earlier this month at the age of 94. He led a full artistic life, beginning with early commercial stints for Harper's Bazaar and Life, and later films like the avant-garde Pull My Daisy and the feature length Me and My Brother. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a longtime collector of his photographs and also the distributor of his film and video, is screening three days of the Gerald Fox-directed Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank this weekend. Companion programming includes two shorts directed by Frank — Energy and How to Get It and Harry Smith at the Breslin Hotel, as well as the 1986 film directed by Amy and Philip Brookman: Fire in the East: A Portrait of Robert Frank.

For the September 21 screening, Curator Emirita Anne Wilkes Tucker will introduce Fire in the East ahead of Leaving Home, Coming Home. She initiated the MFAH’s relationship with the artists and also produced this documentary, which coincided with the major exhibition she curated in the mid-1980s.

Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank is scheduled for September 20-22 at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit $7 to $9.
Harry Smith at the Breslin Hotel and Energy and How to Get It will screen on September 20 and 22 after Leaving Home, Coming Home.

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The Pilot Dance Project presents Ashley Horn's immersive The Long Stay with five performances this Saturday.
Photo by Ashley Horn
Yes, it's another immersive performance art experience with a bathtub, but the similarities end there between this summer's Broken Bone Bathtub (presented by Dinolion) and this weekend's immersive dance work, The Long Stay (presented by The Pilot Dance Project). Choreographed by Ashley Horn and set in a series of hotel rooms, The Long Stay plunges women from the Bible and antiquity in a sort of purgatory where they recount history through their unique experiences and ask nomadic audience members to bear witness. Will these trapped women — a bride, a goddess, a lady on the run — find the cleansing they so desire and escape from this interminable state?

Performances of The Long Stay are scheduled for September 21 at 1, 2:30, 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Hotel ICON, 220 Main. For information, visit $15 to $20.

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Houston Jazz Festival comes to Miller Outdoor Theatre and Axelrad this weekend.
Photo by Joseph Piene
Experience all that jazz this weekend with two days of swing, blue notes, polyrhythms and improvisation at two different venues. Drawing inspiration from the days of the SumARTS Jazz Fest at Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Jazz Festival returns to the hill this Saturday and then winds up at Axelrad this Sunday. Three time Grammy-nominated flutist Hubert Laws headlines Saturday's performance at 9 p.m.; Shelley Carrol and the Houston Jazz Collective — Tim Ruiz, Bobby Sparks, Andre Hayward and Mark Simmons — take the stage at 7:30 p.m. The Miller set features sculptures, drawings, collages and paintings by Jesse Lott, whose frenetic lines pair perfectly with the fluid sound.

September 22 Axelrad schedule:
12:30 p.m., Summer jazz workshop with the Kinder HSPVA combo
1:45 p.m., Corey Stephen Dozier Trio
3 p.m., Kim Prevost and Bill Solley Duo
4:15 p.m., Adriano Santos Quartet
5:30 p.m., Bandara
6:45 p.m., Doc Loc and The Swangers
8:15 p.m., Bobby Sparks, Shelley Carrol, Mark Simmons

The Houston Jazz Festival is scheduled for September 21 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, and September 22 beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Axelrad, 1517 Alabama. For information, visit or Free.

Audience members definitely have an appetite for satire, and nobody's safe from comedian Bill Maher's pointed wit: actors, activists, politicians, musicians and even other comedians. He's taken some heat of late for his fat-shaming, but we're confident the host of the Emmy-nominated Real Time with Bill Maher will have plenty of other material to dish out during this Saturday's Bill Maher Live Stand Up Tour. He's named the Democratic presidential candidate frontrunners Snap, Crackle and Pop; there's always a riff on who's in or out at the White House; and he'll be sure to shred other tasty tidbits ripped from headline news.

Bill Maher Live Stand Up Tour is scheduled for September 21 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit $49.50 to $125.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney