We'd expect to find images of cactus, rugged landscapes and ranch hands in an art exhibit called "The Texas Aesthetic VI: Lone Star Heritage in Contemporary Texas Painting," our pick for Friday. Currently on display at Williams Reaves Fine Art gallery, "Texas Aesthetic" has plenty of those. It also has a few surprises. There's William Montgomery's No Place to Hide II (Surveillance Blimp), showing a silver blimp floating above a river that winds through craggy mountains and vast barren desert. Except for the hovering blimp, it's a scene that could have been painted 100 years ago. With the surveillance craft in place, Montgomery pulls it firmly into the present. There's also William Young surrealist piece The Source of the Brazos, which shows three birds sitting on a tree branch floating in the air. A teapot hangs from the unanchored branch, pouring water out on to the red dirt below which forms a stream that becomes the Brazos River. Some 16 regional artists participate in "Texas Aesthetic," the gallery's sixth annual exhibit focusing on contemporary artists.
Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, by appointment Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Through July 13. 2313 Brun St. For information, call 713-521-7500 or visit the gallery's website. Free.
The Daniel Vaughn: The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey through Texas Barbecue signing party at Leibman's Wine & Foods on Saturday is peppered with firsts. Daniel Vaughn has just been named the first Barbecue Editor of Texas Monthly. This is his first book. And this is the first book printed under the new Anthony Bourdain imprint at HarperCollins.
The book checks in at a hefty 350+ pages and is filled with photographs by Nicholas McWhirter (it's out and out barbecue porn, from first page to last). The pair trekked across the state searching out the story of Texas barbecue, from East Texas hickory-smoked brisket covered in sauce to South Texas barbacoa (a beef head slow-cooked whole). Vaughn and McWhirter, both trained architects claim they traveled some 10,343 miles on their journey, inspecting, eating and digesting samples of best -- and worst -- barbecue Texas has to offer. When they didn't have their mouths full (actually there were probably a few times when they did), they interviewed and photographed pitmasters, chefs, customers and devotees getting the truth about smoking techniques, wood selection and secret recipes (Vaughn says folks revealed their secret recipes because they know it's not the ingredients, it's the cook that makes the difference).
Houston is, of course, mentioned in Prophets of Smoke Meat. There's a run-down (and we mean that literally) of the three Burns Barbecue restaurants in town. (The late Roy Burns, Sr. spent years building up the restaurant's reputation. His three children, at least according to Vaughn, haven't quite matched their dad's skills yet.) Vaughn does have some nice things to say about Gatlin's BBQ (co-owner Greg Gatlin played football for Rice University) and Virgie's Bar-B-Que (named after owner Adrian Handsborough's mother).
Virgie's will be dishing up plates at today's signing. 1 p.m. 14529 Memorial Dr. For information, call 281-493-3663. Free.
Warren Sneed has a special reason for looking forward to performing with the Sneed Quartet on Saturday at Cezanne, one of Houston's sexiest jazz closets. "It's chance to perform with some of my favorite Houston musicians: pianist Joe LoCascio, bassist David Craig and, of course, my son (the drummer) Andrew," cheerily states saxophonist and head Sneed, Warren, who doubles as the director of jazz studies at Houston's Gleeful High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Both father and son are graduates of that Glee-esque institution of artful learning, so expect to see some alumni in the audience. Sneed promises "two high quality sets of jazz, a combination of classic jazz standards as well as original compositions--and I'm sure we'll have a few surprises."
9 p.m. 4100 Montrose. For information, call 713-522-9621 or visit the club's website. $10.
Houston Ballet principle dancer Sara Webb has spent the last few years getting ready to return to her role as Wendy in Trey McIntyre's Peter Pan, one of our picks for Sunday. Not only did Webb originate the role when it was first performed by the company in 2002, but she has a young son who occasionally behaves a bit like Peter Pan, she says via press materials.
The three-act ballet is based on the story of the same name by James M. Barrie. Peter Pan is performed to the music of Edward Elgar (arranged here by Niel DePonte) and includes swashbuckling sword fights, ticking crocodiles, lost boys, a devilish pirate and lots of flying. Webb says one of her favorite moments in the show is when Peter Pan first helps Wendy to fly. She delicately puts one of her feet into his outstretched hand. Taking her seemingly by the toes, Peter lifts her up into the air over his head then gently sets her down again. "It's actually a tricky part to try and pull off without making it look jerky or anything like that but it's very effective."
Choreographer Trey McIntyre is a long time favorite of Houston Ballet audiences; he spent some 20 years with the organization, starting as a student in the Houston Ballet Academy in 1987, becoming a company member in 1989 and serving as choreographic associate until 2008 when he left to found his own company, Trey McIntyre Project. He gets plenty of praise from Webb: "[He] did such an amazing job with this production. He really tried to make the audience become part of it. You feel like feel like you're in the story with us.
Webb shares the role of Wendy with Melody Mennite. Joseph Walsh and Christopher Gray appear as Peter Pan with Karina Gonzalez, Allison Miller and Melissa Hough performing as Tinkerbell.
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Visit Never-never Land at 7:30 p.m. June 15, 21 and 22, 2 p.m. June 15, 16 and 23. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713 227 2787 or visit the company's website. $19 to $165.
Have a Father's Day picnic in cool air-conditioning at the Astro's first-ever Picnic in the Park. Visitors can run the bases or play a game of catch in the Minute Maid Park outfield. There's also a buffet cookout, an hour-long autograph session with all of the Astros players and lots of family activities.
The Picnic in the Park starts about 45 minutes after the game between the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox ends. 501 Crawford. For information, call 713-259-8851 or visit astros.com/picnic. Free to $100 (admission to the game is not included).
Nancy Ford contributed to this post.