The Orange Show
C'mon, the Orange Show founded the Art Car Parade, the most uniquely Houston cultural event in existence. If that's not enough for you, the organization is also nationally known for its programs, projects and files on self-taught, folk and outsider artists. In spite of its success, the Orange Show remains a tribute to the common man, to the artist in all of us. The bizarre little folk art headquarters off I-45 is a great place to spend an afternoon strolling the mazelike grounds, catching a film and, of course, learning all about the virtues of oranges.

C'mon, the Orange Show founded the Art Car Parade, the most uniquely Houston cultural event in existence. If that's not enough for you, the organization is also nationally known for its programs, projects and files on self-taught, folk and outsider artists. In spite of its success, the Orange Show remains a tribute to the common man, to the artist in all of us. The bizarre little folk art headquarters off I-45 is a great place to spend an afternoon strolling the mazelike grounds, catching a film and, of course, learning all about the virtues of oranges.

Houston institutions have been done in by many forces through the decades -- "progress," development or sheer stupidity. But success shouldn't be the cause of death. Yet a couple of years ago, there it was: Houston's signature event, the Orange Show's Art Car Ball, bloated and expiring right there on the floor of the Astrodome. The ball had grown up from a street festival to a perfect, near-spontaneous parking garage happening, complete with crazy cars and crazier characters, music and noise and laughter and near-nekkid skaters. When the party simply got too sizable to be managed, the Orange Show called it off in 2002. So it was remarkable to see the resurrection, and the return to roots, of the Art Car Ball in a downtown parking garage this year. Praise more than geezus for this born-again blessing for the Bayou City.

Houston institutions have been done in by many forces through the decades -- "progress," development or sheer stupidity. But success shouldn't be the cause of death. Yet a couple of years ago, there it was: Houston's signature event, the Orange Show's Art Car Ball, bloated and expiring right there on the floor of the Astrodome. The ball had grown up from a street festival to a perfect, near-spontaneous parking garage happening, complete with crazy cars and crazier characters, music and noise and laughter and near-nekkid skaters. When the party simply got too sizable to be managed, the Orange Show called it off in 2002. So it was remarkable to see the resurrection, and the return to roots, of the Art Car Ball in a downtown parking garage this year. Praise more than geezus for this born-again blessing for the Bayou City.

The Menil Collection
It's still about the building. Renzo Piano's light-washed galleries are the standard by which to measure all other museums. But the building only sets the art in the best light. It's the curators who choose what goes into the beautiful galleries. And chief curator Matthew Drutt, in his first year, has shaken out some of the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated on the de Menils' remarkable collection. Now the works in the permanent collection get changed out on a regular basis -- no more twice-a-year visits. Drutt also commissioned new works by Vik Muniz and Ann Gaskell, whose premieres had the local art crowd buzzing. Next up: his survey of Kasimir Malevich's suprematist paintings, currently eliciting raves at the Guggenheim. The Menil is an exciting place again.
It's still about the building. Renzo Piano's light-washed galleries are the standard by which to measure all other museums. But the building only sets the art in the best light. It's the curators who choose what goes into the beautiful galleries. And chief curator Matthew Drutt, in his first year, has shaken out some of the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated on the de Menils' remarkable collection. Now the works in the permanent collection get changed out on a regular basis -- no more twice-a-year visits. Drutt also commissioned new works by Vik Muniz and Ann Gaskell, whose premieres had the local art crowd buzzing. Next up: his survey of Kasimir Malevich's suprematist paintings, currently eliciting raves at the Guggenheim. The Menil is an exciting place again.
Kerry Inman's stint in Doug Lawing's downtown space has invigorated the gallery owner, her staff and her artists. Coping with all the street construction is enough to keep anyone on her toes; and while Inman's shows have always been hung well (make of that what you will), it's been especially true this past season. The space has not only allowed Inman's artists to really shine (Tommy Fitzpatrick and Emily Joyce were particular standouts) but it's also helped Inman prepare for her new gallery opening this fall on Montrose. And [email protected]'s innovative programming -- bringing in Walter Hopps Award nominee Franklin Sirmans to guest-curate a show, Dario Robleto's two-part exhibit last spring -- has kept gallerygoers on their toes as well.
Kerry Inman's stint in Doug Lawing's downtown space has invigorated the gallery owner, her staff and her artists. Coping with all the street construction is enough to keep anyone on her toes; and while Inman's shows have always been hung well (make of that what you will), it's been especially true this past season. The space has not only allowed Inman's artists to really shine (Tommy Fitzpatrick and Emily Joyce were particular standouts) but it's also helped Inman prepare for her new gallery opening this fall on Montrose. And [email protected]'s innovative programming -- bringing in Walter Hopps Award nominee Franklin Sirmans to guest-curate a show, Dario Robleto's two-part exhibit last spring -- has kept gallerygoers on their toes as well.
If you've been feeling a bit quadrilaterally sharp-angled and clueless lately, go to an opening at Mixture. Between the art (on the walls and elsewhere), by some of the hippest young talent in Houston, L.A., Chi-town and New York, and the youngish hipsters meandering about sipping wine, you'll soon be feeling rounded off and filled in. Under director Lisa Cooley and proprietor Dan Fergus, Mixture is transforming itself into a commercial galley-cum-cultural center ("It's a furniture polish and a desert topping!"), expanding its purview to include performance art and film programs in the courtyard tucked behind the gallery. This place is so hip, we're surprised they let us hang out there.

If you've been feeling a bit quadrilaterally sharp-angled and clueless lately, go to an opening at Mixture. Between the art (on the walls and elsewhere), by some of the hippest young talent in Houston, L.A., Chi-town and New York, and the youngish hipsters meandering about sipping wine, you'll soon be feeling rounded off and filled in. Under director Lisa Cooley and proprietor Dan Fergus, Mixture is transforming itself into a commercial galley-cum-cultural center ("It's a furniture polish and a desert topping!"), expanding its purview to include performance art and film programs in the courtyard tucked behind the gallery. This place is so hip, we're surprised they let us hang out there.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of