Matthew Drutt Matthew Drutt, chief curator of the Menil Collection, is on a roll. He curated the stellar "Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism," a wonderfully cogent exhibition and indispensable catalog exploring the artist's development of the movement. The show presented Malevich's seminal 1915 Black Square for the first time outside Russia, as well as the artist's lesser-known architectural models. The exhibition was awarded first place by the International Association of Art Critics/USA for Best Monographic Museum Show. (That's like an art-world Oscar.) And this summer, Drutt brought Olafur Eliasson's stunning photographs to the Menil. Less well-known than his installations, Eliasson's photographs investigate nature and man's interaction with it. And in his hands, the results are lush and riveting. The show took three years to plan, but Drutt's timing couldn't have been more perfect -- Eliasson was just coming of his phenomenally successful show "The Weather Project" at the Tate Modern in London.

Cafe Adobe
Cafe Adobe On the streets below, late-afternoon motorists are still battling the maddening crowds, unaware of the blessed sacrament of happy hour unfolding nearby -- that unique time zone of decompression between the rigors of work and an evening's adventures. But fans of Cafe Adobe are already assembled and ascending, literally, to postwork bliss, with a little help from a bonanza of good Tex-Mex eats. Little wonder that the throngs keep pouring into the cafe's serene outdoor area and up the steps to the Acapulco Bar. There may be places with better prices on happy hour drinks or more exotic food, but the Adobe is the best at blending quality drinks (like $2.75 margaritas) with casa-comfort eats like queso and chips. And the mix of straights and gays -- all dressed to the nines -- takes people-watching fun to new heights.

Cafe Adobe On the streets below, late-afternoon motorists are still battling the maddening crowds, unaware of the blessed sacrament of happy hour unfolding nearby -- that unique time zone of decompression between the rigors of work and an evening's adventures. But fans of Cafe Adobe are already assembled and ascending, literally, to postwork bliss, with a little help from a bonanza of good Tex-Mex eats. Little wonder that the throngs keep pouring into the cafe's serene outdoor area and up the steps to the Acapulco Bar. There may be places with better prices on happy hour drinks or more exotic food, but the Adobe is the best at blending quality drinks (like $2.75 margaritas) with casa-comfort eats like queso and chips. And the mix of straights and gays -- all dressed to the nines -- takes people-watching fun to new heights.

Bayou City Concert Musicals Five years ago, Houston theater veteran Paul Hope gathered some friends and staged a nightclub production of Follies, giving the proceeds to the Center for AIDS. Since then, what's become known as the Bayou City Concert Musicals has grown into a huge gift -- not only for the center but also for Houston's musical theater fans. Under these circumstances, Hope can pay performers very little and still attract Houston's best talent. He can be a little risky in choosing what to put on, too -- in 2002, for instance, a sparkling version of Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with a large orchestra, outshone the three-piece combos many local troupes have to settle for. The only thing the organization scrimps on is the scenery, but hey -- use your imagination. In four years they've raised $77,000 for the center; this year they're leaving the nightclub behind and presenting four performances at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall, so the annual donation could climb to $65,000.

Bayou City Concert Musicals Five years ago, Houston theater veteran Paul Hope gathered some friends and staged a nightclub production of Follies, giving the proceeds to the Center for AIDS. Since then, what's become known as the Bayou City Concert Musicals has grown into a huge gift -- not only for the center but also for Houston's musical theater fans. Under these circumstances, Hope can pay performers very little and still attract Houston's best talent. He can be a little risky in choosing what to put on, too -- in 2002, for instance, a sparkling version of Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with a large orchestra, outshone the three-piece combos many local troupes have to settle for. The only thing the organization scrimps on is the scenery, but hey -- use your imagination. In four years they've raised $77,000 for the center; this year they're leaving the nightclub behind and presenting four performances at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall, so the annual donation could climb to $65,000.

Best Place to Buy a Musical Instrument

Rockin Robin Rockin Robin is H-town's best place to buy any musical instrument, but don't take our word for it. Ask the steady stream of millionaire musicians who have slipped in unannounced to buy cool stuff ever since it opened in 1972, or just to sit in the corner and wail away on guitar, as Stevie Ray Vaughan used to do, and Billy Gibbons still does. This year's visitors included Jack White and Cheap Trick's Rick Nelson, who plunked down the plastic for two Les Paul guitars. If you buy a six-string here, you can get it souped up by the store's top-notch techs. And upstairs at the studio, you can take lessons from former Spin Doctors bassist Mark White or other cool local musicians. All that aside, any music store that also sells surfboards is okay with us.

Best Place to Buy a Musical Instrument

Rockin Robin Rockin Robin is H-town's best place to buy any musical instrument, but don't take our word for it. Ask the steady stream of millionaire musicians who have slipped in unannounced to buy cool stuff ever since it opened in 1972, or just to sit in the corner and wail away on guitar, as Stevie Ray Vaughan used to do, and Billy Gibbons still does. This year's visitors included Jack White and Cheap Trick's Rick Nelson, who plunked down the plastic for two Les Paul guitars. If you buy a six-string here, you can get it souped up by the store's top-notch techs. And upstairs at the studio, you can take lessons from former Spin Doctors bassist Mark White or other cool local musicians. All that aside, any music store that also sells surfboards is okay with us.

Main Street Theater's The Dead The fact that dramatists Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey managed to tease James Joyce's melancholic story The Dead into a musical was nothing short of astonishing. But it was the skilled cast who re-created the essential Victorian party scene at the center of Joyce's tale with delicate warmth and seamless familial unity. The middle-aged drunk, Mr. Browne (played by David Downing), enticed fellow partner in crime Freddy (Kregg Alan Dailey) with a salesman's care. Celeste Roberts's high-strung rendition of Miss Molly Ivors played off Joel Sandel's gentlemanly Gabriel with expert precision. Warmth and tenderness came from the dear old aunts played by Marietta Marich and Sylvia Froman, and adding beauty and a palpable sadness was Kaytha Coker as Gabriel's lonely wife, Gretta. All together, they created a tender production for the Christmas season and captured the intelligence and aching heart of Joyce's story.

Main Street Theater's The Dead The fact that dramatists Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey managed to tease James Joyce's melancholic story The Dead into a musical was nothing short of astonishing. But it was the skilled cast who re-created the essential Victorian party scene at the center of Joyce's tale with delicate warmth and seamless familial unity. The middle-aged drunk, Mr. Browne (played by David Downing), enticed fellow partner in crime Freddy (Kregg Alan Dailey) with a salesman's care. Celeste Roberts's high-strung rendition of Miss Molly Ivors played off Joel Sandel's gentlemanly Gabriel with expert precision. Warmth and tenderness came from the dear old aunts played by Marietta Marich and Sylvia Froman, and adding beauty and a palpable sadness was Kaytha Coker as Gabriel's lonely wife, Gretta. All together, they created a tender production for the Christmas season and captured the intelligence and aching heart of Joyce's story.

Ann C. James in Laughing Wild In one of her strongest Houston performances in years, Ann C. James burned up the stage in Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild, produced by the amazingly resilient Unhinged Theatre Company. The strange play focused, in part, on a street woman haranguing the audience with her many wonderfully obscure opinions. During one 30-minute monologue, James ranted against a world full of people who don't have "sufficient humility to question themselves" and declared, "Mother Teresa makes me sick." Then she asked the audience, "Have you ever noticed how sexual intercourse makes you want to commit suicide?" Consistently sadistic and hilarious, James brought this feisty loony tune (and her adroit observations) to clarifying light, and she managed to create a realistic sense of woe in the character while maintaining the play's silly, macabre absurdity.

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