The Harp This Irish-tinged watering hole is a little different from the average Montrose hangout, but that's part of its appeal. Its dark walls, soft lighting and hardwood floors are charming. And there's something pleasantly laid-back about the atmosphere -- maybe it's the dart players tallying up their points or the comfy, wrap-around porch. Maybe it's the fact that denizens have been known to bring in a baby or two. Maybe it's just those cushiony barstools. Can we say heaven?

The Artery
Photo by Mark Larsen
The Artery Visit the Artery during the day, and it looks at first glance like an enclave for a neighborhood crack dealer. Surrounded by a dense thicket of hackberry trees and a rusting chain-link fence, the lot in the Museum District's residential area is full of rubble. Indeed, works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Frank Stella are much more likely to turn up a few blocks away at Houston's more famous sculpture enclave, the Cullen Sculpture Garden. But just as the sun sets and the Cullen goes dark, the Artery comes to life. The rubble -- loads of stone construction materials left on the lot by the previous owner -- takes shape as a series of intricate light sculptures set along winding, wooded paths. You'll find beakers bubbling over with smoke, illuminated ductwork weaving through patterned stacks of slate, and a fireplace enlivened by a fan, a light bulb and fluttering red cellophane. The mastermind behind the Artery, Houston artist Mark Larsen, has opened it to the public for talks and performances since 1987 -- and always free of charge (though donations are appreciated). Veteran patrons might want to check out the newest exhibit: burnished tree branches, half sculpted, half wild, that are bound in rope, blending in with the Artery's natural environment, yet jarring to the senses like captured beasts from a foreign jungle.

The Artery Visit the Artery during the day, and it looks at first glance like an enclave for a neighborhood crack dealer. Surrounded by a dense thicket of hackberry trees and a rusting chain-link fence, the lot in the Museum District's residential area is full of rubble. Indeed, works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Frank Stella are much more likely to turn up a few blocks away at Houston's more famous sculpture enclave, the Cullen Sculpture Garden. But just as the sun sets and the Cullen goes dark, the Artery comes to life. The rubble -- loads of stone construction materials left on the lot by the previous owner -- takes shape as a series of intricate light sculptures set along winding, wooded paths. You'll find beakers bubbling over with smoke, illuminated ductwork weaving through patterned stacks of slate, and a fireplace enlivened by a fan, a light bulb and fluttering red cellophane. The mastermind behind the Artery, Houston artist Mark Larsen, has opened it to the public for talks and performances since 1987 -- and always free of charge (though donations are appreciated). Veteran patrons might want to check out the newest exhibit: burnished tree branches, half sculpted, half wild, that are bound in rope, blending in with the Artery's natural environment, yet jarring to the senses like captured beasts from a foreign jungle.

David Rainey in Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog revolves around two brothers who bear the unlikely names of Lincoln and Booth: their father's "idea of a joke." But the names carry hefty metaphorical weight in this play about violent sibling rivalry. And the play's interfamily feud burned especially bright when actor David Rainey stepped on stage in the Alley Theatre's production of the dark drama last winter. Rainey's Lincoln was the most richly textured character of the year. One minute, Rainey's character would brag big-time about his success -- playing an Abe Lincoln who gets assassinated all day long in an arcade exhibit. But the next, he'd fall into a spiral of self-disapproval. Raging against a world that held him down, Rainey's performance was subtle yet forceful and astonishingly empathetic. He filled the stage with an unwavering intellectual and emotional intensity that no other Houston actor could touch this past year.

David Rainey in Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog revolves around two brothers who bear the unlikely names of Lincoln and Booth: their father's "idea of a joke." But the names carry hefty metaphorical weight in this play about violent sibling rivalry. And the play's interfamily feud burned especially bright when actor David Rainey stepped on stage in the Alley Theatre's production of the dark drama last winter. Rainey's Lincoln was the most richly textured character of the year. One minute, Rainey's character would brag big-time about his success -- playing an Abe Lincoln who gets assassinated all day long in an arcade exhibit. But the next, he'd fall into a spiral of self-disapproval. Raging against a world that held him down, Rainey's performance was subtle yet forceful and astonishingly empathetic. He filled the stage with an unwavering intellectual and emotional intensity that no other Houston actor could touch this past year.

TUTS's Thoroughly Modern Millie Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan's Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie is the sort of charming musical that comes along too rarely. And Theatre Under the Stars' summer production at the Hobby Center offered Houston audiences an especially electrifying theater experience. Combining romance, intrigue and some unexpected humor, the tale bubbled over with the flair and charisma of a big Broadway smash. The story followed Millie (Darcie Roberts), who had to save her new friend Miss Dorothy Brown (Diana Kaarina) from an evil trader in white slavery. Hysterical intrigue followed our heroine through all sorts of dangerous fixes before everything turned out just fine in the end, thank you very much.

TUTS's Thoroughly Modern Millie Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan's Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie is the sort of charming musical that comes along too rarely. And Theatre Under the Stars' summer production at the Hobby Center offered Houston audiences an especially electrifying theater experience. Combining romance, intrigue and some unexpected humor, the tale bubbled over with the flair and charisma of a big Broadway smash. The story followed Millie (Darcie Roberts), who had to save her new friend Miss Dorothy Brown (Diana Kaarina) from an evil trader in white slavery. Hysterical intrigue followed our heroine through all sorts of dangerous fixes before everything turned out just fine in the end, thank you very much.

Harry Bishop Bars invariably take on the personalities of their owners, and Noche Cocina is blessed to have Harry Bishop at the helm. Bishop arrived late in the restaurant-and-bar trade; he's a veteran of the oil business who took over Noche a few years ago. Quiet, competent and always ready with a quick smile, Harry could double for a slim Saint Nick. And he obviously loves the hard work as much as the heady friendships -- nobody is a stranger for long at Noche. Under his guidance, this restaurant and bar is mellowing with a dignified grace. Harry wouldn't have it any other way.

Harry Bishop Bars invariably take on the personalities of their owners, and Noche Cocina is blessed to have Harry Bishop at the helm. Bishop arrived late in the restaurant-and-bar trade; he's a veteran of the oil business who took over Noche a few years ago. Quiet, competent and always ready with a quick smile, Harry could double for a slim Saint Nick. And he obviously loves the hard work as much as the heady friendships -- nobody is a stranger for long at Noche. Under his guidance, this restaurant and bar is mellowing with a dignified grace. Harry wouldn't have it any other way.

KPFT/90.1 FM Car crashes and warehouse fires are dramatic on TV, but they're way boring to listen to on the radio. So why do so many of the conservative news affiliates on the AM dial waste their time on them? They're scared to tackle issues that might offend those who line their dirty pockets, that's why. You, the listener, line the pockets of community-funded KPFT radio, and they sure aren't afraid to stick it to those who deserve it. KPFT's youthful staff digs deep into the issues that affect us all -- layoffs, chemical plant infractions, water supply concerns, activism, minority issues and police brutality -- and they're covered thoroughly and honestly by anchors Renee Feltz, Ernesto Aguilar and the rest of the dedicated staff. Tune in every weekday at 5:30 p.m. for a real alternative.

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