Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

If light artist James Turrell weren't a Houston favorite before his latest exhibition, "The Light Inside," he certainly is now. Turrell, a pioneer in the Light and Space movement, contributed an installation of the same name to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2000. That Light Inside was the lighted tunnel between two of MFAH's buildings (colors morph from blue to red and back while blurring the physical elements of the space, making it seem to be an endless void on either side of the walkway rather than just a few feet of empty space). The newest "Light Inside" was a gallery exhibit featuring seven immersive environments, ranging from the artist's first projection projects to his most recent series. Walking into one of the galleries that housed the exhibit was a perception-bending experience for visitors (and slightly disorienting for some). Space and time in the galleries seemed to no longer be on the same continuum as in the museum's corridors just outside the door. While light installations are fairly commonplace in the contemporary art world, few had the impact of Turrell's "The Light Inside."

Howl At The Moon

The talent and range of the musicians at Midtown's Howl at the Moon are vast, impressive and downright fun. Whether singing covers of Top 40 radio hits, rapping the best of hip-hop or belting out the standards, the party is always moving in this interactive atmosphere of music and libations. One of the main attractions here is the 86-ounce "Buckets of Booze," which are tasty vats of liquid courage that free your mind so you can sing along with the crowd. Bring a friend or your whole office to this cool and casual blend of karaoke, concert and cantina that will have you howling by the end of the night.

JPMorgan Chase Tower

The theater district is full of some of Houston's most recognizable landmarks, from Jones Hall and the Alley Theatre to the downtown skyline's tallest building, the JPMorgan Chase Tower. But while it may be dwarfed by the 75-story skyscraper, the sculpture in the plaza by Catalonia-born artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) makes a much cooler calling card. Perhaps a surrealist spin on the 1958 B-movie Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (or perhaps not), the pyramid-based structure of steel and bronze — in red, green, blue, yellow and black — bears a remarkable resemblance to Miró's 1926 painting Personage Throwing a Stone at a Bird and has been dubbed the "Tinker Toy" by employees in the neighboring tower. The building's architect, I.M. Pei, found Personnage et oiseaux an ideal extension of Miró's whimsical nature. "It was Miró's mischievous aspect that appealed to me," he told the media at the building's 1982 dedication, when it was still known as the Texas Commerce Bank Building (and which, sadly, Miró was too ill to attend). "His work is a celebration of life."

Wortham Theater Center

With any dance performance, it must be noted that the dance is only half of what makes a show either remarkable or unmemorable. The other half is the lighting. In this year's "Dance Salad Festival," Robert Eubanks and Nathan Haworth's creative lighting design was as impressive as the work itself. From piece to piece, the lighting mirrored the sentiments of the various choreographers and both complemented the work and stole some of the show.

Cecil's Pub

Cheap drinks; friendly bartenders; pool tables; an expansive patio; an old-school juke with Muddy Waters, Elvis Costello and Outkast; a laid-back crowd; the occasional laid-back dog: We're generally pleased if a bar has one or two of these things, but it's downright kick-ass when they're all rolled into one. There are trendier bars in Montrose, but if you want a break from craft beer and mixologists and just want an ­honest-to-goodness bar, pull up a stool. You're here.

The Orange Show

This year's winner for Best Festival, the Houston Art Car Parade, is actually a weekend-long party that includes the parade; a ball; an awards ceremony and brunch; and other, slightly less official events. True to the parade's Orange Show beginnings, the celebrations are all weird, eccentric and decidedly offbeat. The procession of art cars, art bikes and what are best described as tricked-out contraptions remains the centerpiece, with more than 300 entries from across the country and an audience of 250,000 spectators at last year's parade.

Painter Justin Garcia calls himself an abstract expressionist. It's a more accurate label than simple artist, he says. Garcia is currently enjoying success with both collectors and critics. In today's fickle art world, that's rare. Rarer still is Garcia's drive to blend his artistic endeavors with good business sense. Putting good work on the canvas isn't enough. His self-imposed job description includes getting those canvases in front of an appreciative — and buying — public.

Etro Lounge

If you're looking to pump up the volume...and the hairspray, Etro Lounge is the place to be. The Montrose hot spot blasts '80s pop and underground to the always-ready-to-party crowd. Some come dressed in their regular attire while others deck themselves out in the decade's finest. Spandex and neon and teased hair, oh my! Join the fun Tuesday through Sunday, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. With Etro's multiple bars and drink specials on school nights, we can promise your hangover will be right from the '80s, too.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston

The Lobby Lounge is exactly what it sounds like: a tastefully appointed lounge just off the lobby inside the Four Seasons hotel downtown. You can valet your car for only $6 and head inside for one of the best whiskey selections in town, along with a nice array of craft beers, wines and small bar bites prepared by chef Maurizio Ferrarese (whose cuisine at upstairs restaurant Quattro is noted as some of Houston's finest Italian food). Live music is on offer Tuesday through Thursday nights and there's never a cover charge, which means it's usually pleasantly busy.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Brown Auditorium Theater

Now in its eighth year, Latin Wave: New Films from Latin America is bigger and better than ever. Standout hits from the 2013 festival included emerging Argentine writer/director/producer Carlos Sorin's Días de Pesca (Gone Fishing). The family drama about a man searching for his estranged daughter received a Special Jury Prize at La Habana Film Festival. This is the second Latin Wave outing for Sorin, who made a splash at the first year's screenings with El Perro. Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead), sort of a Shaun of the Dead zombie comedy set in Cuba, was also on the schedule. Latin Wave is produced by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Fundación Proa (Buenos Aires) and Tenaris.

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