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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Silo is such an alternative venue it's barely even open. In fact, the converted rice mill deep in Fifth Ward is open to the public only on rare occasions, such as when the Art Car Ball (almost) got rained out earlier this year. Billing itself on Facebook as "the place where the improbable becomes the possible," the Silo's seven-acre spread is home to an automobile graveyard, urban farming, film productions and screenings, experimental theater and tribal performance art, as well as the more traditional weddings and massive dance parties. But nothing about this place is traditional, really. If you ever want to get married in a backdrop that could have come from The Road Warrior or are looking for somewhere to hold an event that involves the words "Let's Burn Some Shit" on the flyer, then the Silo is the place you want. That almost certainly makes it the only venue of its kind in town.

On the first and fourth Fridays of the month, this is totally the place to get your geek on. Joystix, which adjoins the neighboring 1820 Bar, is a veritable nerd-fest in its own right, and when they open those doors and allow for open play while you sip on stout drinks from next door, it's a gamer's utopia. From the sweet old-school pinball machines and classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Galaga that line the walls, this place is a rad trip down memory lane, only this time you're old enough to drink while playing Centipede.

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