Money doesn't grow on trees, so we're always on the lookout for fun things to do on a budget. This week we've got a flick about going all-out for prom, a sneak peek at the art cars, a brand-spanking-new festival in Missouri City, LEGO® fun at Rice and a celebration of the official state flower of Texas: bluebonnets. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and nine of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
Discovery Green and Avenida Houston
6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, free
Open wide and say "aaah." Believe it or not, the interiors of the art cars are sometimes just as elaborate (and wacky) as the exteriors. Come get a sneak peek at more than 100 of the entries for this year's Houston Art Car Parade in a reversal of fortune; here the cars are parked and the public gets to parade around and look inside, talk to the artists, and enjoy the live music by Kermit Ruffins. Bring cash for food and drinks for this collaboration with parade presenter Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.
Texas Filmmakers Night
Aurora Picture Show
8 p.m. Thursday, free
Film buffs and aficionados of the Lone Star State will want to check out the best of the best in this trio of award-winning Texas-made shorts. There's The Send-Off by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan (about Pahokee prom night), Carne Seca by Jazmin Diaz (imagine having to sell a cooler of beef by sunset) and 1985 by Yen Tan (a dying man tries to conceal his illness from his estranged mother). All three shorts received grants from the Austin Film Society, which co-presents Texas Filmmakers Night with the Houston Film Commission. Wannabe filmmakers should arrive early at 6:30 p.m. for a grant-writing workshop with AFS's artist services manager, Iliana Sosa.
5855 Sienna Spring Way, City of Missouri City
Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, free
It's the first of its kind, but we suspect it won't be the last. View work by local artisans while strolling through the art market and taste food from Ford Bend eateries. Jam to tunes by headliners Blue Water Highway, Griffin House, A. Sinclair and Cari Q. They'll be joined by Bourbon Street the Band and Campfire Soul. It's a full day of fun and, before it's over, you'll soon realize why the City of Missouri City is dubbed the "Show Me City."
Laughs for the Ladies Comedy Show
8:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, $10
Local funny girl Liz Padjen is the mastermind behind this evening of laughs, and for her second time at bat she's hosting a great lineup that includes headliner Crystal Powell and local comics KiKi Maroon, Katie McGee, Roxxy Haze, Kathryn Way and Stacy Anderson. The show does cater to a female audience, but men are always welcome. Be sure to stay through till the end; they're holding a raffle for a pair of tickets to the upcoming Yellow Rose Comedy Festival slated for May 12-13. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Dorothea Van Camp, "In The Hearts of Men"
Cathie Kayser, "Katabasis: A Descent"
Nicole Longnecker Gallery
5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, free
Houston-based artist Cathie Kayser was inspired by Jung and grabbed onto the word "katabasis," meaning a descent into the underworld. She'll be showing new works that reflect an underlying structure and also convey their own narrative. She's sharing the spotlight with Bostonian Dorothea Van Camp, who, after November's election, felt compelled to make portraits of hearts: black hearts, pure hearts, complicated hearts and vacuous hearts. Come meet the artists at this opening reception and, if you just can't make it, the exhibits remain up through May 13.
A Festival of Curiosity
Anderson-Clarke Center, Rice University
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, free
We'll admit, we were hooked as soon as we saw they've organized a LEGO® community build of the Rice University shield. But as much as we love those tiny colored building blocks, there's plenty more to explore during this 50th birthday shebang for The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Most of the lectures are already sold out, though you might be able to get into "Rice 360: Innovating and Educating for Global Health Impact." Throughout the three-hour festival, enjoy chalk art by Via Colori artists, food trucks (Curbside Sliderz, Taco Me Crazy, Foreign Policy), a photo booth, a collage wall, the Marching Owl Band, DJ Mycle and owl crafts for the kiddos. Spots are limited; RSVP on eventbrite.
53rd Annual Bluebonnet Festival of Texas
Chappell Hill Historical Society, Chappell Hill
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, free
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, free
Come see why Texas Highways magazine voted this ode to azure flowers into the Top 10 list of Texas festivals. There are plenty of flowers and meadows along the highway to lead the way. When you arrive you'll find tours of the historical community, country-style food, artists, pony rides and a petting zoo. Live music keeps it festive with performances by Abigail Taylor, Cloggers Unlimited, Julia Hatfield, Jim Mazurkiewicz and Polska Kapela, Trey & Amerida, Jeff Jacobs Band and Gary Durrenberger. It's free to get in, but bring $5 for parking.
HTXO Full Moon Hike
Memorial Park Running Trail Center
7:15-8:30 p.m. Monday, free
Unless you're busy turning into a werewolf, embrace tonight's full moon and hit the trails with the outdoor-loving social explorers of HTXoutdoors. Event leader Amy Hope says they're changing up the trails from typical runs and, if we time things just right, we'll be able to see the moon rise around 7:20 a.m. and the sun set around 7:45 p.m. Bring a headlamp or flashlight and stay after for social time at a local eatery.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos book signing
Murder By The Book
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, free
Austin-based author Dominic Smith (Bright and Distant Shores, The Beautiful Miscellaneous and The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre) will be on hand to sign and discuss the paperback release of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos; his hard-copy version snagged a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and an Amazon Editors’ Top Pick. It's a fascinating piece of fiction: Smith unravels a tale of how a rare 17th-century painting connects three different people from three continents over three centuries. There's the female master painter of the Dutch Golden Age, a wealthy patent attorney from New York, and an art history student who crossed the line into forgery. Smith has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University and Rice University.
Claudia La Rocco: Criticism Is Dead. Long Live Criticism.
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, free
As traditional criticism wanes, we enter an era where everybody has an opinion and everybody's a critic. Writer and editor Claudia La Rocco (The Best Most Useless Dress, petit cadeau), in DiverseWorks' latest Diverse Discourse Lecture and Studio Visit, will discuss "public thinking out loud within current public discourse" through a series of questions. She draws on her experiences with the written word, as well as collaborations with choreographer Michelle Ellsworth, the performance company Findlay//Sandsmark and saxophonist/composer Phillip Greenlief. This event is free, but RSVP for tickets.