HOUSTON—CounterCurrent, presented by University of Houston Mitchell Center for the Arts and now in its fifth year, takes place April 10-15 at various sites throughout Houston. The 2018 lineup includes artists—mostly women of color—from Costa Rica, the UK, and throughout the U.S., including Houston, as local dancer and choreographer Laura Gutierrez premieres Center Aisle Blues at the Fiesta Mart. And in true Mitchell Center fashion, the festival is presented in collaboration with partners citywide. Mitchell Center director Karen Farber says, “For us, artists lead the way since we really don’t know what the festival will look like until we choose the artists for that year. As we hear what they are working on, and find themes, we begin to know where artists—and often our society as a whole—are headed.”
Photo by Amitava Sarkar.
#9: Benito Huerta at William Campbell Contemporary Art
FORT WORTH—For Odd Ducks and Other Assorted Tales, his current exhibition at William Campbell Contemporary Art on view through April 18, Benito Huerta has turned the lens on himself. In his self-portraits, Huerta brings to bear not only the personal and political events that have touched his life but also many of the historical art movements that have influenced his now substantial body of work. The ideas for the oil paintings, watercolors, and lithographs come from the many sources that have influenced him during his four decades on the Texas art scene, not the least of which was growing up in the Cold War era of “duck and cover” and rock’ n’ roll.
Benito Huerta, Crown of Creation, 2016, oil on canvas, 84 x 84 inches. Courtesy the artist.
#8: Fusebox Festival
AUSTIN—Austin takes keeping it weird to its Platonic ideal with the 2018 Fusebox Festival, bringing local, national and international artists to perform and create a kind of temporary art community with Austin (and beyond) audiences. The line up, selected by Ron Berry, Fusebox founder, and two new curators on the Fusebox team, Anna Gallagher-Ross and Betelhem Makonnen, includes Charles O. Anderson’s immersive movement piece, (Re)current Unrest, Rude Mechs’s The Cold Record, and Bessie Award winning Abby Z and the New Utility’s hyper-physical dance, Abandoned Playground, Grackle Call by Collide Arts/Steve Parker, Justin Shoulder’s late night Hub show Carrion, Canadian performing arts group Mammalian Diving Reflex in All the Sex I’ve Ever Had and much more.
Photo by Alex Davies.
#7: Art from Viceregal at San Antonio Museum of Art
SAN ANTONIO—San Antonio Museum of Art presents the tricentennial exhibition San Antonio 1718: Art from Viceregal Mexico organized in three sections: People and Places, The Cycle of Life, and The Church, creating a narrative of the city’s first century through more than 100 artworks including landscapes, portraits, devotional and decorative objects, and more, many of which have never been exhibited in the U.S. The show features depictions of political, economic power alongside more personal, intimate moments, and celebrates the city’s deep Hispanic roots and cultural ties with Mexico with works by Cristόbal de Villalpando (1649-1714), Miguel Cabrera (1695-1768), and José de Páez (1720-1790), and others.
Jose de Páez, New Spain, 1720-1790, De Español e India produce Mestizo, from series of Mexican Castes, ca. 1780, oil on canvas, h. 36 in. (91 cm); w. 41 in. (104.5 cm). Private Collection. Photo: Minerva Morales.
#6: Fort Worth Opera Festival
FORT WORTH—Fort Worth Opera Festival offers Brief Encounters (April 29-May 1), three 15-minute operas, including Avow by Mark Adamo, Again by Jake Heggie and Feel the Tango by Fort Worth Opera’s artistic director Joe Illick; Maria de Buenos Aires (April 27 & May 5) by Argentina’s tango king Astor Piazzolla; and Gaetano Donizetti’s comedy Don Pasquale (April 28-May 6) in a production that transplants the story to Hollywood, casting Pasquale as a matinee idol who doesn’t see that his charms have faded.
2018 Fort Worth Opera Festival production of Brief Encounters. Photo by Nine Photography.
#5: Gael Stack at Holly Johnson
DALLAS— In her decades-long career as a painter, Gael Stack has amassed a varied and unique iconography that ranges from such diverse sources as “renaissance babies” and a Japanese “hungry ghost” called a Gaki, to scraps of language and secretarial shorthand. Her latest exhibition, at Dallas’s Holly Johnson Gallery, on view through May 5, is aptly titled Tinies. The roughly postcard-sized paintings are precious in their smallness, but they are suffused with the same easygoing elegance as their vaster cousins, mere moves in a sweeping repertoire: A Stackian visual language that continues to expand over time.
Gael Stack, Untitled, 2016, oil painting on paper, 7 x 4 ¾ inches. Courtesy the artist and Moody Gallery, Houston, Texas.
#4: Marfa Myths & Hyperobjects at Ballroom Marfa
MARFA—Marfa Myths, presented by Ballroom Marfa, in partnership with Brooklyn indie label Mexican Summer (April 12-15), is a music festival, recording residency, artist residency, and multidisciplinary cultural program. The lineup for the music festival includes, famed British post-rockers Wire, Brazilian Tropicália star Tom Zé, singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt, experimental folk singer Circuit des Yeux, Canadian folk band The Weather Station, outlaw country singer-painter Terry Allen, vintage jangle-folk-er Ryley Walker, Swans’ drummer’s Thor & Friends, NY expansive Helado Negro with Ensemble, influential electronic composer Suzanne Ciani, a site-specific Gravity Hill installation, and much more. Ballroom Marfa also opens Hyperobjects on April 13, a group exhibition co-organized by philosopher and Rice University professor Timothy Morton and Ballroom Marfa Director & Curator Laura Copelin, and involves “engaging ideas from Morton’s theory to confront the overwhelming scale of today’s ecological crisis.”
Photo courtesy of the artists.
#3: Laura Owens at Dallas Museum of Art
DALLAS— Laura Owens is a prolific artist, manoeuvring seamlessly between abstraction and figuration, and between different painting styles. Her mid-career survey Laura Owens, is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through July 29, after a run at the Whitney Museum. The DMA presentation highlights themes that are consistent throughout the artist’s career, most importantly her treatment of painting alongside installation, and the collaborative nature of her work.
Laura Owens, Untitled, 2013, acrylic, oil, and resin on linen. Collection of Meir and Katya Teper. © Laura Owens.
#2: Norma at Houston Grand Opera
HOUSTON —With a cast that includes Liudmyla Monastyrska as Norma and HGO Studio alum and now superstar Jamie Barton as Adalgisa, Houston Grand Opera’s production of Bellini’s Norma is one opera not to miss, April 27-May 11 at George R. Brown’s Resilience Theater. Former HGO Studio members Chad Shelton and Peixin Chen, along with current studio members Yelena Dyachek and Yongzhao Yu, also grace the production, which is directed by Kevin Newbury and conducted by Patrick Summers. Norma will be HGO’s penultimate opera in their aptly named Resilience Theater. Barton adds, “I’m so proud of HGO and honestly, as a former Houston Grand Opera Studio member this is very much my home opera house. This season is one that will go down in the history books.”
Jamie Barton in the San Francisco Opera production of Norma.
Photo by Cory Weaver.
#1: Michelangelo at the MFAH
HOUSTON—The artistic process rarely garners as much attention and appreciation as the finished masterpiece, but shaded charcoal figures, sculpted wax half-forms and rough wooden models–the staggered steps along the way to final creation–have their own magnificent beauty. This idea becomes especially true when an artist like Michelangelo holds the charcoal and strips the wood. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s new exhibition Michelangelo and the Vatican: Masterworks from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples, which runs through June 10, pulls in art lovers with its blockbuster names: Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Tintoretto.