Grab a last look or first glimpse at opening and closing museum exhibits and installations throughout Greater Houston in May 2021.
This month brings the end of 17 exhibitions and installations in Houston, including multiple exhibits at Lawndale Art Center, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston Center for Photography, Moody Center for the Arts, and Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
May also brings the opening of 6 new exhibits, including an exploration of the brain at The Health Museum, a teen artist exhibition at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, radical drawings of the ’60s and ’70s at Menil Drawing Institute, and more.
Last Chance: Closing Exhibitions in Houston
- Carnage by Jennifer May Reiland at Lawndale Art Center | Saturday, May 1 | FREE – The Houston-native artist draws from medieval European imagery and the tradition of Mexican devotional painting to examine female guilt, martyrdom and violence against women by weaving together the stories of many women, historical and imagined.
- Mine the Gap: 2019-21 Artist Studio Program Exhibition at Lawndale Art Center | Saturday, May 1 | FREE – This exhibition presents new work by Jacquelyne Boe & David Janesko, Gerardo Rosales, and Holly Veselka, created during their 2019/21 Artist Studio Program residencies at Lawndale Art Center. The works are represented through various, disparate media and encourage nuance and close viewing to draw understandings.
- Rabéa Ballin: In Passing at Lawndale Art Center | Saturday, May 1 | FREE – The second iteration of the The Sankofa Project, curated by Tierney Malone, showcases the works of Houston-based artist Rabéa Ballin, who was born in Germany and raised in Louisiana. Her multi-disciplinary works explore the uniqueness of self-identity, hair politics, and social commentary.
- Forms of Inheritance: The Work of Anna Mayer at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft | Saturday, May 8 | FREE – This exhibition of ceramic and bronze sculptures explore humanity’s reckoning with mortality and demonstrates the fragility and fierceness of the natural world. In these works, Anna Mayer examines the impact of humanity throughout geologic time, with a focus on the temporal relationship between humans and the land beyond an individual’s life span.
- Texas Master Series: James C. Watkins at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft | Saturday, May 8 | FREE – This solo exhibition features work by Lubbock-based ceramicist and educator, James C. Watkins, who constructs double-walled vessels inspired by his memories of growing up in the South, encounters with nature, and his experience working in Asia.
- Pacifico Silano: Cowboys Don’t Shoot Straight (Like They Used To) at Houston Center for Photography | Sunday, May 9 | FREE – This large-scale, photo-based installation from lens-based artist Pacifico Silano explores imagery sourced from vintage gay pornography magazines published after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, creating a layered image that serves as memorial for those who have passed and a reflection on our current moment.
- Contemporary Practice ’21 at Houston Center for Photography | Sunday, May 9 | FREE – The 2021 edition of the annual Contemporary Practice exhibition showcases 14 artists from 8 universities and colleges across Texas. Culled from a diverse group of artists, the works all touch on the shared concepts of identity and place.
- Rendezvous: The Assembly of a Legacy at The Bryan Museum | Through Saturday, May 15 – This exhibition explores the craftsmanship and artwork of Leo Naumann, a Texas rancher, cowboy, saddle maker, artist, and Rocky Mountain trader.
- Artists & the Rothko Chapel: 50 Years of Inspiration at Moody Center for the Arts | Saturday, May 15 | FREE – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rothko Chapel, this exhibition highlights the impact the Chapel has had on both artists and the public since opening in 1971. Featured artists include Brice Marden, David Novros, Sam Gilliam, Sheila Hicks, Shirazeh Houshiary and Byron Kim.
- Electrifying Design: A Century of Lighting at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | Sunday, May 16 – Explore the evolution of lighting design across the past century, as it has transformed through major design movements to make an impact on our daily lives. This exhibition features rare and limited-production examples by designers such as Achille Castiglioni, Greta Magnusson Grossman, Ingo Maurer, Wilhelm Wagenfeld and more.
- Detention Nation & Hostile Terrain 94 at Blaffer Art Museum | Sunday, May 16 | FREE – These two artist-activist installations explore current and far-reaching questions about immigration and border issues. Undocumented Migration Project’s Hostile Terrain 94 consists of over 3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. The toe tags are geolocated on a map of the desert to show the exact places where their remains were found. Detention Nation by the Sin Huellas Artist Collective is a multimedia work consisting of video, audio, detainee letters, cyanotype body prints and plaster body casts huddled in Mylar emergency blankets, in order to reckon with the US immigrant prison complex.
- Wild Life: Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston | Monday, May 17 | FREE – This unique exhibition juxtaposes the paintings of Elizabeth Murray (born in 1940) with the sculptural works of Jessi Reaves (born 1986) that, while generations apart, are each lyrical, playful and engage with the decorative, domestic and bodily.
- Gear Up: The Science of Bikes at The Health Museum | Wednesday, May 19 – This interactive exhibition explores energy, forces and motion, engineering and material science, as well as providing a diverse collection of historic, peculiar and all-around amazing bikes to check out.
- Creative Interventions: Rice University Outdoor Structures at Moody Center for the Arts | Friday, May 21 | FREE – A new campus art initiative for the 2020-21 academic year includes art murals and installations on the sides of new campus tent facilities and open-air structures, including Allison Hunter’s video projection work showing the movement of bees, Jasmine Zelaya’s Detroit Red celebrating friendship and connectivity in the era of COVID-19, Gonzo247’s Rice Community Mural, a barn-raising from the Dutch collective We Make Carpets, and more.
- Reading the Weather by Hong Hong at Art League Houston | Saturday, May 22 | FREE – Houston-based artist Hong Hong has created a large-scale paper-work installed on the facade of Art League Houston’s building adjacent to the Sculpture Garden. The work will interact and react with the environment while on view over the course of a month, visually evidencing shifts in our environmental atmosphere and recording the passage of time.
- Journeys Remembered by Sandi Seltzer Bryant at Jung Center | Friday, May 28 | FREE – The collage painting artworks on display in this series of three separate, unique bodies of work reflects the artist’s experiences in various environments that have played a role in the current stage of her life journey, including the geothermal baths of Iceland and Wild West landscapes.
- Fire/Works: Enamel Art Through the Centuries at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | Sunday, May 31 – The process of enameling has captivated artists and collectors for 1,000 years. This exhibition features objects from the MFAH collections, showcasing the use of enamel across time and continents.
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First Look: Opening Exhibitions in Houston
- Exploring Paint by Shirl Riccetti and Donna E. Perkins at Archway Gallery | Saturday, May 1 | FREE – Reflecting both emotional and physical relationships with materials, this joint exhibition features pen and watercolor work by Shirl Riccetti in contrast with the abstract and multi-dimensional paintings of donna e perkins.
- Turn On, Tune In, Tap Out at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston | Thursday, May 13 | FREE – This group exhibition presents work in paint, sculpture, video, and photography from more than 30 Houston-area teen artists in response to the shifting way of life during the pandemic. The works reflect on questions such as “How do you define ‘The Screen’?” and “How does ‘The Screen’ protect you or hold you back?”
- Styling by the Sea: 140 Years of Swimwear at The Bryan Museum | Saturday, May 15 – Launching in conjunction with the return of the Galveston Island Beach Revue, the summer exhibit consists of a unique selection of swimwear, sunglasses, beach bags, hats, totes, sandals and other accessories, exploring the history of beachside get-ups and the origin of the bathing suit.
- Dream Monuments: Drawing in the 1960s and 1970s at Menil Drawing Institute | Friday, May 21 | FREE – Taking cues from an unrealized exhibition planned by Dominique and John de Menil, Dream Monuments presents an era of drawing works that grapple with the concept of monumentality and how to represent it through new approaches and radical transformations.
- 2020 Fellowship Exhibition at Houston Center for Photography | Friday, May 21 | FREE – Each year, HCP grants fellowships to highlight two artists’ work and offer a platform to continue developing their projects. This year’s recipients are Elizabeth Bick, who has brought her training as a dancer to the three-part series of photographs entitled Movement Studies, and Briana Vargas, who photographed communities around the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a rural region of Mexico’s state of San Luis Potosi, in her body of work, Dicen.
- Brain: The World Inside Your Head at The Health Museum | Saturday, May 29 – This all-ages exhibition employs innovative special effects, 3-D reproductions, hands-on learning activities, and interactive technology to explore the inner workings of the brain, including its processes, potentials and mysteries.
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