This Month’s Must-See Exhibits in Houston: December 2022

A neon art installation with mirrors and people in a park
"Solstice" offers an interactive experience through mirrors and LEDs in Discovery Green | Courtesy of Discovery Green

Catch our picks for the latest exhibitions and installations at art galleries and museums throughout Greater Houston in December 2022.

This month, we’ve rounded up seven of the city’s current exhibitions that represent just a slice of what Houston has to offer in the worlds of art, history and culture.

But this isn’t all you can see at museums and other institutions across the city, so go deeper and get a look at all the ongoing exhibitions when you check out our guide to installations and exhibitions in Greater Houston.

Top Exhibitions in Houston This Month: December 2022

“Trains Over Texas” on view at HMNS | Courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science

Trains Over Texas at Houston Museum of Natural Science

The holiday tradition returns to HMNS, laying out the tracks for the largest indoor O-scale model railroad in Texas.

Spanning the size of a tennis court, the railroad winds through familiar scenes and Texas destinations like Enchanted Rock and Big Bend National Park, before passing through artfully crafted cities like Houston, Galveston, San Antonio and beyond.

Make your way around the display to see multiple trains that pass through the state’s natural geology like oil country salt domes, prairies and wetlands.

*Included with general admission; prices vary.

“Moonlight and Magic” by Christie Coker | Courtesy of Archway Gallery

Showcasing new works by local artists Andrea Wilkinson and Christie Coker, this collaborate exhibition combines Wilkinson’s exquisite sculptural portraits of wild animals with Coker’s textural paintings that evoke the environs in which these animals live.

For Wilkinson, a one-time docent at Houston Zoo, her sculptures of wild animals are meant to bridge an emotional connection between each animal and the viewer, exploring how animals are highly adaptive in sharing our forested neighborhoods and yards.

Christie Coker’s artwork builds upon inspiration found in the beauty of nature’s offerings, creating acrylic paintings marked by their textured surfaces that latch onto intricate details of nature that draw her in.

A detail of “Crude Eye” by Monira Al Qadiri | Photo courtesy of Blaffer Art Museum

Monira Al Qadiri: Refined Vision at Blaffer Art Museum

This first solo exhibition from the Berlin-based artist presents these works that range from surreal to melancholic, reflecting the intense and often astonishing scenes that make up the artist’s real (and imagined) memories of her formative years in Kuwait.

Refined Vision debuts four newly commissioned major artworks that span video, glass, kinetic sculpture and interactive installations by Al Qadiri, drawing inspiration from the wealth and infrastructure found both in the Persian Gulf and the Texas Gulf Coast. The resulting exhibition offers images and scenes that are undoubtedly familiar to those of both locales.

Houston’s Cistern hosts a wintertime illumination | Courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Cistern Illuminated at Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Lined by 221 columns that cast reflections off low-laying water, the cavernous underground cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park reopens with a new winter lighting installation from Houston artist and engineer, Kelly O’Brien.

Tours are offered every hour from Wednesdays through Sundays, and are co-presented with limited performances by the Schola Cantorum of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, which promises to amplify the space with the echoes of beautiful choral music.

“The Ladder” by Philip Guston, on view at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | Courtesy of MFAH

Philip Guston Now at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Touching on what he called the “brutality of the world,” paintings by artist Philip Guston that span his 50-year career are now on display in the Audrey Jones Beck Building at MFAH.

Stretching from his earliest paintings in the 1930s to his large, often apocalyptic works in the late 1970s, this retrospective of the influential artist examines his paintings, prints and drawings that are pulled from public and private collections, and show the artist’s engagement with topics like social justice and personal anxieties.

*Included with general admission; prices vary.

“Solstice” takes over walkways in Discovery Green through February 2023 | Courtesy of Discovery Green

Solstice by Iregular at Discovery Green

Along the Brown Promenade, Montreal-based digital art studio Iregular has erected a series of LED arches, mirrors and frames to both sides of a glowing orb in the immersive, audiovisual installation known as Solstice.

This central orb represents the sun, and visitors can change both speed and direction of the sun to influence the colors around them and the installation’s soundscapes.

By doing so, guests to Solstice can take in this transformation of Earth when the sun is at its closest and furthest from the equator, simulating the longest and shortest days of the year.

“Black Shines Like Gold” by Ciara Elle Bryant | Courtesy of HMAAC

Negative Women: Four Photographers Question Boundaries at Houston Museum of African American Culture

Four women photographers—Letitia Huckaby, Tanya Habjouqa, Mari Hernandez and Ciara Elle Bryant—are brought together at HMAAC for this exhibition that spans the globe, with each artist pushing back against accepted narratives to tell more complete histories.

Tanya Habjouqa documents the less visible communities of Afro-Palestinians; Mari Hernandez poses in a series of colonial-era portraits, some adorned with facial prosthetics, that challenges historical narratives; Art League Houston’s 2022 Texas Artist of the Year Letitia Huckaby continues the examination of the Alabama community of Africatown in her Bitter Waters Sweet exhibition; and Dallas-based artist Ciara Elle Bryant exhibits a multimedia presentation that weaves together fragments of Black culture from previous decades.

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A longtime Houstonian, Justin Jerkins keeps an eye out for all sorts of happenings in H-Town, including breweries, sports, concerts, must-see destinations and much more while serving as Editor-in-Chief of 365 Things to Do in Houston.