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Cultural Festivals
Houston City Wide Celebration Of The Arts Showcases Cultural Diversity, World Premieres

Houston Arts Month Kicks Off May 1

When you think of Houston, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Energy? NASA? Perhaps. World-class art? Maybe not. But that's about to change.

The first-ever Houston Arts Month kicks off May 1 with the Latin Wave film festival and continues with world premieres such as acclaimed Finnish choreographer J orma Elo's newest ballet, major exhibitions including Treasures from the Hermitage: Russia's Crown Jewels and one-of-a-kind events you'll only find in the Bayou City like the annual Art Car Parade. The month-long celebration is designed to showcase the breadth and diversity of the arts in Houston and the integral role they play in the culture of the city.

"The arts contribute mightily to Houston," says Emily Todd, deputy director of the Menil Collection and former cultural affairs advisor to Houston City Hall. "Art brings fun, it brings jobs, it's educational – and it's everywhere in the city, from the Quilt show and arts festivals downtown, to the Orange Show by Hobby Airport to the Museum District to the independent theaters scattered through town. What I find so amazing is that a visitor could spend just 48 hours in Houston and experience a vast spectrum of art, from the serenity of the Rothko Chapel to an edgy, alternative performance at Poison Girl just blocks away."

Other Houston Arts Month featured events include:
The Monster at the Door. – American Playwright and 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph returns to the Alley Theatre stage with the world premiere of his much-anticipated psychological thriller, "The Monster at the Door." Pitting the corporate world against a 21st-century artist, Joseph tells the violent and wickedly-funny tale of a woman with a paintbrush facing off against a man with a spreadsheet.

The Whole World Was Watching-Civil Rights-Era Photographs Exhibit – This exhibition presents a selection of works from an extraordinary gift to the Menil Collection. The works, by photographers such as Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon and Elliott Erwitt, captures the profound changes taking place in the United States beginning in the 1960s. It includes a wide variety of striking images that deal with race and politics, from marchers on the road from Selma to Montgomery to cotton workers in the Mississippi Delta.

French Impressionists. – While the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is renovating its galleries, it will ship 50 paintings by French artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The National Gallery´s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection ranks among the finest of any museum in the world. The MFAH presentation will showcase works by the likes of Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Renoir and Georges Seurat.

Vera of Las Vegas. – Opera Vista, Houston's contemporary opera company, will present Daron Hagen's Vera of Las Vegas. Unconventional, with an eclectic score that mixes 20th Century atonality with jazz and Broadway, this not your typical opera. Visitors interested in attending the French Impressionists exhibit at MFAH may want to take advantage of discounted ticket/hotel packages being offered by area hotels.  As part of Houston Arts Month, the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau held an arts contest late last year to encourage innovation among local artists and spur interest in the upcoming event. The winning entry, Lofty, from artist Christopher "Bexar" Olivier drew more than 15,000 votes in the online contest.

Houston is home to one of the largest and most concentrated collections of museums in the world and boasts more than 22,000 concerts, plays, exhibitions and other arts programs annually. The city's cultural events and artistic exhibitions draw an estimated 9.2 million people each year. Houston is also one of only a handful of cities in the nation with resident professional companies in the four major performing arts disciplines: ballet, symphony, drama and opera. For more on Houston Arts Month, including a complete lineup of events, visit