Summer Is Usually Slow for Art in Houston, but Not this Year

'Light Up Your Life (For Sandra Bland)' by Cauleen Smith, on view at the CAMH this summer

MANY HOUSTONIANS OFTEN think of summer as the off season for art in the city. But this year, as Covid wanes, the scene is booming. Here's what's happening at just three of Houston's most iconic arts venues.


THE MENIL COLLECTION It closed for six months at the start of the pandemic, but upon reopening in the fall, the Menil has unveiled a series of captivating exhibits, including several that continue through the summer. Enchanted: Visual Histories of the Central Andes debuts on July 30 as the museum's first exhibit exploring the visual culture of the Peruvian Andes. In addition to examples of festive dress and archaeological materials, the show will highlight photos by Pierre Verger, who gifted the de Menils, the museum's founders, a large collection of his original gelatin silver prints from his trips through the Central Andes.

CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM, HOUSTON A multimedia exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Cauleen Smith focuses on how acts of kindness and the power of revolutionary thinking, in response to the injustices and inequities our society continues to face, can create a better world. We Already Have What We Need — featuring a moving video installation by the same title — debuts July 15 and runs through Oct. 3.

MILLER OUTDOOR THEATER A summer tradition, programming at Miller Outdoor Theater has made a comeback for 2021. In August, the 47th annual Houston Shakespeare Festival highlights a series of classic Shakespeare films — Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream — each one preceded by a live lecture from theatre historian and HSF executive director Rob Shimko.

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“I WISH I came here sooner to experience this amazing city,” says advanced sommelier Rachel Van Til of her move to Houston just one year before the pandemic lockdown. When Covid appeared in 2020, along with layoffs and closings, it led to a career swerve for Van Til, a working mom who was a sommelier at Pappas Steakhouse. She took over the wine program at The Clubs at Houston Oaks, a posh (initiation fees can range into the six figures) members-only club northwest of the city with 10 lodges, 17 lakes, 900 acres and six dining options. Speaking of lots of good food and vino, the club’s 2022 Wine and Food Classic is this February 12 — it’s a great chance to taste hundreds of wines from around the world and learn about them from winemakers and professionals. “It’s our largest event of the year and it’s open to the public.” In our Q&A, Rachel dishes on her favorite date night, best wines to try this year and her brush with the me-too movement!

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