Houston is, of course, home to NASA, a champion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And this month, the Space City furthers its standing as an innovation hub, playing host to the For Inspiration & Recognition of Technology (FIRST) Championship. The technology and robotics competition takes place among more than 40,000 K-12 students, from 40-plus countries around the world, on April 19-22. Started by Dean Kamen — the kooky innovator behind, among other inventions, the Segway and Coca-Cola’s new space-age soda-fountain machines — in 1989 in an effort to increase the number of young people who pursued careers in the science-related fields, the FIRST competitions take place year-round, culminating in a scholarship awarding championship every April. At the Houston event — which is open to the public and includes activities and competitions at the George R. Brown, the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park — teams of aspiring engineers work together to create and show off their robots, which then compete in games of varying degrees of coordination and skill. Prizes are distributed based on categories like creativity and safety. Participants also mingle with hundreds of execs from companies like Google, Boeing, General Electric and — naturally — NASA.
HOW DID YOU come together as a team? This fall, we are celebrating the introduction of an exciting real estate collaboration between Clare Leppert, longtime Houston Realtor®, and daughter Leigh Leppert. Clare shared a 20+ year real estate partnership with her mother, Bette Carpenter, until Bette’s death in 2016. Having worked solo for several years, Clare in 2021 was awarded Houston Business Journal’s No. 2 Luxury Realtor® in Houston. Leigh, who has been working in marketing for the past decade, has always shared a passion for real estate and watched Clare successfully balance family and career. We are excited to re-create the next generation of a mother-daughter duo at Compass!
Tell us about your business. What’s unique about your partnership and how does the relationship benefit the business? Clare’s experience in the luxury market for the last 20+ years is enhanced by Leigh’s fresh take on marketing and insight on the ever-evolving Houston neighborhoods. We recognize that real estate is so much more than just “the house.” Exceeding client expectations, marketing, negotiating, hand-holding, and successfully maneuvering in changing markets are what we do best.
What is the Leppert Ladies’ secret to success? We take a family approach to real estate. Clare and Leigh provide a combination of grit and grace, constantly striving to protect and honor clients’ privacy and to prioritize clients’ best interests.
What makes your partnership effective? Clients benefit from the expertise of not one but two Realtors! Clare is a top-producing, seasoned agent in the luxury market who grew up in River Oaks and knows the tried and true Houston neighborhoods. Leigh offers knowledge about current marketing and advertising strategies and is a connoisseur of Houston hotspots and happenings.
What can Houston expect from this duo? We specialize in assisting clients in all seasons of life. From leasing or purchasing for the first time to empty-nesting and beyond, Clare and Leigh will be there! Our goal is to be your real estate partner for generations to come.
THE NEW YEAR has already yielded its fair share of tastebud-tingling headlines — and here's a few more! From a prolific restaurateur's big announcement to a Houston institution's ambitious expansion, catch up on all the latest below.
Café Express Heads to The Woodlands
Family meals at Cafe Express (photo by Michael Anthony)
A few months after debuting its fresh new look on West Gray, Café Express has announced it will open a new location on College Park in The Woodlands on Monday, Jan. 30. Channeling an artsy European café, the space boasts eclectic wall. hangings, Italian-upholstered furniture and, of course, a menu of "craft-casual" eats like comforting soups and pastas, healthful salads, and perfectly grilled entrees. Café Express plans to open a whopping 30 new outposts over the next seven years, including one in Baybrook this summer.
West U Greeks Out Over New Kriti Kitchen
Offering counter-service breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with grab-and-go items and heat-and-eat meals, Greek-inspired Kriti Kitchen is now open in West U. Chef-owner Mary Cuclis, a Pondicheri alum, started as a caterer, offering handy meals prepped for groups that were announced on her social media platforms. Its popularity segued to her current space located in Weslayan Plaza. Dishes are made with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients, so you might find a few surprise selections each time you visit. Read more here!
Ben Berg Takes on Chinese Cuisine
A rendering of the forthcoming 1818 Washington restaurants
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben Berg is back at it. In April, Berg Hospitality Group will open a pair of brand-new concepts next-door to Berg's original B&B Butchers & Restaurant on Washington. At Benny Chows, Berg will, for the first time, explore Chinese cuisine, including dim sum bites and classics like Peking duck, along with a sure-to-be exquisite filet mignon-and-broccoli. Expect Chinese-inspired design elements and, upstairs, a rooftop bar boasting a coveted skyline view. Known as Canopy Social, the third-floor space will have a retractable roof and an indoor-outdoor decor scheme, a la rattan furniture, water features and tons of greenery.
Popular Cocktail Bar Shakes Up Montrose with Second Location
Pizza at Betelgeuse Betelgeuse (photo by Lindsey Cooper-Trevino)
Pizza and cocktails — a classic pairing? It is now, thanks to the success of Betelgeuse Betelgeuse in the Sixth Ward. The hot spot, owned by Chris Cusack, will open a second location this summer, at 4500 Montrose Blvd. Quirky and outer-space-themed, the popular bar known for its laid-back vibes and funky art — not to mention the blistery pies and drink list that also includes local beers and natural wines — will fit right into the Montrose scene. More details are forthcoming.
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MFAH Installs Two Provocative Paintings in its Foyer, Presenting Them Together as a 'Portrait of Courage'
THE ENERGY IN the foyer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Caroline Wiess Law Building is quite lively, thanks to the installation of two provocative paintings, painted 400 years apart — one by Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian 17th-century female artist, the other by Kehinde Wiley, a contemporary, Nigerian-born queer Black artist. Each depicts the grisly climax in the Old Testament Book of Judith, in which the widow Judith decapitates the Assyrian general Holofernes, thus saving her besieged Jewish city of Betulia.
Presented together as Portrait of Courage and installed on opposite walls, each painting is a masterpiece in its depiction of violence made all the more shocking perhaps because the subject with the sword is a strong, beautiful woman. Portrait of Courage opened Jan. 26 and is on view through April 16.
MFAH associate curator of European Art, James Anno, and associate curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Anita Bateman, were tasked with the installation of the paintings, both titled "Judith and Holofernes." “There are many layers and narratives that any particular object proposes,” says Anno of his and Bateman’s roles as curators. “We get to choose what aspect we want to put our finger on and say, ‘Let’s follow this story.’ This is a case where we’re doing that. We’re selecting aspects of the work that dialogue with each other in a sense that’s relevant to us right now.”
Wiley, whose portrait of President Barack Obama along with Amy Sherald’s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama exhibited at MFAH in Spring 2022, is well known for his heroic portraits of Black men and women, who are not professional models, posed in historical settings and exhibiting gestures appropriated from Old Master paintings.
In Wiley’s "Judith and Holofernes," Judith is modeled by Treisha Lowe, dressed in a blue gown, its color close to that of the dress worn by Judith in Gentileschi’s painting, her left arm at a downward diagonal clutching not the head of a marauding general, but that of Wiley’s studio assistant, who is female and white. Including his assistant may be another allusion to the complex role of an artist assistant during the Baroque era of painting, but Lowe’s dramatic hairstyle, carefully applied makeup, and tattoo are thoroughly contemporary. She stands with just a hint of onstage theatricality, the colors of her ensemble and fingernails complemented by an opulent backdrop of flowers and traces of blood on a sheathed sword.
'Judith and Holofernes' by Gentileschi, left, and Wiley
Meanwhile, there’s nothing understated about Gentileschi’s Judith; this is a woman who is not afraid to get her hands bloody. With a little help from her maidservant, Judith holds the struggling Holofernes firmly by his hair with her left arm while using a sword in her right to calmly saw off his head. Gentileschi’s Judith may be a self-portrait; Gentileschi painted this after she had been raped by a family friend, who was brought to a trial in which Gentileschi was tortured with thumb screws to ensure she was telling the truth.
It is heartening to see museums stepping up via their curatorial decisions to challenge the male, Euro-centric narrative of the history of art and societal definitions of whose bodies are “beautiful” and worthy of being painted. But Anno, Bateman, and MFAH director Gary Tinterow all point out that this is something artists throughout the ages have always done.
“You have these artists who have always been at the vanguard of what they’ve been doing, whether they be African American contemporary artists or a 17th-century woman painter, then you have these people who may not understand what they’re doing in the moment,” says Bateman. “But culture catches up to what they’re doing,”
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