Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the Zilker Park Kite Festival in Austin to a night of stand-up with Bill Maher in San Antonio. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[March 2–March 8]
For every Billy Joe Shaver, there are countless other talented songwriters who never found the right interpreter. “The songwriters of Texas are largely under-celebrated and unnoticed,” said Terry Boothe, co-founder of the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association. “Being that they are poets of culture, it seems they should be recognized for their important role in Texas cultural preservation.” Boothe’s organization is hosting its seventh annual hall of fame awards show to acknowledge the people who write the verse. The two-day event will also pay tribute to supporters of the songwriting arts, with the DKR Patron Award—as in Darrell K. Royal, the former coach of the Texas football team (Boothe played for him in the 1960s) and a close buddy of Willie Nelson. But it’s the marquee names that will fill the seats. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen will perform together just like in their A&M days, and Steve Earle will do a set in honor of the late Townes Van Zandt. “I like to think the myth, legend and attitude that is pervasive in Texas gives you more to write about,” Boothe said.
ACL Live, March 4, 5:30 p.m. texasheritagesongwriters.com
Your birth year corresponds with one of the twelve zodiac heads that will be staked along the steps leading to McGovern Lake in Hermann Park. Are you a pig, a rooster, or maybe a dragon? Fathom your animal manifestation—cast in bronze, weighing eight hundred pounds and hoisted ten feet above the ground—as imagined by Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and outspoken human rights advocate who helped conceive the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, Weiwei’s international exhibition, is a reinterpretation of the 18th century zodiac sculptures that dispensed water in Yuanming Yuan (a k a The Garden of Perfect Brightness) outside Beijing. Zodiac Heads will make its debut in advance of the opening of the new Texas headquarters of the Asia Society Texas Center in April. “We wanted to elevate the visibility of the growing prominence of the Asian communities in Houston,” said Jonathon Glus, chief executive of Houston Arts Alliance, the exhibition’s organizer. “Houston has so rapidly become a global city, we feel like it is important to bring artists that are part of the global dialogue to our green public spaces.”
Hermann Park, March 3-June 3, various times. aiweiweihouston.org
State of the Art
Mary Anita Bonner had an eye for cowboys. Her depictions of them were a hit in Paris, where the San Antonio printmaker lived for part of the 1920s. “It’s perfectly cowboy,” said Olivier Meslay, curator of Texas in the Twenties at the Dallas Museum of Art, an exhibition of works on paper by three pioneering artists, including Bonner, who helped put Texas on the map. “In the ’20s, Texas was not very well known as an artistic place,” said Meslay, who came to the museum in 2009, after seventeen years at the Louvre in Paris. “It was a small population, but at the same time there were very strong individuals working here.” Among them were Louis Oscar Griffith, whose drawings and paintings captured the emerging Dallas skyline, and Eugene Omar Goldbeck, whose Cirkut camera snapped panoramas of oil fields. Size up this local response to the national modern movement explored in Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, the accompanying touring exhibition featuring works from Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keefe.
Dallas Museum of Art, March 4-July 1, various times. dallasmuseumofart.org
Bill Maher, the provocative talk show host, once held a Stupidest State in America contest. He called Texas a “perennial powerhouse” on the strength of its “franchise player,” President George W. Bush. “How dumb are they?” Maher asked his television audience. “Their two slogans are ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ and ‘Remember the Alamo,’ which, of course, was the famous battle where somebody successfully messed with Texas.” He even dogged Matthew McConaughey. Fortunately, Arizona, in the wake of controversial immigration policies, was the victor. But Texas came in second, and that should provide fodder for the audience that receives Maher when he comes here for a night of politically charged and culturally incisive stand-up.
Majestic Theatre, March 4, 7 p.m. majesticempire.com
Go Fly a Kite
The Zilker Park Kite Festival is the longest continuously running kite festival in the United States, and it routinely offers an extraordinary amount of kites, all embellishing the backdrop of downtown, vividly reminding us of life’s simple pleasures.
Zilker Park, March 4, 10 a.m. zilkerkitefestival.com
Off the Wall
The final weekend to feel the glow of the Byzantine frescoes will be historic, as the ancient works are transferred back to the Holy Archbishop of Cyprus, a symbolic return to the Greek Orthodox chapel, that was their original home.
The Menil Collection Campus, March 2-4, various times. byzantinefrescochapel.org