In the Texas Monthly Recommends series, Texas Monthly writers, editors, photographers, and producers offer their favorite recent cultural discoveries from the great state of Texas.

Maren Morris sings For the Throne

Like seemingly everyone I know, I’ve got Game of Thrones fever (really worried about Grey Worm and Brienne this week, y’all), but I didn’t know I needed a reverb-drenched, minor-key exploration of the loneliness one finds in Westeros until I heard Maren Morris’s Thrones-inspired “Kingdom of One” this week. The song comes to us from the For the Throne compilation album HBO commissioned to accompany the series’ eighth and final season (which also features fellow Texan Travis Scott on the track “Power is Power”). In addition to speaking to the pain one might find in the hearts of Sansa, Arya, or Daenerys, it’s also a bit of a flex from Morris. She moves outside both her country and pop comfort zones to show off what she’s capable of in a musical setting more akin to something we’d expect from Florence Welch or Neko Case. She sounds great, of course—a voice like hers works in any genre. As we await the army of the dead’s arrival at Winterfell, it’s exciting to hear the inner lives of the characters expressed so beautifully.
—Dan Solomon, writer-at-large

A still from Brené Brown’s Netflix special.Aaron Pinkston, Courtesy of Netflix

Brené Brown’s Netflix Special, The Call to Courage

I’ve been a fan of Brown since I watched her TED talk on vulnerability three years ago. In her new Netflix special, with humor and grace, she dives deep into what she’s learned from her three social work degrees and a decade of research on shame and vulnerability. She is an incredible, relatable storyteller with southern charm that helps her audience to trust her advice. I laughed, I cried, and I was moved and challenged by her questions. She concludes the special with words for our anxiety-ridden American culture: “Show up, be seen, and answer the call to courage.” I woke up the next day feeling equipped to choose bravery over fear and more inclined to try something new without feeling the need to be great at it. I’m sure we all could use a little more of that in our lives.

—Bolora Munkhbold, art assistant


Artist Shyama Golden’s Instagram

I was familiar with Shyama Golden’s art before I knew her name. I’d seen the cover of Fatimah Asghar’s book of poetry, If They Come for Us, and I had seen her resplendent portrait of Michelle Obama circulating online before a friend directed me to Golden’s Instagram account. Originally from Houston, she now works out of her home in New York City and regularly treats her Instagram followers to behind-the-scenes look at her creative process. My favorite of her works is a circular oil painting of a woman who’s split down the middle by a mirror, essentially giving the viewer two completely different portraits: one of a woman wearing glasses and the other of the same woman in a bejeweled mask. Her images are beautiful and rich in color and texture. Other than on Instagram, the most recent place you can spot Golden’s work is in the movie Little, for which Golden created two paintings of actress Regina Hall. The artist also illustrated the cover for Pet, an upcoming book by writer Akwaeke Emezi. You’ll likely be seeing even more of Golden’s work soon, so now’s the time to get familiar with her name.

—Doyin Oyeniyi, assistant editor

Pose for photos in Van Gogh’s “Night Cafe.”Courtesy of MFAH

Vincent Van Gogh: His Life in Art at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts

The Van Gogh exhibit in Houston is a blockbuster. Featuring more than fifty of his works—most from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam—the show is organized chronologically, from his darker, earthier early pieces to his later experiments with color, including his iconic sunflowers painted during his final years in the South of France. You can also read snippets of the hundreds of letters Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, as well as painstaking reproductions of the artist’s sketchbooks, to better learn the story of his life. A few of his most iconic paintings are only on view as reproductions, including the famously dour “Potato Eaters,” but the exhibit as a whole is satisfying and moving. My husband and I visited both the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles on our first trip to Europe together, nearly twenty years ago. So we loved this new opportunity to share his paintings with our twelve-year-old daughter. Of course, her favorite part of the day was the terrific side exhibit “Van Gogh Up Close,” where kids of all ages can pose for photos sitting on Vincent’s bed in the yellow house in Arles, sit at a table at the “Night Café” or draw their own versions of sunflowers at art stations. It’s one of the best interactive art exhibits I’ve ever seen. The gift shop is well-stocked too, with items from the Amsterdam museum, including a Vincent puppet with a removable ear—definitely dark humor. See the show before it closes June 27.

—Amy Dorning, copy editor