Even before the calendar turned to summer, Texas hit triple-digit temperatures and their attendant energy conservation warnings. It’s time to seek out air conditioned spaces. Where better to hide from the heat than in a museum, movie theater, or anywhere else where you’re not paying for utilities? OK, yes, there’s Barbie and Oppenheimer (which have no Texans involved to speak of—trust us, we tried to find ’em), but the culture offerings this summer range much further than Hollywood blockbusters. We’ve got vampires fighting along the Texas–Mexico border, Selena Gomez back to solve more murders, Shakespeare plays in repertory, the return of a beloved Austin video store, and much more. This summer, there’s no reason to be bored—or sweaty—if you don’t want to be.


The Gulf, by Rachel Cochran (out now)

Set in the fictional, tight-knit, religious small town of Parson, Texas, author Rachel Cochran’s debut novel blends rich world-building, winding mystery, and forbidden love. The story follows Lou, a closeted 29-year-old woman living in Parson in the aftermath of both the Vietnam War and a devastating hurricane. When her surrogate mother is murdered, Lou seems to be the only person in town interested in solving the mystery. Along the way, she must reunite with her first love, Joanna, and uncover the sinister history of Parson and its residents. Termed “an auspicious debut” by the Washington Post, The Gulf promises to thrill. —Paulina Rodriguez

Raising the Steaks: My Journey to Creating the Best Steakhouse in the World: Nick & Sam’s, by Samir Dhurandhar (out now) 

For two decades, Samir Dhurandhar has been slaying the steak scene with the renowned Dallas steakhouse Nick & Sam’s, which has been around since 1999 and is known for its top-tier steaks and sophisticated ambiance. Dhurandhar—who has cultivated an elite clientele, including George Clooney and Shaq—dives deep into his culinary journey in his new memoir. He shares some of his most acclaimed recipes from the restaurant and his own kitchen, along with more general cooking tips. —Ana Davila Chalita

Vampires of El Norte, by Isabel Cañas (August 15)  

The second novel by Mexican American author Isabel Cañas, Vampires of El Norte, is gothic romance meets historical fiction. In a supernatural version of the Mexican–American War, Mexican cowboys face off against Anglo settlers and vampires. Protagonist Nena is a rancher’s daughter haunted by a supernatural encounter in her past, determined to avoid marrying a stranger and prove her worth to her father. In her quest, she embarks on a path that leads her to join the war as a healer. Meanwhile, her childhood love Nestor is working as a vaquero under the false impression that Nena is dead. Romance—and fright—ensues. —A.D.C.

Winifred Sanford: The Life and Times of a Texas Writer, by Betty Holland Wiesepape (September 5)     

This upcoming biography recounts the life of Winifred Sanford, one of the founding writers of the Texas Institute of Letters. Originally from Minnesota, Winifred’s fiction (best known for her short story, Windfall) depicts the changing face of a Texan society mid oil boom, paralleling the themes she saw in her own life as she accommodated to Wichita Falls. Though she is often forgotten, her subject material is still applicable today, as our home-state continues to grow and expand, changing before our eyes.  —José Alfredo Almazan

Film & TV

Asteroid City (Theaters, June 23)

In a picture saturated with the yellow-orange hues of desert sand and rock and baby-blue skies, Wes Anderson’s newest film Asteroid City is “really about what do you do when you experience something that no one else has experienced with someone you night not ever see again,” said lead actor Jason Schwartzman, for whom Anderson wrote the part, in an interview on the Today show. In the titular desert town, Hollywood Pro Bowlers Adrien Brody, Steve Carrell, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Ed Norton, Margot Robbie, Liev Schreiber, Tilda Swinton, and Jeffrey Wright gather at a junior stargazer and space cadet event in 1955 hosted by the U.S. government. What develops is a human drama punctuated by extraterrestrial visits. Oh, also, the film is actually about a TV program about a theatrical play about the town. —Arman Badrei

CineFestival (Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, July 12–16)

The first and longest-running Latino film festival in the country, CineFestival returns to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center for the forty-fourth time next month. Dedicated to premiering Chicano, Latino, and Indigenous cinema with an emphasis on Texas-related films, the festival has made headlines in past years for screening new work from Latino artists including Guillermo del Toro, Edward James Olmos, Gina Rodriguez, and Luis Valdez, among others. The five-day festival will feature a packed lineup of over sixty screenings, as well as Q&As, panel discussions, and workshops. This year’s iteration includes a variety of free community events, including a free family day, a special screening of original work by local student filmmakers, and a matinee for seniors, making it the ideal way for the entire cinephile family to spend the weekend. —P.R.

Texas Monthly's summer arts preview 2023
Timothy Olyphant, Claire Danes, and Dennis Quaid in Full Circle.Sarah Shatz/HBO

Full Circle (Max, July 13)

The latest entry in the canon of prestige miniseries, Full Circle boasts an all-star cast, including Houston native Dennis Quaid alongside Claire Danes, Zazie Beetz, Jim Gaffigan, CCH Pounder, Jharrel Jerome, and Timothy Olyphant. The six-part series, directed by Stephen Soderbergh and written by Ed Solomon of Bill & Ted fame, follows a myriad of characters in New York City in the aftermath of a botched kidnapping that unearths long-held secrets in a wealthy Manhattan family. Full Circle made its debut earlier this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Variety called it “the kind of knotty thriller that Soderbergh, a master of the genre, does such a great job of setting up and then untangling.” —P.R.

They Cloned Tyrone (Netflix, July 21)

Decorated actor and Texas native Jamie Foxx has been venturing into Netflix films recently. In this summer’s offering, Foxx stars alongside John Boyega and Teyonah Parris, an unlikely trio that uncovers a conspiracy threatening to take over their neighborhood. Foxx’s character is a pimp who looks like he was plucked straight out of a Blaxploitation film. The film seems to be pulling from the genre and leaning into racial stereotypes, with a trailer that hints at a sinister group of white scientists in lab coats controlling a Black population through their food, hair, and “grape drink.” As a mix of mystery, science fiction, and comedy, the film could be really funny, really offensive, or both! In the talented hands of Foxx, Boyega, and Parris, we have more hope for this than for Foxx’s previous Netflix film, Day Shift, in which Foxx starred as a vampire hunter disguised as a pool cleaner. —Doyin Oyeniyi

Texas Monthly's summer arts preview 2023
Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega in They Cloned Tyrone.Parrish Lewis/Netflix

The Unknown Country (Theaters, July 28)

After her 2018 documentary, Ingrid, native Texan Morrisa Maltz shifts gears with her debut narrative feature. Inspired by Maltz’s own cross-country road-tripping experiences, The Unknown Country stars Lily Gladstone as Tana, a young Oglala Lakota woman grieving a devastating loss when an unexpected invitation prompts her to trek across the American Midwest in her late grandmother’s Cadillac. Along the way, Tana finds herself connecting with strangers on the road as she retraces a journey her grandmother took decades ago. Maltz brings her documentarian sensibilities to the film, which stars Gladstone alongside an array of nonactor subjects and blends scripted dialogue with real-life events. Deemed “a stunning spiritual companion to Terrence Malick and Nomadland” by IndieWire, The Unknown Country, which first premiered at SXSW in 2022, hits select theaters next month. —P.R.

Haunted Mansion (Theaters, July 28)

The second installment of Disney’s Haunted Mansion franchise will star Owen Wilson in the role of a priest named Kent, which is something that continues to make more sense the longer I think about it. Why wouldn’t the Dallas native play a priest in a semi–horror movie where he is tasked with performing an exorcism?  “God, give us a break. There’s so many bad people in this world. Haunt them,” Wilson says in the trailer, proving he won’t be a regular priest in the face of danger. The movie premieres July 28, so after watching the creation of the first nuclear bomb and Ryan Gosling as a plastic doll, head to the theater next door. —Lauren Castro

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu, August 8)  

Texan A-listers Selena Gomez and Steve Martin are back for a third season of their mystery/comedy series Only Murders in the Building. The show follows three unlikely friends (Gomez and Martin, plus Martin Short) as they come together to create a podcast about true crime, a passion Texas Monthly can identify with. While the trailer hints that the mystery this time has something to do with a character played by Paul Rudd, a new addition this season, the real question is: what role will Meryl Streep play in all of this? We sure hope she’s the killer. —A.D.C.

We Luv Video (Austin, opening July)

In 2020, Austin institution I Luv Video, the oldest and biggest video store in the world, announced it would permanently close. The store’s pandemic-induced shuttering sparked many questions: What’s going to happen to the more than 120,000 videotapes, DVDs, and Blu-rays in its collection? What’s the value of a video store in a world of streaming? Macy Cotton, who lived around the corner, watched as a community’s grief unfolded on social media. The comments led her and her husband, Ryan Teel, to research nonprofit video stores in other parts of the country. With support from I Luv Video’s owner Conrad Bejarano, they launched a Kickstarter campaign under the banner We Luv Video. Seven months later—with more than eight hundred backers and over $100,000 raised—the store is scheduled to open this July.  Nestled along an eclectic strip on North Loop Boulevard, the store is launching with about 30,000 titles of the original collection, and more will be reintroduced to the shelves over time. It’s the summer blockbuster comeback story we all need right now. —Melissa Reese


Erykah Badu (Various dates, various cities)

Erykah Badu is doing this summer right and going anywhere but Texas, avoiding the triple-digit days by gallivanting across North America on the Unfollow Me tour. Her first stop was in San Antonio, alongside opener and hip-hop icon Yasiin Bey, on June 11, and she’ll be ending in her hometown of Dallas on July 23. —L.C.

LaNell Grant, “I Ain’t Gone Hold You” (out now)

You might recognize the name LaNell Grant from her work producing Tobe Nwigwe’s early work, including Caged Birds, Shine, and Eat. Up until sometime in 2020, she was the third leg in a stool with her old Alief high school friend Tobe and his wife, Fat, appearing with them in every video and photo. Now we get to hear her solo. This May, she released “I Ain’t Gone Hold You,” a record with Grant very clearly center stage, weaving in the voices of her family members, leaning on her own story and charm. “I had beats on my hard drive thought that I had made them wrong,” she raps on the title track, “turns out they were made for me.” —Katy Vine

Buck Meek, “Haunted Mountain” (August 25)

As a lifelong Texan, it’s near impossible to look forward to anything that happens in the last weeks of August. Normally I’m just dreading inevitably soul-crushing triple-digit temps. But this year I have Buck Meek’s “Haunted Mountain” to look forward to. The third solo release from the Wimberley native and Big Thief band member, it’s supposed to be full of adventurous love songs, all written and recorded in West Texas, under the shadow of the Franklin Mountains. I envision it as the perfect sonic accompaniment to my mosquito-bite-ridden heat exhaustion. —Emily McCullar

Performing Art

Candlelight Flamenco (Various cities, various dates)

The candlelight concerts from global events company Fever are always a treat: soft hues, intimate venues, stirring chamber music. This summer, Texans in four cities get an added bonus: the whirling skirts and rhythmic clacks of flamenco dancers. AustinDallasHouston, and San Antonio are hosting candlelight flamenco concerts on select dates from June through September. Demand is high, so buy tickets early; starting prices range from $32 to $45. If you miss out or just need an extra flamenco fix, the group doing the performances, Houston-based Solero Flamenco, hosts its own events year-round. —Lea Konczal

Houston Shakespeare Festival (Miller Outdoor Theatre, Houston, July 27–August 5)

A staple of the local theatre scene, the Houston Shakespeare Festival returns for the forty-ninth year to the Miller Outdoor Theatre for its annual two-production season. This summer, HSF balances tragedy and comedy with alternating performances of Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. All performances are free to the public, though a reserved covered seating area will be available for those with tickets, which go on sale the morning of each performance. Macbeth opens the festival, then come back the next day for Much Ado: whenever you attend, you’re in for a treat. —P.R.

Visual Art

The Curatorial Imagination of Walter Hopps” (Menil Collection, Houston, through August 13)

Walter Hopps, the founding director of the Menil Collection, was one of the most influential art curators of the twentieth century. He organized some 250 exhibitions in his half-century-long career, including the first American retrospectives of Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters and the first one-man museum show of Marcel Duchamp. Hopps died in 2005, but his legacy lives on at the Menil, which honors his memory this summer with an exhibition of 130 works, many of them recent gifts to the museum from Menil Foundation trustee Caroline Huber (Hopps’s wife) and the Estate of Walter Hopps. Among the art on display are works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, and nearly seventy other artists. —Michael Hardy

The Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art” (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, through September 3)

The Maya civilization that flourished between the third and tenth centuries in modern-day Central America remains an object of fascination around the world; on a recent trip to Paris, I saw a newsstand hawking magazines that purported to reveal secret Mayan knowledge. The nearly one hundred rare works in this exhibition, ranging from exquisite jadeite ornaments to monumental sculptures, reveal the complex Mayan mythology of deities, kings, queens, and supernatural beings. A better understanding of Mayan hieroglyphs has even allowed curators to identify the artists who created many of these masterpieces. Jointly organized by the Kimbell and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, this landmark show has won rave reviews in the New York Times and New York Magazine. —M.H.

Texas Monthly's summer arts preview 2023
“The Real Unreal” at the Meow Wolf Grapevine location.Paul Torres/Meow Wolf

The Real Unreal” (Meow Wolf, Grapevine, opening July 14)

The rumor of a pending Meow Wolf location in Texas has been lingering for years, and in May 2022, the New Mexico–based company finally staked its flag in two Texas locations—the Houston’s Fifth Ward and Grapevine Mills mall. The Grapevine location will open its doors first, and the opening exhibition, titled “The Real Unreal,” promises an experience familiar to anyone who has visited Meow Wolf locations in Santa Fe, Denver, or Las Vegas: a surreal narrative, portals to other dimensions, and cosmic creativity. For the Meow Wolf–initiated, the exhibit provides a brand-new storyline—an untapped universe from the minds of dozens of Texas artists. For those who have never experienced Meow Wolf, you’re in for a summer treat. (Plus, it’s air-conditioned.) —M.R.

Abraham Ángel: Between Wonder and Seduction” (Dallas Museum of Art, September 10–January 28)

This summer, Mexico’s little-known modernist art prodigy Abraham Ángel will have his first comprehensive exhibition in over 25 years. The precocious apprentice of Mexican artist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, Ángel’s work is often overshadowed by his love affair with Lozano and his untimely death at nineteen. His 25 known works, painted during a brief three-year period, present a modernist style that diverged from the Mexican Muralist Movement, which dominated the early twentieth century. —J.A.A.