Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a talk about “ancient Rome’s equivalent of a celebrity sex tape” in Houston to a chance to visit parts of the King Ranch not typically open to the public. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
A marble relief in the new “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love” exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art offers proof of Hercules’ virility. It depicts the chiseled mythological hero in the throes of coitus with a woman, whose head has broken off, concealing her identity. “We know that Hercules had a number of liaisons over the course of his life,” said Jessica Powers, the curator of the exhibition. “She could be any number of girls, or a nymph.” In her talk titled Erotica in Marble, Powers will address this piece—ancient Rome’s equivalent of a celebrity sex tape—and a second piece in the exhibition showing a siren casting a spell on a satyr. The talk comes with a disclaimer: “This presentation may not be suitable for all audiences.” But Powers is not trying to cause a stir. She is trying to diffuse some of the controversy that has surrounded the “Aphrodite” exhibition, which includes 125 statues, vases, and other items. The museum said that multiple publications rejected its advertising—an image of a statuette of Aphrodite rising out of a shell—because of nudity. “You might think of her today as someone associated with sex,” Powers said. “But for ancient Greeks, she was closely associated with the success of marriage.”
San Antonio Museum of Art, November 16, 6 p.m., samuseum.org
The new Topfer Theatre chose Ragtime for its debut production not just because it is a musical that caters to a live music town but also because it resonates with the political climate. “It deals so much with a time of extraordinary change and characters’ responses to change,” said Dave Steakley, the theater’s artistic director. “There are those who actively engage in it and pursue the future relentlessly, and those who retreat and move steps backwards.” The play is a 1996 adaptation by Corpus Christi’s Terrence McNally of E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 book of the same name. It follows the intersection of three different families in pursuit of the American Dream in the early 1900s, cast against an ensemble of historical characters, including Harry Houdini and Booker T. Washington. The large-scale production—which includes 53 actors and a sixteen-member orchestra—will showcase the new theater’s abilities like Coalhouse Walker being able to drive a real Model T across the stage.
Zach Theatre, November 16-18, various times, zachtheatre.org
Love It or Leave It
Followers of Lyle Lovett, the singer-songwriter from Klein, have grown accustomed in recent years to the way he unfurls his odes against the backdrop of his large band. That setup provides a rollicking good time, but at the expense of the banter that comes with playing with a smaller group. For Release Me, the album Lovett put out earlier this year (the title refers to it being his last album with the label he joined in 1986), he is touring with an acoustic band that incorporates fiddle, mandolin, and cello. Lovett brings this spare group to Bass Hall for his only Texas tour date remaining this year. If concertgoers are lucky, he will tell anecdotes about each of the songs he performs—and talk some trash about how his Aggies beat up on the Crimson Tide.
Bass Hall, November 20, 7:30 p.m., lylelovett.com
King Ranch so aptly symbolizes the rugged, larger-than-life persona of Texas that Ford Motor Co. has its own line of King Ranch trucks. The South Texas ranch, founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King, revolutionized the ranching industry and was later a hot zone for oil. It continues to be a working ranch, but now it has also become a tourist destination. The only problem is that tours are generally aboard a bus. But at the annual Ranch Hand Breakfast—consisting of eggs, refried beans, biscuits and gravy, sausage, tortillas, coffee and juice—you can freely roam the grounds where Texas was forged, and perhaps see the headstone for Assault, the only Texas-bred Triple Crown winner.
King Ranch, November 17, 7 a.m., king-ranch.com
Houston Beer Week concludes with the Draft, formerly Monsters of Beer, where connoisseurs of special-batch, high-alcohol-by-volume I.P.A.’s and tripels can turn gluttony into virtue by indulging in swine, cigars and rock ’n’ roll—all for charity.
Various locations, November 16-17, various times, houstonbeerweek.com
Break On Through
At the Dallas Film Society fund-raiser, you can ask the actor Val Kilmer about his far-out behavior at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin as part of the filming of a Terrence Malick movie, and then the next day you can watch his performance of Jim Morrison in a screening of The Doors.
The Hall of State at Fair Park, November 16-17, various times, dallasfilm.org