Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Mar 30–Apr 5]
The inspiration for Forgotten Gateway, the exhibition that focuses on Galveston as an immigration hub in the mid-nineteenth century, was a field trip that Suzanne Seriff, the exhibition’s curator, took to New York with a group of tenth graders right after September 11. En route to Ellis Island, they were sidetracked by a memorial service. “It was a symbolic moment,” Seriff said. “We looked behind us to the glory days of a nation of immigrants. And we looked before us to our fear of the immigrants who are coming into our nation now.” Seriff has transformed that epiphany into a powerful show—featuring oral histories, slave manifests, Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia promoting nativism, and other resonant artifacts—that challenges us to examine the hard truths that lurk within our immigration policies. This is the final weekend to see the traveling exhibition, which opened in Austin in 2009 and made a stop at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. A panel discussion with Seriff will gauge the impact the exhibition has had on the national immigration debate.
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Mar 30–Apr 1, various times.
Admirers of David Foster Wallace, the cultish writer of “meta” insight, are still reeling from his suicide in 2008. Aside from their frustration that there will never be another Wallace novel, there is the concern that we may never know the true meaning of his famously complex tome Infinite Jest. A good place to commiserate is at the David Foster Wallace Symposium, featuring some of the people who knew him best: Bonnie Nadell, his agent; Michael Pietsch, his editor; and D. T. Max, the New Yorker writer who is penning his biography. Complementing the discussion will be a display of correspondence, corrected proofs, and other papers from the Harry Ransom Center’s archive that will help unlock verse whose footnotes alone can get to the meaning of life. It will be a team effort. “I remember reading Joyce’s Ulysses in grad school and feeling very alone as I wrestled with the book,” said Amanda Eyre Ward, an Austin novelist participating in the symposium. “Reading D.F.W., you’re never alone with your questions, unless you want to be.”
Harry Ransom Center, Apr 5 & 6, various times.
Shape of Things
Trenton Doyle Hancock, the star Houston artist whose fantastical works conjure mythological worlds, has a loose definition of the word “sculpture.” While most people think of it as something akin to a statue, Hancock considers it anything that makes a work more than two-dimensional, whether that is appliqués on his paintings or the Bjork-ian costumes and sets he designed for the 2008 ballet Cult of Color: Call to Color. “Sculpture is not confined to an actual tactile output,” said Hancock, whose works include a mural that hangs in Cowboys Stadium. As part of the 360 speaker series at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Hancock will use his own works to explore the relationship between art and observer. “I did this project where I created a nine-foot-long arm that hangs off the wall,” he said of a work called Vegan Arm. “I wondered what it was like for people to deal with it head on.” The corollary Hancock draws between “objecthood” and “art” might even have you considering yourself a sculpture.
Nasher Sculpture Center, Mar 31, 1 p.m.
The Ultimate Competitor
The Tour de France’s loss is the gain of the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas triathlon, in which Lance Armstrong will compete this year. From a spot along the route you can cheer on a tremendous cyclist as he tries to become champion of an arguably more difficult sport. Fighting the doping allegations against him (the case was dropped in February) has apparently made Armstrong stronger. If he can start out with a quick 1.2-mile swim, look out, because 56 of the remaining 69.1 miles are on bike—and there’s no way the 13.1-mile culminating run will be as tough as the Hill Country terrain where Armstrong trains.
Moody Gardens, Apr 1, 7 a.m.
It is respectable to jump in the family roadster to check out the bluebonnets in highway pastures, but wildflower extremists in search of gold will make the pilgrimage to far West Texas to see the Mexican poppies, in their dense, sun-orange splendor, shooting out of the Chihuahuan Desert at the Franklin Mountains Poppies Fest.
El Paso Museum of Archaeology, Mar 31, 10 a.m.
No pool party is complete without guacamole, but instead of recycling the recipe from past summers, learn and sample innovative new ones at the Avocado Takedown, a Bobby Flay–style throwdown that will imagine new twists on salsa’s cousin, plus countless other avocado concoctions.
Warehouse Live, Apr 1, 2 p.m.