Georgia O’Keeffe’s stints in Texas—as an art teacher at Amarillo High School from 1912-14 and at West Texas State Normal College, in Canyon, from 1916-18—proved critical to her transformation into a master of American art. The watercolors and oil paintings she made there, where the beauty of Palo Duro Canyon inspired her, caught the attention of Alfred Stieglitz, the owner of the New York gallery 291, who discovered and eventually married her. See three of O’Keeffe’s works from that Texas period—“Train at Night in the Desert,” “Roof with Snow,” and “Red Landscape”—during the last weekend of the exhibit “Her Art: Women Artists in Panhandle Collections.” The show highlights works by about two dozen Texas artists as well as female artists whose pieces were amassed largely by Texan women, pulling from the Amarillo Museum of Art’s permanent collection and other Panhandle-area collections. The other marquee name in the exhibit is the photographer Dorothea Lange, with pieces from her time with the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, a government-sponsored photography project from 1935-44. These include Ditched, Stalled, and Stranded, Plantation Overseer and His Field Hands, and her iconic Migrant Mother.
Amarillo Museum of Art, Dec. 26-28, amarilloart.org
Joe Ely, the singer-songwriter as well as a third of the Lubbock band the Flatlanders, has been dipping into the past for inspiration. In 2012, the Flatlanders released The Odessa Tapes, fourteen lost songs from the early seventies. And this year, Ely released B4 84, unearthed solo demos from the early eighties that were recorded on an Apple IIe computer, with liner notes from the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. On Tuesday, Ely will continue his backward trajectory in Turkey, at Uncle Bob’s Eve of the Eve show, where he will channel the spirit of Bob Wills, the hometown hero and fiddle-playing king of western swing. There will be a prime rib dinner compliments of Red Raider Meats, operated by students in the meat science program at Texas Tech University. Proceeds will go to the Bob Wills Heritage Foundation, which bought several old buildings in Turkey and installed the Bob Wills Museum. Ely has previously played this annual benefit, and after his set, on a stage with an enormous fiddle as the backdrop, he will mingle with the audience—an opportunity to get his autograph on his debut novel Reverb: An Odyssey, released in September.
Bob Wills Center, Dec. 30, 6 p.m., ely.com
Way Out West
New Year’s Eve is the ideal occasion to do something epic, like a road trip to remote Marfa to see the mountains, sunsets, and stars—and perhaps even the Marfa Lights, the spectral sights aglow in the night off Route 67. El Cosmico, the eighteen-acre hipster hotel with trailers and tents, provides the ultimate retreat for communing and recharging with like-minded free spirits. On New Year’s Eve, there will be a DJ dance party and champagne toast with record spinning from Tic Cat Tongue, a duo composed of Simone Rubi, a visual artist and singer-songwriter who splits time between Marfa and Los Angeles, and Justin Almquist, a former artist in residence at the Chinati Foundation. And on New Year’s Day there will be a mimosa brunch with live rock and roll by Growl, an Austin four-piece band, for people who are ready to break their resolutions early.
El Cosmico, Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, elcosmico.com
The Real Nutcracker
Not only were the Russians largely responsible for the growth of ballet in the nineteenth century, but they are also masters at performing one of its most popular works, The Nutcracker, originally co-choreographed by Lev Ivanov and composed by Tchaikovsky. On Tuesday, the Moscow Ballet will perform The Great Russian Nutcracker for its final Texas show in a nationwide tour. Its version of the story is made up of equal parts body movement and stage theatrics, with a five-story Christmas tree, ten-foot dancing puppets, and the Dove of Peace, in which two dancers, each wearing a ten-foot wing, join as one.
Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, Dec. 30, 7 p.m., wagnernoel.com
Ranked number five, Baylor just missed the new four-team College Football Playoff, and because the Bears had a legitimate claim to compete for the national championship, expect them to try to make a big statement against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
AT&T Stadium, Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m., goodyearcottonbowl.com
Couple that customary stroke-of-midnight kiss on New Year’s Eve with a live performance of “Be My Baby” at “OZTin: A Technicolor New Year,” a concert occurring in a fabricated Land of Oz and headlined by Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, the hit sixties group.
Spider House, Dec. 31, 9 p.m., spiderhouseaustin.com