Eyes on the Prizes
For “Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks From Alumni Collections,” the Blanton Museum of Art’s fiftieth anniversary exhibition opening Sunday, the curator Annette Carlozzi raided the art collections of almost 150 University of Texas graduates across the country, viewing some 3,000 pieces that she pared down to a final selection of 200. One of the standouts is a two-foot-by-three-foot print of “Minotauromachy,” by Pablo Picasso. “It’s bravura printmaking,” Carlozzi said. “It was done in 1935, the year before the Spanish Civil War. There’s a lot of imagery from Guernica in it. Psychologically, it’s very ripe.” This was the first research the Blanton has done in identifying alumni who are art collectors, and Carlozzi said she almost never knew what she was going to find on her visits. She divided her “rare and compelling” finds into “clusters.” One cluster includes a seventeenth century samurai helmet, a Tom Lea mural of a conquistador, a Manet painting of a bugler, Alberto Korda’s famous photograph of Che Guevara, and a Thomas Eakins painting of an admiral. But there are no signs dictating this theme—it is an implied connection visitors are challenged to make. “There is no program,” Carlozzi said. “No start here and go there.”
Blanton Museum of Art, February 24-May 19,


Spit Shine
The Austin band the Gourds is not breaking up, but its principal singer-songwriters, Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith, are getting serious about their side projects. Russell’s new band, Shinyribs, grew out of an overflow of songs he knew he would never get around to recording with the Gourds. “I kind of got a little antsy and wanderlust, and grew tired of sharing the spotlight,” Russell said. He woodshedded some of the songs at a monthly show in Houston, to which he would bring along fellow players from Austin—including his brother-in-law Keith Langford, the Gourds’ drummer—to help him stay awake during the drive back. That resulted in the 2010 album Well After Awhile, a countrified mix of funk and gospel that exhibits wondrous humor and melody, like on the ukulele song “Poor People’s Store.” “I always kind of thought it would be fun to be a jingle writer,” Russell said. “That’s a jingle for my imaginary chain of stores.” In advance of the next Shinyribs album, tentatively set for release in April, Russell is playing a Saturday show at Sons of Hermann Hall, where in between songs he might tell the audience about his recent audition for another jingle: the new Don’t Mess With Texas campaign to debut this spring.
Sons of Hermann Hall, February 23, 7 p.m.,


Interpersonal Communication
Despite advances in how we interact, there is no better way to get to know people than to sit down with them, perhaps over a meal, and talk. That is the model of “Great Conversations,” the pay-to-converse fund-raiser for the Honors College at the University of North Texas. Each of the 27 tables has been assigned a topic, and an expert on that issue will patiently answer questions from the under-informed and the overly inquisitive.  Given the location, there are a number of North Texas representatives speaking on behalf of their disciplines, including Dr. James Kennedy of the university’s “Mosquito Wrangler Department,” who will chat about “Fight the Bite.” But there are also luminaries like Tim Madigan, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist and author of the book I’m Proud of You, about Mister Rogers.
University of North Texas, February 26, 6:30 p.m.,


Long Live the King
If Elvis never left the building, and was only hiding out for a while, he might have had a hard time coming back and distinguishing himself from all the Elvis impersonators. The four Elvises in the theatrical concert “Elvis Lives” are not cheesy varieties with fake sideburns—they are finalists in Elvis Presley Enterprises’ worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. One of the Elvises, Victor Trevino Jr. of Fort Worth, specializes in Elvis’s mid-century rockabilly era, which might inspire you to break out your blue suede shoes.
The Grand 1894 Opera House, February 23 at 8 p.m., 


Another Galaxy
The announcement of new Star Wars movies will cause many people to revisit the original trilogy—Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi—but instead of investing another six hours, you can attend Charles Ross’s “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy,” a 75-minute stage melodrama with Michael Winslow-style vocal beats.
The Long Center, February 26-March 3, 


Rhyming and Dreaming
Poetry dismounts from its high horse at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and becomes a living, breathing thing that is spoken, performed with music and written during down periods taking in the surrounding mountains.
Sul Ross State University, February 22-24,