Let Freedom Ring
Last year was not a great one for race relations in the U.S. The tragedies of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, among others, made the color barrier come into sharp view for some. Shore up that divide on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at the Songs of Freedom concert hosted by the Rothko Chapel, the nondenominational sanctuary known for its fourteen oversize, mostly black paintings by the artist Mark Rothko and hailed by the filmmaker Richard Linklater as “the Citizen Kane of chapels.” The featured performer will be Rutha Mae Harris, one quarter of the Freedom Singers, the group that formed in Georgia in the early sixties as a form of nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement. Following remarks from Mayor Annise Parker on the ongoing civil rights struggle in Houston, Harris will sing a cappella songs that provided the soundtrack to many a protest march and demonstration and then discuss them in their historical context. This will likely entail accounts of the three times that Harris herself was arrested in pursuit of her freedom. A reception will take place outside on the plaza, where Broken Obelisk, the Barnett Newman sculpture dedicated in 1971 to the memory of Dr. King, will be lit for the occasion.
Rothko Chapel, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., rothkochapel.org
Adios to the End
The atrium of a huge institution like the Amon Carter Museum is prime real estate. And Benito Huerta, the artist born in Corpus Christi and currently a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has made the most of his opportunity to display his work there. His Axis Mundi v.2, a large-scale painting depicting a symbolic map of the world, was installed there in February and so impressed the curatorial staff that they offered Huerta a full exhibit, “Fresh Perspectives,” which opened in July. The latter is a collaboration between Huerta and Maggie Adler, an assistant curator at the museum, in which Adler selected works on paper by Huerta—who is perhaps best known for Wings, his 30-foot-by-180-foot work incorporated into the floor of Terminal D of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport—and he in turn chose another artist’s work on paper from the Amon Carter’s collection to act as a counterpoint. Adler singled out The End, Huerta’s treatment of the phrase in the likeness of a closing credit in classic cinema, for the end of the exhibit. Huerta countered with Adios, the artist Ed Ruscha’s rendition of the Spanish word with letters shown as sizzling beads of water, placing it at the beginning of the show. Both Axis Mundi v.2 and “Fresh Perspectives” are on display through this weekend.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Jan. 9-11, cartermuseum.org
We Are the Champions
In hindsight, TCU has a legitimate beef for not having been selected for the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff. But for the most part, the committee got it right, and the two hottest teams—the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes—will square off at Jerry World for the National Championship. And there are some great storylines to follow. In November Ohio State’s second-string quarterback, J.T. Barrett of Wichita Falls, broke his leg, but the Buckeyes haven’t missed a beat with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, who reeled off a huge win last weekend against Alabama and goes into this game, as a redshirt sophomore, vying for the starting spot next year. On the other side of the ball is Oregon’s recently crowned Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota, who is attempting to become only the seventeenth player to winner the Heisman and the National Championship in a single season.
AT&T Stadium, Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m., collegefootballplayoff.com
The Art of Drinking
It’s generally after the holidays that many people, full of booze from parties and family affairs, decide to get on the wagon. For the rest of us, there is the annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference, a four-day fine drinker’s paradise that landed on Fodor’s 2013 list of the Best Cocktail Festivals in America. In its first three years, the event has raised almost a quarter of a million dollars for children’s charities. This year more than fifty mixologists from around the country and beyond will preside over close to fifty programs, complemented by eleven paired dinner options, offered for people in the trade as well as consumers who might be interested in learning, say, how to set up a home wet bar.
Various locations, Jan. 15-18, sanantoniococktailconference.com
The annual Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra performance at Austin City Limits Live has for its first two years paired the Austin rocker’s oeuvre of songs with a storyline recounting the rich musical history of his hometown of San Antonio, but this year that narrative will change to reflect on the hurricane that Escovedo and his wife were held captive by on their September honeymoon in Mexico.
ACL Live, Jan. 10, 8 p.m., alejandroescovedo.com
The “Ground Zero 360: Never Forget” exhibit, featuring images of the 9/11 aftermath by the photographer Nicola McClean paired with previously unreleased emergency radio calls from that morning, gives us not only due pause to reflect on the tragedy but also, in the midst of public criticism of police officers, an opportunity to appreciate those who protect and serve.
Holocaust Museum Houston, Jan. 9-11, hmh.org