It’s no secret that I’m a lover of Houston — I came out and told you so last summer. And actually, I had this grand plan of writing a series of posts about my fair city, beginning with a discussion about how underrated Houston’s food scene is. Well, procrastination is the thief of time, as they say, because Bryan Caswell beat me to it.
I certainly don’t mean to insinuate that Caswell and I are in the same league — being one of the best chefs in Houston, he has about ten thousand percent more street cred than me, and about a zillion times more reach (his editorial made the front page of cnn.com, after all). But I’m also not about to try and write what he already said so elegantly, either. If you haven’t read what he wrote, you should: check it out here.
So let’s agree that Houston has a fantastic dining landscape that next to no one knows about. Done.
On to the next Thing I Love About Houston: its world-class arts scene. That’s right: world class, baby!
Consider the following facts:
- Houston is second only to New York City for the number of theater seats in a concentrated U.S. downtown area.
- Houston is one of only five cities in the U.S. with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines of opera, ballet, symphony, and theater.
- The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is Texas’ oldest and most prominent museum, and is the fourth largest art museum in the United States.
- One of the most important private art collections in the world, the Menil Collection, is in Houston.
- The only intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere are housed in Houston’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel.
- In 2008, Yahoo! Travel listed Houston’s Rothko Chapel as one of the top 10 U.S. places to see before you die. Rothko Chapel is also on National Geographic’s list of the world’s “most sacred places.”
- The Houston Museum of Natural Science is the third most visited museum in the U.S., behind the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Crazy, right? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I had to stop myself. (For more, start here.)
Sometime around 2003, I decided to giddy-up and take advantage of all this stuff going on in my backyard. I started visiting exhibit halls and attending museum events, and I was ever so lucky to cross paths with Stephanie right about then. In addition to her sparkling personality, she also has a degree in art history, and to this day, I still somehow manage to persuade her to attend museum events with me. Which would probably be no big deal, except that she has to answer all my neophyte questions. Questions like, Err, what’s with all the naked nymphs? Answer: These artists wanted to study the female body, and they couldn’t very well paint a naked lady, because then she would cease to be a lady, right? Ohhhh, gotcha. (wink, wink)
With my visual arts tutorial sufficiently underway, I turned my attention to the performing arts. I decided to buy season tickets to the Alley Theatre one year, the Houston Ballet the next year, then the Houston Symphony. The only trouble was, I didn’t have a “Stephanie” for any of those. Ah, but that certainly didn’t keep me from dragging Matt along. And when I’d wrung every drop of art appreciation out of him and hung him out to dry, I finished my tour by subbing in a rotation of buddies. It was actually fun, all that artsy platonic same-sex serial dating. But I digress…