7 vivid and eye-catching October art events no Houstonian should miss

Emilee Geist

In any normal year, fall in Houston usually means art fairs and markets. Yet in extraordinary times, the city’s art galleries, organizations, and institutions are finding innovative ways to keep October vivid, vibrant, and colorful. Whether indoors, outside, or in virtual safety at home, expect no tricks but instead […]


In any normal year, fall in Houston usually means art fairs and markets. Yet in extraordinary times, the city’s art galleries, organizations, and institutions are finding innovative ways to keep October vivid, vibrant, and colorful. Whether indoors, outside, or in virtual safety at home, expect no tricks but instead some artful treats this October.

Rothko Chapel reopens to the public

Contemplate one of Houston’s greatest art treasures and inspirational sites in a new light as the this nondenominational sacred space reopens to the public. Back in 2019, the chapel which houses 14 Mark Rothko masterpiece murals, closed for over a year as part of the Opening Spaces Project, to restore and upgrade the interior by reconfiguring the skylight, lighting design, and entryway. The $30 million project also saw the building of the Suzanne Deal Booth Welcome House, as well as as landscaping improvements, including new and enhanced green-spaces. In these COVID times, free, advanced tickets are required to enter the Chapel.

AIGA Get Out the Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote” at the Printing Museum (now through November 21)

Marking a century since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in the U.S., this exhibition showcases designs from the poster campaign organized by AIGA Design for Democracy in partnership with the League of Women Voters. A core group of invited women of design submitted the first 64 non-partisan posters, to launch the initiative with their vision and voices. These design works seek to foster participation this election year but also to examine the history of voting rights and women’s fight for equality.

Bayou City Art Festival Virtual Experience (October 9-11)

One of Houston’s favorite art festivals might be moving online for the safety of artists and patrons, but with 19 categories of art from 300 juried Bayou City Art Festival artists, there will just as much art to see, admire, and perhaps buy on the festival’s website.


While you’re virtually there, look for enough programing for the fest to start its own streaming network — including artist chat featuring conversations with MFAH director Gary Tinterow and artist David McGee. Also look for Art Talk Happy Hours with Gonzo247, Amanda Bennett, Jennifer Lashbrook, and Tony Parana.


Music lovers can get their art groove on with Music on Demand provided by Traveling Pianist, Guillermo Serpas, Fred Lowry, Jan and Dehner Experience, New Vintage, Outspoken Bean, plus performances by The Mighty Orq and Arthur Yoria curated by Splice Records. And for those culinary artists, the fest will even bring cooking demonstrations to your screens featuring chefs Chelsea Sargent, Edwin Henderson, Valerie Steen, James Watford, and even Hugo Ortega.

Lawndale Art Center reopens to the public (October October 10)

The always groundbreaking contemporary art center reopens with four new fall exhibitions. Look for Marcelyn McNeil’s site-specific exhibition of abstract paintings and sculptures. “Good Day Bad Day.” Cuyler Ballenger’s “Inheritance,” combines documentary and experimental film techniques to create an allegory of the American opioid epidemic told in three parts.


The Tierney L. Malone curated “Sankofa Project” couldn’t be more timely, as it examines the historical events leading up to our current moment of social unrest and racial reckoning. Out in the Mary E. Bawden Sculpture Garden, listen for Elana Mann’s sculptural and sound piece “Sounds from the Swamp” celebrating the sounds, voices, and music emanating from the marshy bayous of Houston.

Sawyer Yards Second Saturday Open Studios, now with Unicorn Bike Show (October 10)

The monthly event, which allows you to meet artists in their natural studio habitat as well as enjoy the outdoor arts, crafts, and food market will add some art on wheels to the Saturday. Expect art bike works by artists Alex Arzu, Caroline Truong, Daniel Anguilu, Fajar Hassan, Jasmine Zelaya, Jessica Guerra, Jessica Rice, Macy Ulbricht, Reginald C. Adams, Royal Sumikat and Skeez181. The Unicorn Bike Show will juxtapose these two-wheel artworks with large-scale photography of the public art that inspired their designs.

“Estructuras Monumentales” by Carmen Herrera at the Fondren Foundation Meadow in Buffalo Bayou Park (October 22, 2020-April 23, 2021) and “Carmen Herrera: Structuring Surfaces” at the Museum of Fine Arts (October 21, 2020–January 18, 2021)

The now grand dame of the abstract and minimalist movement gets two exhibitions this fall as Buffalo Bayou Park and the MFAH partner to bring Houston an artful journey into her geometric abstract world. At the MFAH viewers can delve into her artistic process with more than 30 works from the 1960s to the present, including paintings, drawings, prints, wall structures, and objects. In BBP, the abstract becomes mammoth, as Houston becomes only the second city in the world to present this exhibition of four new vibrant and enormous aluminum sculptures.

The Marzio Years: Transforming the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982–2010” at the MFAH (October 25, 2020–January 10, 2021)

Before the new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building opens in November, the MFAH looks to the past and the art legacy of MFAH director Peter Marzio. During his 28-year tenure the museum’s collection grew from 14,000 to 62,000 works of art, the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden opened in 1986 and the Audrey Jones Beck Building opened in 2000.


The exhibition will tell the tale of this remarkable transformation by highlighting some important acquisitions, landmark collection initiatives, and departments established during his years as director. To span the Marzio Years, the exhibition will include works by John Biggers, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Imogen Cunningham, Nan Goldin, Franz Kline, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt van Rijn, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol.

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