Exhibition

American Heroes: Japanese American World War II Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal

America’s shameful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is well known. Less well known is that several military units composed primarily of Japanese Americans fought on the American side in the war, even while the soldiers’ friends and relatives were being held in the camps. In 2011, these units were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. To commemorate the 19,000 Japanese American soldiers who served, the medal and an accompanying exhibition are touring the country.

Dec 19–Jan 26. Mon–Fri 9–5; Sat–Sun noon–5. Free. The Holocaust Museum, 5401 Caroline St. 713-942-8000. hmh.org

Visual Art

The Age of Impressionism: Great French Painting from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, now considered to possess one of the world’s finest collections of French impressionism, makes a stop at the MFAH. Plenty of blue-chip impressionists are represented in the exhibition, including Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, and Bonnard, alongside canvases by French academic painters, whom Sterling Clark also collected. The juxtaposition of the French academicians with the insurgent impressionists underlines just how radical the idea of painting en plein air really was at the time.

Dec 22–March 23. Tue–Wed 10–5; Thu 10–9; Fri–Sat 10–7; Sun 12:15–7. $12.50–23. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St. 713-639-7300. mfah.org

Hip-Hop

Jay-Z

After transitioning from the drug game to the rap game with his legendary 1996 album Reasonable Doubt, Shawn Corey Carter has out-hustled, out-sold, and (perhaps most importantly) outlived all other contenders to the title of best rapper. Far more than a recording artist, Jay-Z is a CEO, a marketing genius, and a co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets—as he once put it, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

Dec 19 at 8. $32.50–150. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St. 713-758-7200. houstontoyotacenter.com

Country

Dwight Yoakam

Image: Fabian Lozano

Yoakam has the greatest voice in contemporary country music, a drawling Kentucky twang that makes you pay attention to just about anything he sings. His brilliant songwriting is just a bonus. 

Dec 20 at 8. $59.59–69.60. Arena Theater, 7326 Southwest Frwy. 713-772-5900. arenahouston.com

Musical

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration (Last Weekend!)

It’s Christmas, 1864. President Lincoln has just been elected to a second term. Across the country, Union and Confederate troops have dug in for the winter. There seems to be no end in sight for the Civil War. Against this unlikely backdrop, playwright Paula Vogel (with music by Daryl Waters) conjures a holiday fantasia on national themes, with a large cast of characters singing hymns and carols of the period. 

Thru Dec 22. $20–36. Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose Blvd. 713-524-6706. mainstreettheater.com

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