Image: Audris Ponce

 In Houston, “College Night” is a phrase typically seen on nightclub ads luring students with cheap drinks. Last week, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston held a college night of its own, inviting students to tour the museum for a discounted price of $10.

Welcoming young Houstonians to the MFAH were the synths and bass snarls of DJ Johnny J, back in Houston after playing SXSW. The main draw for many of the students was the chance to see two widely-advertised exhibits, Picasso Black and White and Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado, at the discounted price of $10. (Students tickets are normally $17). Free admission was offered to students at Rice, the University of Houston School of Art, the University of Houston–Downtown Department of Arts and Humanities, and The Glassell School of Art.

University of Houston student Sahifah Ansari learned about the event through Facebook, and said she was glad to see so many people interested in the Houston arts scene. “I liked the event a lot, and I’m glad I got to see both exhibits,” Ansari said. “It was a good deal, especially compared to the regular prices.”

In the lobby of the Audrey Jones Beck Building, people gathered around mint-colored tables and Instagrammed photos of each other as they ate gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and desserts from the on-site food trucks. Other students sat around long tables brimming with paper and watercolors provided by the MFAH, creating their own works of art.

Visitors congregated around Picasso’s black and white paintings. One student was surprised by Picasso’s depiction of a guitar and a woman’s body in “Femme à la guitare.” “I’ve never seen something like that,” said University of Houston–Downtown student Greg Rosas. “At first glance, I couldn’t tell where the woman was, but after looking at the piece a little while longer, I could see where [Picasso] drew both shapes into one. It’s interesting how he related two things he loved in his life and put them together in one work of art.”

There was a larger crowd at the Prado exhibit, with many students sharing amused or quizzical looks in front of a series of paintings featuring dwarves and buffoons employed by the Spanish royal court.

“I like the detail, the intricacies,” said Baylor College of Medicine student Sobiya Ansari. “I thought that was really nicely done. It kind of shows what people back in the day found amusing.”

Picasso Black and White
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Thru May 27
Tue & Wed 10–5; Thu 10–9; Fri & Sat 10–7; Sun 12:15–7
Special ticket required: $20 ($17 on Thu); students, seniors, & ages 6–18 $17 ($14 on Thu); children 5 & under free
1001 Bissonnet St
713-639-7300
mfah.org

Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado
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