MenilFest
May 3 11–6
Free
The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross St.
713-525-9400
menilfest.org 

Six years ago, the UH literary journal Gulf Coast joined forces with the Menil Collection to launch MenilFest, a free, daylong celebration of art, performance, and literature that attracts about 2,000 attendees annually.

Below, our list of the top five can't-miss activities at this year’s festival:

Poetry Buskers, presented by Inprint
11–4 , Menil Collection entrance

Inprint has organized a group of UH Creative Writing Program graduate students to write free poems (likely, although not necessarily, in free verse) on any theme you give them. Seriously! “Kids might want one about a pet, someone for a love, just whatever they want,” says Inprint associate director Marilyn Jones. The students will be set up with typewriters at a table near the Menil Collection entrance.

Kid Art Activities, presented by The Orange Show
All day on the Menil Bookstore deck

Volunteers from The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which sponsors the Art Car Parade, will be on hand to help kids make their own miniature art cars out of Hot Wheels and craft supplies.

Collaborations XI Print Sale, presented by The Houston Center for Photography
The Houston Center for Photography 1441 W. Alabama St.

Underneath their awning on W. Alabama, The Houston Center for Photography will host a sidewalk market of photographs taken by HCP art students during the center’s semester-long Collaboration program. Twenty-nine students from 10 local high schools have spent the last five months learning from HCP instructors and guest lecturers about the artistic, curatorial, and commercial aspects of the art world, from “how to take a photograph to what it takes to put up an exhibition,” according to MenilFest coordinator Jonathan Beitler. This sale gives the public a sneak peek of the students’ work before the show’s official opening reception on May 9.

Da Camera Drum Circle
2–3, Menil Collection entrance

As a special midday treat, Da Camera teams up with Sam Dinkins III and his Dinky Drum Company to put on a drum circle open to the public. Bring your drum if you want to join in, or just dance around on the Menil lawn.

Annika Chambers & The House Rules Band, presented by The Menil Collection
5–6, Menil Collection entrance

MenilFest concludes with a special performance by Annika Chambers, named Best Female Vocalist of 2013 by the Houston Press. In 2012, Chambers and The House Rules Band made it to the final round of the International Blues Competition. “Making My Mark,” Chambers’s debut album, was produced locally by Montrose Studios and released earlier this year.


If you need a drink after all those activities, walk a few blocks to the official after-party at Lowbrow, featuring a series of short films from local and international filmmakers presented by the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP).