Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Eve in Houston: a Giant Armadillo, the Beer Can House, and the Menil

5015 Kirby Drive, just two Texas-sized blocks south of my hotel
It was a pleasant but un-busy Christmas Eve in Houston.  No stockings to hang by the chimney with care.  No hope of Saint Nicholas finding me in the Crowne Plaza River Oaks southwest of downtown Houston.  But I did find the Giant Armadillo.

There he was.  At 5015 South Kirby Drive, not too far from my hotel.  He's guarding the entrance of a Texas-themed bar restaurant called, appropriately, the Armadillo Palace.  Which was closed for Christmas already even though it was only Christmas Eve.  But the Armadillo was out there for all to see.

Next stop was lunch with the Danish student at the Galleria.  I take my camera to snap pictures of a giant armadillo, but I don't take my camera to take pictures of my Christmas lunch with the Danish student.  Weird priorities.

After a long Christmas lunch, it was time for some more sightseeing.


The famous Beer Can House, which, as you can see below, is just in ordinary blocks in an ordinary residential neighborhood.


It, of course, was closed.


Open only Saturdays and Sundays.  And I will be here neither,  The house is a basic brick and siding house, with a bunch of beer cans -- tops, bottoms and unrolled sides -- plastered or hung everywhere.



It made for a very pleasant wind chime sound when a breeze was blowing.


Beer cans everywhere.


Including fencing.


It was decorated somewhat in a grudging concession to Christmas.


A big shiny aluminum Christmas made of beer cans would have been better, but an Amen Ladder will do.

Next, was a trip to the Menil.


The Menil is a modern art gallery.  They had a Picasso, a Dali, two Warhols.  Lots of Max Ernst.  More Magritte than I've ever seen in one place anywhere (not that I've been looking).  Lots of crafts from Africa and the Americas that the sophisticates call art, even though it's the moral equivalent of Ikea or Wal-Mart wall-hangings that just happen to survive a millennium or so.  No pictures allowed inside.

I then strolled over to the nearby Rothko Chapel.


It's a small windowless octagonal building that has giant Rothko paintings hanging on each of the eight interior walls.  The Rothkos are all giant canvasses painted the same shade of navy blue.  Or it might have been black.  It was very dark.  It is supposed to be a meditative chapel.  The Rothkos were not worth building a chapel over.  There was no sign that said "no photography," but the place had that vibe, so I saved my light-pictures for the exterior.


But the reflecting pool across from the chapel entrance was nice.

On the whole of the grounds of the Menil and the Rothko, you know what I liked best?


This one awesome, giant, sprawling tree that was on the Menil grounds.


I don't know my tree varieties very well.  Is this a live oak?


Whatever.  It was more beautiful than a roomful of Magrittes and Man Rays.

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