Houston’s Halal Guys hits a bullseye Melody Yip
Thorsten Brinkmann debuted his new exhibit, ‘The Great Cape Rinderhorn,’ on Thursday, Feb. 4 at the Rice Gallery. Brinkmann used recycled objects to create an inventive, playful atmosphere in which visitors are invited to experience the art on a physical as well as visual level. The architectural landscape is crafted from a careful arrangement of recycled objects collected from City of Houston’s Reuse Warehouse inventory and resale shops.
Rice Gallery exhibit invites interactive play Lenna Mendoza Thresher Staff
The Rice Gallery’s last installation, “Intersections,” used only a cube and light bulb to fill a blank, white room with transient shadows. The space was so empty that it echoed. In great contrast, the gallery’s newest installation, Thorsten Brinkmann’s “The Great Cape Rinderhorn” fills the same space with an absurd and eclectic collection of used objects, from canes to a giant plaster bull’s horn to plastic vegetables. The choice to employ pre-used objects in the installation is an exploration of Brinkmann’s experiences with consumer culture. “In Europe, people don’t keep things very long anymore, it’s more kind of a one-way culture,” Brinkmann said. “If you go to poorer countries you will see that they reuse objects much more than we do.” These objects are repurposed in surprising ways as wall hangings and sculpture components. In this way, they transcend their retro and kitsch associations. Still, in their employ they create a rather domestic space, including a bedroom which can be accessed only by crawling through an Alice-in-Wonderland miniature hallway. At times, it begins to feel only one bizarre step from interior decoration, which fits well with one of Brinkmann’s recent projects, the interior of a four-story house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The careful curation of each object is incredible. They’re even skillfully arranged behind curtains and underneath furniture, inviting the viewer to peek and interact. The space is fantastical, quaint, vibrant. Brinkmann’s high-saturation self-portraits and still life works of art hang on the papered walls. In his self-portraits, which he creates using a camera with a timer, parts of his body are obscured by the
THE WEEKLY SCENE The editors’ picks for this week’s best events. Time to explore the wonderful world of Houston.
same sort of “junk” objects that fill the installation as he parodies traditional styles of painting. The still life photos swap out the traditional fruit and flowers for the same used objects, which are often decayed to a degree. The tongue-in-cheek photos rebel against highly respected canonized art and artists. “I never was a big a fan of holiness in art,” Brinkmann said. One component of the charm of “The Great Cape Rinderhorn” is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Inside the crate is a makeshift movie theater, the projector playing a film showing Brinkmann’s process of taking the self-portraits that fill the installation. He poses regally beneath and on top of a chair, a trash can on his head. The film stutters in a silent film fashion which adds to the slapstick feel. This silliness extends into a more general sense of fun and play. I took a friend with me to the installation, who admitted that he is not usually interested in art. The moment we entered the lobby, his eyes lit up in disbelief at the contents of the gallery. By the time we left, his perception of art had changed completely and he couldn’t stop talking about the installation. “I like the idea that people can sit on it, that they can walk through, that their experience is with the whole body, that you use all your senses, and if you want to see the whole installation you have to do it,” Brinkmann said. I think that’s one of the most remarkable things about “The Great Cape Rinderhorn.” The way it makes you engage with it forces you to open up – you have to crouch, sit, crawl and poke your head through holes if you want to experience the instillation in full. For those who are not able, there are small video monitors and an iPad tour that feature the less accessible areas of the installation. Watching other visitors in the space,
it became apparent that the delight my friend felt was not a singular experience. In fact, the other visitors told me what they thought about the installation – I didn’t even have to ask. “That’s the thing about the crate ... [with] a lot of people inside, they start to talk a lot, it becomes a social space,” Brinkmann said. “You have to communicate to get through the tunnel somehow.”
I never was a big fan of holiness in art. Thorsten Brinkmann Artist of ‘The Great Cape Rinderhorn’
Crowds flocked to last Saturday’s opening of a new Halal Guys restaurant on Farnham Street. The New York-based food-stand chain has long been a favorite for late night meals. On my first visit to New York, I was impressed with the massive gyro platters slathered in thick tahini. So when I headed over to the Halal Guys in Upper Kirby, I hoped for the same flavors and quantity as my first time. In an attempt to evade a long wait I went around 3:30 p.m. The end of the line only grazed the door, but the wait still seemed long. After approaching the counter, I realized that the wait was partially caused by the food’s intricate presentation. The platters are split into neat thirds – lettuce and tomatoes, meat (falafel if vegetarian) and rice. A line cook layers slivers of pita bread in a fan shape on top, drizzling the signature tahini sauce (and red sauce if folks are real about the spice) over everything to complete the dish. Behind the counter, everyone looks busy. I watched a cook toss together giant heaps of gyro beef while another busied himself with chicken. The lady armed with the tahini sauce eagerly whited out platter after platter. They all wore the lurid mustard-and-red colors that make Halal Guys stand out. Other cooks busied themselves adding other options on the menu, including baklava and sides of jalapenos and olives, though why anyone would want jalapenos with the fiery red sauce, I have no idea. The food at the Houston location upholds the same standards of quality as in New York. Neon orange rice spiced with turmeric and cumin mingled with tender morsels of gyro beef and sprinkles of diced vegetables. The meat is incredibly savory while the tahini sauce showcases a hearty creaminess that elevates the other foods’ flavors. The pita bread, however, won me over the most. I picked oﬀ those soft, pillowy slices of goodness one by one with no trouble. Everything complemented each other to create a robust, filling meal. Would I have waited two hours on opening day for this? Probably not. Perhaps after some tweaking with better eﬃciency in food preparation, people will get their hands on these meaty platters much easier. The price also increased from $7 at a New York food stand to $8.29 in Houston. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. Getting a taste of New York in sprawling Houston gives a more prominent urban vibe here that’s very welcome. It’s also wonderful to know that Houston is continually garnering more attention in the food scene. Whether hankering for a late-night food fest or an aﬀordable meal, Halal Guys rises to the occasion marvelously.
Visitors encouraged each other to explore the rest of the installation, pointed out interesting pieces, laughed together, asked questions and provided explanations. In this way, you become part of the environment, a guest or resident of this eccentric home. “The Great Cape Rinderhorn” will be on view until May 15. The Rice Gallery’s hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. It’s a great experience even for those who are “not usually interested in art,” but be sure to come dressed to crawl so you can see all the installation has to oﬀer.
52 PICK UP
DALI ON FILM
52 cards, 52 scenes, one relationship. That’s the tagline for Houston Theater LaB’s acclaimed production of 52 card pickup. The show begins with 52 cards, each with a scene title on them, being thrown into the air. From there, the cast picks one card at a time, acting out the scenes in corresponding order. The show runs through Feb. 28.
This is the last weekend to catch the Station Museum of Contemporary Art’s free exhibition, “Corpocracy.” The exhibition is a collection of compelling works by artists and sociologists about corporate culture’s eﬀect on society. The show will be open until 6 p.m. every day until Sunday but after that, it closes for good.
Didn’t know Dali made films? Now’s the time to check them out and impress your friends with your newfound surrealist wisdom. Aurora Picture Show presents Bunuel and Dali Films at the Menil on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Trigger warning for creepy insects and detached images of sex and death.
You know the one. Grab your appetite for experimental art, music and late night sweets and head over to the Pancakes and Booze Art Show on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Note to the wise — it will be crowded. Get there early if you don’t want to be stuck in line in this unseasonal cold.
MATCH Houston 3400 Main st. thelabhou.org
Station Museum 1502 Alabama St. stationmuseum.com
Menil Collection 1515 Sul Ross St. aurorapictureshow.org
Warehouse Live 813 Saint Emanuel St. pancakesandbooze.com