Arts events worth catching this month:
Inquiry: Department of Art and Art History Faculty Exhibition. Through Feb. 21. UT Visual Art Center, Trinity and 23rd streets, University of Texas campus. www.utvac.org.
Yes, "Inquiry" includes new work by UT’s art professors. But in an interesting twist on the standard faculty exhibit, the show also includes drawings and research from faculty art historian and design scholars.
"Everything is Established." Opens 8 p.m. Friday. Performances continue 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays through Feb. 21. Off Center, 2211 Hidalgo St. $12 - $25. www.physicalplant.org
A member of the noted theater collective Rude Mechs, Hannah Kenah penned the Rude’s critically acclaimed play "Now Now Oh Now," which has toured nationally. Now, Kenah premieres her new play, "Everything is Established," which is produced by Physical Plant Theatre. Two menservants delight in a mischievous run of the mansion after their ruthless master has passed away. Until, that is, their secret fun is thrown into chaos by the arrival of their master’s mail-order bride. The 75-minute whip-smart comedy features a trio of Austin’s comedic all-stars — Lee Eddy, Michael Joplin and Jeffrey Mills.
"Belle Redux/A Tale of Beauty and the Beast." 8 p.m. Feb. 13-14, 3 p.m. Feb. 15. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. $15-$84. www.balletaustin.org
The most anticipated dance event of the season. Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills creates a new ballet, riffing on not only the original tale of "Beauty and the Beast," but also Jean Cocteau’s 1946 surreal film noir version of the romantic story. Mills’ dark, passionate and very grown-up version is set to a poignant and inventive new score by Austin composer Graham Reynolds.
"Cabaret de Carmen." 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13-14, 3 p.m. Feb. 15. North Door, 502 Brushy St. www.ndvenue.com
Adventurous opera presenters LOLA (Local Opera Local Artists) impressed last year with "La Femme Boheme," the cabaret-sized version of "La Boheme." Now, LOLA brings "Cabaret de Carmen," a one-act 75-minute condensed version of Bizet’s classic. Performed in the comfortable club the North Door, LOLA’s musically top-notch productions are simultaneously artistically intense yet more casual and immediate than your average large-scale opera production.
"Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties."Opens Feb 15. Continues through May 10. Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 512-471-7324. www.blantonmuseum.org.
Organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York, "Witness" pulls from a wide range of artists whose aesthetic output addressed or documented the struggle for civil rights, and includes paintings and sculpture as well as conceptual works, documentary photography and video. One gallery will be dedicated to a video of Nina Simone’s famous 1964 performance of "Mississippi Goddam," a powerful protest song that became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.
"Tell Me What You Think of Me." Opens Feb. 16. Continues through March 13. Texas State University Gallery, Mitte Building, Sessoms and Comanche streets, San Marcos. 512-245-2647. www.txstategalleries.org.
Categorizing culture and cultural identity is a slippery thing — one that usually leads to horrible generalizations. With an insightful eye and a sense of humor, curator Leslie Moody Castro explores such categorizations when the tables are turned and North American identity is, with a great deal of irony, stereotyped by both American and Latin American artists.
"Simple Sundries" Opens Feb.27. Continues through March 14. Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road. www.glasshalffulltheatre.org.
Puppeteer and always adventurous theater-maker Caroline Reck presents her newest creation. A nearly wordless piece of theatrical storytelling, "Simple Sundries" finds the natural world and urban realities clashing as an Austin woman attempts to establish a front porch market only to be thwarted by a nesting bird.