The air isn’t exactly crisp and the leaves aren’t exactly changing, but the fact remains: it’s officially fall in Texas. This year, the season brings with it Taylor Sheridan‘s take on the Mafia, a clown car’s worth of Chippendales dancers, and the alleged end to the Halloween franchise—and that’s just on film. Before the year is out, you can see a Pulitzer Prize–winning Edward Albee play in Houston and homegrown large-scale sculptures in El Paso. No matter your taste or preferred medium of entertainment, there’s no reason to be bored with this roster of happenings around the state. Just don’t expect to need a jacket.
The Family Izquierdo, by Rubén Degollado (September 6)
Degollado’s first novel for adults intertwines the stories of several members of the fictional Izquierdo family as they grapple with illness, marriage issues, emotional downfalls, and even a potential curse from their jealous neighbor. An intimate, multigenerational narrative of a Mexican family, The Family Izquierdo shines in its depiction of South Texas and how the region has shaped Latinos over time. —Sierra Juarez
The Hero of This Book: A Novel, by Elizabeth McCracken (October 4)
I first encountered Elizabeth McCracken’s writing by accident, back in 1996, in the “Mc” section of a North Carolina bookstore, where I was searching for another author’s work. Instead of that book, whatever it was, I left with The Giant’s House, McCracken’s first novel, whose combination of quirky humor, tenderness, and sensible sentiment was unlike anything I had read before. Years later, while thumbing through a magazine, I stumbled onto a heartbreaking essay about motherhood and loss. I didn’t realize it was McCracken’s work until my tears dried at the end. So it seemed like happy fate that we both ended up in Austin—McCracken is the James A. Michener chair in creative writing at the University of Texas, where she’s been since 2010. Her latest novel, the highly anticipated The Hero of This Book, follows a woman on a trip to London in the months after her mother’s death. I can’t wait to enter another of McCracken’s singular worlds again. (McCracken will also be a featured author at the free Texas Book Festival in Austin, November 5–6.) —Kathy Blackwell
The Passenger and Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy (October 25 and December 6)
McCarthy is a living legend of Texas letters. Again and again over his long career, with titles like Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, and No Country for Old Men, he’s nudged the western novel toward new frontiers. McCarthy’s past decade and a half has been uncharacteristically quiet, but this fall he’ll release two novels in quick succession. Expect something further afield this time from the perennial Nobel Prize candidate—these paired works are set in the 1980s Deep South and in a Wisconsin psychiatric facility, following the lives of two children of a man who helped invent the atomic bomb. —Michael Agresta
Film, TV, and Podcasts
Buried Bones (Exactly Right Media, out now)
Although many true-crime podcasts are binge-worthy, they’re also often lacking in criminology expertise. The podcast Buried Bones fills that gap. Retired cold-case investigator Paul Holes teams up with Austin-area journalist and author Kate Winkler Dawson (also my previous journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin) to give fresh insights on some of the most famous true-crime cases in history. —S.J.
Andor (Disney+, September 21)
Despite being yet another Star Wars prequel, Disney+’s new series about Rogue One rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) promises to be a first for the franchise. No more of those darn, dysfunctional Skywalkers: Andor focuses instead on the everyday people who are just trying to survive the Empire, telling fresh stories about lives that have traditionally been reduced to laser-cannon fodder. Still, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t also excited about the return of Saw Gerrera, the rebel extremist played by Longview native Forest Whitaker, whose too-brief appearance in Rogue One left us with just an intriguing glimpse at a rare morally gray character in Star Wars’s black and white universe. —Sean O’Neal
A Friend of the Family (Peacock, October 6)
Grapevine’s unstoppable Mckenna Grace continues her total media domination with this Hulu drama based on the true story of Jan Broberg, who was kidnapped multiple times by the same man in 1970s Idaho. Judging from the trailer, there are plenty of unnerving things about this show, like Jake Lacy leveraging his white-bread blandness to chillingly predatory effect and Colin Hanks’s odd, prosthetic comb-over. Also unsettling: Grace’s relentless drive to make everyone over the age of eighteen feel washed-up and lazy. —S.O.
Halloween Ends (Theaters, October 14)
Does it, though? We’ll find out when David Gordon Green’s rebooted horror trilogy concludes with its long-promised final final showdown between masked murderer Michael Myers and his babysitter bête noire, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who’s been trying awfully hard to end this thing for more than forty years now. For his part, Green has said this is definitely the last Halloween movie he intends to make, which makes for at least one confirmed ending. —S.O.
Tulsa King (Paramount+, November 13)
Taylor Sheridan has long dealt in characters who live and die by their personal codes—who fight for themselves and for their families above all else, even if it means breaking the law. But Tulsa King represents his first real foray into the omertà world of the American gangster drama, telling the story of a veteran New York mafioso who finds himself sent down to Oklahoma, where he’s tasked with establishing a new crew among the local yokels. Beyond Sheridan’s proven imprimatur, the Paramount+ series also boasts Terence Winter as showrunner, who knows a couple of three things from The Sopranos, and it’s even found a fresh new face in Sylvester Stallone, making his scripted-TV debut as the titular king. —S.O.
Welcome to Chippendales (Hulu, November 22)
Hulu’s drama series about the stranger-than-fiction story behind the male-stripper empire Chippendales serves up a lot of famous faces alongside its abs buffet, including Kumail Nanjiani, Dan Stevens, and Juliette Lewis. But odds are that all eyes will be on Plano’s Spencer Boldman as Lance McCrae, who’s been described as “the ultimate specimen” and “the hottest Chippendales dancer of them all” in press releases—all but guaranteeing he’ll be the subject of GIFs and thirst tweets throughout the show’s run. —S.O.
Devotion (Theaters, November 23)
Two of the most talented, buzzworthy actors working today—both Texans—come together in a war epic based on the true story of pilot Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first Black aviator. Dallas’s Jonathan Majors, who has turned in gripping performances in Lovecraft Country and The Last Black Man in San Francisco, stars as Brown, while Austin’s Glen Powell transitions from playing Top Gun: Maverick’s Hangman to Brown’s wingman, Tom Hudner. Directed by J. D. Dillard and set in 1950, the film follows Brown and Hudner as they navigate racism, friendship, and the Korean War. The conflict has long been referred to as America’s Forgotten War, but my father fought in it, so I’m particularly interested to see it portrayed on the big screen. —K.B.
Lend Me a Soprano (Alley Theatre, Houston, through October 9)
Thirty-six years after the debut of his popular farce Lend Me a Tenor, in London’s West End, playwright Ken Ludwig has created a new screwball comedy that’s also set in a thirties opera company, this time featuring women in the lead roles. Lend Me a Soprano promises temperamental divas, mistaken identities, and lots of slamming doors and costume changes. And the Alley has the world premiere. —Marilyn Bailey
Rigoletto (Dallas Opera, Winspear Opera House, Dallas, October 8, 12, 14, and 16)
Verdi’s tragedy is full of gorgeous tunes, most famously the tenor aria “La donne è mobile,” and chilling drama that ensnares the title baritone—a cursed court jester—and his daughter. Dallas Opera’s richly hued production is especially notable this season because the company is launching a true live stream with the final performance (few companies do this—even the Met makes you watch in movie theaters). It’s a Sunday matinee and tickets are pay what you can, with a minimum of $9.99. —M.B.
San Antonio Philharmonic (First Baptist Church, San Antonio, various dates)
After the sad news over the summer that the San Antonio Symphony was folding after 83 years, orchestra members got busy. This new, musician-led group will offer several classical programs this fall, performed twice each, complete with guest conductors and soloists. Next up, on October 6–7, is Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 (with San Antonio native Nancy Zhou), and Dances in the Canebrakes by African American composer Florence Price. Pops concerts begin in 2023. —M.B.
Seascape (Alley Theater, Houston, October 14–November 13)
Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1974 play centers around Nancy and Charlie, a middle-aged couple facing retirement, as they relax on a deserted stretch of beach and discuss what to do with the rest of their lives. Their comfortably argumentative banter is interrupted when another couple—two sea creatures—emerges from the surf. —Amy Weaver Dorning
Trouble In Mind (Dallas Theater Center, Kalita Humphreys Theater, Dallas, October 13–30)
Alice Childress’s 1955 comedy-drama, which had its Broadway debut canceled after the playwright refused to tone down the play’s message, had a triumphant Broadway premiere in 2021. Its Dallas debut is directed by Tiana Kaye Blair and follows an experienced Black stage actress as she negotiates racism, identity, and ego in the high-stakes world of New York theater. —A.W.D.
“Las Hermanas Iglesias” (Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, through 2023)
Sisters Lisa and Janelle Iglesias’s contemporary project explores a biological concept that scientists have monikered microchimerism, which is when cells from one person are transferred to another. The dynamic process, thought to often take place between babies and mothers during pregnancy, is inspected through the sisters’ artwork, which will be rearranged in a series of new configurations during the exhibit’s stay at the Blanton. —S.J.
“Gods for Future Religions” (El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, September 22–January 15)
Ho Baron’s distinctive large-scale sculptures of strange figures, which he has displayed in his yard in El Paso for decades, defy easy categorization. Inspired by the Jungian theory of the collective subconscious, Baron seems to draw inspiration from Tibetan, Mayan, and Pacific Northwest Indigenous art, with a dollop of H. R. Giger, the designer of Alien, thrown in. But these are not terrifying creatures. Rather, Baron has conjured an assortment of striking figures and animals, many of which appear to be spiny creatures dredged up from a black lagoon five fathoms deep. Like wellsprings from some primordial, shared global mythology of our species, these statues stretch and play at life itself, riddled with many sets of eyes and teeth. Baron is now in his early eighties, and it’s great to see him getting a big solo show in his hometown. —Rainey Knudson
“Margarita Cabrera: Blurring Borders” (McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, October 6–January 22)
Cabrera’s work expands our imagination of what sculpture can do and express. Consider her series Space in Between: Cabrera hosts workshops in which she teaches women, often recent migrants from Mexico, traditional Indigenous (Otomi) embroidery techniques. Cabrera then invites the women to use their new skills to sew images from their journeys to the U.S. onto stuffed fabric cacti made from green Border Patrol uniforms. The results are, more than art objects, pieces of resistance—to fearful silence, to the loss of culture, to the power of the uniform. This solo show is, fittingly, in San Antonio, the home of Cabrera’s monumental public sculpture Árbol de la Vida. —M.A.
“Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances” (Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, October 16–February 19)
There’s growing interest in this self-taught artist who died by suicide in 2019 after a brief seven-year career, and the Dallas Museum of Art has been a leader in celebrating his talent. It was the only museum to purchase his work during his lifetime, and now it’s home to the first Wong retrospective. The show gathers about fifty of his vivid and haunting modern landscapes, sometimes featuring a small, solitary figure in a vast, intense scene. —M.B.
“Jenelle Esparza: It Could Only Be Lived” (Women & Their Work, Austin, October 22–December 15)
This will be Austinites’ first chance for an extended look at work by the up-and-coming Esparza, who has had several solo shows in San Antonio, where she is based. Esparza, who often works with cotton textiles and found objects, here explores the overlooked history of Hispanics in the U.S. cotton industry and her own relationship to her cotton-picker ancestors. Make it a must-stop if you’re in the neighborhood for the (unrelated, but unmissable) Austin Studio Tour in November. —M.A.
“Modern Masters: A Tribute to Anne Windfohr Marion” (Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, October 23–January 8)
Exhibitions that revolve around art patrons can be revelatory in unexpected ways. Featuring eighty works by 47 artists, this tribute to Marion, who died in 2020 at age 81, will highlight some of her gifts to the museum, such as Mark Rothko’s White Band No. 27, 1954, and Ellsworth Kelly’s Spectrum III, 1967. The rest of the show will consist of works from post–World War II art movements, including several works from Jackson Pollock, as well as photographs from the past fifty years by influential artists such as Yasumasa Morimura, Cindy Sherman, and Carrie Mae Weems. I can’t imagine missing the chance to see all of these works under the roof of the Modern, one the most impressive architectural wonders in Texas. —K.B.
“Philip Guston Now” (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston; October 23–January 16)
Finally! Philip Guston Now, which Forbes magazine called “America’s most controversial art exhibition,” arrives for its stint at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston after a two-year delay. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the four museums hosting this retrospective decided to postpone it because Guston’s most famous works include depictions of the Ku Klux Klan. The postponement was widely criticized—more than two thousand artists signed an open letter protesting the museums’ “failure of nerve.” The show opened first this summer at MFA Boston, which posted wall text titled “Emotional Preparedness for Philip Guston Now.” Will the MFAH include similar trigger warnings? We shall see. Lost in all of this is the brilliance of Guston the painter. He enjoyed success as an abstract expressionist in the 1950s, only to decide abstraction was a “sham” and to be dropped by his galleries when he started painting the lumpy, darkly satiric figures for which he is best known. He stuck to his guns in the face of withering criticism. Today no reasonable person would observe his defiantly ugly, comic-book style and interpret that Guston, the child of Jewish émigrés who fled persecution in the Ukraine, was somehow condoning the KKK. Instead, he was holding up a mirror to American society, suggesting that all of us—himself included—are implicated in our country’s casual acceptance of violence and persecution. —R.K.