Art exhibit showcases Asian American artists, cultures

A new exhibition featuring three Asian American women artists is on view at the Lee College Performing Arts Gallery now through Friday, April 8.  “Diasporic Identity” showcases the works of Houston-area artists Chong-Ok Lee Matthews, Tiffany Heng-Hui Lee and Michelle Heinesen. The show coincides with Women’s History Month, which is every March.

The public is invited to an opening reception for the exhibition from 4-7 p.m., Saturday, March 5, at the gallery located in the McNulty-Haddock Building, 200 Lee Dr., Baytown, TX 77520. Visitors can park in LOT 15. (Campus map.)

“We titled the exhibition ‘Diasporic Identity’ because the artwork is reflective of where these women originally came from: Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea,” said Elena Poirot, exhibition curator and art professor at Lee College. “Through their paintings, collages and sculptures, these artists are sharing their culture, memories and ideas.” Visitors will also get an opportunity to meet the artists and hear about their work during a Women’s History Month talk from 1-3 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in the gallery space.

Art by Michelle Heinesen, courtesy of the artist
Art by Michelle Heinesen, courtesy of the artist


Collage by Tiffany Lee, courtesy of the artist
Collage by Tiffany Lee, courtesy of the artist


Art by Chong-Ok Lee Matthews, courtesy of the artist
Art by Chong-Ok Lee Matthews, courtesy of the artist

“Celebrations of the Dead” Brings Culture to Life

In a small but intriguing art studio on the edge of campus, several students gather around a well-worn but sturdy worktable to talk about dead people.

It’s not about murder mystery shows or the latest TikTok trend. These students are exploring the tradition of using retablos, or devotional art, as a way to honor and remember special people in their lives who have passed away. Slowly, the students get to work using pencils, paint, charcoal, and glue as they research, laugh, cry, and remember.

From soulful and somber to dynamic and colorful, people around the world have many different ways to pay tribute to loved ones who have died.

This month, Lee College will create space for everyone to experience a variety of diverse cultures and traditions during, “Celebrations of the Dead,” Oct. 28-Dec. 3, at the Performing Arts Center gallery. The exhibit will take a closer look at artwork relating to Dia de los Muertos, All Hallows Eve and the Celtic festival of Samhain.

“We didn’t call it ‘Dia de las Muertos,’ because we wanted to include all the cultures that honor the dead,” said Elena Poirot, Lee College Visual and Performing Arts faculty member. “We want to encourage students to research all the history of the different celebrations and be more inclusive of each one.”

In the spirit of inclusivity, several Lee College departments joined in on this unique platform to learn about global traditions alongside one another.

“It’s a great opportunity for the college to include English, humanities, Spanish, and other departments, so everyone can be a part of something together. It’s not just about having fun, but it’s about learning the history of different cultures and working together all in one location,” said Poirot.

The exhibit will kick off 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, at the Performing Arts Center with a free opening reception and workshop featuring traditional food, music, art, and traditional crafts for all ages.

People in the community are encouraged to be part of the exhibit by creating retablos to display at the art gallery. Retablos are typically made from a small piece of wood or metal, and they depict an image or symbol that pays homage to a special person or memory. Free art supplies to create a retablo are available at the Lee College art studio.

“You don’t have to be an artist to create these retablos,” said Poirot. “There are so many different ways to honor someone. There’s no wrong way to do this.”

Even for those who aren’t interested in creating their own art, Poirot encourages everyone to stop by the come-and-go event on Oct. 28 to experience different cultures first-hand.

“Swing by and try something new, get something to eat, and learn about different cultures around the world,” she said.

For more information about creating retablos or about the “Celebrations of the Dead” exhibit, contact Elena Poirot at 281.425.6485, or epoirot@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Local musicians, artists on tap for annual Coffeehouse

A singer and guitarist on stage

After a yearlong break because of COVID, the Lee College Coffeehouse is illuminating the stage once again for a fun evening of entertainment, talent and creativity at the Black Box Theater on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.

The annual musical showcase brings together a diverse group of singers and songwriters from around the community, and gives them a platform to share their talents.

Ken Booker, director of Instrumental Music at Lee College, has organized and implemented this unique community event for over a decade. When he started the Coffeehouse in 2009, his goal was simply to provide a high-quality venue for artists in the community to do what they love. Booker is excited to once again be able to bring that opportunity back to local performers.

“As a musician and composer myself, I know that any time an artist gets the opportunity to be part of something like this, it’s a good thing because it provides that creative outlet everyone needs,” said Booker. “Giving them a venue to do that gives me so much satisfaction. I really like to see it happen.”

Local musician, Tony Jackomis has performed at the Lee College Coffeehouse many times, both as a solo musician and as part of a group. He enjoys playing this event because of the feedback from the crowd and the opportunity it brings to grow as an artist.

“The event attracts people who really love music and know a lot about it,” said Jackomis. “It’s a rare experience to play to a room full of people like that who are watching with intent and listening to every note.”

“For me, it’s been a place where I’ve been able to experiment and find myself as an artist. The setting is so intimate, and when you’re performing you really get a good sense of what the audience is responding to – what works and what doesn’t. The audience has greater access to the performers as well,” he said.  

To keep the audience on their toes, the Coffeehouse venue has also welcomed poetry readers, rappers, comics – even a juggler has taken the stage in the past!

An audition is required to perform at the Coffeehouse, and there are still a few spots left. Anyone interested in auditioning for the show can contact Ken Booker at kbooker@lee.edu for more information. Tickets to the Coffeehouse are $5 at the door, and light snacks and drinks will be available for purchase. All proceeds from the event benefit students of the Lee College Music Club. The Black Box Theater is part of the Lee College Performing Arts Center located at 805 W. Texas Avenue in Baytown.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Theater Festival comes to Lee College

The Lee College Performing Arts Center will host three visiting theater companies Saturday in a competition held by Texas Nonprofit Theaters.

TNT holds four regional “Quad Fests” as the first stage of its theater competition.

The three shows Saturday are “Priscilla Dreams the Answer” from The Plaza Theatre in Wharton at 2:30 p.m., “The Stranger” from Encore Arts in Katy at 4:15 p.m., and “1984” at 7 p.m.

Individual show tickets are $15.

Lee College will also host the statewide TNT competition March 13-16. The college has hosted TNT’s youth theater festival in the past, but this is the first time it has hosted the competition for shows with adult actors.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Players present ‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)’

Lee College actors prepare for “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).”
Lee College actors prepare for “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).” From left are Marc Glover-Garcia, Marci Barrientos, Beth Powell, Mary Arrigo, Frankie Moncada and Mason Lauderdale.

After a while, the reindeer and elves and snowmen and Whos and all the fantastical creatures of Christmas can start to blend together like the green beans and gravy at the big feast.

The Lee College Players’ upcoming production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” takes an over-the-top comic mix-and-match spin on the holiday stories we all grew up with.

There will be just four performances, starting Thursday night, Dec. 6, and ending Monday. All shows are in the black box theater of the Performing Arts Center. Showtimes are at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Tickets are $15 (Lee College faculty, staff and students $8). For tickets, go to www.lee.edu/pac or call 281.425.6255.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee welcomes ‘Animal Farm’ to Black Box

The Lee College Players will present “George Orwell’s Animal Farm” in the Black Box theater of the Lee College Performing Arts Center for two weekends, opening Friday.

Performances will be Nov. 2-3 and 9-11, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.

The stage play is adapted by Ian Wooldrige from the novel by George Orwell. (Wikipedia article about the book)

Orwell’s satire on the perils of Stalinism has proved magnificently long-lived as a parable about totalitarianism anywhere and has given the world at least one immortal phrase: “Some are more equal than others.”

The animals on Manor Farm drive out their master and take over and run the farm for themselves. The experiment is successful, except that someone has to take the deposed farmer’s place. Leadership devolves upon the pigs, which are cleverer than the rest of the animals. Unfortunately, their character is not equal to their intelligence. This dramatization remains faithful to the book’s plot and intent, and it retains both its affection for the animals and the incisiveness of its message.

General admission tickets are $15. Lee College students, faculty and staff can get tickets for $8. Tickets may be purchased online at www.lee.edu/pac.

Some material in the play may be too graphic for young viewers.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

BSO to present Elgar’s Enigma

The Baytown Symphony Orchestra is kicking off its 51st season with a bang! Italian violinist Laura Cividino will perform the beloved Violin Concerto in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, in Lee College’s beautiful Performing Arts Center.

This performance is Cividino’s debut with the Baytown Symphony, but she is no stranger to the greater Houston area. She performs regularly with the Houston New Arts Movement, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, Bach Society Houston, Austin Baroque Orchestra, and the Brazos Valley Symphony — among other guest appearances — and tours internationally with the Calliope String Quartet. You are sure to be impressed by her rich sound and musical depth.

This season-opening concert will conclude with Edward Elgar’s unparalleled Enigma Variations. This inspired work is built from multiple short movements that represent the important people in the British composer’s life, from his wife to his colleagues. This orchestral homage to Elgar’s friends is among his greatest works and, undoubtedly, one of the finest works by a British composer.

Student tickets are free at the box office before the concert.

The program includes “The Italian in Algiers” Overture by Rossini, Violin Concerto in E minor by Mendelssohn, and Enigma Variations by Elgar.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Catch “Remembering Harvey” at the PAC

The Lee College Players will present “Remembering Harvey,” a collection of remembrances of the hurricane that brought massive flooding to the region a year ago.

Theater instructor Kim Martin described the play as “a challenging and provocative look back at the events which rocked the world of our region and community one year ago. In this originally conceived presentation, we will invite the community to look back at Hurricane Harvey, relying on our artistic resources to remember and reevaluate the experience that has left many of our community’s citizens touched for life.”

Lee College also performed this original production at the Fort Worth Fringe Festival, Sept. 7, 8, and 9, a play festival presented by Texas Nonprofit Theatres.

Local performances will be at two locations:

  • 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Lee College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $8 for students and Lee College faculty and staff members. They may be purchased at the box office. Call 281.425.6255 or visit www.lee.edu/pac.
  • 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6, at the Baytown Town Square. Town Square performances are outdoors and free.

Baytown Concert Band to host concert April 21 at PAC

The Baytown Concert Band will present its Spring Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at the Lee College Performing Arts Center.

Ken Booker, conductor of the Baytown Concert Band and Director of Instrumental Music at Lee College, said the theme of the evening’s free performance is “Vesuvius,” which is also one of the pieces being performed.

“It’s a community band that has a few students in it, but most of the people in it are from the community,” he said.

Booker said most of the music is classical, though he does introduce some newer selections as well. The Concert Band mainly differs from an orchestra in that it has no string instruments.

In addition to conducting and teaching, Booker is a composer, and the performance will feature one of his compositions titled “Black Water Scenes.”

“It’s really about East Texas,” Booker said. “One of the movements is called “Red Clay.” He said the title “Black Water Scenes” is meant to evoke the feel of the woods of that region.

“You see that still water that is black because of the shadows. The cypress trees and stuff like that make it look kind of (black),” he said.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Jazz @ Lee College Friday, April 13

The Thursday Night Band will present a free concert under the direction of Ken Booker at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the Performing Arts Center.

Featured performers will be trombone instructor Carl Woodall and vocalist Kevin Lewis.

Lewis is a former Lee College music student who now teaches in Goose Creek CISD. He will be performing “Route 66,” “Kissing a Fool,” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.”

Booker said the night’s program will include many big-band favorites.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.