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Rising Stars & Legends of Texas, April 21-22

Artists and arts enthusiasts will descend on Conroe for the ultimate arts and culture mash-up.

Artists and arts enthusiasts will descend on Conroe for the ultimate arts and culture mash-up.

Conroe Arts Alliance To Host Celebration Of Art And Culture

Historian and film producer, Denton Florian, will present his film about Texas legend Sam Houston on the final day of the Lone Star celebration of the arts.

Historian and film producer, Denton Florian, will present his film about Texas legend Sam Houston on the final day of the Lone Star celebration of the arts.

Art and culture are everywhere in the booming community of Con­roe, overflowing with fresh, new art and artists, theater companies, galleries, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers. The city boasts a symphony orchestra with a celebrated conductor, a world-renowned classical music competition, a choral group that has performed in Carnegie Hall, an esteemed Texas poet laureate, and music events from classical and jazz to country and pop.

Rising Stars & Legends of Texas brings it all together with the ultimate arts and culture mash-up on April 21 and 22 in downtown Conroe. Thirteen organizations comprising the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance are presenting art and artists from Conroe and around the state for a special time to celebrate the arts with free fun, family entertainment that encompasses the visual, performing, literary and cultural arts.

The Downtown Conroe venues include the Crighton Theatre, Owen Theatre, Gallery at the Madeley Building, Founders Park, Martin’s Hall, Heritage Place, Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park, and the Montgomery County Heritage Museum.

Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park with the raising of the 13 flags that have flown over Texas, musical entertainment and special guests. The festivities continue at noon on Saturday, April 22, when the streets will be filled with fun, food, entertainment and lots of fabulous art.

One of the highlights of the event is the showing of an Emmy Award-winning film about Sam Houston. After five years of research, which included filming a documentary on the subject, native Houstonian Denton Florian said there’s still more to learn about his hometown’s namesake.

“You just can’t get to the bottom of Sam Houston. There’s so much there that the more you dig, the more you want to learn,” Florian said, adding there are lessons that presently apply to the whole nation in this story of a man who played such a pivotal role in Texas joining the U.S.

“There’s a tremendous amount we can learn about the way we run our businesses, our civic associations, our nonprofits and even our personal lives,” he said, explaining that Houston’s integrity makes him an ideal role model, even today. “Throughout his life, from a very young age, he made decisions that cost him plenty – power, relationships and money. And even though it caused him to be ridiculed he consistently did the right thing, even when it would have served his best interests to do something else.”

Florian’s documentary Sam Houston, which premiered in March 2013, won five Emmy Awards and was recognized for excellence by the governor of Texas and concurrent resolutions of the Texas House and Senate.

The public will be able to view excerpts from the film during the Rising Stars & Legends of Texas celebration, just after sunset on Saturday, April 22 at Heritage Place Park in downtown Conroe. Florian will be on hand to introduce the film and will stay to answer questions and sell copies of the DVD.

Now a resident of Spring, Florian explained a biography he read about Sam Houston sparked his journey into producing the documentary. “You can’t make this stuff up; he was such an interesting guy,” he said. “After reading the book, I searched for a documentary, but there weren’t any out there.”

One thing led to another, and he assembled a team to embark on the filmmaking adventure. Since the project took five years to complete, the creators of the documentary were able to truly dive into their research.

“We took the responsibility of making this film very seriously,” Florian said. “We knew we had to get it right.”

Florian stays busy giving presentations about this historic figure. The film’s companion website, samhoustonmovie.com, that he created is a reference available for use by researchers and teachers around the world. The film, the website and the assets that have been collected in the project’s hard drives represent the largest collection of digital information on Sam Houston’s life ever assembled.

“Sam Houston had an entire career and a lifetime worth of adventure before he even came to Texas,” Florian said. “He had a gigantic mind.”

The Rising Stars event also will feature a play by Texas playwright Jesse Jones, live radio broadcasts, a symphony concert, choral group and jazz performances, music ensembles featuring Texas musicians, a talent show winners and readings by Texas poets and authors, a gallery show featuring award-winning Texas visual artists, a children’s art show and workshops and more.

Entry to Rising Stars & Legends of Texas is free. Food trucks will be available, shops will be open, and opportunities will be available to purchase fine art. Tickets for Stage Right’s production of a full-length play by Jones will be available for purchase, as will tickets to Conroe Symphony Orchestra’s Saturday evening concert with a full program of entertainment.

For more information on the event, visit artsinconroe.org. For sponsorship opportunities contact Annette Spikes at aspikes123@consolidated.net .

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