Italian-born abstract expressionist Nicola Parente may have the distinction of being the only artist on our list to have designed sets for a ballet; he worked with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Terminus. But then Parente has made a career out of creating art in unexpected ways. Not only does he paint, he designs textiles, creates sculpture, works in installations (including one curated by Michael Crowder and David A. Brown for the experimental art space micro scope 1824), he’s worked with the Bayou City Arts Festival (as vice president on the board of directors), Writers in School (on the outreach committee) and with the Winter and Spring Street Studios’ artist advisory board (he has his studio in the complex). We especially like his over-sized paintings.