News and Features

Saturday Spotlight – Art as a Tool of War



For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re checking out a collection of rare vintage poster art in the exhibition “Art of Persuasion.” It’s the last day to see these posters at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, and they include recruiting, propaganda, and morale-boosting images from World Wars I and II.

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Dallas Opera Summits With World Premiere Of “Everest”


Kevin Burdette portrays Beck Weathers, the Dallas area doctor who survived an expedition that left eight climbers dead, in “Everest”. Photo: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera.



Celebrated British composer Joby Talbot has written for film, television and ballet. Now, at 43, he’s composed his first opera that gets its world premiere by the Dallas Opera tonight. Everest tells a tale pulled together from survivor stories, including that of North Texan Dr. Beck Weathers.
This opera was Gene Scheer’s idea. The librettist successfully worked on the Dallas Opera’s Moby Dick premiere five years ago. For years, he had been captivated by the 1996 Everest expedition when eight climbers died.
“It seems to be about both really big sort of existential themes coupled with these challenging circumstances these characters found themselves in. You’re dealing with both the big and the small.”
Scheer sold Joby Talbot on Everest, especially, says the composer, on creating a sound world around the peak.

everest set

The set of Dallas Opera’s “Everest”. Photo: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera

“There’s like the voice of the mountain that’s one of the first thoughts I had,” Talbot says. “Gene was talking about including a chorus. I thought well it’s not just the chorus representing the voice of the mountain, it’s going to be the music doing that too. I was looking for the sound to represent this fickle, terrifying entity. So I was looking for rock cracking under the pressure, and the cold, wind perpetually whistling past.”
Baritone Craig Verm was immediately thrilled by what he heard. He also admired Talbot’s vocal writing skill.
“Joby has brilliantly incorporated lots of breaths,” says Verm. “So we can move with our body and gasp for air in between words and between phrases to give the illusion that we really are suffering from hypoxia.”

everest hall and verm

Tenor Andrew Bidlack as guide Rob Hall (left), and baritone Craig Verm as Doug Hansen (right). Verm is also a mountain climber and helped his fellow cast get used to the gear. Photo: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera

Verm’s character [Doug Hansen] is one of the doomed climbers. Aided by a guide, he sings of his desire to reach the summit.
“I say over and over, ‘Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it,’ where each word has its own note and they’re very short and punctuated.”

Scheer and Talbot focused on just a few personal stories from the tragic expedition, including that of Dr. Beck Weathers. He was near the summit when his eyesight failed. Whethers remembers guide Rob Hall’s parting advice as he left to help others.
“And I want you to promise me that you’re going to stay here till I come back. I said cross my heart, hope to die, I’m sticking. It never occurred to me he would never come back.”
That’s when a blizzard blew in. Two groups of climbers left an unconscious Weathers for dead, an accepted Everest practice. But he awoke from a coma 15 hours later and frostbitten, stumbled into camp. Hall, the guide, died on the mountain.

everest weathers

Kevin Burdette as Beck Weathers. Photo: Karen Almond, Dallas Opera


One question this opera poses: why risk death at 29,000 feet?
For Weathers, climbing released him from suicidal depression.
Verm is also a climber. He’s trekked the same Colorado mountains Weathers first climbed. He has a slightly different attraction.
“I think what draws me to performing is the same things that draw me to the mountains,” Verm says. “There is an aliveness a mixture of being 100% physical, 100% emotional, 100% spiritual experience. And you’re exhausted, but you’ve never been more alive.”
That’s what the creators and the Dallas Opera hope the audience feels, with Everest.

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Glasstire Top 5: Melvin Edwards

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Categorized Under: Local Events, Visual Arts

Weekly Top 5 includes one pick from  the DFW area.  Melvin Edwards: Five Decades opens at the Nasher Sculpture Center on Jan. 31.  The retrospective covers  five decades worth of work by the pioneering artist, including some never seen before. Look for more on the exhibit from Jerome Weeks here on Art&Seek tomorrow.


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Stagger Lee: Part 2 – Making The Music

JE 17Justin Ellington in the rehearsal room at the Wyly Theatre. Photo: Dane Walters

Listen to the story that aired today on KERA FM today.

Part 2 of our series chronicling the development of the Dallas Theater Center‘s new musical, Stagger Lee, moves to the other half of the primary creative team: co-composer Justin Ellington. It was hip-hop artist and playwright Will Power who had the original idea of melding figures from old songs like “Staggerlee” into a kind of modern African-American mythology, a stage show about black people pushing to build lives for themselves. But it was his collaborator Ellington who suggested they go big — make Stagger Lee into a multi-decade chronicle not only of that push but also the music they created along the way: ragtime, jazz, rhythm-and-blues, doo-wop, funk.
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The Big Screen: How ‘Still Alice’ Nailed Alzheimer’s

BigScreen_logoSMALLIn Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays a college professor shocked to learn she has early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Moore is a favorite in the best-actress Oscar field. So this week, we talk about how the disease is portrayed in the film with Dr. Diana Kerwin, chair of the Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the director of the Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders program.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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The Big Deal: Texas Ballet Theater Presents ‘The Merry Widow’

Photo: Texas Ballet Theater

Photo: Texas Ballet Theater

Win tickets to Texas Ballet Theater’s most flirty and romantic comedy of the season. Texas Ballet Theater’s The Merry Widow features sumptuous costumes, lavish sets and bubbly comedic timing. The beautifully danced production will also be accompanied live by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Since these pair of tickets are good for the Feb. 7, 2 p.m. performance at Bass Performance Hall, this Big Deal will make a perfect early Valentine’s Day date.

If you appreciate this Big Deal then you’ll want to sign up for our other Big Deal this week, tickets to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. Also, take the opportunity to sign up to win for passes to see Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention, a special anniversary exhibition at the Meadows Museum on the campus of SMU.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see The Merry Widow presented by Texas Ballet Theater.

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The Big Deal: Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention At The Meadows Museum

Photo: Meadows Museum

Photo: Meadows Museum

Time is running out to see Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention at the Meadows Museum on the campus of SMU. More than 200 works by the great Spanish painter and graphic artist are currently on display. But this special exhibition, that is part of the Meadows 50th anniversary celebration, is only on display until March 1, 2015.  Sign up for a chance to take a friend to see the works by the master graphic artist.

Don’t forget to take the time to sign up for our other giveaways this week – tickets to see The Merry Widow presented by Texas Ballet Theater, or tickets to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber take care of that first, then sign up below for the opportunity to see Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention.

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The Big Deal: Eisemann Center Presents The Paul Taylor Dance Company

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Categorized Under: Dance, Giveaways, Local Events
Photo: Tom Caravaglia

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

Paul Taylor was an early innovator of American modern dance. Martha Graham dubbed him the “naughty boy” of dance. He is the recipient of both the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. Through the decades Taylor has continued to be a vibrant and relevant force on the contemporary dance scene. His world-renowned dance ensemble, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will be performing at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts. Enter for a chance to see the Feb. 7 performance in Richardson.

After signing up for this giveaway, you might be moved to sign up for our other Big Deal this week – tickets to see the Texas Ballet Theater’s production of The Merry Widow. Or sign up for a chance to win free admission to see Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention, a special exhibition at the Meadows Museum at SMU.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

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Art&Seek Jr: Weekend Boredom Busters

Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible, you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

Like a lot of women of her generation, my mother had very little patience for whining or pouting of any variety. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like she was standing over us with a rod, Oliver Twist-style; it’s just that as a mother of three (before the invention of microwave ovens or cable TV) she generally put the day’s moratorium on whining long before we’d even finished our morning oatmeal.

Never was this truer than if we dared to whine about being bored. For those occasions she broke out her “tom walker” story. It usually started with an observation about our toys, specifically, the AMOUNT of toys in our possession. In my mother’s estimation the sheer number of fabulous playthings at our disposal should render us boredom-free until the end of time. She’d then segue into her “when I was a little girl” part of the story. According to my mother when she was a child, she and her 8 siblings were happy as clams for hours at a time with just two sticks and a couple of pieces of old rubber. That’s right, the only toy children of my parent’s generation ever needed or wanted were the homemade stilts they called “tom walkers.” Well, that and  a tin can.

Yes, clearly they were the superior generation, but sometimes being bored just can’t be helped. I’ve found the best cure for boredom is to try something different. Stepping outside of your usual fare is like adding spices to food, it can make things a whole lot more colorful and well, less boring.

Here are this week’s picks from the Junior to help you shake things up a little.

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Dallas Art Project To Install Posters And Billboards Nationwide


One of the original four billboards from the “Dialogues on Race” project displayed in Dallas. Art by Christopher Blay and Gerardo M. Robles.

The conversation on race is far from over. In fact, it’s growing, due in part to Dallas organization Make Art With Purpose (MAP). MAP makes art that encourages positive social change. For its most recent project, “Dialogues on Race,” the group installed four unique billboards and two murals in Dallas late last year — images meant to spark conversations on the issue.

After what MAP’s founding director Janeil Engelstad called a “great response” to the project in Dallas, the organization realized it had an opportunity to take that conversation nation-wide. Now, MAP has paired with New York-based design firm Worldstudio with the aim of bringing the project to 25 other cities across the country.

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