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‘Nur’ – A Shining Light At The DMA


single page Qur_an BifolioOne page from The Blue Qu’ran, Tunisia, late 9th-early 10th century, vellum, ink, gold, silver and blue dye

The Dallas Museum of Art has opened its first, ever, major exhibition on Islamic art. The show is called Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World. “Nur” is the Arabic word for “light,” and the DMA is the only American museum to host the show. KERA’s Jerome Weeks sat down with Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, the DMA’s new senior advisor for Islamic art, to talk about her favorite work – one that inspired her to write a novel.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online story:

Weeks: Your exhibition, Nur, includes 150 items from some ten centuries, covering the range of Islamic expansion from Spain to India: everything from vases and windows to fabrics and beautifully detailed scientific illustrations. The great majority of the artworks have little directly to do with religion. But the one you chose to talk about is a few pages from The Blue Qu’ran. It’s a very rare, hand-written copy of the Qu’ran from the 9th century. So why this work and what does it have to do with the show’s theme of light?

Al Khemir: The Blue Qu’ran, as you know, is unique because it is the only manuscript written on blue-dyed vellum or parchment. And it’s written in gold, so, you know the gold is like light, shimmering light against the deep blue sky. In that sense, I think it’s a direct link with the subject of the exhibition. And it’s got an amazing, modern quality to it because the script that it’s written in is so graphically beautiful, it’s almost like the word becoming image. Imagine these gold letters against a deep blue background. It’s like light in a dark night.

Weeks: As you say, it looks very modern. That’s partly because of how almost geometric or abstract it looks. But of course, the geometric, the abstract, are very old, very strong traditions in Islamic art. There are plenty of human figures portrayed in the DMA exhibition, but geometric patterns, abstract shapes, turning the written word into an image: These really dominate.

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The High Five: Major Islamic Art Exhibition Makes Its American Debut In Dallas

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Batter up in Arlington today; NPR invades Texas this week; Conan is visiting Dallas; and more.  

  • A major Islamic art exhibition is now open at the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s the only venue outside of Europe to show Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World. The exhibition, which spans more than 10 centuries, explores the use and meaning of light in Islamic art and science. It features 150 rarely seen objects, including rare manuscripts. The exhibition, which runs through June 29, requires an $8 special exhibition ticket. Learn more about the exhibit from KERA’s Art&Seek. The woman responsible for bringing the art collection to the DMA was featured recently in The New York Times. The DMA hired Sabiha Al Khemir in 2012 to create an Islamic art program.
  • Baseball fans, you know what’s up. Today’s opening day for the Texas Rangers – they play their first home game of the season at 1:05 p.m. at Globe Life Park. (You do remember the name change announced a few weeks ago, right?) The Rangers face the Phillies. Tanner Scheppers will be the Rangers’ Opening Day starter, replacing Yu Darvish, who’s on the disabled list and dealing with stiffness in his neck. If you’re not into baseball, how about food? The Rangers announced last week the new hot foods they’ll serve up to hungry fans. They include frozen beer, bacon on a stick and the “Choomongous,” which is humongous: a two-foot-long Asian beef sandwich. We have a roundup of the new foods right here. (Note: Better pack some Tums.) Did you know the ballpark marks its 20th anniversary this year? Game time forecast: Expect overcast skies and highs in the low- to mid-70s. Everyone sing now: Take me out to the ballgame … take me out with the crowd …
  • Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia. McLelland’s family continues to grieve the loss. “It’s just terrible,” his mother, Wyvonne McLelland, told The Dallas Morning News. “Our loss is something terrible.” His son, J.R., said: “You gotta put your boots on and go on.” Cynthia McClelland’s daughter is getting married this fall. Friends of Cynthia McClelland, who loved to quilt, are making a quilt to hang in the Kaufman County courthouse in honor of the family, the News reports. A former Kaufman County justice of the peace, Eric Lyle Williams, and his wife, Kim, have been charged with capital murder. McClelland had prosecuted Williams for stealing county computer monitors.
  • NPR does Dallas: NPR is invading North Texas all week long, broadcasting “All Things Considered,” the afternoon news magazine, from the KERA studios in Dallas. Host Melissa Block and a team of producers are taking over KERA to show off Texas – and report on how the state is changing – to the rest of the country. (We’ll see if they develop Texas twangs by the end of the week.) The network will be folding in lots of Texas-themed stories. The program airs weekdays from 4-6:30 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM. In other NPR news, it’s also kind of “NPR Week” on KERA’s “Think.” Host Krys Boyd will interview three NPR staffers this week: Nina Totenberg, the NPR legal affairs correspondent, at 1 p.m. Monday; Melissa Block at noon Tuesday; and NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam at noon Thursday.
  • Conan does Dallas, too: Conan O’Brien is in town, taping his TBS show at the Majestic Theatre today through Thursday. Tonight’s guests include actor Adam Sandler and comic Tig Notaro; Tuesday it’s actor Seth Rogan and singer Philip Phillips; Wednesday’s show features actor Simon Heiberg and Eli Young Band; retired NBA player Charles Barkley appears on Thursday. Tickets to O’Brien’s shows have been distributed, but standby tickets will be made available on the day of each taping.
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Jay McInerney on The Writers Studio Tonight. Plus Bonus Interview With Richard Price.

The Writers Studio starts up tonight at 9 p.m. on KERA FM. Art&Seek is pleased to present the six week series of interviews with great authors, all produced by The Writer’s Garret.

Tonight’s guest is Jay McInerney.  Your hosts are Catherine Cuellar and Randy Gordon.


Listen to the episode below:

Or download it. (Click File, then Save Page As and save as an .mp3)

Jay McInerney C Marion Ettlinger

Jay McInerney. Photo: C Marion Ettlinger.

McInerney is best known for the ground-breaking Bright Lights, Big City, which established his reputation as part of “The Brat Pack,” a new generation of writers that included Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, and others chronicling urban life for young people during the Reagan era. A versatile writer, he also penned the screenplays for the film adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, and for “Gia,” known as Angelina Jolie’s breakout role. McInerney also edited The Penguin Book of New American Voices and is the author of Ransom, Story of My Life, Brightness Falls, and The Last of the Savages. McInerney’s most recent novel, The Good Life, is described as his “most fully imagined…most ambitious and elegiac” by The New York Review of Books. His latest book, How It Ended, a collection of short stories spanning his entire career, was named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times.

BONUS: Richard Price.  

Listen to this episode below. (NOTE: The conversation includes language that some might find offensive)

Or download it. (see above)


Richard Price

Price is a novelist and screenwriter whose works are critically acclaimed for their stark, realistic look at the urban world. Several of his novels have been adapted for film including The Wanderers, Bloodbrothers, Sea of Love, Mad Dog and Glory, Clockers, and Ransom. In 1986, Price was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Screenplay” for The Color of Money starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. He has also written teleplays for the HBO series The Wire for which he shared an Edgar Allen Poe Award and a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award. His most recent novel is Lush Life.

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VIDEO: On The Road at SXSW with Flo Morrissey

On The Road: The young and talented British-based artist Flo Morrissey met up with KXT 91.7′s On The Road crew at the Plaza Saltillo Metro Rail station in Austin during SXSW. She recorded her song “Show Me.”


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Saturday Spotlight – Artes Alley

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ArtesAlley-288x445For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re headed to Artes de la Rosa at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth for Artes Alley. This annual outdoor art show includes work by local artists, events for kids, and live music on the Plaza Stage. There’s also an opening reception featuring the colorful paintings of Anita Rodriguez.

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The High Five: Here Are 5 Incredible Cloud Formation Photos From Last Night’s Storm

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The National Weather Service captured this building cumulus cloud near its Fort Worth office. (Photo credit: National Weather Service)

The National Weather Service captured this building cumulus cloud near its Fort Worth office. (Photo credit: National Weather Service)

Five stories that have North Texas talking: How much do you need to earn to afford an apartment in North Texas?; Dallas and Fort Worth mayors voice support for high-speed rail; did you see those amazing cloud formations last night?; and more.

  • A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment in Texas – or anywhere else in the country. That’s the conclusion of an annual study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Out of Reach 2014 analyzed wages and rental costs across the country. In Texas, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 93 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom rental. In Texas, a worker needs to make $16.77 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment – or an annual salary of nearly $35,000. In Dallas, you need to earn $17.56 an hour. In Fort Worth-Arlington, you need to make $18.04. KERA explored the issue online yesterday.
  • The mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston voiced their support Thursday for the proposed high-speed rail line from North Texas to Houston. KERA explored the proposed line in this story last fall. Texas Central Railway wants to build a Dallas-to-Houston corridor for a 200-mph electric train, like the ones that operate in Japan. The bullet train could get from Dallas to Houston in about 90 minutes. Passengers could start boarding in seven years. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price appeared at a press conference in Houston. “This innovative project is a game changer for transportation between the two engines that drive job creation throughout Texas,” Rawlings said in a statement. Here’s more on the developments.
  • The Obama administration is placing a grassland grouse known as the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species. The decision could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in Texas and four other states. The Associated Press reports the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service is a step below “endangered” status and allows for more flexibility in how protections for the bird will be carried out under the Endangered Species Act. Biologists say a major problem is that prairie chickens fear tall structures, where predators such as hawks can perch and spot them. Wind turbines, electricity transmission towers and drilling rigs are generally the tallest objects on the plains. Oil companies have said potential new regulations would impede their operations and would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in oil and gas development in one of the country’s most prolific basins, the Permian Basin.
  • This weekend is your last chance to hang at The Slip Inn. The Henderson Avenue hangout is closing its doors Monday after 15 years at 1806 McMillan Avenue. The Dallas Observer reports that the club plans to reopen at a new location in the next few months. The club told the Observer that they want more space, better parking and better bathrooms. “This weekend, resident DJ Rob Viktum will be wrapping up the club’s last huzzah by spinning straight classic hip hop and boom-bap beats until it’s time to close the doors for good,” the Observer reports.
  • The storm that rolled through North Texas last night produced some hail, rain, lightning – and some surreal cloud formations. The clouds went crazy – and the crowds went crazy, too, taking pictures of the nighttime show. More thunderstorms are expected this afternoon – some of them could be severe. Here’s a sampling from last night:




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Next Year, The Kimbell Gets Show Of Masterworks From Scotland

van dyckSir Anthony van Dyke, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Anne, 1637

The Kimbell Art Museum will be one of only three museums in the US to show masterworks from the National Galleries of Scotland next year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports fifty-five oil paintings from the Renaissance through such modern greats as Picasso and Max Ernst will be on loan.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online story:

It’s one thing to have several rooms full of Old Masters visiting Fort Worth. The Kimbell arranges that almost every other year. But the National Galleries of Scotland is one of the finest museums there is. It’s frequently overlooked by Americans because of all that … stuff in London. But Botticelli to Braque doesn’t just feature some remarkable artworks. It includes some real rarities. A Vermeer, for instance. In the entire world, there are only 35 paintings by the 17th century Dutch master.

Eric Lee is the Kimbell’s director. He says, “There’s so many works by major artists not seen in the Kimbell’s collection or in any collection in Texas. So we’re thrilled to be showing works by Vermeer, Boticelli and Velazquez.” 

The National Galleries of Scotland is the umbrella organization containing the country’s three major museums: the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art. That explains the 400-year range of paintings in the exhibition.

The selection, Lee says, was made by the curators in Edinburgh along with administrators at the Kimbell, the de Young in San Francisco and the Frick Collection in New York City (which will be getting the paintings first, but only ten of them, because of the limited size of its gallery space. “The selection was made to highlight the riches of the [Scottish] museum,” says Lee — which jibes with what Scottish museum officials told the New York Times: The works are being loaned out to help increase the museum’s profile and to encourage tourism (recall the above: most Americans completely overlook the National Galleries of Scotland)

Botticelli to Braque will be at the Kimbell from June 28 to September 20th next year. Among the oil paintings included in the show are the museum’s prized Botticelli, “The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child,” as well as paintings by El Greco, Degas, Gauguin and even one by Richard Dadd. He’s the Victorian artist best known for his fantastical portraits of fairies. The painting coming to Fort Worth is not one of Dadd’s fairy paintings.

But it is one he completed after being committed to the Bedlam psychiatric asylum.

The full release:

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The High Five: Urban Planning Is The Focus Of Tonight’s ‘State Of The Arts’

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Some of the new gut-buster foods that will be served this spring at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Photo credit: Texas Rangers/Twitter)

Some of the new gut-buster foods that will be served this spring at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Photo credit: Texas Rangers/Twitter)

Five stories that have North Texas talking: take me out to the ballgame (for the food); Ku Klux Klan fliers are showing up in Wise County; KERA’s One Crisis Away TV special airs tonight; and more.

  • Urban planning is the focus of tonight’s State of the Arts. Join KERA’s Jeff Whittington for a conversation with Brent A. Brown, founding director of bcWorkshop; Catherine Cuellar, executive director of the Dallas Arts District; and Robert Meckfessel, president of LaReunion TX. It’s at 7:30 tonight at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Buy tickets here.
  • Yeah, the Texas Rangers play their first home game of the season Monday. But what’s there to eat this year at Globe Life Park? New foods have been announced – they include the $7 “Bacon on a Stick,” a thick slab of smoked Hungarian bacon is dipped in a maple glaze. The “Choomongus” is humongous – 24 inches. The sandwich includes Asian beef with spicy slaw.  It’s named in honor of Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Other new items include “Sidewinder Beer Battered Fries, brisket sausage and frozen beer,” the Dallas Observer reports. “The two-foot Boomstick is still on the menu, loaded with chili, cheese and grilled onions. The Beltre Buster is also returning. The one-pound burger is topped with bacon, Jack cheese and grilled onions and also costs $26.” Better pack some Tums. Tanner Scheppers will be the Opening Day starter, replacing Yu Darvish, who’s on the disabled list and dealing with stiffness in his neck. The Rangers play the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Monday. (The Dallas Morning News, ESPN)
  • Speaking of Bacon … A potbellied pig named Bacon has been reunited with its owner. The pig was found roaming Arlington streets on Friday. Arlington Animal Services told KXAS-TV that the pig’s owner, a 17-year-old girl, and her mother were going to claim it. “Police assumed Bacon was someone’s pet since she would get upset if someone wasn’t constantly petting her,” KXAS reported. “The city said it received interest from people who wanted to adopt the potbellied pig if the owner didn’t come forward.” WFAA-TV captured the reunion.
  • Ku Klux Klan fliers are showing up in a neighborhood in Rhome in Wise County. WFAA-TV reports the fliers from the Loyal White Knights say: “The KKK Wants You!” The papers were spotted in the Shale Creek subdivision last week. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office said some fliers were hanging on residents’ doors. “We do not need that type of problem in Wise County, Texas,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Kevin Benton told WFAA. He said his office hasn’t seen anything like this since the 1990s. “You wish it was something from the past, that you’d hope everyone had gotten beyond that,” Benton said. Rhome is about a half-hour northwest of Fort Worth. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that Texas has 21 active KKK chapters, the most in the country.
  • How would you pay the bills if you lost your income? KERA’s series One Crisis Away has spent the last six months following North Texas families on the financial edge — a couple facing a medical crisis, a single mom facing homelessness, a family finding strength in their church, and a retiree taking in boarders to get by. Those four families and a panel of financial experts will be featured in an hourlong TV special tonight at 7 on KERA-13. Meet the families and explore their stories in our KERA News Digital Storytelling Project.
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The Big Screen: A Short Chat About Short Films

The Big Screen team has had short films on the brain. That’s partly because this is film festival season around here, without which many short films would never find an audience. Also, Chris is leading a One Day University program on short films on Saturday.

Before you sign up for that, take a listen to today’s conversation, during which we discuss one of the shorts that will show on Saturday, Jason Reitman’s In God We Trust – a film he made way before Juno and Up in the Air. You can actually watch the video above via YouTube, another recent-ish trend that’s getting short films out to a wider audience.

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

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We Look At Seattle Artists’ Lofts, See How That Might Work In Dallas

artspace extThe bottom three floors were original, built in 1912. They house galleries, a community room and a coffee shop. Artspace added the top three for residential units.

A recent study showed a great demand in the Dallas area for affordable housing for artists. This summer, Flora Lofts will break ground in the Arts District; it’ll be Dallas’ first such artist housing project – but probably not its last. So while in Seattle recently, KERA’s Jerome Weeks visited one of that city’s successful artists’ housing projects to see what they’re like. And tonight at the DMA, Art & Seek’s State of the Arts series tackles artists’ housing when it discusses Urban Planning.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online story:

Seattle’s Pioneer Square has grand, old, solid, brick buildings – some of the oldest in downtown Seattle, the kind Dallas developers bulldozed long ago for lovely parking lots and freeway ramps. The Square is a historic district, but not the polished-brass and stately manor kind: The area has homeless shelters and storefront missions. In other words, it’s not typical tourist-y Seattle. It’s clear across downtown from Pike Street Market and up the steep hill from the harborfront.

All of which is why, decades ago, artists drifted in here: cheap rents. But in the ‘90s, Seattle’s dot-com wealthy began pricing out the artists. The neighborhood’s real estate prospects have blown hot and cold, A sure sign of variable times: Seattle’s famous indie bookstore, Elliott Bay, was here for 37 years, and in 2010, it moved north to Capitol Hill.

That’s why Artspace was invited in by the Pioneer Square Community Association — to help keep artists in the neighborhood mix. Ten years ago, the non-profit developer renovated the Tashiro Kaplan Artists Lofts, 130,000 square feet, 50 affordable live-work spaces, 15 galleries, one coffee shop.

Doug Van manages the building and lives here. Typical of the residents, he’s a working photographer whose apartment doubles as his studio. “We’re full,” he says of the TK Lofts. “We’re at full capacity. Our waiting list is probably out, I’d say, three-to-four years.”

The TK Lofts are the kind of affordable housing project Artspace helped pioneer. The Minneapolis-based non-profit puts together grants from local, private and public sources with federal affordable housing tax credits to build low-incoming live-work spaces. In Seattle, with $16.5 million, Artspace bought two rundown buildings (including a Japanese market) from the 1910s, combined them and added several floors of residential units — creating the TK Lofts. Having the lower floors reserved for more public, commercial ventures is typical of an Artspace layout. It connects the artists’ apartment block with the neighborhood, opens it up to visitors.

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