News and Features

Vickery Meadow: When A Neighborhood Becomes An Art Project

ratcliff1 whtie cube

Inside one of Trans.lation’s White Cube galleries at Vickery Meadow.

People from 120 countries live in Vickery Meadow, and 27 different languages are spoken in the neighborhood of ’70s apartment buildings, not far from North Park Mall.  Houston artist Rick Lowe has been working on an unusual project there for more than a year, commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center.  I spoke with one of Lowe’s collaborators, Darryl Ratcliff, who is artist-in-residence at Vickery Meadow. He says that ongoing workshops, monthly markets, and most recently, three outdoor public galleries, are adding up to create art that is much more than the sum of its parts.

  •      Market: The next Trans.lation market is Jan. 18 at  1 p.m. at 6327 Ridgecrest Road
  •      Galleries: The three White Cube galleries  (two are white, one’s green) are open all the time on Ridgecrest Road. Look for them in front of buildings at 6026,  6318 and 6466 Ridgecrest.
  • Listen to the interview that aired on KERA FM:

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  •  Can Art Transform Vickery Meadow? D Magazine’s Peter Simek tackles the question.
  • Listen to Rick Lowe tell Think‘s Krys Boyd about the Vickery Meadow project, and another of his efforts, Project Rowhouse, in Houston.
  • Dallas Morning News visited Vickery Meadow for a piece about the Trans.lation project Sunday.

Some background and excerpts from our conversation:

Lowe’s “piece” is one of 10 commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center for Nasher Xchange,  a collection of public artworks positioned throughout Dallas to mark the museum’s 10th anniversary. The official title of the Vickery Meadow work is  “Trans.lation.” Lowe and a group of many collaborators have been working in the neighborhood most of the year, planning, meeting neighbors, running workshops. This fall saw a series of monthly “markets”.  Sometimes, they are more traditional markets, selling residents’ artwork. But there has also been “Lucky Pot,” 17 women from different countries sharing traditional dishes with neighbors.   And “Vickery Meadow’s Got Talent,” 27 acts performing for about 500 people.


Darryl Ratcliff

“There doesn’t need to be a literal interpretation of the word [market]“ says Ratcliff. “It’s really about how do we facilitate these cultural exchanges inside the community and also with the greater Dallas community as well.”

Last month, the newest feature,  White Cube Galleries, opened. These three outdoor cubes – two are white, one is green – are accessible 24-hours.

“They’re meant to be these community spaces where we can bridge the high-end art world and the community world and bring the two together,” says Ratcliff.

What makes it all art?

“When you look at social practice, there’s one way to think of it, aesthetically, is that there’s the thing.  It’s these worskhops, it’s these White Cubes, it’s these markets. That’s one thing and you can evaluate how successful that is. But then there’s this bigger thing that [these components] gesture toward. And in this case, it’s the idea of public space, it’s this idea of cultural exchange.  Hopefully as the project developed, all the little parts that we do, when you look at it from a holistic standpoint, they’ll make this symbolic gesture of how we can better think about the issue of exchange and public space. And that is the art.”

What kind of reaction are you getting from residents?

Ratcliff says the project’s engaged about 1,000 residents in one way or another.  He mentioned the women who participate in the art workshops are especially connected to the project. Most of them, he says, do 90 percent of their creative work at home. But the workshops are popular “because it provides the space for them to talk to another woman from Vietnam, from Nepal from Iraq, that doesn’t really exist anywhere else in their lives that feels safe to them. ”

 What’s next?

The Nasher project – and its funding – ends in February. But the collaborators are looking for a way to keep it going. So’s the community.

“It’ll be really interesting to see…if the arts community in Dallas sees that as  worthy to invest in and continue this type of work here,” says Ratcliff.

“In a normal art world, the gallery world, we have a show and then it’s over. We sweep the floors, we take the work down and it’s time for the next show. If it’s a bad show, whatever. With work like this, it’s not quite that easy because you’re really dealing with people’s lives. You can’t just take the work down and sweep the floor.”

One woman who had heard that the workshops might go away began crying, “expressing how much it meant to her to have this place, where people are so open. And that moment really impacted me, that realization that ok, you’ve come in you’ve provided spaces for people’s lives. Just pulling the plug like that can sometimes also be disruptive.”


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The High Five: St. Vincent, Lake Highlands’ Very Own, Releases A New Song: ‘Digital Witness’

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Categorized Under: The High Five

Five stories that have North Texas talking: the death toll from the flu is climbing; a legendary Fort Worth mayor has died; Lake Highlands native St. Vincent has released a new song; and more.

  • Lake Highlands native St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, has released a new song: “Digital Witness.” It’s from her latest album, the self-titled St. Vincent, is scheduled to be released in late February. “I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral,” she’s been quoted as saying. Vulture describes the track as “spastically funky and bleak enough to soundtrack minimum at a cool Shiva.” Smithsonian magazine profiled Clark in December’s edition: “When she wants to entice the listener into dreamland, she relies not on production tricks but on chords that are as pleasurable as they are narcotic. When she wants to snap the listener awake again, she doesn’t need a quick twist of the volume knob because the disturbing quality of the off-kilter harmony and rhythm are rousing enough. In bringing sophisticated composition to the indie-rock movement, Clark has created a new kind of music, one that seduces with craft and bites with surprise.” To watch the new song, click here.


  • The flu is in full force across the region. Denton County has reported its first flu deaths of the season. Health officials say both were in Carrollton: a young girl with underlying medical conditions and a man in his 70s, also with health problems. Also on Monday, the Dallas County flu death toll rose to 17 – eight were reported by hospitals, while nine more were confirmed from autopsies conducted by the medical examiner’s office, The Dallas Morning News reported. Also Monday, Garland reported two flu-related deaths. Texas health officials say flu activity is “widespread” across the state, indicating increased flu-like illness in at least half of the state’s regions. In addition, the intensity of influenza-like illness is classified as “high.” North Texas health officials expect flu activity to remain high for the next several weeks, and say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The state’s health department encourages everyone six months old and older to get a flu vaccine. “The vaccine changes each year to protect against the strains of flu researchers expect to be circulating, so people need to be vaccinated for each flu season,” the department says.
  • Fort Worth is remembering former mayor Bob Bolen as a visionary who created the framework for what the city has become today. Bolen, 87, died at his home Monday morning, leaving behind a long list of achievements that earned him the title, “people’s mayor.” He helped launch Alliance Airport and brought the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the city. Bolen served as mayor from 1982 until 1991, longer than any other. KERA’s Shelley Kofler has more on Bolen’s life.
  • The Texas Longhorns’ new coach, Charlie Strong, started work Monday with an introductory news conference on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. KERA’s BJ Austin reports: Strong takes over for Mack Brown, forced out after more than a decade. And he made it clear, he’s not bothered by talk that he was not the first choice. “I could have been the 15th choice, and I’m so happy to be head football coach here,” Strong said. “Twenty, 15, it doesn’t matter. Whatever choice I was, I’m the head football coach.” Strong, 53, makes the move after four years at Louisville, capped by two Big East conference championships. He is the first black coach to lead the Longhorn football program.


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The High Five: This 91-Year-Old Man Will Soon Shut Down His Oak Cliff Home Bookstore

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: it’s cold; you will no longer be able to see Dallas from a DC-9 at night; meet a 91-year-old who will soon shut down his Oak Cliff home bookstore; and more.

  • Meet a 91-year-old man who has run a home bookstore in Oak Cliff for decades. Soon he’ll shut it down. Imported Books is a bookstore that Robert Jones has been running out of the front rooms of his house since the 1970s. KERA’s Lauren Silverman visited the bookstore and explores his life story. “He’s been a sort of interpreter in Oak Cliff,” she reported. “In the 1970s, not many places were selling foreign-language books in Dallas. So Jones filled a need. He’s sold foreign language books to Dallas public schools, neighborhood kids, and people learning English.” Business boomed at Imported Books until the mid-1990s. “It just declined, declined, declined and I got so old I couldn’t travel anymore,” he said. “So here I am, and I don’t even have any teeth!”
  • Today’s the last time a DC-9 will be flown by a major commercial airliner in the United States. So, we will no longer “see Dallas from a DC-9 at night,” as Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s song goes. Check out Art&Seek for the song and lyrics. The last DC-9 flight is scheduled to depart Minneapolis-St. Paul and arrive in Atlanta.

  • It’s cold out there – North Texas is under a wind chill advisory north of Interstate 20 until 9 a.m. Monday. Wind chill readings fell to near 0 degrees overnight – the bitter cold is expected through the morning, the National Weather Service said. As of 7 a.m., it was 15 degrees across much of North Texas. We’ll climb into the mid-30s today, and it won’t be as windy today, but it’ll dip below freezing again tonight — into the teens once again. Tuesday will be sunny and 44 degrees. No precipitation is in the forecast during this cold snap. A 30 percent chance of rain is possible Wednesday, but highs are expected to reach into the mid-50s. It’s cold across much of the country – and parts are experiencing the coldest temperatures in 20 years. Much of the midwest well below zero degrees today. Check out The Weather Channel.  NPR has  weather details, too.
  • Texas is among four states that have confirmed water pollution from gas and oil drilling. The Associated Press requested data on drilling-related complaints in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The AP reports: “A Texas spreadsheet contains more than 2,000 complaints, and 62 of those allege possible well-water contamination from oil and gas activity, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees drilling. Texas regulators haven’t confirmed a single case of drilling-related water-well contamination in the past 10 years, she said.” The AP reports: “Extracting fuel from shale formations requires pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break apart rock and free the gas. Some of that water, along with large quantities of existing underground water, returns to the surface, and it can contain high levels of salt, drilling chemicals, heavy metals and naturally occurring low-level radiation. But some conventional oil and gas wells are still drilled, so the complaints about water contamination can come from them, too. Experts say the most common type of pollution involves methane, not chemicals from the drilling process.”
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Saturday Spotlight – Festival of India

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For this week’s Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re headed to Kalachandji’s Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas for a Festival of India.  A group of young artists is stopping at Kalachandji’s to perform as part of the 2013 Mexico Krishna Culture Festival Bus Tour.  The program includes music, dance, and theater performances.

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Never More Will We ‘See Dallas From A DC-9 At Night’ …

Actually, the end will come before then. According to USAToday, the last flight of a DC-9 by a major commercial airliner in America will be from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Atlanta on Jan. 6. So the last flight in or out of DFW will happen before then. And unfortunately, the Delta website doesn’t let you search by jet type. If anyone can find out, I’ll be happy to update this post. I’m waiting for a call back from Delta.

And here’s the Marketplace report on the jet and that last flight today.

But for now, for those who don’t know what this is all about, here’s the great Jimmy Dale Gilmore himself, singing “Dallas” with Natalie Merchant:

Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?
Well Dallas is a jewel, oh yeah, Dallas is a beautiful sight.
And Dallas is a jungle but Dallas gives a beautiful light.
Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?

Well, Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you’re down.
But when you are up, she’s the kind you want to take around.
But Dallas ain’t a woman to help you get your feet on the ground.
Yes Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you’re down.

Well, I came into Dallas with the bright lights on my mind,
But I came into Dallas with a Dollar and a dime.

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye.
A steel and concrete soul with a warm hearted love disguise.
A rich man who tends to believe in his own lies.
Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes.

Photo outfront is from Shutterstock

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The High Five: Last Chance To See ‘Mexico: Inside Out’ At The Modern In Fort Worth

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: what will happen to the beautiful downtown Fort Worth post office?; the “Mexico: Inside Out” exhibition ends soon; get ready for “Downton Abbey,” and more:



  • Do you have “Downton Abbey” fever? The show returns to KERA-TV, Channel 13, at 8 p.m. Sunday. Garden & Gun has offered its top 10 list of “reasons why we love ‘Downton Abbey.’” “The series is tailored for a Southern audience–fabulous interiors, beautiful hunt scenes, and a love of land that strikes a chord with us here in Dixie,” the magazine reports. Among the reasons: “Lady Mary is like a British Scarlett O’Hara: beautiful, spoiled and determined. Let’s just hope she leaves the drapery on the windows.” And then there’s this: “No one loves—or plans—a wedding like we do in the South. Except maybe the British.” KERA’s Bill Young, our British TV guru, says: “You REALLY know you’ve arrived when you make it in an issue of Garden & Gun magazine.” Bill chronicles TV over the pond on the Tellyspotting blog. By the way, which “Downton Abbey” character are you – Mrs. Patmore? Thomas? Or how about Violet? Take this quiz. Explore the world of Downton Abbey on PBS’ website – we didn’t see any spoilers. But we did see this: a preview of a scene from Sunday’s debut. Here it is.


  • Azle residents sounded off Thursday night at a public meeting about the earthquake swarm – and they’re angry. There was booing and hooting. Residents complained about the ground shaking and damage to their homes as about 30 earthquakes have hit areas in and near Azle since November. There’s no official reason for the quakes, but many residents pointed to oil and gas drilling in the Barnett Shale as the cause. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported: “‘Something is going on. Stop drilling and see what happens,’ said Victoria Ball of Azle, a recommendation that drew applause and cheers from the audience.” The meeting was organized by Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter. The commission regulates the oil and gas industry. The agency is studying the issue, Porter told reporters. “It feels like a semi-truck hitting your house with a bomb going off,” one man said, according to WFAA-TV. “I’m serious.” Catch up on KERA’s earthquake coverage here – including a look at how geophysicists are placing monitoring boxes around the region to track earthquakes, as well as research that shows that injection wells from drilling might be to blame for the quakes. Also, on Thursday, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a report on the recent rise in Oklahoma earthquakes.


  • The Cedar Hill mayor reflects on his stepson’s death from addiction. Rob Franke’s stepson, Joshua Slaven, had long struggled with addiction – smoking pot, drinking, PCP and heroin. On Christmas Eve, he showed up high to his family home. Franke told him to leave. Slaven, 31, headed to a neighboring home, using a tree branch to break a window. An armed homeowner confronted him, warning him of his gun. Slaven wouldn’t leave, and the homeowner fired.Franke spoke with many media outlets, including The Dallas Morning News. Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd writes: “Slaven’s harrowing death underscores the family’s trauma, but the road that led there is a well-traveled one. ‘This story happens a lot to people who aren’t mayors. It happens all the time,’ Franke said. It’s an exhausting drama of love, betrayal, redemption, frustration, good intentions and dismal failures. It’s a catalog of chaos bitterly familiar to the loved ones of longtime addicts.”


  • In downtown Fort Worth, the U.S. Postal Service has taken another step toward leaving its landmark Lancaster Avenue post office. The move could ultimately lead to the building’s sale, but not its demise, says Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc. The building is too valuable, Taft told KERA’s Bill Zeeble. The post office, an official Texas landmark, opened in 1933. It stands next to Interstate 30, and is one of three iconic structures in the neighborhood on the southern edge of downtown. The closure is part of the Postal Service’s plan to cut billions from its budget nationwide. Citizens have 30 days to comment on the plan. Fort Worth officials have thought about converting the building to a city hall, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
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Turtle Creek Chorale Hires Woman To Be Executive Director

KymSosolik (2)After a national search, the Turtle Creek Chorale announced that it’s found a new executive director: Kym Sosolik, the former board chair of HeartGift, which provides heart surgery to disadvantaged kids from developing countries. Sosolik is the TCC’s first female executive director.

She’s replacing David Fisher, who began as executive director in August 2011 but returned to the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs this past June. Sosolik will be in charge of the chorus’ business affairs while Trey Jacobs remains the group’s music director.

The full press release follows:



DALLAS – January 2, 2014: The Turtle Creek Chorale Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Kym Sosolik as Executive Director.

A joint search committee of Turtle Creek Chorale (TCC) Singing Members and Directors conducted a national search process to find a business executive with the experience to manage the operations, development, finances, organizational strategy, and community relations of the Chorale. Led by Directors’ Kevin Mickey and Doug Mitchell, and joined by Director/Singer Chuck Sweatt and Singing Members Sean Orr and Bob McCranie, the committee selected Kym as TCC’s next ED. The Board graciously thanks these committee members for their service.

Kym brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit and business worlds. She is the Board Chairman of HeartGift, a local nonprofit whose mission is to provide lifesaving heart surgery to disadvantaged children from developing countries where specialized medical treatment is either scarce or nonexistent. She has served as a fellow in the President George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Fellowship Program; she was named one of the Top 25 Women to Watch in 2010 by the Dallas Business Journal. Kym also was appointed to the TCC Board of Directors in the Spring of 2013 and has served as chair of the Personnel Committee. Currently, she runs her own talent consulting firm; prior to that, Kym served as Vice President of Human Resources for Andrews Distributing Company and Director of Leadership and Organizational Development for Southern Methodist University’s esteemed Cox School of Business.

The Executive Director is responsible for the professional leadership and management of Turtle Creek Chorale. Working with the Board of Directors, staff, and members, the Executive Director will move the organization forward in the development and implementation of goals that reflect TCC’s vision, mission and business plan. “The best way to ensure the future of the Turtle Creek Chorale will be leading the organization forward in the development and implementation of long-term goals that reflect our mission and business plan,” Kym states. “We will be relentless in illuminating operational excellence, community relations, and delivering extraordinary performances.”


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Flickr Photo of the Week

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts


Congratulations to KT Shiue of Austin, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! KT has won our contest before; his last victory came in June of 2012. He follows last week’s winner, Allen Sheffield.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

Now, here’s more from KT:

Title of Photo: Untitled

Equipment: Nikon D800

Tell us more about your photo: This photo was taken while I was visiting my friend over Indianapolis during X’mas holidays. It was a cold, wet and foggy morning, and I was wondering if Santa Claus was going to show up?

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Those Met Opera Telecasts Booker T Gets? They’re Helping The Met Stay Afloat

GIOVANNI-Kwiecien1687-X2When the Met Opera in New York started its live videocasts in 2006 to 64 countries around the world, it was seen as a fool’s errand. With the opera audience so tiny, the Met would be lucky just recouping the huge start-up costs, let alone the $1 million required to shoot and transmit each opera performance to some three million viewers in individual cinemas.

But in a Reuters interview, Met general manager Peter Gelb says those videocasts are paying off — handsomely. In fact, they’re keeping the Met’s doors open:

The business plan I had for it is that it would make a modest profit so from a financial point of view it has exceeded those expectations significantly. But, at the same time, we were very fortunate that it did because if it hadn’t we would be in trouble right now, and in fact we’re always in trouble financially because the cost structure of opera is ridiculously challenging and so the fact that we have quadrupled our paying audience with all the attendees around the world who are seeing the Met in movie theatres has been a huge help.

As we reported in 2011, the Arts Magnet High School in Dallas became the only campus outside of New York City to receive the opera-casts. Booker T bring in some 400 students  throughout DISD — from fourth-graders to high-school seniors — to watch the high-def satellite transmissions.

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The Big Screen: The Return Of Repertory Film

With the advent of VCRs, DVDs and, later, Netflix, repertory movie theaters are all but gone. But in the last few years, North Texas has seen a resurgence of repertory films playing in first-run theaters. This week, we talk to Magnolia Theatre general manager Shawn Mahan about the trend.

Curious about the rep films playing at a theater near you? Check out the Art&Seek calendar to peruse your options.

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

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