News and Features

Saturday Spotlight – DADA and Deep Ellum Spring Gallery Walks

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index  Today in the Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re immersing ourselves in art at the DADA Spring Gallery Walk and the 15th Semiannual Deep Ellum Spring Gallery Walk. Tour more than twenty galleries and check out special exhibitions including Booker T. Washington’s Senior Show at Norwood Flynn Gallery and the Bike Swarm which now features art cars! Get a list of participating galleries here.

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The High Five: Developers Are Suspending Efforts To Build Controversial White Rock Lake Restaurant

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Gov. Rick Perry gives a wide-ranging interview on national TV; developers for the controversial White Rock Lake restaurant have suspended their plans; Dallas takes the next step in trying to host the 2016 GOP Convention; and more.

  • Dallas officials and Republican Party leaders went out on a date Thursday: The city hoped to strut its stuff as it tries to land the GOP’s 2016 convention. The Dallas Morning News reports that Mayor Mike Rawlings met the GOP team for breakfast at SER Steak and Spirits at the Hilton Anatole. Then there was a security briefing at American Airlines Center, where GOP leaders dined on barbecue from Pecan Lodge. The group ventured to Arlington to see AT&T Stadium, which could host the opening or closing ceremonies. Enid Mickelsen, chairwoman of the site selection committee, told The News that Dallas is a “wonderful city with wonderful facilities” and noted how much Dallas has grown since it hosted the 1984 GOP convention. Dallas is competing with Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland and Cincinnati. Learn more about Dallas’ bid from KERA News.
  • A spokesperson for developers Lyle Burgin and Rick Kopf says they have decided to suspend their efforts to build a restaurant on Boy Scout Hill in Dallas’ White Rock Lake Park. The announcement follows a raucous meeting Tuesday night with 500 vocal opponents, most of whom live near the park.  Many objected to giving up two-and-a half acres of open space and native blackland prairie for a moderately upscale restaurant and 160 parking spots. In a statement, the developers said: “We both firmly believe that the concept would be an excellent amenity for all of the citizens of Dallas, but the present time is not the right time. We thank all of the individuals and groups that have voiced their support.” Read more from KERA News.
  • Dave Neumann hasn’t been on the Dallas City Council since 2011, but D Magazine caught him parking his car in downtown with a City Council parking permit that entitles the driver to parking at any city facility. D Magazine even photographed his car and his permit.  The Dallas Morning News takes it from there, saying a city spokesman confirmed that Neumann has now returned the decal. The News was still waiting to get a comment from Neumann.
  • The annual Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival in Richardson has a performing songwriter contest – and the top 10 finalists have been announced. They come from all over the country. Each contestant will perform two songs at 11 a.m. May 17 at a stage during the festival. The top three performers win a $500 cash prize. Another finalist will receive a people’s choice award – and $500. Four of the finalists are from Maine. Three are from Texas: Robin Hackett of Frisco; Drew Kennedy of New Braunfels; and Libby Koch of Houston. Read more on KERA’s Art&Seek.
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Ronald Judkins: Two Oscars For Sound, But What He Really Wants To Do Is Direct


Ronald Judkins.

Ronald Judkins won two Academy Awards for his sound work on Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic Park. But these days, the SMU graduate is far more interested in writing and directing. His new film, “Finding Neighbors” screens at the USA Film Festival Saturday. The movie stars Michael O’Keefe as a once-successful graphic designer suffering a mid-life crisis. He befriends a young gay neighbor. Their deepening relationship helps each man overcome his challenges. Judkins told me that he drew on real life neighbors to create the story and shoot the film.

We also chatted about Judkins’ time in Dallas. His first job out of college was at KERA television, and he has fond memories of working with directors such as Alan Mondell, Cynthia Mondell and Mark Birnbaum.  A little digging on line turned up this goofy little gem, “Big D,” an early short that begins with a garbage collector finding a hat, then features a marching band trooping around Dallas and winding up, inexplicably, on top of the Southland building.

Listen to the interview that aired on KERA FM

Finding Neighbors screens at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Angelica Film Center. It’s part of the USA Film Festival.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

On the inspiration for the film….”I was very conscious of trying to tell a story about a guy who was  later in life, trying to recapture his passion.  I wrote the script and I started showing it to people I knew and so many of them would call me and go,  “I’m that guy.”  And when I started getting that response, I started feeling “OK, I’ve hit some pay dirt here. Because I hadn’t seen a lot of movies about people in their mid ’50s, especially men.

You talk about menopause in women. I think men go through something similar. Some of it’s hormonal. Some of it’s depression. But it’s just this whole depressive cycle that I think people of a certain age get into and it’s so difficult to break out.”

On creative crisis v. mid-life crisis….I tend to work in an industry where there are a lot of creative people, I have a lot of friends who are artists, so I’m quite familiar with that creative crisis. I’m also a baby boomer. A lot of us have memories of being in our 20s in the early ’70s or late ’60s and we were part of this youth movement.

We did all think we were going to change the world. And then 30 years go by and you wake up and you go, what happened? What happened to that passion, to those things that were really important to me? How do we reestablish a connection with that passion?”

On the autobiographical nature of the film….A lot of the story is personal.  Just the whole set up of the story  is almost exactly the same as where we live in Los Angeles. On one side of us, we have a middle-age gay couple, and on the other side, we have a married couple, but she is very flirtatious. And the way the movie opens, one of the gay men comes over and accuses Michael O’Keefe of spying on them; that happened to me. And I’ve never forgotten it. So in that way it’s autobiographical.

And coming up against my own self doubt, you know, after getting to a certain age and not having hte success that I thought I would have or wanted to have in a certain area of my career….

On what was still missing, despite two Oscars…. Well, I really wanted to tell my own stories. I wanted to be my own filmmaker. In a way I was somewhat seduced by success doing this other thing. I have no regrets about that.  I’ve traveled the world, worked on amazing films with amazing  actors and directors. But inside, I still had a desire to do my own thing.

On screening his first film, The Hi-Line, for Steven Spielberg…  I was so intimidated when he wanted to see it. I go over to his house and he has a screening room. And I show it to him. But it was so fantastic afterward to have a conversation about the film as two filmmakers, as opposed to me just working on his film. That was fantastic.

On the relationship between creativity and intimacy….I definitely see a connection. Really the story, if I had to reduce it to a single sentence, it’s  about the power of love.  And how love can just unlock people. But it’s also about how you never know where that love’s going to come from. Additionally, when you give it, you never know where it’s going to go. But I just think it’s so transformative in the story, especially the primary relationship, it’s one that you wouldn’t expect, between an older straight man and a younger gay man. And how they do unlock each other.  And it goes both ways. It’s not just about Sam.







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We’re Yelling “Timber!” Story on Harmonica Player’s Riff Wins Regional Edward R. Murrow Award


Paul Harrington sits in on harmonica with the Tu-Tones at Landon WInery in McKinney. On his left is Bob Wingate.

Remember this story about Paul Harrington, the harmonica player from Rockwall whose riff is the base of  Pitbull and Ke$ha’s hit song “Timber”?

(That’s ok. You can read it or listen to it again)

Well, news comes that the piece has won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound. Congratulations to Lyndsay Knecht, Lauren Silverman and Sam Baker. The award’s given by the Radio Television Digital News Association. Our “region” covers Texas and Oklahoma.

That was one of three awards the station received. The others:

• Newscast: KERA’s staff for the Nov. 22, 2013, local news block reporting on that day’s JFK 50 commemoration in Dealey Plaza. BJ Austin hosted the block, with reporting by Shelley Kofler (who also co-hosted that day’s 2-hour live coverage), Stella Chavez, Lauren Silverman and Bill Zeeble

• Feature reporting: KERA’s Lauren Silverman for her Feb. 20, 2013, story, “Young Adults With Autism Find Work In Tech.” Lauren’s story was also picked up nationally by Morning Edition.

Lots to celebrate here at the station today.







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The High Five: AfroHORN, A Jazz Ensemble, Performs Free Concert At Latino Cultural Center

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: A family gets $3 million in a fracking verdict; a dozen cattle were killed on a highway near downtown Fort Worth; a jazz ensemble performs Thursday night; and more.

  • New York based jazz ensemble AfroHORN is performing a free public concert at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Latino Cultural Center. AfroHORN has been in Dallas for a residency with the South Dallas Cultural Center. The group has been conducting student workshops with Richland College jazz students, as well as lectures and demonstrations around the city. There was also a jazz jam. The Latino Cultural Center is at 2600 Live Oak St. Thursday’s concert takes place during Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month.


  • The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved more than $46 million to redevelop the old Statler Hilton, the downtown hotel where Elvis and other rock stars once stayed. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao reports that the developer, Centurion American, hopes to build a mix of residential units, hotel rooms, and restaurants and retail space, along with a small movie theater. The project is estimated to cost more than $175 million. The site is in council member Philip Kingston’s district. “It also is the last piece of the puzzle on Main Street Garden,” he said. Mayor pro-tem Tennell Atkins, who went to the hotel for his prom in 1974, says it’s about time. “It’s been an eyesore to the city of Dallas, so it’s great to have something on that side of town, right next to the Farmer’s Market,” he said. Centurion expects to break ground by the end of the year.
  • A Dallas County jury has awarded a Wise County family $3 million after finding that fracking caused health and property damages. KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports: The verdict against the Plano energy company may be the country’s first in a fracking trial. Attorneys for Robert and Lisa Parr and their daughter say the family’s problems began in 2009. Aruba Petroleum had begun drilling the first of 22 natural gas wells near the Parr’s ranch outside Decatur. The company used hydraulic fracking, a process that pumps water and chemicals deep into the shale to crack the rock and release the gas. Robert Parr told jurors that after the fracking began the family had to stop drinking their well water. They experienced migraine headaches, rashes, nausea and nosebleeds. Livestock and pets became ill. Aruba Petroleum issued a statement saying the verdict was not consistent with the evidence and the company will be filing motions to have the verdict reconsidered.


  • A North Texas woman talked with NPR about her father’s deportation – and her own fears of being deported. The Obama administration is reviewing its deportation policies in an effort to conduct enforcement more humanely, according to the White House. NPR featured Graca Martinez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2 months old. Her parents were undocumented. Her father was deported in 2008 when she says he failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign in Carrollton. She says she hasn’t seen him since. “My sister graduates in May and this will be the second college graduation he misses,” Martinez told NPR. “My sister is about to get married, and he can’t walk down the aisle with him.” She and her mom are undocumented. Martinez says the threat of deportation is “very real.” Listen to the story here.
  • At least a dozen cattle were killed near downtown Fort Worth early Wednesday. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that traffic was at a standstill all morning. A cattle truck crashed on a northbound U.S. 287 ramp to Interstate 35W, just south of downtown. Traffic was being rerouted for several hours. Fort Worth police told the newspaper that the truck was going too fast on the ramp. More than 80 head of cattle were in the truck – at least 12 of them were killed.


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The Big Screen: John Wayne Lives On

The Searchers represents the pinnacle of the John Wayne-John Ford partnership. Photo: Warner Bros.

The Searchers represents the pinnacle of the John Wayne-John Ford partnership. Photo: Warner Bros.

BigScreen_logoSMALLTonight through Sunday, the John Wayne Film Festival plays at Look Cinemas in Addison. So this week, we called up Scott Eyman to ask him about his new biography about Wayne called John Wayne: The Life and Legend.

We wanted to know why The Duke’s star shines on as most of his contemporaries haven’t endured as brightly.

“When he became a star in 1939-1940, the biggest male movie stars were Clark Gable, Tyrone Power and Gary Cooper,” Eyman says. “He was very lucky with his collaborators. If Gary Cooper had made 15 or 16 films with John Ford, I think he’d have a much higher profile today than he does. Wayne made 15 or 16 films with John Ford. He made four or five for Howard Hawkes. He made a batch for Henry Hathaway. Just those three directors alone, there’s 20 movies that are really good or great.”

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

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Flickr Photo Of The Week

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Flickr post 600

Congratulations to Michael Tooke of Coppell, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Michael is a first time winner to our contest and follows last week’s winner,  Marjan Smeijsters.

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 Michael:

Name: Michael Tooke

City of residence: Coppell

Title of photo: Blood Moon

Equipment: Nikon D7000, Tamron SP 70.0 – 300.0mm

Tell us more about your photo: Lunar eclipse as seen from Coppell, Texas. An f-stop of f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1 second was used at ISO640.

Cloud coverage the afternoon of gave worry that we wouldn’t get to experience this rare event. While it was still oddly cold, we were given the gift of a clear sky and no wind. An amazing experience, not just to see the moon turn red, but also slowly see the full moon lit surrounding become dark.

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DTC’s Helping Hand To Be Seen Off-Broadway Next Several Months

DTC's Fly By Night - Whitney Bashor, Damon Daunno - by Karen AlmondWhitney Bashor and Damon Daunno in Fly By Night at the DTC. Photo by Karen Almond

Fly By Night, the darling, off-beat, rom-com musical staged at the Kalita Humphreys last year, opens next month at Playwrights Horizons, the esteemed off-Broadway company. By the time Fly By Night opens May 16, it’ll have been thoroughly workshopped and tried out on the road, having started at Yale Drama School, workshopped at Northwestern and staged in California before the DTC got ahold of it.

But the New York production will feature a completely different cast and design team from the ones who worked on it in Dallas (with the odd exception of Michael McCormick, who played the grumpy sandwich shopowner here). Too bad, because the Dallas production was a wonderful little show. But Playwrights generally knows what it’s up to (among other things, it commissioned The Flick, the Anne Baker drama that won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama). Here’s hoping it does well in New York; the show deserves it.

Then in September, The Fortress of Solitude will open at the Public. This destination was always known — the DTC is a co-producer of the show, which tried out at the Wyly last month. Because Daniel Aukin conceived and directed the adaptation of the brilliant Jonathan Lethem novel, he’ll be doing the honors again in New York, but there’s no word yet on whether anyone else featured in the Dallas show (Andre de Shields? set design by Eugene Lee?) will be repeating their efforts.

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For 120 Years, Four Generations Of One Family Photograph North Texas


Four generations of Byrd Williams.

Thanks to KERA’s Eric Aasen, for pulling together this post.

For more than 100 years, a family of Fort Worth photographers has captured vivid scenes across Dallas-Fort Worth and around the state. Four generations of Williams photographers have shot thousands of images, ranging from Pancho Villa’s soldiers to author Larry McMurtry, from western landscapes to street life in Fort Worth.

The University of North Texas recently acquired thousands of these pictures. And I spoke with Byrd Williams IV, whose photos, along with those of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, are included in the collection.

Listen to the interview that aired on KERA FM:



Together, the family has captured more than 100 years of North Texas history. The collection includes more than 10,000 prints and 300,000 negatives.

Morgan Gieringer, head of archives and rare books at UNT in Denton, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about 80 percent of the collection documents Fort Worth. The collection also includes documents other parts of Texas, including photos by Byrd Williams II of soldiers fighting with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa near El Paso in 1915.

UNT offers background on the family:

Byrd Moore Williams owned a hardware store in Gainesville. But he also sold cameras and operated a darkroom in his home. The earliest prints in the collection document the Gainesville area.

Byrd Moore Williams, Jr. (Byrd Williams II) started his photographic career in college at the University of Texas in 1905. He went on to career in engineering, documenting many major projects, including the construction of the San Antonio River walk with his camera.

Byrd Williams III opened a photo service in Fort Worth. The collection contains a large number of studio prints as well as prints documenting the family’s growing interest in artistic photography. Williams III’s collection includes a significant series of prints documenting women at work in Fort Worth during the 1930s.

Byrd Williams IV continued in his father’s footsteps – sometimes literally. He shot images of the same street corners in Fort Worth 40 years later. Williams’s career has included street scenes, portraits of gun crime victims, and televangelists, among other subjects. Williams is an artist and a photography professor at Collin College.

Here are some highlights from my interview with Byrd Williams IV

… on his grandfather photographing Pancho Villa’s soldiers: My grandfather got an engineering job on the bridge that goes from Juarez to El Paso in 1915. And that was around the time that Pancho Villa’s army was whipping the Mexican army. … They had to take a work crew on the Rio Grande every day and he had to go to Pancho’s train car. He lived in a train car. And they’d say “We’re just working down here. Please don’t shoot us!” He photographed Pancho’s soldiers there.

… on his dad developing Lee Harvey Oswald film for the FBI: It was brought through by the crime lab. When the assassination happened they took investigation pictures, since we were the closest local lab, they brought the investigation pictures through Byrd Photo. They stayed with the film. They cleared all the employees. Everybody was sent home and dad developed the film with the FBI there. And about a month later they came back and sent the employees home again and they inspected the trash. … It kind of scared my dad.

… on his family’s photographic adventures: I’d say 75 to 80 percent of it is in Fort Worth. We’d come to Fort Worth and leave. But there’s the North Texas/Gainesville area, there’s El Paso … along the coast. Both my granddad and my dad shot commercial jobs on Padre Island. It’s sprinkled across the state.

… on standing in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps: I really like it. Whenever I find a roll of film of my dad’s, they’re all in order. They’re shot in 35 mm and ordered. I can make his walk downtown. It’s kind of interesting. I can see he shot on this corner and then he walked over here and shot this. I find it fun and I think it’s very wonderful standing where an artist worked.

… on whether the family photography tradition will continue (he has two sons): No they’re not [photographers]. Neither of them had any interest in it. I was never given a choice. We were … digging this ditch. We were in a photo service. I never got asked whether I wanted to or not. I gave them the choice. They said: “No.” It stops with me.

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Marilynne Robinson Visits The Writers Studio On Saturday

Marilynne Robinson. Photo: Nancy Crampton

Marilynne Robinson. Photo: Nancy Crampton

This Saturday at 9 p.m., tune in to hear hosts Catherine Cuellar and Randy Gordon chat up Marilynne Robinson. Art&Seek presents The Writers Studio on KERA FM 90.1. The series of interviews with some of our most accomplished authors is produced by The Writer’s Garret.

Listen to the conversation:

Robinson has been called by the London Times, “The world’s best writer of prose”—a bold statement considering she has written only eight books in nearly thirty years. Her first novel, Housekeeping, came out in 1980 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her next novel, Gilead, arrived 24 years later, and garnered both the Pulitzer AND National Book Critics Circle Award. While uniquely focused on American traditions and way of life, these books bring to light the struggles of everyday humanity, as illustrated in her most recent novel, Home, which received the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is also the author of four nonfiction books, including Mother Country, which was nominated for a National Book Award. In 2012 Robinson received the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for “her grace and intelligence in writing.”

Listen to previous Writers Studio interviews here. And stay tuned for the next and final installment in this series of The Writers Studio. Eric Bogosian will join Catherine and Randy on Saturday May 3,  same time, same place.



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