News and Features

Art&Seek Comings and Goings

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It’s a bittersweet day here at Art&Seek headquarters. We say goodbye to Cindy Chaffin, who has helped us out with the Art&Seek calendar AND distinguished herself by making more than 60 videos from arts events and artist studios all over North Texas. We’re going to miss her great ideas, light touch on the blog and smiling face, even though we know we’ll see her around occasionally as a volunteer at the station.

The sweet news: Gila Espinoza,  long-time KERA producer, researcher and just general fixer, is your new contact to help out with any questions related to submitting or searching for events on the Art&Seek calendar.  You can reach her at artandseek@kera.org. Welcome to the clubhouse Gila!

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Barefoot at the Belmont Kicks Off Thursday

The Trishas

The Trishas

On Thursday, the mercury is supposed to hit 90 degrees for the first time. And you know what that means: summer is here.

eadyKXT will capitalize on those warm nights when it begins its Barefoot at the Belmont series on Thursday. Bluesman Jason Eady opens for Austin’s The Trishas. Showtime is 7:30 and tickets are $20 ($10 for KXT members). Tickets to Thursday’s show are selling fast, but you can still buy one by visiting kxt.org. If there are any tickets left by showtime, they will be sold at the door.

The series continues each month through the summer. The rest of the schedule is:

June 3: Denton’s Seryn and Old 97′s frontman Rhett Miller

July 8: Doug Burr and Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Pug

Aug. 5: The O’s and Danny Barnes

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Tuesday Morning Roundup

MORE MOBY: The reviews continue to trickle in for the Dallas Opera’s Moby Dick. In addition to the ones we’ve collected here, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have also weighed in. “The Dallas Opera certainly did right by this one,” writes Anne Midgette of the Post. “The casting was stunning — I’ve seldom heard such a uniformly strong cast.” Heidi Waleson of the Journal was also impressed, but a little less so. “For the most part, the opera was engaging and well paced,” she writes. “Still, I longed for some dissonance, an edge to the music that would awaken a visceral sense of terror.”

WE’RE NO. 1: If you’ve spent much time in bars around town, you’ve no doubt played (or at least watched) those pop culture video games that a lot of them have. You know the ones -  four choices flash on the screen, and the incorrect ones disappear one by one to reveal the answer. Well, the company that makes those, NTN Buzztime, says North Texas players have the highest pop culture IQ in the land. The question, though, is why. Unfortunately, I think Tom Maurstad at dallasnews.com pinpoints the reason accurately. “North Texas is flat and brown, with no natural wonders to pull us away from our TVs, computers and video games,” he writes. “No oceans, no mountains, no forests, not much in the way of hills, and speaking of flat and brown, a collection of man-made lakes.” In other words, there’s not much out there to pull us away from those Tuesday night marathons of The Office. If that sounds depressing, take solace in the fact that if you ever find yourself matched up on Jeopardy! against someone from, say, Eugene Ore., you should smite them pretty easily.

HUZZAH FOR HORTON: Back in March, we told you about the Horton Foote Festival coming to the area next spring. The full schedule won’t be announced for a while now, but here’s hoping someone takes on Orphan’s Home cycle. The current New York production was named best play at Sunday’s Lucille Lortel Awards – a big deal for Off-Broadway plays. It’ll soon make the jump to Broadway, but it missed the cut for this year’s Tony Awards.

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Found Objects: Diane Van Buren's Mailbox

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Categorized Under: Uncategorized, Visual Arts

IMG_0165
IMG_0167Our handy-dandy cameras shall always grace our sides, so welcome to the first installment of Found Objects. This ongoing series will highlight (via video or photographs) some of the more interesting works of art we find while moving about in our daily lives.

This past weekend, I was driving around Lakewood looking for a new crib to rent, and the above mailbox caught my eye. Turns out to have been created by artist/designer (and homeowner) Diane Van Buren. I’m still longing to get past the front driveway and into her eclectic home and backyard to see all the splendid artwork and fabby-ness, but I’ll wait patiently for an invitation.

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Guest Video: We're Not Done w/Those Festivals Yet. Cinco de Mayo in Oak Cliff.

A group from UNT and SMU students focused on Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Oak Cliff for a video/photo workshop this weekend. Here’s UNT student’s Sarah Mueller’s sharp take on same. Enjoy! Thanks to photog/videographer Randy Eli Grothe for the heads up.

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Video: Where Were We – Not One, Not Two, But Art&Seek Went to Three Festivals Over the Weekend!

Music seemed to be a running theme at this year’s AsiaFest in Plano. Organizations such as the Plano Symphony Orchestra to the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra were well represented. Tables laden with instruments, old and new, were popular gathering spots.

One of the more interesting tables was run by Anh Q. Nguyen. You’ll see in the above video the instruments Nguyen was displaying at the event. Đàn in general means a string instrument. The categorical adjective term follows after the word Đàn.

Here are some excerpts from the website, which Nguyen kindly translated for us:      

Đàn Kìm (Đàn nguyệt) has two strings and the resonator resembles the moon, that is probably why it is named Dan Nguyet, which means moon lute. The strings were traditionally made of silk but are today normally made of nylon, which can be strummed with either finger or pick. The Dan Nguyet provides a midrange pitch in traditional orchestras and is played in short, melodic passages.

Đàn Bầu: The first đàn bầu was made in 1770. At its first appearance it was a very simple instrument comprised of a bamboo section, a flexible rod, a calabash or half a coconut. After a process of evolution and improvement, the present form of the Dan Bau is a bit more sophisticated, yet still quite simple. Đàn Bầu in general consists of 4 components including soundboard (resonator), spout, gourd, string and tuning peg.

Đàn Tranh: The Đàn Tranh is also known as Đàn Thập Lục or sixteen-stringed zither. The Dan Tranh originates from the ancient capital city of Hue, where women once played it for royalty, and the instrument is still considered a symbol of the city.

Đàn Tỳ Bà: The Ty Ba is a four-string instrument which is frequently present in a traditional orchestra. Its soundbox is shaped like a pear cut in half lengthwise. Its soundboard is made of unvarnished light wood, and its back is made of hard wood with a slightly convex surface. The neck is short and tightly fixed to the soundbox. Originally the neck bore no frets; now, however, it has four frets in addition to eight others on the soundboard and two under the strings with the highest pitch.

Đàn Kìm and Đàn Bầu are Vietnamese instruments. However, Đàn tranh and Đàn Tỳ Bà have more of the Chinese origin.

You simply must visit the Latino Cultural Center in Deep Ellum. The absolutely gorgeous ceiling in the entryway (it’s in the video) is worth the trip alone. The 2010 Dallas Folklorico Festival was a real treat to the ears and the eyes. Folklorico, which basically means Mexican folk dancing, was full of color, authentic costumes and rivaled Dancing with the Stars in my book.

Finally, I rounded out my day at the Cottonwood Arts Festival. Of all the years I’ve attended, I think this one was my favorite. While there was live music and food vendors, it was the art that captivated everyone. You’ll see in the beginning of the video that lots of folks were the artists on Saturday! A couple of the participating artists (Marty Ruiz and Sharon Johnston) gave us a little insight as to their works, and the Rockin’ With Rhett band did an impromptu performance for our cameras!

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'The Mourners' Coming to the DMA, Raved About in NYC

mourner_78The Mourners is a series of some 40 pint-sized statues that typically surround the base of the tomb of John the Fearless,  the 15th-century duke of Burgundy. Because the tomb — housed in Dijon’s Musee des Beaux Arts in France — is currently being renovated, The Mourners are able to tour for the first and probably the only time. They’re masterpieces of late medieval art, and they’re coming to the Dallas Museum of Art October 3 — in a tour to seven American museums, a tour overseen by the DMA. The first stop has been the Metropolitan in NYC, and The Mourners have been given two ecstatic reviews, one in the Wall Street Journal (“a small triumph of an exhibition”) and a new one in the New York Review of Books (“to see them is to be dazzled” — subscription required to read the full review).

You can get a little bit of that dazzle viewing the individual mourners online. Because the foot-and-a-half tall alabaster statues were removed from their niches in the tomb (where they look like a religious procession wending its way past the pillars in a cathedral), they were digitally photographed in the round. So this is the first time people can see them, full-view, thanks to the Mourners Photography Project.

Check it out: Manipulating the figures so they revolve is spooky-cool.

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The Reviews Keep Sailing In …

In case you’re interested: I’m continually adding links to new reviews of the Dallas Opera’s Moby-Dick to our own feature coverage – at the end of Olin Chism’s review and Bill Zeeble’s news report (four music blogs were listed in just the last two hours).

Wanna know what easily is the most widely read/reprinted review? No, not the New York Times’ or the Dallas Morning News’. We knew, of course, that outlets everywhere pick up news items by the Associated Press; in fact, AP reports are pretty much the primary default source, the digital equivalent of oxygen when it comes to padding out many ‘news’ websites. Everyone uses it.

But opera reviews?

Yet if you type up a Google search for “Jake Heggie whale of a hit Moby-Dick” — which is more or less the headline for Ronald Blum’s AP review — you’ll get more than 300,000 hits. Naturally, tons and tons of those are duplicates and aggregators and some aren’t even Blum’s review, and you have to wonder why anti-war and stand-up comedy websites are using classical music reviews for filler.

Still, if you scroll down and just start counting the names of newspapers and TV stations and eliminate all those items that aren’t Blum’s review, well … if you’re lazy (or time-constrained) like me, you may quit after hitting 70 or so.

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Spice Up Your Coffee With the Monday Round-up

rsz_moby_09THAR SHE RAVES: Yep, the Big Boy with the Flukes made a Big Splash over the weekend. If you want to check out the (mostly very excited) reviews that have come in so far for the Dallas Opera’s Moby-Dick, check out our own Olin Chism’s glowing notice and Bill Zeeble’s report on audience response: There are links to other critics at the end (including a resounding NYTimes rave – the “staging ranged from striking to near-miraculous”). Moby will be getting even more media attention soon. A lot of the national press and the opera blogs haven’t weighed anchor yet, plus there’s that music critics confab I mentioned that’s coming here this week. And then there’s Scott Cantrell’s front-page News feature about both Moby and Before Night Falls coming up at the end of May from the Fort Worth Opera Festival. The two have made North Texas the center of the opera world this month.

FILM IN FW: Fort Worth filmmaker Andrew Disney (Frank’s Last Shot) is throwing a kickoff party tonight at the Ginger Man to announce the local, LA and NYC talent in his new comedy-action feature, Searching for Sonny. As the name “kickoff” implies, he’s going to start shooting — be doing it through June. Hat tip: Blotch.

DPL BECOMES THE iDPL: On May 11, the Dallas Public Library will start offering e-books, digital audiobooks, audio and video through its website. What’s up for the download? About 100,000 items. To use the new system, sez Unfair Park, you’ll need the free OverDrive software (available through the DPL site), a library card and a compatible device with internet access.

TDT FINALE: The Texas Dance Theatre finished its first season at the Scott Theatre Saturday — with what Chris Shull said in dfw.com was the troupe’s finest work yet. Even if he couldn’t figure out some of it.

OK, SO NO ONE’S STAGING SONDHEIM IN NORTH TEXAS RIGHT NOW: But it’s his 80th year, and if anyone wants to mark the occasion — the way they’re doing at the Roundabout in NYC with Sondheim on Sondheim – they ought to check out Stephen Holden’s superb essay on why there wasn’t a Sondheim before and why there won’t be one after.

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The Paul Slavens Show: May 2 2010 Live Blog

Happy May everyone, its a lovely night, kick back and check out some tunes, take a second and leave a nice comment or some suggestions for music to play on this show
new to me this week:
Angus & Julia Stone
Birdsong at Morning
Robyn &Royksopp

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