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Saturday Spotlight: Mariachis in the Plaza and More Cinco de Mayo Festivities

mariachi jalisciense

Photo credit: Mariachi Jalisciense web site

Today in the Art&Seek spotlight, we’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo –with mariachis! Artes de La Rosa and the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth present Mariachis in the Plaza.  Performers include Mariachi Jalisciense and Ballet Folklorico de Fort Worth. There will be live dancing,  mariachi music,  traditional Mexican food and  local artists selling their work.  And it all takes place rain or shine.

There are many Cinco de Mayo events – and other festivals – going on this weekend.  You can find a healthy list of them here.

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This Week in Texas Music History: Johnny Horton

horton-200Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman celebrates a famous ballad singer who also blended honky-tonk with early rockabilly.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.

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Johnny Horton was born in Los Angeles on April 30, 1925, but grew up near the East Texas town of Rusk. In 1950, he began singing on the radio in Pasadena, near Houston. Horton became famous for such ballads as “The Battle of New Orleans,” “North to Alaska” and “Johnny Reb.” However, he was much more than a ballad singer. Horton also combined honky-tonk with early rockabilly to create his own unique style. His first big hit, “Honky-Tonk Man,” captured the essence of the honky tonk lifestyle, but it also incorporated a rockabilly beat that was quite unusual in country music at the time. Johnny Horton died in a car wreck near Milano, Texas, on Nov. 5, 1960, but his music remains popular and has been recorded by many younger artists.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll recall an often overlooked musician who helped lay the foundation for western swing.

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There Really Is a Festivus for the Rest of Us! MayFest, Cinco de Mayo, Asian Festivals and MORE

It’s festival time in North Texas, and there is most definitely something for everyone. May is always chock full of festivals ranging from Cinco de Mayo celebrations to the African Cultural Festival to the Asian Festivals and so many other fun festivals from which to choose.

We here at Art&Seek love us a good festival, so we were first in line at Mayfest in Fort Worth yesterday just as the event was opening and and brought you back a few tips:

~Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Mayfest is spread out over 33 acres on the banks of the Trinity River, so there’s a lot of territory to cover.

~Purchase tickets for rides, attractions, food and drinks before you wait in line holding cash. There are ticket booths scattered throughout the festival grounds.

~Opt for the free shuttle from TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium. There’s a large paid paid parking lot ($5), but it’s a bit of a haul if you’ve got small children in tow.

~Come hungry, there’s tons of great food!

~Be sure and check out the petting zoo. The bunnies are absolutely the cutest thing you’ll ever see.

~Be sure and spend some time watching the wake boarders, and just enjoying the Trinity River.

We caught up with organizer Darcy Harrell and she shared a little bit of what to expect at this year’s Mayfest. Enjoy the above video. Mayfest 2010 runs through Sunday, May 2.

Ready for more? Here we go!

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations on May 1:

Cinco de Mayo in the West End: The West End comes to life with ballet folkloric dancers, mariachi bands and pinata parties! The Bud Light Main Stage headliner is Chickenfoot. Radio Disney will host family fun with games, prizes and music.

Cinco de Mayo in Historic Oak Cliff: Cinco de Mayo Big Parade and Festival is the largest parad in North Texas with over 20,000 in attendance. This colorful event includes marching bands, folkloric dance groups, school groups and much more! This event will also feature three bands including Latin, jazz, Tejano and Spanish rock.

Cinco de Mayo at the House of Blues: There will be live performances by Mariachi Juvenil Jaguar and Mo-Set AllStarz of Molina High School, W.T. White HS Mariachi Band, Mariachi Los Unicos de Greiner MS and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. $20 ticket includes entertainment and light Mexican fare.

Folklorico Festival of Dallas: (May 1-2) The Annual Folklorico Festival, held at theLatino Cultural Center, is a two day bilingual event in Spanish and English. The event is free and open to the public and will bring together a multi-ethnic group of local and international artists to share their traditional folkloric music, dance and customs.

Discover Dallas Days: Cinco de Mayo at the Old Red Museum: Old Red will host its very own Cinco de Mayo party complete with games, activities, and piñatas. Explore the rich Mexican history that helped Dallas become the city it is today.

Mariachis in the Plaza in Fort Worth: live Marachis, ballet folklorico, face painting and local artisans selling their work along with food from local Northside restaurants. Perfect for the entire family!

Asian Festival Celebrations on May 1:

2010 Asian Festival in the Dallas Arts District: This fun, colorful and festive event will unite Asian cultures while creating a diverse marketplace featuring native arts & crafts, music, dance, food, martial arts and children’s activities. Unique cuisine from Indonesia, Korea, China, India, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries will be sold by independent vendors. The children’s area, Passport to Asia for Kids, will provide activities culturally relevant to the traditions of the arts of Asia such as origami, face painting, henna painting, jewelry making, and many more.

7th Annual Plano Asian Heritage Festival: Celebrating the Asian American Heritage Foundation, a fun-filled day with kite flying, lion dances, marital arts, Asian food, arts and crafts, a fashion show, cultural booths, ethnic dances, children’s activities and more!

Richardson – Grand Prairie – Denton

Cottonwood Arts Festival (May 1-2): I’ve attended this little shindig many a year and can attest to it’s high fun factor. It’s wonderful to wander the event and finding new and exciting treasures and artwork. Cottonwood isn’t just about the art, though. The festival also features local bands who perform the best in rock, country, jazz, blues, swing and folk. Be sure to check out the courtyard, where you can sit in the shade by the lake and relax while you enjoy the music. Food and spirits are also available in the courtyard.

13th Annual Big Mamou Cajun Festival: Enjoy free toe-tapping Cajun music each day from 1 PM to 5 PM. The band will make you jump out of your seat and you won’t be able to stop your feet from dancing to the crazy Cajun beat. Authentic Cajun foods, featuring traditional Louisiana favorites such as: red beans and rice, gumbo and hundreds of pounds of spicy boiled crawfish.

Denton Mudbug 2010: Another festival I can’t get enough of every year. Sit in the shade and feast on crawfish, corn on the cob, ‘taters and listen to the sounds of such great local bands as The Heelers, The Von Ehrics, The King Bucks, RTB2, Big Daddy Alright and The Shed. There will be tons of food and drinks, children’s play area, silent auction and a great time can be had by all!

There are tons more festivals coming our way in May, so keep checking back here at Art&Seek!

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Spooky 'Queen of Spades' Avoids Eurotrash

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The word “Eurotrash” was coined to describe a certain kind of operatic production, fashionable across the Atlantic, that aggressively mocks the vision of the opera’s original creators. The Eurotrasher invariably calls attention to himself, and the less his production has to do with the original, the better.

Probably the finest (that is, the worst) example of Eurotrash was Christoph Schlingensief’s late and unlamented production of Parsifal in the 20-aughts at the Bayreuth Festival. The best way to experience this Parsifal was to stare at the floor or put on a blindfold and just listen (at least Eurotrashers don’t generally mess with the sound). Alas, most people don’t have the self-discipline required to stare at a floor for five hours, and the urge to look, as with a terrible car wreck, is strong. Probably those who did look didn’t hear half the notes Wagner wrote.

It should be emphasized that not every unusual or even bizarre production is Eurotrash, nor does it have to originate in Europe. The urge to do something new with Butterfly or Boheme is understandable, and it’s quite possible to bring new ideas to a theatrical masterpiece without painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

A beautiful example of new ideas that work is the Houston Grand Opera’s current production of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades. It’s surreal, true, but the sometimes nightmarish quality of director Richard Jones’ and designer John Macfarlane’s conception (it originated at the Welsh National Opera) enhances rather than destroys the mood of Tchaikovsky’s work.

Macfarlane favors strange, near-disorienting angles — tables tilt, in one scene he almost succeeds in creating the illusion that the viewer is looking down into a pit rather than toward the rear of the stage. Jones has his chorus moving around, sometimes zombie-like, in mysterious formations.

There are a couple of misfires — a strange drag dance, a dead-countess scene that fails to spook the audience (there’s loud laughter instead) — but overall Jones and Macfarlane are Tchaikovsky’s friends, not his enemies.

By and large the cast is superb, as is the playing of the Houston Grand Opera orchestra under Carlo Rizzi’s guidance. Vladimir Galouzine (Herman), Tatiana Monogarova (Lisa), Tómas Tómasson (Tomsky) and Vasily Ladyuk (Yeletsky) bring beauty and dramatic weight to prominent roles, and Judith Forst brings striking believability to the 80-something countess while producing vocal sounds no one that age could manage.

The Queen of Spades has one more performance Saturday night at the Wortham Theater Center. Joining it this weekend (through May 14) is Handel’s Xerxes.

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The Future of 'Stonehenge'?

Stonehenge, the lot in front of the Meyerson, courtesy of Google Maps

Easily the most interesting tidbit in the Houston Chronicle‘s quick safari through everything that’s gone up and is going down in the Arts District comes in the last paragraph. In today’s report, arts writer Molly Glentzer gets around to the future, how the Arts District doesn’t yet have a smidgen of the lively street scene it’s gonna need. So she mentions the gaping eyesore that has blighted Ross and Pearl for two decades:

The real estate crash of the 1980s may have even played into the district’s favor. One of the still-open blocks, which Dallasites jokingly refer to as Stonehenge, contains the monolithic base of a project abandoned in the 1980s crash. It might have become twin 50-story towers. Now its owner, Hall Financial Group, has until 2012 to acquire permits for what will likely be a 22-story mixed-use center. It’s “the main missing piece,” [district executive director Veletta Forsythe] Lill says. “Its development is extremely important.”

For that, we’ll forgive Glentzer’s writing about the Woodall Rodgers Park in such a way that it sounds as if it’s part of the Annette Strauss Artist Square (“Annette Strauss Artist Square, with its open-air theater, opens this summer next to the Winspear. Its 5.2-acre “deck park” will traverse the Woodall Rogers [sic] Freeway”) — and for tossing out this bit of chum for the Houston readers:

“You could do it all within about a six-block walk in the city also known as the big-hair capital of Texas.”

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Volunteer With Paper Folding/Origami/Related Skills Needed

Got a note from Michelle Houran at the Heard Museum in McKinney today. She’s looking for help creating some classy-looking butterflies for an upcoming exhibition. And she suggests a trade for your services.  She’s been on the job two weeks. Help a gal out. Email

Here’s more from Michelle:

The Heard Museum in McKinney TX is opening a new butterfly garden on June 5th. We are installing a very simple “indoor exhibit” to tie-in to that. This is the design of the exhibit. In our Living Lab we have a permanent butterfly kiosk of preserved butterflies. The installation will be artificial butterflies mounted in life-like poses so as to seem like they are coming out of the kiosk, and are sitting and flying, on the foilage in the room, on the ceiling, in the air (suspended from ceiling), over and around the doorway, down a short hall, into the gift shop, and coming together as a flock near the entrance to the garden. It will be a semi-permanent exhibit of 1-2 years.

My preference for the butterflies are that they not be “realistic artificial” (think bought in bulk at the fake flower store) and not be “cheezy” or childish craft. I really want a stylized and artful look to the butterflies. Our budget is very slim for this small exhibit, so I was thinking paper, fiber, silk would be the easiest way to go. I however am no artist, so I am searching for an artist or very artistic person to help design, create and install this exhibit. I do not want pictures of butterflies, paintings of butterflies or such. Definitely 3D figures.

If the person who would help with this exhibit would like, we can arrange that the figures be sold in the gift shop and even straight of the exhibit for a 30% cut. I would imagine that would be especially attractive if the artist worked in glass or another expensive medium.

The exhibit opens June 5, so installation should occur between May 17th and June 2. I know this is last minute, but I only started this job two weeks ago.

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Guest Blogger Review: Jumping Jacks of Joy – Dance at UNT

Mary Lynn Babcock's Eclipse Project Part II

Mary Lynn Babcock's Eclipse Project Part II. Photo credit: Kenneth Verdugo

Guest blogger Ellen Chenoweth is an arts writer and administrator based in Washington, DC.  She maintains a blog at Widening the I and received her M.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University in 2009.

Contemporary dance has a hard time with happy.  Sometimes you’ll see movement that could be cheery, but the dancers are performing it with completely blank faces, perfectly devoid of emotion.  Or, even more painful to witness, the dancers will revert to studio dance training from childhood and display a wide pasted-on smile, as if showing teeth equals happiness.  Which is why it was especially gratifying to see undergraduates from the University of North Texas perform renowned postmodern choreographer Bebe Miller’s work Blessed with what read as pure and sincere bliss.  If you can imagine a giant jumping jack of joy, extending throughout the whole body and elevating you from the ground, you’ll have a good starting place for imagining the work.  The stage was bathed in a warm, red light as the cast of six women and two men bounded around the stage to the gospel music of the Australian group Cafe of the Gate of Salvation.  Ideas of community were explored as dancers provided perches for each other on their bodies, slapped their thighs, and propelled themselves backwards with glee.  Standout performers included Emily McNabb, who was so radiant I think she might actually have a light source in her body, and Tina Jefferson, who wasn’t afraid to put her own individual stamp on the movements.  Sarah Gamblin, a former Bebe Miller company dancer, reconstructed the work and Teresa Cooper served as rehearsal director.

Choking the Earth? Just Take Off Those Clothes and Join the Water in D-Flat, choreographed by Shelley Cushman, provided a more sobering note and opened with a tableux of trash.  The trash slowly came into focus as the lights came up and the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” played as one leg suddenly splayed from a creature in a trash bag.  The dancers were oddly restrained as they threw newspaper-trash around the stage.  The booty seemed to be the focal body point throughout the work: the dancers wore white unitards that covered their whole bodies with blue blazers accentuating the butt.  Choking the Earth offered an overload for the senses, between the trash on the stage, the flock of white dancer-birds, the soundscore filled with aural flotsam and jetsam, and a video projection of indiscriminate bits of nature scenery.  The gorgeous ending tied some of these strands together, as the video projection finally linked with the movement as the dancers transformed the trash into an ocean, and they became waves that were part of the sea, throwing up a handful of newspapers as the tide rolled out.  The sounds of the newspapers being thrown were eerily reminiscent of the sound of ocean waves, conjuring up some apocalyptic imagery.

Watching choreographer Ellie Leonhardt’s offering Not WithStanding (Part I and II) felt like being transported to an alien land where women were frozen at will and often treated as objects to be carried, draped, placed, and re-arranged.  Seven female dancers wore frocks of blue or green and shimmery black, giving a vaguely science fiction atmosphere.  The ethereal solo cello music composed by Kaija Saariaho and solemn poetry recitation in French added to the sense of being in a strange environment.  The pace was slow but never boring; instead all of the stillness meant that to see the dancers spring into viscous movement was all the more satisfying.  These beings had their own language to communicate with each other, which was a softly whispered shoo-shoo as a thread through the piece.  The lighting design by Adam Chamberlin did wonders, as I found myself continuing to marvel at the stage as a whole.  As the piece worked into its climax, there was a dizzying amount of pairings and re-pairings, sudden disappearances and reappearances.  I don’t know who these women warriors were, with arms that could transform into pincers, but I’m glad to have witnessed them.

Alien landscapes were also invoked with Mary Lynn Babcock’s Eclipse Project Part II as images from the cosmos were projected on two large rectangular orbs that dominated the stage.  Three dancers played among the objects, two would peer from the right as one would dash out from the left.  The lines created by the women’s arms would echo the geometry of the objects and carefully crooked legs were left like a question mark as the dancers balanced on their shoulders.  In the end, the dancers left the stage completely for long seconds and the audience was left to ponder the visions of space before the dancers came back for one last dash against a blackened stage in a breathtaking moment.

The show title, “Closer to the Earth and Sky,” promised to explore the tension between the two directional pulls.  But on balance, after visiting extraordinary worlds and being uplifted and moved to tears by Blessed, I think the sky won this one.  The show will be performed April 30 at 8:00 pm, May 1 at 8:00 pm and May 2 at 2:30 pm at the University Theater in the RTFP Building on the campus of the University of North Texas.

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And Now It's the Dallas Children's Theater's New Season

Is everyone racing to get things announced before May 1? Theatre 3, AT&T PAC, the DTC, the DCT: Is there some deadline I don’t know about?

Anyhoo, it’s the Children’s Theater’s 27th season, and it’s got two world premieres, two regional premieres and a festival 

And there are puppets!! Interestingly enough, one of the world premieres is a Japanese Bunraku puppet-show version of The Snow Queen, courtesy of the Kathy Burks Theater of Puppetry Arts. And Theatre 3 just announced a Bunraku premiere, Tales from Mount Olympus. So perhaps this guy and these folks have made North Texas a hotbed of people dressed in ninja-black holding little figures in front of them. Plus, there’s something about Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale that seems to inspire Japanese-ish interpretations.

The other world premiere is a musical version of The Pied Piper and the festival will be a month’s worth of of Linda Daugherty’s ‘teen problem’ plays in rep.

The full season is below the fold.

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AT&T PAC Announcing Up a Storm

On Wednesday, the AT&T PAC announced the line-ups for three of its series — the Jazz Roots, the Brinker International Forum and, of course, TITAS.

Now the PAC has added something new: a series of free outdoor concerts — starting next week.

Patio Sessions, as the weekly, Thursday-night series is called, will take place in Sammons Park, across the street from Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet High School. The hope is they will draw a downtown, not-yet-heading-home-after-work crowd (the shows start at 5:30 p.m.).

And hey, with beer and wine sales and free admission, they might.

But perhaps the most interesting factor: The current line-up features nothing but locals, including Salim Nourallah, Seryn and Doug Burr.

The full release is below the fold.

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First the Mavs, Now This

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Categorized Under: Books

All three Texan nominees for the Edgar Awards got shut out.

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