News and Features

Friday Morning Round-Up

Double Bass Showdown: Some of the world’s best double bass players are squaring off in Denton this week for the Bradetich Foundation International Double Bass Competition.  It’s a Van Cliburn-like contest designed to spotlight the bulky instrument, reward those who’ve mastered it and encourage its use in solos.  So far the plan is working: the contest has captured the the BBC’s attention. The performances are all free and continue through Sunday. Details here.

Birth of Boogie: Coming home to  Marshall to play a concert feels like “being abducted by alien spaceships,” says Omar Shariff. A part-time historian from San Antonio identified Shariff, 72 and down on his luck in California, as a kind of missing link to East Texas’ claim as the birthplace of boogie woogie.  Marshall’s leaders invited Shariff to return to his birthplace as part of their new tourism plan:  “Marshall, Texas: Center Stage”

Sad news: Ridglea Music in Fort Worth is going out of business after 50 years.

Eco-art: Huffington Post launched an arts section of its Web site this week. I thought of Jerome’s KERA radio piece today on the Seedlings exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary when I read this.

Golden Ticket:   Today’s the last day to enter KXT 91.7’s drawing for a pair of  tickets to each of more than 30 shows this summer.  While you’re checking out the details, consider making a contribution to support commercial-free music radio.

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Unnatural Nature at Dallas Contemporary

In February, the art space, Dallas Contemporary, moved into its new warehouse home near the Design District. That’s one reason its new show is called “Seedlings.” Dallas Contemporary is still growing.  But KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports there are other reasons for the ‘seedlings’ name.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Expanded online report:

Regine Basha is an independent curator in Brooklyn. She created the “Seedlings” exhibition, she says, by choosing several young artists she knows. One, Jessica Halonen, is from Austin, where Basha lived and worked, but most of the others are relatively recent graduates of Columbia University’s masters program (Basha curated their dissertation show). So the artists, too, are seedlings, just starting out — although some have already garnered significant play in Manhattan galleries.

In effect, “Seedlings” is an introduction to a small sampling of contemporary, emerging artists. But another thing unites them, says Basha. In one way or another, they all handle the environment.

BASHA: “Not so much environmental issues but more like our personal place in the natural world and how we relate to nature now or what it might engender in terms of an art piece. They just seemed to be generating new ways of dealing with materials that have to do with the natural world.”

Some works in the exhibition seem conventional enough — videos and paintings, although Christopher Ho‘s series of small, delicate, pink paintings are certainly unusual in that they employ an expensive Swiss facial moisturizer that advertises it contains specially harvested blue algae (above, right).

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Q&A: Catching Up with Cartoonist Jeremy Smith

Photo by Miryam Prodanovic

Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.

In February, I spoke with Denton cartoonist Jeremy Smith about his art. And this month, he was named the recipient of a Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant. The Dozier Travel Grant, established in both artists’ honor in 1990, offers artists an opportunity to travel. The Doziers’ believed in the power of such experiences, and this grant is awarded to professional artists at least 30 years of age who reside in Texas. I caught up with Smith over the telephone this week:

Tina Aguilar: Congratulations, when I heard the news I was not surprised. Tell me how it feels.

Jeremy Smith: I have to thank Brian [Gibb of The Public Trust]. He thought I should apply for the Dozier Grant, and I went for it. We discussed how I had my artist friend, Al Columbia, and he’s wanted me to come to New York, but it has always been a matter of finances. Brian explained to me that the grant is for travel, and so I said, “OK let’s try it.” It feels awesome and, while the Xeric Grant is for publishing, this grant is about getting validation for the fine arts. It felt so right to get it, because I wanted to go to New York City, and I wouldn’t do it unless it wants me there.

Untitled, Jeremy Smith

T.A.: Any ideas on what you will do first?

J.S.: The plan is to work, not too much personal, and find the cartoon syndicates and make appointments with them. Usually you do this by mail, but back in the day you went to New York and hit the pavement. I want to do that and shake hands with the editors. If I am rejected, fine, but I want to meet them in person. I will get to talk to people and go around New York and observe the city as much as I can. I grew up on Long Island but moved when I was young and I never went to New York City. The city seems like another country to me, and I am looking forward to being there.

T.A.: Are there any updates with your plans with your friend Al? How did he take the news?

J.S.: We are in collaboration, and when I get to New York we will continue with our picture book. He is very supportive and was glad to hear about it. I have never had an artistic mentor, and on top of it all he’s a great guy … very free with his knowledge. He’s looking forward to showing me some techniques.

T.A.: Speaking of techniques, what have you been practicing lately?

J.S.: I have been practicing the look of my characters … making them more individualized. It happened, not too long ago, that I worked out keeping the characters more consistent and keeping a spontaneity with them. And I achieved this with proportion. If I am going to be doing this day-in and day-out I want to make it work. These characters are alive to me and have specific personalities. Of course, I am practicing my inking, and I feel good that the characters are coming into themselves.

T.A.: What do you think about the idea that another artist wants to offer a fellow artist a new experience?

J.S.: With this it seems perfect, because the Dozier is for travel and for someone at least 30. When you are in your 30s, you reflect about your 20s, and I am ready to go forward and really see what comes next and experience the city. I want to share my work, and hopefully editors will give me a chance to see my work and talk to me about what come next. I look forward to the experience.

Jeremy Smith plans to visit New York City this fall and will show new work in July at The Public Trust Gallery.

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Thursday Morning Roundup

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF ‘BRIGHTON': Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical story of his growing up in New York in the shadows of the Depression. And as David Novinski says in his Front Row review, “In the hands of Contemporary Theatre of Dallas and director Michael Serrecchia, it’s also semi-funny, semi-serious, and only semi-effective.” Lawson Taitte had a few quibbles with some of the performances but calls it, “a perfect show about family.” And Carli Baylor pretty much loved the whole thing. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll understand why theater can be a great way to cope with your own life,” she says in her Theater Jones review.

‘WILD’ AND WILLING: The Orbans will play a party in their honor on Friday at Lola’s in Fort Worth. The occasion is the release of their new album, When We Were Wild. And the band members say capturing their live energy was a top priority. “The band plays well together live,” singer Peter Black tells Preston Jones of, “and I think we just wanted to capture that the best we could.” Hunter Hauk also talked to the band for a story in this week’s Quick. Bassist Cliff Wright says part of making the album was a change of scenery. “We moved into a house down in Austin with a goal to get as creative an environment as we could, and I think it really shows. We took the same mind-set to Los Angeles as we finished the record. The album is a great representation of the band finding our sound.” Fort Worth Weekly also weighs in on the disc.

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP: Laura Kostelny of Front Row touches on a topic that has always interested me: museum gift shops. It’s always fun to see how they try and serve both the serious visitor and the person who just has to buy some sort of knickknack at every place they go. Kostelny is a little annoyed with the gift shop at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. Actually, make that a lot annoyed. “At what is possibly the most politically incorrect gift shop on record—a new record, go for it ladies!—you can celebrate your PhD with the purchase of a red straw cowboy hat adorned with a rhinestone tiara spelling out your alma mater,” she writes. This is a good post to read the comments on. What started out as a backlash against the writer has evened out some as more people have weighed in. Seems like a good conversation to have.

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For Mark Morris, There is No Dance Without Live Music

Mark Morris Dance Company members perform V.

Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as assistant director of  UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.

Friday, June 11, 2010, 10:55 a.m.

I dial choreographer Mark Morris at his home in New York and listen to the phone ring.

“You’re early.”

“Yes, I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok. I like that.”

Mark Morris is an American dancer, choreographer and director whose work has defined this generation’s idea of dance. His work combines immaculate craftsmanship, humor, tragedy and a unique understanding of music.

On Friday and Saturday, the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) will be perform at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas to close out TITAS’ 2009-2010 season. The company will be presenting two of Morris’ newest works, Visitation and Empire Garden (2009), as well as his popular V (2001).

Visitation is set to Charles Ives’ Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello, while Empire Garden is performed to Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4 for Cello and Piano, Op. 102 and V is set to Robert Schumann’s Quintet in E flat for piano and strings, Op. 44.

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Wednesday Morning Roundup

BACK TO LIFE: He’s been dead 40 years, but Mark Rothko seems to be everywhere these days. In May, there was the dust-up concerning Dallas collector Marguerite Hoffman auctioning one off. Then Red, a play about the artist struggling with a commission, won six Tony Awards on Sunday night. And now Harvard is using high-tech methods to refurbish a few Rothkos it owns. If that’s got you interested in learning more about Rothko, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth also has one of his works – Light Cloud, Dark Cloud. The museum’s blog dissects the painting and looks at the conditions surrounding its creation.

NOOOOOOOOOOO: Whenever you make it down to Austin, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Keep Austin Weird sticker or T-shirt, sign, etc. For more than 20 years, Vince Hannemann has taken that credo to heart with his Cathedral of Junk, an amazing structure that he’s slowly constructed in his South Austin back yard out of found items. Though I’ve climbed around on it several times, it’s a place I always try and stop by when I’m down for SXSW. And now, the structure will be no more. Hannemann will dismantle the 33-foot-tall Cathedral because the city says it doesn’t comply with building codes. And when the Cathedral is no more, Austin will be a little less weird and a little bit more like everyone else.

ETC.: A historic house in South Dallas may be converted into a children’s theater. (Unfair Park) … Neil Young’s Greendale is now available in graphic novel form. You might remember seeing Undermain’s staging of Greendale not to long ago. ( … And I don’t know what’s taken me this long to post this, but Art&Seek top banana Anne Bothwell is the special guest on the current This Week in the Arts podcast. She talks about the new coat of paint we recently put on the Web site. (This Week in the Arts)

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Flickr Photo of the Week

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts

Congratulations to Guy Reynolds of Dallas, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Guy is a photographer for The Dallas Morning News who previously won our contest in January for this photo of One Arts Plaza. He follows last week’s winner, Neff Conner.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took previous to 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 a bit more from Guy:

Title of photo: none
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D, 80-200 lens
Tell us more about your photo: Shot from the 10th floor of the Plaza of the Americas, where there is an ice skating rink and my son Drew was taking lessons. The spectrums are in different areas of the ice throughout the day because there’s several prisms catching the light. We went early the day this was shot, because I’d noticed previously that the best patch of color was off the ice by 9:45. The exposure was made for the highlights to get the spectrum; the problem with that is the ice is rendered as gray rather than a brighter white.

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Tuesday Morning Roundup

MONEY MATTERS: Earlier this month, Janis Burklund of the Dallas Film Commission was the guest during the Art&Seek segment of Think TV. She spoke about how the state’s tax incentives are partly to thank for the slew of television productions that have shot in the area over the past several months. But that money doesn’t come without strings attached. The New York Times reports that some states are starting to take a closer look at the type of films that taxpayers are helping foot the bill for. And Texas is one of those states. It’s already been reported that a potential film about the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco won’t receive any money from the state because of alleged inaccuracies. Now, a Robert Rodriguez film called Machete will be getting a close look to make sure it doesn’t violate a rule saying that films earning state funding cannot contain, “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.” Stay tuned on that one.

HOW TO GET BIGGER: If you’re a small organization tired of being overshadowed by the big boys, Michael Kaiser says it doesn’t have to be that way. The Kennedy Center president says that all you need is a little planning. In a Huffington Post essay, he writes, “Smaller organizations have a harder time developing the large transformational projects than larger organizations. That is why they tend to remain small. If they take the time to plan large, exciting programs four or five years in advance, they would be far more likely to find the resources they require to mount these programs.” Sounds simple, right? He goes on to note that smaller organizations, “should be making news at least once a quarter” and that they, “must really only influence 100-200 selected people in their communities to have a life-changing effect on the organization.”

A LOOK AHEAD: Theater Jones has been compiling a list of recent 2010-11 season announcements. Collin Theater Center begins its season Oct. 7 with U.S. Drag by playwright and Law & Order writer Gina Gionfriddo. Neil Simon (Barefoot in the Park), Sam Shepard (True West) and Horton Foote (The Trip to Bountiful) highlight Contemporary Theatre of Dallas’ season. And Fort Worth’s Jubilee Theatre will open its season Oct. 8 with Home by Samm-Art Williams.

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Ticket Giveaway: Mark Morris Dance Company at the Winspear

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Categorized Under: Dallas Arts District, Dance

With all the talk these days of dance companies resorting to recorded music due to financial constraints, it’s a treat when one insists on performing only with live musicians.

That’ll be the case this weekend when the Mark Morris Dance Company performs a pair of shows at the Winspear Opera House to close out TITAS’ 2009-10 season.

Later in the week, Art&Seek dance blogger Danielle Georgiou will have an interview with the man himself. But until then, I’ve got three pairs of tickets to give away to Friday night’s performance to the first three people who e-mail me ( with Mark Morris in the subject line.

UPDATE: All the tickets have been claimed.

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Josh Ritter Stops by KXT 91.7

On Tuesday night, folk rocker Josh Ritter will play the Granada Theater in Dallas. But before he heads down to Lower Greenville, he’ll be stopping by the KXT91.7 studio to play an intimate set as part of the Midday Live series. Ten lucky KXT members will be in the house to watch.

If you aren’t one of those lucky folks, or you aren’t familiar with Ritter’s work, you can listen to his latest album, So Runs the World Away, below:

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