News and Features

SXSW: One Final Look Back

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Categorized Under: Culture, KXT, Music, Uncategorized

In case you missed it on KXT yesterday, here are some final thoughts from Gini Mascorro and Stephen Becker on their adventures at South By Southwest.

Gini talks quite a bit about the SXSW bands that you’ll be hearing on the air on KXT.

And Stephen, who was reporting all week from the conference, wraps up some of his favorite shows.

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Henderson Art Project: Time to Cast Your Vote.

Last weekend at a reception at the  Candleroom,  organizer Scott Trent introduced the eight artists whose sculptures are now installed along Henderson Avenue. Those folks were chosen by a very large cast of local arts types.  Now it’s your turn: Take a look at the works that have been installed and then vote (up to three times) for your favorites.   The top three vote getters win cash prizes.  Do it before April 15.

And speaking of money, HAP is holding a fundraiser on April 28th. The group hopes to receive at least 100 works valued at $800 or more donated by artists. Each will be offered for sale at a set price of $400.  Half the money goes to the participating artists, the other half to the Richardson Humane Society.  Participating artists are listed here.

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Terry Teachout: Bring the Arts Back to PBS

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Paula Kerger

In a recent column, Terry Teachout -- Wall Street Journal theater critic and biographer of  Louis Armstrong — asked, ‘What went wrong with PBS’ cultural offerings?’ He goes over the 2009 roster of the network’s flagship arts show, Great Performances – including a pair of Christmas concerts by Andrea Bocelli and Sting — and declares it “both inadequate and unserious.”

“PBS evolved over time [Teachout writes] into a viewer-driven, ratings-conscious enterprise and discovered along the way that high-culture programming is (a) hugely expensive to produce and (b) not nearly as popular as “Antiques Roadshow.” Hence the slow but steady shrinkage of airtime devoted to the fine arts, and the increasing trivialization of such cultural programming as does manage to make it onto the network.”

Why does this matter? For one thing — and this is a point Teachout doesn’t make –  opponents of public broadcasting often argue that we don’t need PBS because cable TV has taken over those niche markets.  Right. On Bravo and A&E, you can watch hours of Gene Simmons Family Jewels or re-runs of The West Wing before you’ll see anything remotely about art museums or theater. Ovation is about the only cable network that regularly runs shows about Claes Oldenburg or concerts by Leonard Bernstein and even it does relatively little with American art produced somewhere other than New York or LA.

Which is the chief argument Teachout does make for a renewed commitment for arts programming by PBS. Teachout (who visited Theatre 3 last year to review its production of Lost in the Stars) points out the incredible, country-wide influence a show like Great Performances: Dance in America once had. Its telecasts in the ’70s and ’80s, he believes, “triggered the ‘dance boom’ in America—not by telling viewers that George Balanchine and Paul Taylor were important choreographers, but by showing them uncut performances” of their works.

What does Teachout recommend?

Read More »

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Tuesday Morning Roundup

2010-11 LEXUS BROADWAY SEASON ANNOUNCED: Billy Elliot, the winner of 10 Tony Awards last year, highlights the list of traveling shows coming to Dallas as part of the 2010-11 Lexus Broadway Season. The show will take up residence in the Winspear Opera House June 8 – July 3, 2011. The season begins Sept. 14-26 with Blue Man Group and continues with Young Frankenstein (Jan. 4-23, 2011) and Rock of Ages (May 17-29, 2011). Also on the schedule is a non-subscription staging of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The Musical, Dec. 7-12, 2010.

PREPPING FOR ‘SPRING’: Speaking of the Lexus Broadway Series, the next show on this season’s schedule, Spring Awakening, opens tonight. The music was written by a guy who wasn’t exactly known in theater circles before the show debuted – pop singer Duncan Sheik. “I had certain things that I kind of liked and enjoyed, but musicals were not a big favorite,” he tells dallasnews.com. Listen for a review of the show from Jerome on Thursday on KERA.

QUOTABLE: “We first started coming to Fort Worth either in 1954 or 1955, and we would first play at a church. I can also still see, to this day, the face of our Fort Worth promoter. He had a barbecue place, and it was the first time that I actually saw someone barbecue bologna.”

- Mavis Staples, who will play Bass Performance Hall on Thursday. Read more from Staples in her interview with dfw.com.

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Art&Seek on Think TV: Caroline Goulding, 17-Year-Old Violinist

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Caroline Goulding began playing violin at 3 years old; at 13, she won first prize at the Aspen Music Festival’s Concerto Competition. And last year, at 16, her debut CD was nominated for a classical Grammy for best solo instrumental.

She was asked to step in with the Dallas Symphony after the originally scheduled soloist, flutist James Galway, fell and injured his arm. In person, Goulding’s tiny size and teenage energy seems so different from her playing, which can be surprisingly large and velvety, but full of the expected spirit and speed. She talks with Jerome Weeks about career choices, CD choices and her choice of violins.

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National Bible Museum? In Dallas? Naturally, It's Gonna Be Huge

Over at Unfair Park, Jim Schutze reports that Scott Carroll, a history professor at the interdenominational Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Don Shipman, the son of a Cleburne pastor, have been busily buying up millions and millions of dollars’ worth of rare Bibles and manuscripts for a planned museum in Dallas — not to mention acquiring some 22 acres in downtown Dallas.

The plans are ambitious, even gargantuan — as Cornerstone University’s newspaper, The Herald indicated two years ago:

Warren Van Kampen, retired optometrist and friend of Carroll, said that “nothing has been tried on this scope.” Van Kampen’s brother originally had a dream similar to Carroll’s, but it was in the form of a private collection. Currently, the Van Kampen Collection is the largest private collection of artifacts and manuscripts related to the Bible.

“We are in the final stages of acquiring a 900,000 square foot facility that sits on 22 acres in downtown Dallas,” said Carroll. The building will cost $300 million and is being paid for by a family that Carroll is working with, whose name he declined to disclose.

“There will be 20 halls, each half the size of a football field,” said Carroll. Each hall will contain artifacts and illustrations of the preservation of the Bible during a different period of history. Carroll said a donor is willing to build exact replicas of as many ancient monuments as the museum wants.

For comparison’s sake, the Dallas Museum of Art is only 350,000-square feet.  And note the last lines about “replicas of ancient monuments.” There’s something about the Bible that can bring out the Cecil B. DeMille in people. Dallas’ Biblical Arts Center has been rebuilding from a devastating 2005 fire, for instance – and current plans include a Damascus Gate and a Golden Ziggurat.

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Kimbell Opens its Doors for a Few Special Visitors

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Guest blogger Gail Sachson, M.F.A., owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.

Would you like to be in a relaxing, yet stimulating environment? No extraneous noise. Someone with a warm demeanor asking you what you think and feel? Would you like to share experiences with congenial people? Sounds too good to be true.

But the Kimbell Art Museum‘s “Viewpoints” program, developed for Alzheimer’s patients and modeled after a program at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, offers just such an environment every month. From 1-2:30 p.m. on select Mondays, when the museum is closed, up to 20 individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are invited free of charge to the museum for interactive art experiences.

Because the museum is quiet — no diners, docent tours or people to dodge in the galleries — participants feel no pressure. I joined the group on a Monday earlier this month when the work of Matisse was the stimulus for conversation and art-making. Many of the participants, residents at local assisted-living centers, were not suffering from Alzheimer’s but were  just as in need of  intellectual stimulation and social interaction.

I began smiling when the first participant through the door in a wheelchair said, ” Oh this is great! It brings back so many memories. I’ve spent so much time here. My grandchildren grew up in this place,” smiling throughout the next hour and half.

With walkers and wheelchairs, about six residents were welcomed by three well-trained and congenial docents who offered nametags, rearranged afghans, pushed wheelchairs and helped gather the group in front of Matisse’s L’Asie, where chairs had been set up.

“What is the mood of this painting?” asked a docent.

“Oh, I thought you said, nude’,” was the giggled response.

Laughter put everyone at ease.

It was decided the picture was exciting. It was a party. She was in costume. A fur. Her necklace was missing a bead. It had an Oriental feeling.

“Would you hang this over your mantle?” asked the docent.

“At first, no,” said one visitor. “But I like it now.”

“No,” said the lone male.

Most participated. Some just listened and looked. Then, it was on to art-making, inspired by what we saw.

“I’m afraid to start,” protested an Alzheimer’s patient. Urged on by the docent, she did start and ended up proudly creating a truly personalized, wonderful work of art. As she worked, she provided me with the most poignant memory of my visit. She hummed as she painted. Painting had brought her peace.

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Monday Morning Roundup II: The Roundup Strikes Back

Apparently we got our wires crossed around here with multiple morning roundups. The good news: no one should want for more reading material today.

FWSO ANNOUNCES SEASON: The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra announced over the weekend that it will stage a preseason “Baroque Celebration” Aug. 27-29. That means its planned preseason cycle of all of Mahler’s symphonies, which was postponed last year due to budget constraints, is again on hold. Music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s series looking at South American music is back, however. Dallasnews.com has more on the 2010-11 season. In an unrelated classical note, Meadows Symphony director Paul Phillips fell at his home and broke his next last week. He’ll be OK, but he’s on the shelf for a while as far as conducting is concerned. Scott Cantrell has more.

CHECKING BACK IN ON NX35: The NX35 Music Conferette was a big winner for Denton businesses and North Texas music fans. But the event’s organizers say they didn’t exactly share in the wealth. “There were so many costs that it hamstrung us,” NX35 head honcho Chris Flemmons tells the Denton Record-Chronicle. “I’m not saying it [the festival] wasn’t a slam dunk in the hearts and minds of the community, but it was weak in the nickels and dimes.” The free Midlake/Flaming Lips show and the cost of bringing in close to 200 bands proved to be more expensive than the balance sheet could handle.

NEW FACES ON STAGE: Upstart Productions’ subUrbia has been getting plenty of love from local critics. The show features a couple of fresh faces to the local scene, and theaterjones.com spoke with them to find out about their acting backgrounds. Lots of interesting nuggets here, including the note that Samantha Rodriguez, who pays Erica, also makes costumes for SMU’s theater department, Shakespeare Dallas and Dallas Children’s Theater.

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Monday Morning Roundup

How ’bout that snow, eh? How ’bout that SXSW? How ’bout that healthcare reform? Big weekend. But it’s Monday, right, so to start you off right –

A REAL BEAUT OF LaBUTE: Saw both The Shape of Things and Fat Pig over the weekend, parts 1 and 2 of the Dallas Theater Center‘s three “Beauty Plays” by Neil LaBute. If Part 3, reasons to be pretty, plays the same way, the trilogy may be the strongest work the Theater Center has done in two years. The shows are rotating in repertory, so you still can see all three, once reasons opens April 2. The Shape of Things already received universal acclaim; here’s Lawson Taitte’s rave for Fat Pig, which opened Friday. Here’s FrontRow’s less-than-rave by Lindsey Wilson.

LEXUS BROADWAY SERIES: In a remarkable coincidence, the Lexas Broadway Series got advance word of its 2010-2011 season into the Dallas Morning News, the same outlet that ran a full-page ad for it Sunday. In case you didn’t see either ad or story: The big news is that Billy Elliot is coming to town but we’ll have to wait  until next year, June 8-July 3. Otherwise, it’s Blue Man Group (Sept. 14-26), Young Frankenstein (Jan. 3-23) and the ’80s jukebox-arena-rock musical, Rock of Ages (May 17-29).  Plus, there’s a non-subscription, holiday special, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dec. 7-12). They’re all playing at the AT&T PAC’s Winspear Opera House.

SPEAKING OF BROADWAY: Three weeks ago, we mentioned that a one-woman show about the late Molly Ivins starring Kathleen Turner was going to open in Philly, and that it was pretty much a dead-cert Broadway tryout. The NYTimes reported Sunday how Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins has led a “charmed” life because it’s taken only seven months for the play to go from first reading to Philly premiere. The secret, in part, is a liberal conspiracy: Former Texas Governor Ann Richards, a longtime Ivins friend, lived for a while in New York in the same building as Turner, and she introduced the two. That connection helped when the twin-sister playwrights, Margaret and Allison Engel, went looking for their dream choice to star.

AND JUST SO IT’S NOT ALL THEATER THIS MORNING: Anne Bass — ex-wife of Fort Worth billionaire Sid Bass — has spent some of her money making a film, Dancing Across Borders, about a young Cambodian dancer named Sokvannara Sar, whom she discovered and helped turn into an American ballet star. The movie played last November at the  Lone Star Film Festival; now the NYTimes has profiled Bass because the documentary is opening in Manhattan, prior to “barnstorming to a dozen cities.”

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Health Care Reform: Remembering Artists' Role

Congress passes health care legislation today.  No matter where you stand on this issue, it’s plain that artists, who are chronically underinsured, should benefit and last October, they rallied to demand this coverage.  Here’s a newly recut version of that demonstration in Dallas. I’m guessing that the organizer, Greg Metz, the author of this video, Dean Terry, and all the folks who rallied to make their voices heard are feeling pretty good today…

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