News and Features

Ticket Giveaway: Another Chance for Jose Bowen/DSO Guild Event

Well, turns out yesterday’s lucky winner of tickets to the DSO Guild event with Jose Bowen cannot attend. He was kind enough to let us know, and that means you have one more shot at this:

It’s a pair of tickets to enjoy wine and snacks while meeting Jose Bowen, dean of SMU’s Meadows School for the Arts, and mingling with members of the DSO Guild. Bowen will discuss the arts scene and rising stars in Dallas in an informal conversation. He’ll also perform briefly on the piano. This all happens on Wednesday March 24 at 7 p. m.

Tickets are worth $50 each. The intimate event’s held in a home in Park Cities. If you’ve been curious about the DSO Guild, this is a great way to learn what they’re all about.

Because it’s Friday afternoon and my brain hurts, we’ll skip the trivia question. First to email me at wins.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra Guild is an organization of business and professional men and women who share a love of good music and strive to provide an educational forum for classical music with particular enthusiasm for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In addition to presenting ten member events each season, the Guild also hosts a gala dinner each spring, with the funds going to sponsor the Performance Prelude lectures held one hour before each Dallas Symphony concert. The lectures are given on the Meyerson’s lower level in in Horchow Hall, and are free and open to all concertgoers.

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SXSW: Day 2 Pictures

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Categorized Under: KXT, Music, Uncategorized

AUSTIN – Thursday offered another strong day of music at South by Southwest. Not to be too much of a North Texas homer, but my favorite shows of the day were by locals.

Smile Smile captured the crowd with its tales of breaking up during an outdoor afternoon show. Strangely, Jencey let everyone know that they were from Canada. “We tell people different things, and when we say we’re from Canada, people then say the music makes sense,” she said after the show. Hmm.

Later that night, it was off to see Sarah Jaffee at St. David’s Episcopal Church. The setting was a nice break from the packed clubs, and Jaffe sang with an urgent, deeply felt tone that gave me chills. Her four-piece band (which included Robert Gomez on guitar) drifted in and out of the background, ensuring that Jaffe’s strong voice and haunting lyrics were the star of the show, as they should be.

After that, I really just wanted to drift off to sleep. But that wasn’t happening – Stone Temple Pilots, one of my favorite bands from high school, was playing at Austin Music Hall. Seemed too good to pass up, and I’m glad that I didn’t. Most bands outside of the truly legendary ride a career arc that eventually brings them back down from superstar status. A side benefit of that is that long-time fans can see their favorite bands in smaller venues. The last time I saw STP was at Reunion Arena; last night I watched the show from about 50 feet from the stage and rocked out like it was 1995. Or 1970. For the encore, the band brought out Doors guitarist Robby Krieger for a full-throttle reading of “Roadhouse Blues.”

My ears are still ringing this morning, but it gave me plenty of energy for the long walk home last night.

For more on what I’ve been doing at SXSW, be sure to tune into KXT at 4:30 and 6:30 when I’ll be on the air during The Afternoon Show. 



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SXSW: Stephen's KXT reports

Categorized Under: Culture, KXT, Music

Today marks one full week in Austin for intrepid Art&Seek Web editor Stephen Becker, who has been covering all three parts of the South By Southwest conference: Interactive, Film and Music. You might think that round-the-clock movies and club concerts would leave one bleary-eyed and bearded. But Stephen actually sounds quite chipper in his reports from the field that aired on KXT yesterday.

Here he is on  the peril Broken Bells faced following Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Stubbs:

And he’s been checking out local acts like Little Black Dress and Smile, Smile:

Stephen will be back on the air this afternoon at 4:30 and 6:30. You can follow his adventures on the blog all weekend.  He crosses the finish line Monday with a couple of wrap-ups on KXT.  Then, I’m guessing, it’ll be nap time.

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Naming Rights to the DTC's Acting Company

Arts patrons Diane and Hal Brierley have donated $1 million to the Dallas Theater Center, which has now named its nine-member ensemble of actors the Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company. Says the press release:

The Brierley’s generosity will support DTC’s artistic programming, which includes its commitment to productions of classics, new plays and musicals of the highest caliber, meaningful community partnerships, and a resident company of professional actors.

The company members are:  Hassan El-Amin, Chamblee Ferguson, Matthew Gray, Sean Hennigan, Liz Mikel, Cedric Neal, Lee Trull, Sally Nystuen Vahle and Christina Vela.

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Review: subUrbia by Upstart Productions

wall smallNowhere to go, nothing to do. So pick a fight. The racist vet (Andrews Cope) faces off against the store owner (Nasir Mehdi)

These days, many people know actor-writer Eric Bogosian as the police captain on TV’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent. But in the ’80s and ’90s, Bogosian electrified off-Broadway stages with a series of solo shows and plays — from Drinking in America to Talk Radio.  Dallas’ Upstart Productions previously presented Talk Radio and now concludes its mini-revival of Bogosian’s works with subUrbia.

  • KERA radio review:
  • Expanded online review:

An unsettling, dark comedy, subUrbia is Bogosian’s 1994 update on the American teenage wasteland.  The seven young people are killing an autumn evening and a passel of brain cells, hanging out in a convenience store parking lot.  They aren’t actually teens; they’re in their early twenties. But that only means their sullen aimlessness is more deeply confirmed. One (Andrews Cope) is already a hate-filled, alcoholic Air Force vet. Another (Cassie Bann) has been in and out of rehab, and the little mouse looks as though she’s headed back. And a third, the guy everyone else is waiting for (Justin Locklear), has even cut a successful album. But he’s returned for a visit to the pointedly named Burnfield, the “pizza and puke capital of the world.”

The frustrations and self-pity of these hangers-on-the-corner are familiar enough now from three or four generations of delinquents and punks and dopers and gangbangers. The most articulate of the bunch, a community college dropout named Jeff (Joey Folsom), bitterly sums up their inability to figure out how any of them will get from their parents’ basement to their MTV fantasies of limos and cocaine and acclaim.

JEFF: “I know there’s a world outside this tarpit of stupidity. All I want to do is make something that shatters the world. If I can’t do that, I don’t want to do anything.”

So, it’s back to doing nothing. Or hoping for some sort of magical escape to New York, like Jeff’s girlfriend Sooze (Natalie Young), who wants to be the next Karen Finley-style, transgressive performance artist.  Shouting her trite obscenities, she’s such a feeble copy of Finley, we know that ain’t gonna happen.

small couple

True love not running smooth: Natalie Young and Joey Folsom

Actually, a lot happens in subUrbia, which is the play’s only weakness. The rockstar’s return and the violence it casually triggers feel like plot devices, added to create some tension. In that regard, I prefer Bogosian’s solo shows to his full-cast plays partly because, with the plays, he seems to feel a need to create some sort of dramatic arc that links his characters and takes them somewhere.

His strength — in his solos and his plays — are the great character parts he creates. Richard Linklater’s 1996 film version of subUrbia, for instance, gave actor Giovanni Ribisi one of his classic roles as an angry, funny, befuddled loser.

Upstart Productions is only two years old, but it’s already made a name for itself with its sharp stage shows. And directed by Josh Glover, this subUrbia has a terrifically realistic set by Cindy Ernst and Zachary Broadhurst. You can practically smell the flattened ketchup packets, the warm tarmac and burned coffee (although, curiously enough in this home of Southland, 7-11′s parent company, the set lacks the 7-11 references that have appeared in productions elsewhere).

Oh yeah, and that set does have a terrific cast hanging out on it – from Joey Folsom as the sour, self-hating Jeff to Ryan Martin as the child-like stoner comic relief, a hilarious, Jeff Spicoli-ish surfer dude without any surf. My one quibble with the acting is the same as with Bogosian’s play: These drunks and dim-bulb dreamers seem far too up and active.

The teenage wasteland I remember was so inert and boring, it would have put Samuel Beckett to sleep.

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Friday Morning Roundup

Fat Lady and the Whale: The Dallas Opera has launched a photo game called Moby on the Move to gear up for the premiere of Moby-Dick. It works kind of like that vacation gnome: download the whale, take your pix with him, and share. The Opera will post their fave pix each week.  Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, the Fat Lady has arrived to help those of us who are newer to opera. Check her out on Facebook or on Twitter. The opera’s interns can tell you more about her.

SXSW: Our local correspondents are all music, all the time down in Austin. Preston Jones remembers Alex Chilton. Zac Crain takes in Roky Erickson and Okkervil River. Mario Tarradell checks out keynote speaker Smokey Robinson. And of course, Stephen had day 1 in pictures. He’ll be back on KXT 91.7 at 4:30 and 6:30 today talking about his adventures, and he’s blogging all weekend. If you’ve been blogging from the conference and I missed you, let me know so I can link up.

Calatrava: Where is that confounded bridge?

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Video: The Kessler Theater Tour and X+

Kessler Theater Tour

It’s finally here. The Kessler Theater is all fresh, shiny and ready to throw open its doors, with a total renovation and a few months’ worth of splendid shows and events already on the books. If you didn’t get a chance to see the place post-renovations, you can get somewhat of an idea as to how far the venue has come since Art&Seek visited with Jeff Liles and Bucks Burnett at the Kessler, just few short months ago. You can check it out here.

In anticipation of a month-long series of events marking the theater’s  “soft opening,” Art&Seek spent the day with the Kessler Theater’s owner, Edwin Cabaniss and artistic director, Jeffrey Liles. First he took us on a pre-opening tour of the theater. And THEN we got a driving tour of Oak Cliff’s X+ neighborhood. During the tour portion [see the video above], I was literally chasing after the very busy Liles with a video camera, so it’s a little bumpy.

Just a few quick notes about opening night on Saturday:

DJ Mr. Rid will be spinning early in the evening.

6 p.m.-8 p.m. – Photographer James Blands’ exhibit, A Photographic History of Music in Dallas

7 pm.-8 p.m.: Josh Alan Friedman book signing for his new book, Black Cracker

7:30 p.m:Mark Growden performs

8:30 p.m.: Slam poet Jason Carney

10 p.m: Josh Alan Friedman performs

There will be a full bar and no cover.

You can check out more upcoming shows and events here, including Raided X+ on March 28 that celebrates the X+ area of Oak Cliff (watch the below driving video tour) with performing bands Tartufi, Darktown Strutters, Telethon, the Great Tyrant, along with guest DJs. There will also be plenty of visual art with subversive painters, photographers, video artists and entertainment from slam poets.

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Dallas Film Festival to Conquer Angelika Film Center

Categorized Under: Film and Television


Writer-director Guillermo Arriaga

For its April 8 opening, the Dallas International Film Festival will take over all eight screens of the Angelika Film Center on Mockingbird to screen such movies as Multiple Sarcasms with Timothy Hutton and Bill Cunningham New York, a documentary by director Richard Press. The 11-day festival will feature 153 full-length films and shorts from 25 countries, six world-premieres and the Dallas Star Awards, which will be presented to writer-director Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams), writer-director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side)  three-time Oscar nominateded cinematographer Wally Pfister (Batman Begins)) and Mexican film icon Pedro Infante (Pepe el Toro).

Complete release below the fold:

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SXSW: Day 1 in Pictures

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Categorized Under: KXT, Music

AUSTIN – Day 1 at South by Southwest was a busy one. I think I saw about 10 bands, not counting the ones you walk past who are set up on every street corner. Highlights of the night include Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Stubbs and Nas and Damian Marley at Emos.

But if you really want to hear the dirt on all of last night’s shows, you’ll have to tune into KXT (91.7) at 4:30 and 6:30 as I’ll be discussing the night that was as well as what’s up next on the schedule. Until then, I hope you enjoy the photos (be sure to scroll over them for the captions). If you click on the slideshow, you can see the photos a little bigger with the full captions.

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Art&Seek Q/A: Art Teachers and Students from Greenhill School, Booker T. and Rusk

Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.  Last week, she visited with Nazanin Fatemian, program manager for the International House of Blues Foundation, and Emmanuel Gillespie, the lead Dallas artist in a collaborative art project IHOBF and local artists and students are creating. This week, in Part II of her interview, Tina spoke with some of the teachers and art students participating in the project.

Art abounds in our fair city. It’s not easy to fit all the “behind the scenes” puzzle pieces together, but with art, where there’s a will, there’s always a way. The rhythms and originality of the following art advocates, young minds, and hearts share how this collaborative venture between House of Blues and local artists and students comes into reality – uniquely separate yet undeniably together in full force.

HOB 1 Greenhill School on Stairs at House of Blues

Greenhill students at House of Blues

Greenhill School, Middle School, 2D Art Teacher, Valerie Bennett Gillespie

Dallas artist/educator, Valerie Bennett Gillespie, uses her art experiences and wisdom with her art students at the Greenhill School. When asked to do this venture, she immediately infused her enthusiasm and organized her students to develop their portion of the five panel installation. She visited with me about their experiences.

Tina Aguilar: How did you explore the themes with your students? What has this experience been like for you and your students, 13 students from four grades, right?

Valerie Bennett Gillespie: Yes, 13 students together between the grades and a lot of coordinating. At first, like the other schools, we participated in the Folk Art tour, workshops, and speaking to the House of Blues (HOB) musicians, and then brought our thoughts back into the classroom. I gave the students writing assignments, music interaction, and the space to consider what the Blues and Jazz represent. They were asked to get out a piece of paper and think about colors that correspond to Blues or Jazz music. I had them listen to Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, as well as think about their conversations with the HOB musicians. They asked the kids what they thought about the music and what choices they were considering with their work.  Understanding the importance of this music history and the fact that music and art connect was a new experience for all of them. We had a blank canvas and Emmanuel’s broad concept of the seated musicians with guitars.

T. A.: So you were getting them used to considerations between art and music? What about the dialogue and development it created in and out of the classroom?

V. B. G.: Yes, I watched them think about their ideas and about what comes to mind when they think about the connections between music and art. After much consideration and shading experiments they eventually decided on blue as the background color because it was relaxing, somber, and mellow in feeling for them. I think they knew it was a big deal to be part of an art team and the venue really made a difference to open up a conversation for them. My students did not know the HOB would even have an art collection. It encouraged them to examine their sense of art and ultimately their creative decisions. After viewing this art style they thought it looked so easy to create that type of art, but in fact as their ideas evolved they dealt with real challenges as any artist would face with their creative decisions. My students learned what it meant to create a design and the deep work involved with it. Their growth and even thinking differently is apparent in the work and they express themselves in new ways now. Part of the realization was the full participation of the students and how our group had to agree with our decisions because we were one part of the whole. It fostered respect for someone else’s ideas and space. They are so excited to see the rest of the panels and this enriches them to see other schools and students from various backgrounds. Art brings new voices and youth together.


HOB 4 Chris and Kathryn 001

Booker T. students Mary Kathryn and Cris

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Visual Art Coordinator, Lollie Tompkins

Tina Aguilar: In addition to teaching Design I and II, Jewelry, Elements of Media, and Gifted and Talented Mentorship, for over 20 years Lollie Tompkins, Visual Arts Coordinator, has been a conduit for students and community partnerships. This IHOBF endeavor involves five different layers and each contains such strength to forge its success. How did your students work and what parts of the process were important for them?

Lollie Tompkins: The nature of who we are played a significant role. In our arts program students have to visit at least two galleries or sites per six week academic period. This means the students have a lot of art looking, talking and evaluating under their belt. Prior to this partnership Mary Kathryn and Cris, both high school juniors, participated in a fall event called “Always Imagine” and were in charge of developing and creating art in one hour for their performance. This experience for both of these painters, knowledge with color and movement, and design of site worked well for them. Mary Kathryn and Cris were both responding to music and words on stage and when Emmanuel brought the canvas over we talked about the vibrancy of the HOB venue. One aspect discussed was how to assign colors to the emotional connection to music. Both were free to use their own strokes so they could respond normally and naturally throughout the entire process. They are encouraged to know the areas of freedom and restraint and then have the opportunity to just go. The students learn and participate in what is sought or the question and the responsibility to come up with multiple solutions.

T. A.: Why does this matter?

L. T.: I have let them work it out for themselves and have not asked them about it or asked for any explanations or analysis. This gives them a chance to work as they need to. In general it’s very positive and the panel seems to have such motion on the surface and is truly a living breathing work. What the students have done is worked together, stepped away from it, and then come back to it. They have had it out for viewing by their peers and for the other painting classes to see. There are comments and feedback.

T. A.: This offers a form of protection and value for their personal aesthetic. When will you ask them about it and what is your feedback like during this conversation?

L. T.: Yes, I really don’t want to press students through this process. Probably when we get back from the break I’ll talk to them about it. We are lucky to have a prime painting studio and even the other teachers have honored the space. These two students may not sit side by side but they talk about it together. I have seen that with the two of them. I am pretty blunt with the progress of their work and I can speak to them about the elements and design, more or less, and say this is an area you need to work on – rather than telling them how to change it.


Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, Teachers, Brenda Hatter, Dane Larsen and Art Students

Tina Aguilar: Art teachers Brenda Hatter and Dane Larsen, both Dallas artists, and their students welcomed me into their classroom studios to see their progress, thoughts, and inspirations. As the advanced art 7th grade students are trickling into Brenda’s room, I see on the chalkboard: Illustrate themes from direct observation and personal experience. Illustrate ideas from imagination. Tell me about the connections with the art collection at the HOB. How did you give direction to the students?

HOB 9 Brenda Class 1 Rusk

Brenda Hatter's class at work

Brenda Hatter: We went to visit the HOB a handful of times, with sincerest gratitude to Elaine Thomas and Laura Sohm, who facilitated the budget and buses for our trips. We were inspired by the collection and in particular one of the folk artist’s, Roland Knox, who uses beads, glass and found objects. His mother worked as a maid for a wealthy family and the lady of the house left her all her jewelry when she died. His assemblages just like the other artists offer students a chance to see something different than the classical tradition. We decided as a group that each student would have a symbol for our canvas. There were about 24 students originally and about 18 have kept with the project.

T. A.: What else did you notice in your students’ experiences?

B. H.: Well, a lot of artists like to create with anything and the kids are pleasantly surprised by the mediums in the HOB collection. They see these professional artists in an art collection and learn that you can use a door to paint on or mud. These children have the access and ability to learn about a different style of art and the value creative expression.

T. A. with Brenda’s students: Good afternoon, and thank you for having me visit with you today. Can you each tell me a little bit about some of these symbols? What do you think about the art of Roland Knox and using glass or found objects?

Alexis: My symbol is a star and I like colors, bright colors. The canvas shines and when you see colors they express emotions and feel happy.

Evelin: Mine is a lightning bolt because I like to watch thunder storms. They relax me.

Trang: I was trying to come up with sort of a clover or square of colors and an art brush because I love art. It’s hard to make the pieces fit. It takes time to make each one fit just right, but I really like rearranging everything to get it just right.

Diana: I have a few here (pointing), the dove of peace and a flower. I like flowers a lot.

Evelin: I thought it would be a cool thing to do and a good experience. We haven’t used glass or found objects before. It makes it look real and because it’s random, it’s unexpected…instead of just painting.

Alexis: Yes, I like breaking the glass in the smash bucket to get our pieces, but we have to be careful.

T. A.: Are there other types of art that you enjoy?

Alexis: My brother and my grandpa both draw a lot. I like it when they draw flowers and roses because they put every detail into it.

Evelin: My uncles do tattoos and I like them because they use colors, like the colors I saw with Roland Knox’s work.

T. A.: During my visit with Dane’s students, I hear him asking them to think of a myth or a legend and prepare a drawing for a watercolor. Dane’s 8th grade art students gathered around the table to speak with me. What were some of the first stages like for you and your students?

HOB 6 Dane Class 1 Rusk

Dane Larsen's class

Dane Larsen: The idea of using found objects and collage really spoke to us and we collectively decided to use glass. Each one would come up with a symbol that expressed a connection to imagination and music. We wanted to make sure each student had an opportunity to do something uniquely theirs, representing their own voice. I gave my students a 4×4 square to work out their symbol with shredded paper. This gave them the chance to use the smaller strips to piece the design together and see it take form. The students like hands on and this term we have even made our own inks from pecans, walnuts, and oak. I think it helped to work in the smaller format prior to beginning the real canvas.

T. A. with Dane’s students: Hello, what do I see here? Talk me about your ideas.

Sneha: Mine is a Hindu symbol that means peace, it is a common symbol in my culture and it means something good. I picked yellow for the background so that it is shining from behind.

Jorge: I have seen stained glass at church, the HOB, and in different theaters and I think exploring colors and textures makes it fun.

Giovanni: I chose the heart because it is a very important symbol and I made a design with different colors. Everybody needs a little love.

Dennys: I created a hand reaching for the sun, for the light. At first I was going through a few drawings but then the image came to me in my dream, and I used it.

Sulema: I picked music notes because listening to music is one of my favorite hobbies, hip hop and Spanish songs mostly. If I am mad, I use music to calm me down.

T. A.: What do you think about music and art and objects?

Jorge: I think it’s cool because you can make art to your own advantage, in your own style. Art gives you a good way to express yourself and even get things off your chest.

Sneha: Oh, we did a performance piece and used found things with Mr. Larsen earlier at the beginning of the year. We designed costumes as if the world was ending. Our clothing was grocery bags ironed together. The items came from outside and home. It was fun and different to use found objects.

T. A.: What have you seen with your students and this collaboration with IHOBF?

D. L.: They are able to visit a place where professional artists are on view with their ideas. That type of exposure is meaningful and shows them that people do this for real. It shows them something that is valuable. With these kids I tried to let them have their space. I have experiences through my travels and as an artist, as well as watching art educator workshops where ideas were not allowed to breathe as they came forth. This is Emmanuel’s piece and he gave it to us. Through his own dedication and generosity, he trusted all of us to do what we could as individuals. My students can also document on their resumes they have art in a permanent collection.

Valerie Bennett Gillespie, Lollie Tompkins, Brenda Hatter, and Dane Larsen continue their arts education and advocacy in the city and look forward to new collaborations in the future for their students.

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