News and Features

The New Oak Cliff Cultural Center Opens

Mary Suhm, the city manager of Dallas, proposed a number of budget cuts earlier this week, including a 17-percent reduction in cultural funding. But that’s for next fiscal year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that the city will still open a new cultural center in Oak Cliff — as planned.

KERA radio report:

Expanded online report:

The city of Dallas operated the Ice House Cultural Center in Oak Cliff for a decade. There was increasing demand during that time for the facility’s gallery and studio spaces. But the Ice House is a rented facility, which limited what could be done with it. So the city closed its operations there last fall.

Gary Sanchez is the cultural programs coordinator for the Office of Cultural Affairs.

Sanchez: “Because of the success of the Ice House, the city recognized that this part of Dallas needed a permanent cultural center, owned and operated by the City of Dallas. Jefferson Boulevard is a very, very active corridor. It’s sort of the heart of Oak Cliff, and we think it’s just a perfect location for it.”

The city built the new Oak Cliff Cultural Center with $1.5 million from the 2003 bond election. The money went to purchase and renovate a 5000–square foot storefront at 223 West Jefferson Boulevard, a former furniture rental store not far from the Ice House. The gallery in the new Cultural Center opens tonight with “Perspectives from the Cliff,” an exhibition of works by 17 Oak Cliff artists. There’s also a dance studio and a meeting room. But unlike the city’s Latino, Bath House and South Dallas cultural centers, the Oak Cliff center does not have room for a theater or auditorium.

Sanchez: “However, we are located right next door to the Texas Theatre. And we’re hoping to do some programming with them in the future.”

While bond money paid for the new center, operating it depends on the city budget. The new venue will open only 10 hours a week. And Sanchez will be the only staff person. But the city’s new budget does propose adding a second staff member and expanding the center’s schedule to 25 hours a week. If those proposed additions pass the City Council, they’ll begin in October.

The Oak Cliff Cultural Center’s grand opening is Sunday. The full release follows:

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Afternoon Delight: Love and Theft

Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re back from lunch but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another installment.

Today’s Afternoon Delight is a short video that’s one part cool music, two parts sweet animation and three parts crazy.

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T Bone Burnett to Open Brinker International Forum

T Bone Burnett, the Fort Worth musician and producer who probably had to build another wing onto his house just to store all of his awards, will open this year’s Brinker International Forum season. He’ll discuss his career on Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Winspear Opera House.

Keep reading for the news release:

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Ticket Giveaway: Cliburn Concerts, Day 3

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Wow – you all really are hot for these Cliburn Concerts tickets. As we explained on Monday, each day this week we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the concert of your choice. You can check out the concert lineup here.

After two easy giveaways, it seems it might be time to make this competition a tad more difficult. So here’s the deal. The first person to e-mail me ([email protected]) with the YEAR that Van Cliburn won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow wins the tickets. Please include your name and hometown.

UPDATE: Well that was extra quick. Congratulations to Mercy of Fort Worth, our winner. And, as you surely know, the correct answer is 1958.

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Our Man in Nigeria: Day 6

Guest blogger Bart Weiss is director of the Video Association of Dallas and VideoFest. He will be blogging from his trip to Nigeria as part of the American Documentary Showcase. You can read his previous post here.

Today we spent the day in a master class with a great group of filmmakers from Lagos. Almost all of them make Nollywood films.

We had lots of actors , writers , directors, cinematographers and producers. We also had more women that any stop along the way. We started by showing Welcome to Shelbyville and had a great discussion. We were able to get into issues the film deals with, talked about how it was created and how the Nigerian filmmakers could create something like that here. They asked about funding, to which I tell them to take the Nike approach: Just do it.

I asked how many people had cameras, and enough hands went up to get the point: they could do it. But we were careful to point out that it might be riskier to produce powerful documentaries in Nigeria. One filmmaker told me he was jailed three times after making a film.

The next film we showed was No Subtitles Necessary (which by the way will be shown at VideoFest, Sept. 23-26). While it was going on, we were taken to the Center for Black and African Arts and civilization – where everyone had really colorful clothes (above).

They showed us a film about African culture that was clearly produced on 16 mm film. It was a vibrant film about the World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77).

While I enjoyed the film, I feared the current physical state of the film was fading. Then I looked around the room and saw stacks and stacks of 3/4 inch video tape that was getting old. Later, the organizers took us to a room with 1 inch video tapes (even older). It was great that they had all of this tape, but sad that this important archive was fading and flaking away. We talked about how to get a grant to transfer this collection so it would not be lost.

Then it was back to our class, where we had some more lively discussion. We got students to pick a leader and pledge to get together again. We also said we would create a list of documentaries we think they should see. The embassy folks said that they might purchase them and make the room available for screenings. It was important for us to help them build a community, because that is how movements happen, and we are expecting a documentary movement to show up in Nigeria.

We then had the obligatory giving of the certificates ceremony, and I had to get on the road to start the long journey home so I could be here for The Program screening this past Saturday night. The flight was a 10:45, but we had to leave at 5, which I thought that was a bit extreme. But they close the counter two hours before the plane leaves, and with Lagos traffic you cannot take any chances.

About 16 hours later I was back in the heat of North Texas.

Tired and exhausted, I really feel we did a great job of bringing a new vision to these three different communities, Kano (conservative Muslim in the north) Abuja (a bit more progressive in the middle) and Lagos (the major metropolis and center of the film world in Nigeria). The world changes when we can see the stories of a place we have not seen and have real empathy for their issues. When these films get made, our eyes and hearts will be opened.

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Wednesday Morning Roundup

WELCOME BACK, SHERLOCK: Theatre Three opened its 2010-11 season with Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood. The play is an updated version of the 1978 Broadway play, itself an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four. Still, the most present version of Holmes in people’s minds is Robert Downey Jr. from the 2008 film. So how does Chuck Huber, who plays the role at Theatre Three, stack up? “He nails Holmes’ traditional elegance and arrogance,” Lawson Taitte writes on “To those he adds a nervous, animal energy especially appropriate to a script that emphasizes the detective’s drug habit.” Lindsey Wilson of D‘s Front Row blog agreed with the strength of the performance. “Chuck Huber delivers a solid performance even without the famous deerstalker hat,” she writes. But she thought the whole coked up part was understated. “Instead of hopping him up with manic energy, the mixture seems almost to mellow him out, and any reference to the highly addictive drug disappears completely after the first encounter.” Judge for yourself through Sept. 5.

PUPPETRY IN MOTION: When Lake Simons was Jerome’s guest on Think a few weeks back, she talked about her fascination with puppetry. That study can now be seen on stage at Hip Pocket Theatre in Lowdown Wax, a piece she created that is set to the music of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The show includes interpretations of 12 songs. “All of them are imaginative, and most are a hoot,” Mark Lowry writes on “Like her source material, Lake Simons maintains a charming and energetic sense of fun throughout the segments,” says Punch Shaw on Lowdown Wax runs through Aug. 22.

STORYCORPS, NOW IN 2D: If there’s two things we love around here at Art&Seek, it’s NPR and PBS. We literally wouldn’t be here without them. So it’s nice to see them working together. The two broadcasters have announced that they will team up to turn the StoryCorps radio series into animated television segments. The New York Times has more.

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Flickr Photo of the Week

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts

Congratulations to Chris Cast of Dallas, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Chris is known for the fantastical ways he can manipulate a photo. Just take a look at his previous winning entry to see what we mean.  He follows last week’s winner, Jim McDonald.

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 more from Chris:

Chris Cast

Title of photo: Salvation’s Evil Twin

Equipment: Canon XSI, fabric patterns, pen and ink & Photoshop

Tell us more about your photo:

Process: Salvation’s Evil Twin began as a digital photo I captured of a black bird temporarily resting on a power line –  the idea expanded outrageously from there. I scanned-in and used a few floral fabrics and some of my recent sketches, adding expressive color as I moved through the creative process.

Content: The black bird stares intently at the “twin” doll heads to the right, paying no attention to the people trapped under the staircase by the menacing presence in the blue box above. Indeed, the bird plays a part in the “salvation,” but I’ll leave that for you the viewer to think about.

Thoughts: For those creatives out there working full-time corporate jobs, it’s very important to experiment and lose yourself in wildly creative work from time to time. I have made a habit of creating one of these experimental ideas each week, printing them on canvas and showing them around the United States.

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Americans for the Arts: 50 States, 50 Days

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.

With Arts Advocacy Day just around the corner (Aug. 17 to be exact) and cultural funding in next year’s city of Dallas budget being cut by 17 percent, the state of the arts in North Texas has been thrust into the spotlight. But the focus on the arts is not just at the local level; national non-profits and political agencies are taking notice.

The Americans for the Arts Action Fund has begun the 50 States 50 Days initiative, which continues through Sept. 18. It seeks to support local advocacy activities in all 50 states in as many congressional districts as possible.

The Arts Action Fund is urging arts advocates to use their institutions at home to convey their message about the arts to Congress. By showcasing the activities within individual arts organizations and the impact they have on economic development – like creating jobs in the arts, promoting arts education, and creating partnerships between artists, institutions, and local policymakers – it’s the hope of Americans for the Arts that the federal government will take notice of the value of the arts and their state counterparts.

An activity you can easily take part in is helping the Arts Action Fund provide a Congressional Arts Survey to those running for election all across the country. This election season provides an opportunity to send to Congress pro-arts lawmakers who realize the value of the arts in fueling creativity and innovation, educating our children, enriching lives and strengthening communities. The outcome of this election will be critical in keeping funding for the arts from slipping backwards and to strengthen arts education. To help guide voters in understanding the arts policy positions of these candidates, the Arts Action Fund will be collecting candidate surveys and posting them online for voters to review.

Though the cultural centers in Dallas have been able to maintain their hours of operation and to continue to support the arts in North Texas by providing a house for local and emerging artists, they are by no means in the clear. Every little bit helps, and every voice heard in support of the arts is important. Participating in Arts Advocacy Day is one way, and checking out what Americans for the Arts is doing is another.

Visit Americans for the Arts Action Fund’s E-Advocacy Election Center to:

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Hub Shorts Film Festival Showcases Talented Locals

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.

Sam Shaffer's "Spare Change"

The Hub Shorts Film Festival: Premiere Showcase at the Dallas Hub Theater this past Saturday boasted an enthusiastic audience and some very talented filmmakers.

Following the success of its first film festival last month, the Hub decided to not wait a year before hosting the next one and began immediately planning for the Premiere Showcase.

“Both [Dallas Hub Theater owner] Tim Shane and I were so pleased with the turnout from the first festival, that we were excited to continue to show the talent in our area,” curator Lauren Guyer said. “There are limited opportunities for short films in Dallas, and we wanted to provide a venue for emerging artists.”

The Premiere Showcase screened 10 shorts from 11 local filmmakers. The highlights were Peter Marsh’s “Rejected,” a surrealist look at broken dreams; Sam Shaffer’s charming view of relationships in “Spare Change;” and Brad Osborne/Eric Vale’s complex and layered story about one man’s quest to discover the source of a strange phone call in “Opal White.”

Lily Sloan's "Cracks in the Wall"

A series of dance for camera works by Lily Sloan (“Cracks in the Wall”), Bethany Nelson (“Souvenir”) and Rachel Bruce-Johnson (“Deeper”) gave a teaser for what North Texan choreographers are doing with screen dance and what to expect from the next Hub Shorts Film Festival series: Dance for Camera in September.

Student works showed the potential of young filmmakers in Texas to produce high-quality work. San Antonio high school senior Cody Sanders’ “Bessie” referenced campy horror films and The Blair Witch Project. UT Dallas undergraduate Alex Wagner’s “Continuity” experimented with the technical aspects of continuity between frames and with a non-structured narrative. Texas State University undergraduate Katie McGaha’s “Mirror/Light”’ dealt with taboo issues, drugs, sex and religion, framed in a Southern context.

Brent Rotunno's "Johann Bossman Presents"

Brent Rotunno’s film, “Johann Bossman Presents,” swept each award category: Box Office, Audience Favorite and Producer’s Pick (voted on by his peers). A seasoned actor, this was Rotunno’s directorial debut. Its humorous take on classic war films, like Spartacus, and irreverent dialogue connected with the audience. Using photographic images and stop-motion animation, and compiled in just one day, it shows promise for Rotunno’s future works.

Other winners include: Shaffer (second, Box Office); Sloan and Shaffer (second and third, respectively; Audience Favorite); Osborne/Vale and Shaffer (second and third, respectively, Producer’s Pick).

The next Hub Shorts Film series will be centered on Dance for Camera works. Look for it on Saturday, Sept. 11.

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Ticket Giveaway: Cliburn Concerts, Day 2

Yesterday, we gave away the first pair of tickets to the 2010-11 Cliburn Concerts that we’ll be giving away this week. Good news though – we’ve still got four more pairs to give away between now and Friday.

To catch you up: Tickets to the Cliburn Concerts go on sale Friday, but we’re giving them away each day this week before you can buy them. Among the performers coming to town for the 2010-11 Cliburn Concerts are 2009 Gold Medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii, 2001 Gold Medalist Olga Kerr and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who will make her North Texas debut. (Check out the complete lineup here.)

And now it’s time to give away today’s tickets.  The first person to e-mail me ([email protected]) with “Cliburn” in the subject line wins a pair of tickets to any concert in the series.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Shane, our winner. Come back tomorrow for another chance to win.

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