News and Features

Horton Foote Festival Coming Next Year

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Well, we are right smack dab in the middle of a rare Friday afternoon taping of Think this afternoon. But now comes word of next year’s grand effort to celebrate the work of Texas playwright Horton Foote.  Here’s the release. More very soon….

Dallas-Fort Worth theaters and cultural institutions announce

metroplex-wide celebration of Horton Foote

DALLAS (March 26, 2010) – Dallas-Fort Worth arts organizations and cultural institutions are uniting to produce the metroplex-wide Foote Festival ( March 14 – May 1, 2011, to celebrate the life and work of the late award-winning Texas playwright Horton Foote (March 14, 1916 – March 4, 2009).

“Horton Foote is widely considered to be one of the most influential American playwrights, and the most influential Texas playwright. When he died last year, theater artists and scholars across the nation began to reexamine and celebrate his immense body of work,” says Kevin Moriarty, Artistic Director of Dallas Theater Center. “It would be impossible for any one theater company or arts organization to produce a comprehensive look at the significant contributions Horton Foote made to American theater, film and television throughout much of the 20th century, but by bringing together Dallas and Fort Worth’s leading theater companies and arts organization in an unprecedented community-wide collaboration, we can celebrate his legacy and introduce audiences throughout the Metroplex to his unique voice.”

Organizations and institutions participating in the Foote Festival include: Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Circle Theater, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Dallas Film Society, Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts & Letters Live, Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theater, Stage West, Southern Methodist University DeGolyer Library, Theatre Three, Uptown Players, WaterTower Theater, and WingSpan Theatre Company and 1:30 Productions, with more participants expected to join the festival in the future.

Foote, born in Wharton, Texas, was a prolific playwright whose plays, among the 60-plus he wrote, included Dividing the Estate, The Trip to Bountiful, the three-part Orphans’ Home Cycle, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man from Atlanta. His work has been nominated for numerous awards, including Emmy Awards, Tony Awards and Writers Guild of America Awards. Foote’s Academy Award-winning screenplay adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps his most well-known recognition.

Individual organizations will make known full details of their participation in next year’s Foote Festival as they announce their seasons and programming for 2011. Information about the Foote Festival as it develops can be found at

KERA and Art&Seek are the media sponsors for the 2011 Foote Festival.

For immediate inquiries, please contact Jacob Cigainero at or 214.252.3923.


Foote Festival is an unprecedented community-wide collaboration of Dallas-Fort Worth theaters, arts organizations and academic institutions scheduled for March 14 – May 1, 2011, to honor and celebrate the life and work of award-winning Texas playwright Horton Foote. For more information, visit

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KERA TV Interview with Ted Pillsbury from 1998

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In 1998, for the show, On the Record, KERA’s Sam Baker interviewed Ken Kahn, then-president of the Fort Worth Arts Council, and the late Ted Pilllsbury — the week Pilllsbury announced his departure from the Kimbell after 18 years. Pillsbury reflects on how the Kimbell had changed since he began there as artistic director, how museums have become the “cultural hearth” for a community and what he’s most proud of.
Pillsbury died yesterday at the age of 66.

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Video: Artist Studio Tour With Allan Hayslip

I have to say, my evening with Allan Hayslip was one of the most interesting, entertaining and frightening that I’ve experienced in some time. Interesting and entertaining because that’s Allan, he’s a witty, clever and fun guy. Frightening because he managed to get me on a 20-ft. liftme–one who is so terrified of heights, that even a step stool might as well be the top of a mountain.

Allan has fashioned a pretty fabulous studio, nestled behind aisles and aisles of fabulous designer hand-picked antiques and home furnishings, where he wrote, recorded and produced his new album, Thinktankubator. He co-owns a company that provides delivery, installation and storage of antiques and home furnishings. An interesting musician with a great new album, surrounded by gorgeous antiques: suffice to say, I was in Heaven.

Tonight Allan is throwing a CD release party at LaGrange in Deep Ellum for his first solo project, Bonedome. He had an all-star line-up recording with him on the album (Colin Boyd, Gerald Iragorri, Ed McMahon, Paul Williams, Jonathan Lacey, Gregg Prickett, Chad Stockschlager and Stewart Bennett) , and some mighty fine musicians performing with him tonight.

Please enjoy another Art&Seek Artist Studio T.our with Allan Hayslip. We’re adding her to our Art&Seek Artist Studio Tour.

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Guest Blog: Chinese Punk Rock Invades DFW

Guest blogger Julie Hwang is head of the Asian Film Festival. I ran into her yesterday and she kindly agreed to pass along a little info about this interesting show we chatted about.

Dallas and Denton are about to be invaded by China, in a supremely good way. Three Chinese punk rock bands will be taking the stage at the Double Wide (on March 28) and Hailey’s (on March 31) as part of The Chinese Invasion Tour. The three bands visiting our part of Texas, P.K. 14, Carsick Cars, and AV Okubo, represent the very top of the underground Beijing music scene.

The idea of Chinese punk rockers is rather perfect to me. It makes absolute sense that Western music genres built upon ideas of rebellion and going up against the establishment would inspire artists living in a country where the government casts a very long shadow over everyone’s lives.

I was lucky enough to catch the bands at their first Texas stop at SXSW a few weeks ago, where they completely rocked the house. They were loud, energetic, and just really really good. I had been aware of the bands for some time through a few indie documentaries produced about the scene, and honestly never expected them to end up in my backyard one day soon. From chatting with their tour manager, it took a mountain of paperwork to get them into the U.S. Who knows if or when they’ll be back this way again. Now may be your only chance in a long time to see how great it is to be a Chinese punk. Don’t miss it.

Chinese punk rockers in North Texas – amazing.

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Ted Pillsbury, RIP – UPDATE

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts

Apparently, the former head of the Kimbell, founding director of the Bellagio Gallery in Las Vegas, former director of SMU’s Meadows Museum — in short, one of the sharpest people in American art museums — died last night in Kaufman County of a heart attack.  He was 66.  Here’s the Star-Telegram‘s obit.

The Kimbell Museum has issued a statement:

The Board of Directors and staff of the Kimbell Art Museum are mourning the tragic loss of former museum director and dear friend, Dr. Ted Pillsbury.

Kay Fortson, Board president, Kimbell Art Foundation commented, “Ted was a brilliant director and a good friend. He will be greatly missed. “

“I was deeply saddened by the death of Ted Pillsbury,” said Eric Lee, current director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “Ted was one of the greatest museum directors of his generation, and his impact on the Kimbell Art Museum is immeasurable. As a connoisseur, Ted had an unerring eye and consistently made brilliant acquisitions. Many of the exhibitions he brought to the Kimbell in the 1980s and 1990s are remembered and discussed to this day. I have tremendous admiration for Ted’s achievements at the Kimbell and am honored and humbled to follow in his footsteps.”

A number of the Museum’s most famous works were acquired under Pillsbury’s leadership (1980–98), including works by Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, and Velázquez, as well as many others. He was an innovator of museum programming committed to organizing international loan exhibitions and public education.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.

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Learning to Get Laughs at Dallas Comedy Festival

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Categorized Under: Local Events, Uncategorized

INTRO: About a dozen improv comedy troupes are in town this week for four nights of performances at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Improvisation workshops will also be taught. But can you really teach someone to be funny? KERA’s Stephen Becker asked that question to the festival’s founders.  Listen to his report from KERA radio here:

If you can laugh, then you can probably make others laugh, too. Clay Barton says the key is figuring out how.

CLAY: “Everyone has some sort of sense of humor, and finding our comedic voice is the hard part.”

Barton and his partner, Amanda Austin, teach improvisation classes at the Dallas Comedy House. That’s the group behind the Dallas Comedy Festival. They say that the key to finding that comedic voice is freeing yourself to let loose and be silly.

AMANDA: “The ones who end up being really successful are the ones who really don’t care at all about their image or anything like that and they’ll just get out there and do stuff.”

Still, that can be tough for people who are used to keeping up appearances. Barton says it’s obvious when performers haven’t let their guard down.

CLAY: “So what we were seeing wasn’t them. It was their defenses. Once they came out of that, it looked a lot different.”

The teachers say it’s actually pretty easy to spot beginning performers who’re starting to get it. They look like younger versions of themselves.

CLAY: “Everybody’s been a kid before, and most people liked that time, so it’s kinda teaching them to play again. You remember that you weren’t self-conscious as a kid, and it’s OK to be not self-conscious now. That’s inside everybody, and most people want that.”

If you’re having trouble locating that inner child, the festival offers workshops Friday and Saturday to help you find him.

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Video: Artist Studio Tour with Jill Allison Bryan

Jill Allison Bryan has been a favorite on the local music scene since the 90′s. She met her singer-songwriter husband, Doug Bryan, while performing with him in the award-winning band, Big Boss Groove. Together they built a gorgeous Mediterranean-style home near White Rock Lake, where they are raising their beautiful daughter Riley. Their home is complete with two studios (one for Jill and one for Doug), Brutus, the well mannered Cocker Spaniel, and a wonderful sense of creativity and tranquility.

Jill planned the release of her first solo album, Dancing in Limbo, to coincide with the event she’s coordinated, Infinite Possibility – A Night of Music, Art & Women Helping Women. The purpose of the event Saturday night  is to raise awareness and support for one of her favorite charities, Women for Women International.

Infinite Possibilty is a night of music and art by 13 artists and features a silent auction and live performances. The evening’s festivities will be hosted by  Krys Boyd, of Think on KERA. One hundred percent of the profits will directly benefit Women for Women International, which provides the education and support necessary to help women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives with dignity.

You can meet more of the participating artists by visiting the Infinite Possibility website, where you’ll find video interviews and artist bios.

Recently Jill invited Art&Seek into her home and studio to talk about her work, her environment and her music.  We’re adding her to our Art&Seek Artist Studio Tour.

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Friday Morning Roundup

A MODEL LIFE AND CAREER: Kim Dawson, North Texas’ fashion-and-modeling pioneer, has died from complications from Alzheimer’s. She was 85. Her talent agency has represented such people as Angie Harmon, Janine Turner — and my wife and nephew. Our condolences.

JUBIILEE THEATRE LOSES ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Ed Smith will step down in August, when the current season ends. Smith, who had founded the Buffalo Black Drama Workshop and worked as artistic associate of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, took over the Fort Worth company in 2006 after the sudden death of co-founder Rudy Eastman. No details on the reasons for departure, only  “It’s time for me to explore new creative endeavors and other theatrical projects.”

HAPPIER STUFF: Fort Worth guitarist Casey James made American Idol‘s top 10. Local musicians joke that he was cheap. …  Hank Hammet, director of opera at SMU, prefers the award they got earlier this year to the Oscars (the National Opera Association’s competition for best production by a small professional company or university). It was the first time SMU even competed. … Tomorrow is the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association’s Spring Gallery Walk, it also happens to be the Fort Worth Community Arts Center’s biennial show – and the weather is supposed to be perfect.

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No One Will Be 'At the Movies' Any Longer

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Categorized Under: Film and Television

tonymike-thumb-300x295-19098Last August, I reported that Michael Phillips, the Chicago Tribune’s movie critic and the former theater critic for the defunct Dallas Times Herald, was taking over Gene Siskel’s old aisle seat in the movie-review show, At the Movies. He’s been trading shots with the NYTimes‘ A. O. Scott. They were a notable improvement over the smiley slickness of the previous two, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, at least in terms of thoughtful considerations of new films.

But at the time, I wondered whether the the-movie-critics-on-TV format was a dying format. And the audience didn’t come back. Yesterday, after 24 years, Disney-ABC announced it was canceling the series. The last show is scheduled to air Aug. 14.

Roger Ebert, who co-created the show with Siskel, attributed its demise to the changing economics and demographics of TV. But he’s also going ahead with his own plans for a new version.

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Visit the Sistine Chapel Without Leaving Home

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Categorized Under: Architecture, Culture, Visual Arts

sistine_chapelWould you expect the Vatican to be leading the way in virtual reality? Probably not. But one look at this virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel might change your mind.

It takes a minute or so to load, but once it’s operational, you can use your mouse to explore every inch of one of the world’s great art spaces. It’s not quite as awe-inspiring as being there, but it’s the best you’ll get without stepping on a plane. Turn the speakers up on your computer for a little soft choral music to accompany your journey.

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