Friends and fellow musicians will gather on Sunday at McDavid Studio (301 East 5th St., Fort Worth) to pay tribute to Stephen Bruton. The Fort Worth musician died May 9 after a length battle with cancer. The event will get started at 2 p.m. and is free. For the full news release, keep reading:
Yesterday, we linked to Channel 8/WFAA’s report about how the Dallas Summer Musicals‘ contract with the city to run the Majestic Theater is expiring in June and how the DSM wasn’t eager to renew it on the same terms. Plus, there’s that new competition from the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.
In TheaterJones today, Mark Lowery pretty much maps out the changing new environment for theater and dance tours in North Texas — from the Eisemann Center in Richardson to Casa Manana in Fort Worth. Interesting insight from Bruce MacPherson of the Eisemann about how they’re not trying to compete head-to-head with the big boys but are finding their own niche with smaller shows.
But the DSM has tried to find a ‘niche’ in its bookings for the Majestic (which will continue, the company just won’t run the joint unless it can negotiate a different contract). The problem is, there’s just not that much quality touring theater material that isn’t musical. When it comes to ‘straight’ dramas, the recent run of Frost/Nixon with a headliner like Stacy Keach is now an extreme rarity on the road. So at the Majestic, it’s mostly music performances (David Byrne in June), solo acts (Defending the Caveman returning in June), small-scale musicals/revues and ‘special events’ like Def Poetry Jam
The Majestic is limited because it doesn’t have much in the way of wing or ‘fly’ space (the offstage and overhead areas where set pieces can be raised or rolled and stored when not used). These are the standard limitations with a converted movie palace, which is what the Majestic is. Not to bad-mouth the place; it’s a beautiful theater, but just as it can’t handle big shows, the long ‘throw’ between performers and audience means it often can kill little shows. When I saw Greater Tuna there years ago, I thought Tuna, Texas, had moved to the next state. All of this actually makes the Majestic perfect for dance groups (Dallas Black Dance there next week, a Russian Nutcracker coming in November) — yet many of the local dance groups have now gone to the DCPA.
So we have a close-in cluster of three theatrical venues, the Music Hall at Fair Park, the Majestic Theater and the Winspear Opera House (four if you count SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium). And although they vary in audience size by more than 1,500 seats (Music Hall at 3,400, Majestic at 1,700, the Winspear splitting the middle), when it comes to live theater, they fish more or less from the same Broadway/off-Broadway pond.
Earlier this week, Anne announced the contest to design the Art&Seek T-Shirt. And we’ve already begun to hear from the creatives out there. But there’s still plenty of time to get your design to us. With that in mind, I thought I would pass along a little online inspiration:
- eHow has a “How to design a T-Shirt Online” section. (Is there anything they don’t know how to do?) Interestingly, it includes a link to a free version of Photoshop, so it might be worth checking out just for that.
- Designashirt.com provides a good space for you to try out your thoughts. Basically, they give you a blank T-shirt to work on and you add text, colors, images, etc. and see how they look. The site also has an idea gallery for shirts for non-profits (a.k.a. – us). Feel free to steal liberally.
- If you’re just looking for ideas about what works on a shirt, check out the one’s they sell in The Onion’s online store. These ones aren’t particularly on topic, but they make me laugh:
THAT’S A QUARTER CENTURY!: Thursday night, supporters of Dallas’ Undermain Theatre gathered at DiTerra’s on Lower Greenville to celebrate the group’s 25th birthday. The video above is a good companion to the night, walking you through Undermain’s many successes. And there was a bit of news amid all the merrymaking. Artistic director Katherine Owens says that the version of The Black Monk that Undermain collaborated on with David Rabe will soon be published. Oh yeah – and they’re fixing up the seats in the theater.
VIDEO AT 10: The Women’s Museum has begun a video series called the Muse Minute. The project plays like a mini-newscast from the museum with a pair of anchors, Haley Curry and Alyssa Gardina. This week’s episode served as a primer on upcoming events at the museum and did a pretty nice job of mixing in some still photos to support the descriptions of the events. You can watch the debut episode here.
‘ROCK’ STARS: Earlier this week, we talked about Rhett Miller’s appearance on the season finale of 30 Rock. As it turns out, the Old 97′s singer wasn’t the only one with Dallas ties to turn up. Booker T. Washington alum Norah Jones also took part in the We Are the World-style “Kidney Now!” telethon on the show. (Sample lyric: “This country has 600 million kidneys/And we really only need half/That leaves about 300 million kidneys/Do the math.”) And for good measure, Robert Randolph was also there. He’ll play in Richardson on Sunday at the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival. If you missed the episode, watch it here.
If you missed the short films made by North Texas high school students when they played at last month’s AFI Dallas International Film Festival, we’ve combed the Internet and tracked down a lot of them. And it was worth the effort. We think you, too, will be amazed by these talented young filmmakers. If you know where we can find a student short that played at AFI Dallas this year that we’re missing, shoot us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll add it here.
Synopsis: A friend guides Christie through an unexpected event allowing a new dimension to develop in her life.
Director: Anne Fogerty
School: Highland Park High School
Credits: Cast — Chloe Bristol, Chris Doubet, Brent Fogerty. Audio — Graham Jenkins. Music — Bruce Blay & Joel North of the band Mom.
Student advisor: Barry Preston
Reggie on Homeless Mountain
Synopsis: A short about a man who has made his living on a mountaintop his entire life … in downtown Dallas.
Director: Drew Noneman
School: Academy of Irving High School
Starring: Mac Jennings and Jessie Martinez
Student advisor: Brandon Jackson
Synopsis: A determined Girl Scout sells cookies using some unusual tactics.
Director: Ryan Kline, Kara Duncan
School: Greenhill School
Credits: Cat Hobbs, Daniel Matyas, Eriq Robinson
Student advisor: Corbin Doyle
Synopsis: A film of how to miscommunicate, how to fall in love, and how to make Slim Jim and strawberry milk go together.
Director: Holly Fetter
School: Episcopal School of Dallas
Credits: Michael T. Miller, Jay Peeps, Alex Bilodeau, Elizabeth Howland, Mathew Cunningham, Rachel Filsinger, Hannah Levite, Alyson Nall
Synopsis: 5 minutes and 42 seconds of the fabulous Sarah Jaffe.
Director: Holly Fetter and Grace Vroom
School: Episcopal School of Dallas
Credits: Sarah Jaffee
Synopsis: A short documentary about Fred, a kid from Deep Ellum.
Director: Holly Fetter and Grace Vroom
School: Episcopal School of Dallas
Credits: Fred Holston, Dave Hickmott, Brian Nesbitt, Erica Felicella, Andrea Roberts
Espress Your Love
Synopsis:An animated look at a difficult courtship.
Director: Teryn Loebs
School: Booker T. Washington
Director: John Gordon III
School: R.L. Turner High School
Guest blogger Lydia Regalado is an arts educator, crafter and blogger who writes about people who gather to make things.
Cute crafts, quirky crafts, kids crafts, and couture crafts – Etsy Dallas’ Spring Bash is bound to have them all. ”The original Dallas craft collective,” Etsy Dallas is hosting its Spring Bash this Saturday at South Side on Lamar, 1409 South Lamar in Dallas. More than 50 designers will be set up from 11 a.m. to 5 pm. The first 50 shoppers will receive a FREE goodie bag, but that’s not all that’s free. There is a free raffle and a Make & Take table. The Make & Take table is set up for shoppers to get creative and make a teeny- tiny diorama, or what they call “mini shrines.”
There are tons of materials on the table, and Girl Scout Troop 1637 from Irving will be on hand to help the non-crafty crafters. It’s a great idea, and fun for the whole family. Also, be sure to check out The Vanity Stand at the Spring Bash, where shoppers can dress up in an array of crazy costumes and get their photos taken. If I can do it, so can you!
Etsy Dallas is asking shoppers to bring cash, as most vendors cannot accept credit cards. For more information on this event, vendors and Etsy Dallas, check out the Etsy Dallas Web site, particularly the blog – it’s fun, cute and inspirational!
See you Saturday at South Side, rain or shine!
Next up: DIY Dioramas at the Dallas County Jail
Yup, you read right. Friday night, I’ll be working with Resolana and Shannon Driscol from Paper Nerds, helping incarcerated women create dioramas. I’m also scouting out information for my diorama to enter in the second annual Diorama-O-Rama on May 23rd.
Fort Worth photographer Alex Braverman took the long way to his adopted hometown. Born in Lithuania, he immigrated to Israel at 18 and joined the air force. His next stop was a 16-year stay in South Africa before meeting his wife and moving to the U.S. Along his route, he developed a personal way of looking at the world that shows up in his photographs of everything from cities to dancers. Braverman discusses his twin photographic passions and his current show at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center as part of this week’s Art&Seek Q&A:
Art&Seek: You’ve been shooting professionally for 4-5 years now, but before that you worked in the computer science field, correct? How were you able to make the jump to doing photography full time?
Alex Braverman: Well, actually, I was forced to do it by the INS. When I married my present wife, I was not allowed to work. I came first on a visitor’s visa, and then I had a fiancé visa, and it took quite a while as I was not permitted to work in this country. And of course, there was 9-11, and all the dot-coms went belly up, and the entire computer industry in this country was very, very dormant for a while. So about 5 years ago, I discovered myself suddenly being able to work legally. But having not been in the very fast moving industry for a few years, at an age that was close to 50, it was not very easy to jump back into that business. In fact, in the Metroplex area, it was simply impossible. At that time, my wife’s business – our joint venture – started taking off significantly, and she offered for me to pursue my dreams, and that’s how I ended up in photography. Initially, I didn’t start as a professional. I still hesitate to call myself a professional photographer.
A.B.: Well, a professional is someone who makes a living out of it, and I don’t make a living out of it yet. If you look at it as a profession – whether I have the necessary education and talent, the knowhow, whether I dedicate my entire life to it – then, yes, I am a professional. But this year is dedicated to developing it into a business venture.
A&S: Last year your photo of Rockefeller Center won the Grand Jury Prize in Popular Photography magazine. Do you feel like that gave you some validation as a pro photographer?
A.B.: Yes, of course it did. … The validation is all good. It’s all very nice, and, yes, it gives me a good, fuzzy feeling, and it confirms that I do have the necessary talent to do the work.
A&S: You’ve lived on three continents, spending more than 10 years each in your home country of Lithuania, Israel, South Africa and now Fort Worth. How does your time spent among many different cultures inform your work?
A.B.: It teaches one to step out of the bounds of one’s own box and one’s own mindset and to see the diversity of the cultures, their opinions, their own world views. It’s not only great, but [the cultures] are not necessarily inferior to mine. It’s different, and I would say that comparing them is absurd. So I don’t put them on scales and say, “My world view is preferable.” It simply is mine. … All in all, it really contributed to allowing me to step out of the limitations of my own box and to view the world in a perspective which is a little bit more universal than simply my point of view. I think that one of the main points of positive criticism that I receive about my art is that it’s universal.
A&S: In addition to cityscapes, you often shoot dancers. What is it about dancers that you enjoy shooting?
A.B.: While I like art, I specifically like literature and classical music. I was always very luke-warm to dance, to ballet. I could never understand it. And I saw nothing significant in simply my experience. I think about five years ago, I ended up at a performance of Bruce Wood Dance Company at Bass Hall. And I can tell you that within five minutes of that performance, I was basically in tears, weeping on the floor. That’s the kind of effect it had on me. I could not believe what I was seeing, how close it was — intellectually and emotionally – to my experience of human condition. So that instantly transformed me into a great admirer of the art form, and I vowed then and there that one day I am going to work on this guy to allow me to take pictures of them. Six months later, opportunity presented itself, and I gathered a little bit of the Jewish chutzpah and approached Bruce Wood after one of his rehearsals and said, “Well, I’m an amateur photographer and I’d like to take some pictures of your company,” which he agreed. … Bruce Wood and the dancers really liked the results – it was different than photographs presented by the press at that time because it was about something else. It was not shooting an ad in the paper or a portrait of a dancer. I was shooting the dance itself. Sometimes the lack of knowledge also allows you to step out of the box, and I did now know to shoot them. Therefore, I shot something which appealed to me and not according to certain standards.
A&S: Some of those photos will be on display at your current show at Fort Worth Community Arts Center. What else are you showing there?
A.B.: The show really is split into two major areas, which are the two areas of my passion in photography. One is dance, and the dance has two subsections – six photographs from Bruce Wood Dance Company from the Uncertainty Principle series and probably around 15 photographs from a single weekend that I spent with Lois Greenfield in New York in her studio, who I consider my idol and the best dance photographer alive or even ever. … The other part is cityscapes. That also is kind of subdivided into two parts. One represents the essence of my photography in Prague in 2006, where I had a mentor series with the great photographer Tom Bol. … I looked at the series from Prague for a very, very long time before I attempted to process it, simply trying to find a unifying theme. Just as much as I don’t like portraits of dancers, I don’t like postcards of cities. I’m not making this for travel magazines; I don’t create posters. My desire is to convey the spirit of the city, or in this case, what I call the “city bones.”
A&S: For your cityscapes, you spent a lot of time in Prague, as well as other traditionally photogenic places like New York, Chicago and Paris. Have you considered doing a series on Fort Worth or Dallas?
A.B.: I would very much like to do that in Fort Worth in Dallas. Naturally, I have a lot of photography of Fort Worth and Dallas, and I’m not particularly interested in specific architectural details or the beauty of the place, but the spirit of the place. What is Dallas, for example? I see it really as a bank town. There is very little outside of this main industry. It’s oil money, and somehow it influences the way the city looks and who lives in it. So, would I be able to convey exactly this spirit? I tried doing that, amazingly not by taking pictures of Dallas, but by leaving it. As a spiritual exercise, I went to Midland-Odessa to take pictures of the oil fields and the cotton fields. This is the essence of Texas, and the money that comes out of this industry, that’s what Dallas is.
A&S: You shoot as much as 12 hours a day. Don’t you ever get tired of it?
A.B.: I certainly don’t get tired of it, and I will never step away from it unless someone steals my camera and the insurance refuses to pay. Or I become blind, God forbid.
A&S: What advice would you give someone who wants to become a full-time photographer?
A.B.: Oh boy. You know, I’m still looking for someone who will give this advice to me.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.
It’s a little outside of our normal jurisdiction, but we’ve got four tickets (worth $10 each) to next weekend’s 38th Annual Texas Arts & Crafts Fair. The event takes place May 23-25 in Kerrville and features artist exhibitions and a wine and beer tasting. Shoot me an e-mail (email@example.com) and the tickets are yours.
Channel 8/WFAA reports that the Dallas Summer Musicals is giving the Majestic back to the city at the end of June, having already lost $1 million in running it. The DSM’s president Michael Jenkins is quoted as saying, “When we first took over the Majestic Theater it was used 6 percent of the time. I’m happy to tell you now it’s 69 percent occupied.”
Reporter Jason Whitely: “Still, DSM admits it’s not enough. The Majestic needs to be used 90 percent of the time to break even, Jenkins said….
Finding a new operator in a difficult economy is likely to be a challenge.
“I’m certainly concerned,” said Maria Munoz-Blanco, Dallas’ director of Cultural Affairs. “It’s change, and change always makes you a little bit nervous. If we could have kept DSM we would have done it. They were a wonderful operator. In the current circumstances, we have to look for a plan B.”
Along with installing a new air conditioning system, the city will soon replace the Majestic’s roof. The improvements are designed to reduce operating costs, Munoz-Blanco said.
And then there’s that little problem of the increased competition from the Dallas Performing Arts Center. Looked at one way, Dallas has more performance halls, which is good. Looked at another way, Dallas has made sure its older facilities will be under-utilized.
When Bass Hall was built in Fort Worth, I asked, what will this mean for Casa Manana? Sure enough, more than half of that company’s mainstage shows are now at Bass Hall.
First to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with Big Thought in the subject line will be today’s winner.