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The High Five: Attention Young Accordion Players! Get Ready For The Big Squeeze

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The Prada Marfa public art installation was vandalized earlier this month. (Photo Credit: Rita Weigart/Marfa Public Radio)

The Prada Marfa public art installation was vandalized earlier this month. (Photo Credit: Rita Weigart/Marfa Public Radio)

Five stories that have North Texas talking: The Prada Marfa has been vandalized; a man is accused of stealing from the widow of slain Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle; attention young accordion players; and more.

  • Attention young accordion players! Texas Folklife presents the eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming musicians at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Dallas Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St. It’s open to Texas accordionists 21 years and younger. Contestants may register on site or in advance by calling Texas Folklife at 512-441-9255 or online. Various tryouts are being held around the state this spring. Nine finalists will be chosen from the various tryouts and will perform in Austin on April 26 – at that time, three grand prize winners will be selected: polka, zydeco and conjunto. The winners will perform at the annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival in Houston in June. Learn more about the contest:


  • A Waco-based artist has been accused of vandalizing the Prada Marfa public art installation in West Texas. The Texas Department of Public Safety says Joseph Magnano was arrested Tuesday near Wichita Falls on a criminal mischief warrant, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. The Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office said the building near Valentine, about 35 miles northwest of Marfa, was found plastered with paint and posters on March 11. The site opened in 2005 designed to appear like a retailer of expensive Prada shoes and handbags. Since then, vandals have targeted the site numerous times. Marfa Public Radio has been following the story. But some are suggesting that Prada Marfa was designed to “deteriorate and suffer abuse” — Glasstire explores that issue.
  • A man who worked private security for the widow of slain Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is accused of stealing her credit card and making more than $6,000 in charges, Midlothian police documents show. WFAA-TV reports: “Spencer Coursen faces two counts of credit or debit card abuse, a state jail felony punishable by up two years in prison. Taya Kyle told authorities that Coursen was hired as private security for a book tour for several months last year. She said that during that time, he had access to the home and stayed there on occasion.” Chris Kyle was killed last year at a Texas gun range. Many considered Kyle a hero for the lives he saved in Iraq, but when he appeared on KERA’s ‘Think’ in 2012, he described himself as a normal guy. “I’m no different than everybody else; I just did a different job,” Kyle said. “I’m your average, every day, next door guy.”
  • Air Force One is in Fort Worth for a paint job. One of the president’s planes landed at Meacham International Airport in Fort Worth Thursday. The aircraft has undergone a year’s worth of maintenance, a Boeing spokeswoman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper reports that workers will “refresh the unmistakable three-toned blue details and the lettering ‘United States of America,’ said Eric Sharman, deputy chief of public affairs for Joint Base Andrews, where the planes are stationed.”
  • The woman responsible for bringing an Islamic art collection to the Dallas Museum of Art was featured this week in The New York Times. The DMA hired Sabiha Al Khemir in 2012 to create an Islamic art program. For the next 15 years, the museum will be home to nearly 2,000 Islamic art objects. Al Khemir was an ideal choice to boost the museum’s Islamic art collection. “She had also produced the catalog for an Islamic art exhibition at the Louvre, taught at the British Museum, consulted for the Metropolitan Museum and produced TV documentaries in Britain, among other accomplishments,” the Times reports. She’s become a senior adviser at the DMA. “Nur: Light in Art and Science,” opens March 30.
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From The Pig Farm To The Opera Stage: A Prize-Winning Singer On The Brink

audra meister7

Audra Methvin winning first place at the Meistersinger Competition in Austria in 2013.

Last weekend, Audra Methvin won the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. This weekend, she’ll sing the same program of four arias at the McCammon Voice Competition in Fort Worth.  The 27-year-old is continuing her studies at SMU.  In the Friday Conversation, she talks to KERA’s Anne Bothwell about the path that led her from her family’s prize pig farm in Levelland to the brink of a career as a soprano.

Listen to the piece that aired on KERA FM:

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Watch Audra perform at last weekend’s competition:

Audra Methvin is no stranger to competition. The 27-year-old soprano started singing in high school choir in Levelland, and won many singing contests, including first chair in the Texas State Choir. But opera competitions are a little different.

Audra Methvin Headshot 3

Audra Methvin

“When I first started doing them it was more for experience to be on stage,” says Methvin, who estimates she’s been in 10 contests and won several, including a $10,000 prize from The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition last weekend. Last fall, she took top honors in the Meistersinger Competition in Austria. This weekend, she’ll sing in Fort Worth Opera Guild’s McCammon Voice Competition.

“The role they play now is just  so different from what it was a few years ago. It’s exposure, because you never know who will be listening to you and who will offer you a contract somewhere, or an agent.

“They can be a total game changer as far as,  “Am I ready? Am I cut out for this?” You really  just have to be at a certain maturity level  and confidence in yourself to be able to handle all of the criticism.”

And there is criticism. Judges regularly give feedback during competitions. Some of it really hurts.

“I guarantee you every single competition I’ve been in, I’ve had at least one judge tell me I looked fat on stage. It’s ridiculous!  But the first time I heard that, I was just devastated. To be honest I went home and smoked a pack of cigarettes.”

She laughs at it now.  “That was several years ago. It can really destroy you mentally if you are not prepared for it.”

So how does one prepare for competition? Methvin drinks a lot of water, spends time trying to get in character, and gives herself lots of quiet, no-talking time.  She knows singers who have a special routine, a particular breakfast, a lucky pair of underwear, but that’s not for her.

“I try not to change anything,” she says.    “I don’t want to make a big deal about it because then I’ll get nervous.”

Sometimes, she even has a beer the night before.

“I try to be as normal as possible.”

Methvin chose  four very different arias to win the Dallas competition. She’s walking a line between works that show what she can do vocally, and those  she can relate to and convey emotionally.

“This is a huge endeavor in trying to pick  out a good package of arias,” she says.

I asked her to walk me through the thinking behind one choice, the first aria she performed last weekend.

“I started with “Dove sono,” it’s from Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro.” I don’t want to elaborate too much but I was married for three years. And that was a very trying experience. I was really young when I eloped. I was 20 and I got a divorce when I was 24. So there was a lot of life experience in that short period of time.”

“Dove sono” is sung “by a countess  who’s been married for a few years and her husband is philandering, he’s running around on her. And she’s just devastated, because she loves him. So on some level I can completely relate to her, as far as being married and wanting something that was. I know exactly how she feels. She wants to be loved. There’s a certain wistfulness and vulnerability that I can bring to this character now that I couldn’t have before I experienced something similar. And that’s something that I’ve really learned with competitions  is what sets you apart from other singers is being able to show and give some of yourself rather than just say hey look what I can do vocally.”

Audra is fully immersed in opera life today. When she’s not competing or performing, she’s studying with her teacher Virginia Dupuy at SMU where she’s pursuing a Performer’s Diploma.  But it hasn’t always been this way. Opera wasn’t part of her childhood.

“I’m the only musician in my family,” she says. She comes from a family of cotton farmers in Levelland.

“My dad has a show pig farm. And growing up we showed pigs. And it was a great monetary income as kids. You win lots of money at the shows.  My family’s in Houston right now at a stock show.  But when I’ve told opera buddies that I grew up around a pig farm, they don’t believe me. And they say, did you sing to the pigs? And I say hell yeah, I sang to the pigs. Nobody was out there except them, so why not?

She didn’t see her first opera until she was 20. (Tosca; on video; she cried.) Despite that, “I truly never thought of doing anything else except singing opera,” she says.

“They tell us that only the top 1 percent of  people who pursue this career actually make it. Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I know I was made to sing.”


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The Big Screen: Big Oil And ‘Big Men’

The documentary Big Men focuses on Dallas-based Kosmos Energy’s efforts to discover oil in Ghana and the risk-reward involved in the venture. This week, we talk to one of the Kosmos executives featured prominently in the film to see what it’s like to negotiate a multi-billion dollar deal while the cameras are rolling.

Still want more? Q&As with people featured in the film will take place this weekend at the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano. Details here.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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The High Five: A Look Back At SXSW, Thanks To NPR’s ‘Favorite Discoveries’

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: more details on Tuesday’s strange traffic scene on LBJ; Big Hoss has its big debut; a Northeast Texas woman has given birth to quintuplets; and more. 

  • Can’t get enough SXSW coverage? Well, NPR gives you your fix, this time with a look at staffers’ “favorite discoveries and memorable moments.” Among the groups that impressed the NPR crew: a British jazz-punk group called Melt Yourself Down; Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl’s band; and Anamanaguchi, an instrumental, electronic group.
  • We’re getting a better understanding of why Interstate 635 traffic got so crazy Tuesday afternoon. (If you recall, some motorists took a U-turn and headed in the wrong direction on LBJ.) The Dallas Police Department says that an officer appears to have directed some motorists up a closed ramp to try to get them off the freeway. A multi-car wreck shut down all eastbound lanes on LBJ near the Audelia Road exit in northern Dallas. Motorists took matters into their own hands, turning around on the highway, going in the wrong direction, trying to maneuver around cars stuck in traffic. It was a crazy scene captured by local TV stations. Jalopnik even chimed in, saying: “Dear Dallas, This is why you don’t turn around on the highway.” Some motorists told local media that police directed them in the wrong direction. Fourteen Dallas police squads were assigned to help with the accident scene and traffic jam. “We regret that because of the location of the collisions, limited access to alternate routes and directions to a closed ramp by our officer, the problem was not cleared sooner,” Dallas police said in a statement.
  • Big Hoss had its big debut Wednesday night at Texas Motor Speedway. TMS says it’s the world’s biggest HD video board at a sporting venue. It’s nearly 80 percent bigger than the one at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, USA Today reports. The new screen features nearly 21,000 square feet of 1080p high-definition goodness, topping the 16,000-square-foot board built at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Texas speedway says that Texas has seven of the world’s 50 largest HD video boards. A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” was shown on Big Hoss. Earlier this year, TMS announced a sponsorship deal with Duck Commander, the company featured on “Duck Dynasty.” The April 6 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be called the “Duck Commander 500.”
  • As we recently reported, Conan O’Brien is coming to Dallas – he’ll be taping his TBS show at the Majestic Theatre March 31-April 3. And now we know who will appear on his show. Guests include actor Adam Sandler and comic Tig Notaro on March 31; actor Seth Rogan and singer Philip Phillips on April 1; actor Simon Heiberg and Eli Young Band on April 2; and retired NBA player Charles Barkley on April 3. Tickets to O’Brien’s shows have been distributed, but standby tickets will be made available on the day of each taping.
  • A Northeast Texas woman has given birth to quintuplets at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The Texarkana Gazette reports that Michelle Seals of Maud had the four girls and one boy Tuesday afternoon via cesarean section. The children’s grandmother, Carol Pearce, says her daughter and all five babies are doing well. Steven Seals says he and his wife have names picked out for the quintuplets but will have to decide what name fits which baby. The Seals also have a 2-year-old son.
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Flickr Photo of the Week

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts



Congratulations to James Neal of Keller, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! James previously won our contest back in October ; he follows last week’s winner, Richard Payson.

me-199x300If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than 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 James:

Title of photo: reflecting
Equipment: Nikon D700
Tell us more about your photo: Last week I rode the Dart Rail to downtown Dallas. This was one of my first shots of the day. A series of reflections.

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The High Five: ‘Insanity’ On LBJ: Motorists Turn Around On Highway And Drive In Wrong Direction

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: What were people thinking on Interstate 635 Tuesday?; five Dallas boys are victims in a massive child porn ring; a bull ran through Waco; and more:

So what happened on Interstate 635 Tuesday afternoon? A five-car wreck shut down all eastbound lanes on LBJ near the Audelia Road exit in northern Dallas. Motorists took matters into their own hands, turning around on the highway, going in the wrong direction, trying to maneuver around cars stuck in traffic. It was a crazy scene captured by local TV stations. On Twitter, people described the scene: “Insanity.” “You crazy for this one, Dallas.” The Dallas Observer reported that LBJ has been “taken by the Trafficpocalypse.” “Clearly, though, there are larger forces at work here than a single erratic driver,” the Observer jokingly noted. “Central will be the next to go, then Stemmons. Abandoned cars will litter the freeways. Civilization as we know it will grind to a halt. Only the bicyclists will survive.” KDFW-TV (Channel 4) has video.



  • Federal authorities have arrested 14 men who they say ran an online child exploitation network that victimized at least 250 juveniles from 37 states and five countries. Five of the victims are from Dallas and they range in age from 11 to 16. The website operated in 2012 and 2013 and had more than 27,000 members. The Dallas Morning News reports: “The young boys thought they were chatting online with girls their own ages. But the people to whom the boys sent thousands of lewd webcam videos of themselves were actually adult men, who then shared the videos with others worldwide on an underground child pornography website. Many of the boys had no idea where the videos ended up, officials said.”
  • A bull ran through the streets of Waco Tuesday before two animal control cowboys finally grabbed it. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that the bull was being vaccinated when he broke out and ran for it. A man wielding a whip and lasso “chased the bull in a red pickup truck,” the newspaper reports. Police cars followed. The bull landed in a fenced yard, where his adventure came to an end. Animal control cowboys arrived with horses and lassos. A Waco police spokesman told the newspaper that this happens from time to time – but usually in the country. “The good thing about living in Texas is that it’s not too long after you call a cowboy that you get one coming to you,” the spokesman said.
  • SMU says it has one of the top academic supercomputers in the nation with its new ManeFrame. And it will introduce the new computer at 4 p.m. today. SMU says: “The new tool will be opened to the campus in May, expanding faculty and student research into subjects ranging from particle physics, to human behavior, to water quality and drug discovery.” At its peak, ManeFrame can compute more than 120 trillion mathematical operations per second. The computer was named ManeFrame in honor of the university’s Mustang mascot. The student who named it will win a Dell laptop.
  • We have a winner in the Dallas Museum of Art’s March Madness contest.Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre (Man) is the first DMA Art Madness Champion. More than 5,000 votes were cast over the three-week competition. You can visit the winning work in the DMA Atrium for free during museum hours. Friday is the DMA’s Late Night, when the museum will be open until midnight with free general admission and activities.
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The Big Deal: Forte Presented By Fort Worth Opera

Courtesy of the Fort Worth Opera

Courtesy of the Fort Worth Opera

Do you remember last summer, kicking back, relaxing and watching a little TV?  Maybe in between Antique Roadshows, in a momentary lapse, you changed the channel to another station and caught a little bit of America’s Got Talent. And just maybe, you were lucky enough to hear Forte and you thought to yourself, “Hey, these guys are pretty good!”  The tenor trio had audiences on their feet after each pop-opera-inspired performance. They even had the judges in the unusual position of agreeing and absolutely gushing. Although Forte finished fourth in in the competition, they won over millions of fans and since then have been on the road touring.

Forte features Josh Page, Sean Panikkar and Fernando Varela. Panikkar may be a familiar face to some. He starred in 2013 Fort Worth Opera’s production of La Bohème as the handsome and poetic Rodolfo.  For one night only, Forte will bring their powerful voices and unique blend of part-pop, part-opera to Bass Performance Hall on April 20. One lucky Big Deal winner will win a pair of tickets to see the exciting ensemble perform gratis.

You also won’t want to miss signing up for our other two exciting Deals this week – tickets to Texas Ballet Theater’s Balanchine & Beyond at City Performance Hall in Dallas, or tickets to see Pink Martini with Special Guests The Von Trapps at Annette Strauss Square at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see Forte.

UPDATE: We have our winners. Come back next week for some more Big Deals.

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The Big Deal: ‘Balanchine & Beyond’ Presented By Texas Ballet Theater

Courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater

Courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater

For this Big Deal win tickets to see Texas Ballet Theater’s presentation of Balanchine and Beyond, an enchanting evening of traditional and contemporary works. Performances are March 28-30 at City Performance Hall in Dallas.

The program will feature George Balanchine’s dreamy Serenade. With dancers in swirls of flowing blue skirts, Balanchine likens Serenade to “a dance in the moonlight.” Also performed will be L, Artistic Director Ben Stevenson’s appreciative tribute to Liza Minnelli for her contribution to dance. And Clann, a choreographed work by company member Carl Coomer, will have its world premiere.

While you are signing up for this Big Deal, you may want to sign up for our two other offerings this week – tickets to see Fort Worth Opera present Forte at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, or tickets to see Pink Martini with Special Guests The Von Trapps at Annette Strauss Square at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for your chance to see Texas Ballet Theater’s Balanchine & Beyond.

UPDATE: Tickets will be valid for the March 30, 2 p.m. performance.

UPDATE 2: We have our winners. Come back next week for some more Big Deals.

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The Big Deal: Pink Martini With The Von Trapps At AT&T Performing Arts Center

pink martini and vt big
Pink Martini, that “little orchestra” that crosses world music genres, is coming to town and they’re bringing special guests with them. The Von Trapps, descendants of the Trapp Family Singers from
The Sound of Music fame, are the latest group to collaborate with the eclectic band. Their joint album, Dream a Little Dream, was just released earlier this month.

Two winning Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers will be able to spread out their blankets and pop open their coolers on the lawn of Strauss Square, compliments of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, when Pink Martini and The Von Trapps perform there on March 31.

And while we have your attention, you might want to take a minute to peruse our other great Big Deals this week – tickets to see Fort Worth Opera present Forte at Bass Performance Hall, or tickets to Texas Ballet Theater’s presentation of Balanchine & Beyond at City Performance Hall in Dallas.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal.  If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for your chance to picnic with Pink Martini and The Von Trapps.

UPDATE: We have our winners. Come back next week for some more Big Deals.

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Art&Seek Jr: Inside, Outside –6 Fun Events No Matter What The Weather

Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

The crazy weather has really been bugging Lilah lately.

Lilah the cat is displeased with the crazy weather we've been having.

Lilah the cat is displeased with the crazy weather we’ve been having. (photo: Therese Powell)

In case I haven’t mentioned her before, Lilah is our black alley cat we adopted as a kitten from the pound about 2 years ago. For the most part Lilah likes living with us. She has a cozy place to sleep and all the cat chow she can eat, but make no mistake, Lilah is no house cat. In fact, if you asked her she’d tell you–because she talks, you know– that she’s a wild cat, and the only thing more annoying than the dumb little bell on her collar is this business of being kept inside all day. I’ve tried to explain to her that laying on the fence in our coyote/hawk/owl infested neighborhood could be hazardous to her health, but she turns a deaf ear to my protests and continues on with her sun bathing. Needless to say, our weather as of late has been extremely vexing to Lilah. One day it’s glorious, the next it’s arctic. During last Saturday’s torrential rain storm she sat at the door looking up at me pleading, “Let me owwwut! Let me owwwut!” I finally got sick of her complaining and opened the door. She sprang outside like a shot but quickly retreated back in the house when she realize it was raining. She shook her feet (the way cats do when they’re wet) and gave me a look of disgust that implied this was somehow all my fault.

During this time of the year you’ve got to have all bases covered. Keeping that in mind, here are the Junior’s picks for this week–some inside–some outside. Read More »

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