Charles M. Russell, Sculptor: The life story of 19th and 20th century Western artist Charles M. Russell would make a great early Larry McMurtry novel--or, at the very least, a TV movie vehicle for George Strait. He impressed his fellow cowboys, herding cattle on the open ranges of Montana, by his eerie ability to shape lifelike sculptures of people and animals using crude materials and very little time. He wouldn't create his first bronze sculpture until the age of 40, and even then, his remarkably detailed painter's eye was just being developed. Eventually, as all smart and not-so-smart genuine talents figure out, he could make money from them. So it's easy to see why so many paunchy businessmen hang Russell paintings on their walls and place Russell sculptures on their desks--he was a natural, a guy so in tune with his environment that he could seemingly create art without effort. Some people call it masculine grace--and some call it boring--but it definitely has its cult. Charles M. Russell, Sculptor features all of Russell's bronze sculptures and 20 of his painted wax and plaster models. The show runs through March 5 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 738-1933.
1994 Dallas Farmers Holiday Market: The Dallas Farmers Market--the covered shed of pick-ups, friendly faces, frenzied deal-making, and crate after crate of fresh fruits and vegetables--is decking itself out for the holiday season with kids in mind. Starting Nov 26 & 27, every Saturday and Sunday is dedicated to a different theme, with relevant holiday-inspired activities, music, characters, etc. to follow. This weekend is called "A Children's Christmas," and features a Santa's workshop, a candy-distributing elf, and a juggling clown. Events happen 1-5 pm everyday through December 18 in Shed 2 at Harwood & Marilla. For info call 939-2476.
The Coronation of Poppea: Although Monteverdi's final work The Coronation of Poppea was first staged in 1643, it didn't become widely performed in this country until 1963, when The Dallas Opera gave the piece America's first professionally staged production. Why, exactly, more than 300 years had to pass before Monteverdi's robust, thrilling study of Roman imperial depravity under Nero got to live again is a mystery, since the libretto has enough sex and violence to make it truly timeless. A cast of internationally lauded voices stirs up the spectacle. The Dallas Opera presents its last production of The Coronation of Poppea at 7:30 pm in the Music Hall at Fair Park. Tickets are $20-$95. Call 443-1000.
Seal: The eclectically talented Nigerian-Brazilian musician Seal is a perfect example of a musical original who gets a big, sudden push by a major label and finds himself floundering for musical identity. He rode into public consciousness in 1991 on city billboards in America and Europe and lavish photographic spreads in Spin and the like featuring his long, beautiful body and those self-inflicted marks across his cheek. His Ladysmith Black Mambazo-meets-The Who debut sound was easy to drown in, but everywhere Seal was being depicted as this tall, Zulu-like musical missionary. Random cuts off his new, eponymously titled album are more of the same. Is his car about to get stuck in the same ditch that Terence Trent D'arby has disappeared in up to his dreadlocks? Seal performs with Des'ree at 8 pm at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth. For ticket information call 373-8000.
Fata Morgana USA: The American Way of Life: The late Spanish-born painter-photomontagist Josep Renau was one of those crusading leftist artists who did fabulously idealistic, dramatic things like flee his country when the regime he supported was toppled. It was while living in Mexico that he began to get a whiff of the capitalist slaughterhouse just north--America, beacon of hope to materialists everywhere. Beginning in 1939, he created a series of photomontages--an arrangement of photographs chosen because of some thematic similarity or contrast--which served as a kind of sarcastic critique of rampant consumerism, media-obsessiveness, and bourgeois philosophy in the United States. He named the series after the utopian illusions created to distract armies by King Arthur's sister Morgan La Fey--fata morgana. Fata Morgana USA: The American Way of Life is a collection of pieces assembled by the artist in 1976, with the addition of 11 earlier and later works. Fata Morgana USA: The American Way of Life runs through January 15 at the Meadows Museum on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. It's free. For information call 768-3511.