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.
Psychic Fair: The ad wars between those Psychic Hotlines are starting to get nasty, topped off by the one that asks something like, "Aren't you tired of all those phony psychic hotlines? Well, we are, too. We're the professional psychic hotline..." Is there an accreditation system we haven't heard about? Dallas' oldest and largest Psychic Fair hosts another one of its wildly popular Sunday afternoon fairs, featuring the chance to talk to "professional" clairvoyants, tarot card and palm readers, tea leaf experts, astrologers, you name it. Plus there's a nice assortment of candles, incense, beads, etc. The Psychic Fair happens noon-6 pm in the Lone Star Ballroom of the Dallas Park Central Hotel, LBJ & Coit. Admission is $6; 15-minute readings are $8 each. Call 241-4876.
The Dallas Plan: You may have heard fleeting references on the radio or TV about The Dallas Plan, but don't quite know what it is. A civic blueprint created by city hall leaders and modified through a series of town hall meetings in recreation centers throughout the city, The Dallas Plan outlines six areas of interest--core assets (including libraries, the arts, Fair Park, water system, etc.), economic development, neighborhoods, center city, southern sector, Trinity River corridor--and presents and solicits proposals for upgrading what we already have. This is a serious attempt to enlist the people of Dallas in taking an interest in the way the city looks, sounds, smells, and tastes in the future, with a good-faith promise by city leaders that your suggestions will be reflected in results. Mayor Steve Bartlett hosts the first citywide town hall meeting about The Dallas Plan. If you haven't come to any of the other meetings, you might be a little lost at first, but don't use that as an excuse for skipping. The final draft of the plan is due in December, although there may be more meetings. The unofficial final meeting about The Dallas Plan happens 7-9 pm at City Hall, 1500 Marilla downtown. For more information call 670-4168.
Moscow Synagogue Choir: The Congregation Shearith Israel of Dallas is responsible for importing The Moscow Synagogue Choir, an 18-voice, all-male choir of Russian Jews who've been among the most celebrated entities in the resurgence of Jewish tradition in the former U.S.S.R. Formed under Gorbachev's glasnost policy, they toured cities as well as the Russian countryside, singing Hebrew and Yiddish songs Soviet Jews have been officially forbidden from hearing, let alone learning, since The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The Moscow Synagogue Choir has toured the United States frequently since 1991, and is making a return engagement with a special guest--Cantor Moshe Shulhof, a three-octave concert tenor who's a recognized international authority on Chazzannut and Jewish music. Expect to hear a wide range of music in many languages, including German, Italian, and Georgian, from folk songs to classical opera to Hebrew chants. The Moscow Synagogue Choir and Cantor Shulhof perform at 7:30 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $20-$40. Call 520-ARTS.
The Eye of Stanley Marcus: Why does the last week of its run at the Dallas Museum of Art seem an especially appropriate time to see The Eye of Stanley Marcus, a collection of the Dallas retail legend's art acquisitions over the past 60 years? With Thanksgiving still on our tongues and the December holidays dropped in our laps like lead parcels, everyone has switched into high-gear consumer mode. While lots of people decry the glitziness of the holiday season in America, there's a fun, atmospheric side to it, too--taking to the malls and department stores with hordes of other strangers, thinking, for once, about what someone else wants. Marcus is the man responsible for guiding Neiman Marcus, created by his father and aunt, into what it is today--a mecca of conspicuous consumption, one of the most fun public places to be around during the holidays even if you can't afford so much as a single cuff-link there. And Marcus looks like Santa Claus on an improved diet. The Eye of Stanley Marcus is the Needless Markup king's gift to Dallas, offering a huge variety of American, European, African, Native American, Asian, and Latino works by masters and unknowns alike. And Marcus' collecting credo is refreshingly unpretentious for a rich, smart guy--"I buy what I like." The Eye of Stanley Marcus runs through December 4 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tickets are $1-$5. For information call 922-1200.