Friends of the Major: Major Theatre co-owners Rob Clements and Bryce Gonzalez present the debut screening and reception for what they plan to be a regular series of special events. Friends of the Major is what they call it, and it's a combination fund-raiser and meeting-of-the-minds. For a $10 admission fee, folks can catch a special screening of a critically acclaimed new French film even before attendees at Sundance, Robert Redford's ultra-hot film festival in Utah, get a gander. Clements and Gonzalez want to keep the title a surprise, but let's just say it represents something of a coup for European art film enthusiasts in this city. In addition, there's a wine-and-cheese reception and an informal discussion at which the guys take movie requests, suggestions, praise, constructive criticism, etc. As veteran patrons already know, Clements and Gonzalez really do listen to their customers--more than a few have been surprised to see the title of a movie they requested show up on the marquee. With its rotating program of U.S. and world premieres, revered classics, obscure independent curiosities, and good old-fashioned guilty-pleasure trash, The Major is the most important film entity in Dallas right now and one of the top arts organizations the city has, period. Give them your support. The screening starts at 8 pm at the Theatre, which is located at 2830 Samuell Blvd, off the Winslow exit on I-30 in East Dallas. Call 821-FILM.
Rigoletto: Artistic minds at the Dallas Opera have decided to mount something more than yet another production of Verdi's famous hunchback-romp Rigoletto. Using some of the most recent academic articles published on the subject of the opera's premiere 144 years ago in Venice, they present a Rigoletto that boasts visual and directorial details lifted straight from that debut performance. Performances are January 26 at 7:30 pm; January 29 at 2 pm; and February 1 & 4 at 7:30 pm at the Music Hall in Fair Park. Tickets are $20-$95. For more information call 443-1043.
Mark Morris Dance Group: Good-looking, boyish, enthusiastic, charmingly quotable--it's easy to see how American choreographer Mark Morris has bridged the gap between the exclusive world of dance appreciation and magazine-profile celebrity a la Baryshnikov. Just three years shy of his 40th birthday, he's already received a MacArthur Award (they're only given to folks who fit the foundation's definition of "genius"), been profiled in a book-length biography, and hailed as the second coming of Balanchine. Morris and his 15-year-old troupe are beloved for their mixture of populist and elitist conventions, sometimes within the same piece--his somber, spiritual "Grand Duo" ends with a polka. TITAS invites them to Dallas to perform, among other pieces, the country-and-western lament about outsiderhood, "Going Away Party," and the Gershwin-inspired "Three Pieces." The Mark Morris Dance Group gives two Dallas performances--January 27 & 28 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets range from $7-$35. For information call 528-5576.
Encounters 6: Peter Halley and Rachel Hecker: The Dallas Museum of Art continues its Encounters project of pairing a nationally renowned artist with an up-and-coming Texas artist of similar thematic bent. Encounters 6: Peter Halley and Rachel Hecker features the work of New York-based painter Halley and Rachel Hecker, an award-winning artist who lives in Houston. Both are moralists, warning about the hidden power plays that masquerade as leisure activities in the Information Age. Halley is the formalist, combining tacky colors with sharp geometric shapes to suggest the lurid excess and uncompromising structure of commerce and government, whereas Hecker finds much to say about mass-produced images of erotica that sell products. Encounters 6: Peter Halley and Rachel Hecker opens with the artists discussing their work January 28 at 2 pm in the Orientation Gallery. The Dallas Museum of Art is located at 1717 N Harwood. The exhibition is free. Call 922-1200.
The Broken Heart: With a new governor who made punishment of juvenile crime one of his most strident campaign themes, we can look forward to a quick emotional fix for our frustrations--let's jail and kill more of 'em at a younger age!--even as costs rise and the same problems continue to breed new and more horrific consequences. Yet healthier alternatives exist. The Junior Players' Teatro del Barrio is a theatrical program for kids who live in neighborhoods where guns, gangs, and drugs are a particularly pernicious influence. Another hot ticket issue, government funding for the arts, collides with the juvenile crime question in a Teatro Dallas presentation titled The Broken Heart. Theatrical professionals have been working with a young Latino cast to create this drama about the emotional effects of divorce on kids. It's hard to take a quantitative measure of programs such as Teatro del Barrio, but there's no doubt it represents a hands-on, in-the-community effort at intervention, qualities that are lacking from so many of the bloody, impersonal solutions being bandied about by right-wingers. This presentation by Teatro del Barrio and The Winning Network takes place at 7 pm in the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther, with a panel discussion to follow. The evening is free. For more information, call 526-4076.
Two Texas Folk Art Masters: Perhaps the biggest contribution folk art can make is what could be called, with no derision intended, a victory of the mundane. The paintings of the late Texas artists John Willard Banks and the Reverend Johnnie Swearingen are deceptively straightforward renderings of portraits, still-lifes, and nature scenes--until you know something about the personal lives of the painters. Both represent a lost soul's-eye view of people, places, and events, some real and others taken from Biblical parables and folk tales. A preoccupation with roots and a knowledge of how profoundly a chance meeting can influence people takes the fore here. Two Texas Folk Art Masters: John Willard Banks and Rev. Johnnie Swearingen is open through February 26 at Webb Gallery, 107 N Rogers in Waxahachie. It's free. Call 938-8085.