Trees Please: The Dallas Arboretum and The Dallas Parks Foundation present the Arbor Day phase of Trees Please, a year-round environmental beautification effort that seeks to see more trees on Dallas horizons (although the project seems more desperately needed in Plano or Addison). This Saturday and Sunday the Arboretum hands out free two-gallon saplings (if you ask) and plays host to experts who'll demonstrate, for the agriculturally challenged, how to plant and nurture a tree. The Dallas Arboretum won't charge admission during its regular hours on January 28 & 29. Free trees are given away both days between 10 am-2 pm, with the first 500 visitors given the option to select between a Chinese Pistachio, a Saw Tooth Oak, or a Bald Cypress Tree. The Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Rd. For more information call 327-8263.
The Fourth Arts Revolution Festival: One of the more laughably paranoid right-wing arguments against government funding for the arts insists that such programs are actually left-wing stealth conspiracies to poison decent American minds with liberal elitist propaganda. The implication of that argument is that a free-market competition among the arts is the fairest, most democratic method of funding. Wrong! Consider some facts--the three biggest distributors of "independent" and non-commercial film fare in this country are owned by Hollywood studios; five companies control 40 percent of all publishing in the United States; six companies constitute almost the entire American popular music industry. With all the multimedia corporate mergers that make headlines these days, the monopolization of creative expression in America is clearly becoming a reality. Organizers of The Fourth Arts Revolution Festival don't have any grand, anarchic schemes up their sleeves (or at least, they aren't discussing them); the idea behind the Festival is to provide a break from mass-market, commercialized art and a celebration for local writers, musicians, and visual artists. The Festival takes place from 3 to 10 pm at Poor David's Pub, 1934 Greenville Avenue. Donations are much appreciated. For more information call 827-3825.
Samuel Ramey: In the world of opera, the bass voice is often used to convey the gravest, the most somber, the most existential of sentiments. It's most often used to embody villains, inner voices, sages, and vengeful forces. Since the bass in performance often sounds and looks like he's literally singing from the bottom of his soul, we automatically pay close attention to what he has to say. It's no wonder, then, that Samuel Ramey is currently one of the hottest American opera singers in the world (he already holds the distinction of possessing the most recorded bass voice on the planet). Over the last decade Ramey has found himself repeatedly honored in a way that even the most popular singers rarely are--the great European and American companies often initiate entire productions, many of them obscure or rarely performed and therefore financial risks, to serve as vehicles for his rich voice. The Cliburn Concert presents Ramey with piano accompaniment by Warren Jones at 7 pm at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora in the Arts District. Tickets are $17.50-$50. For more information call (817) 335-9000 or 1 (800) 462-7979.
Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy: The legacy of jazz great Louis Armstrong is ripe for socio-political examination by African-American scholars, music critics, and everyone else interested in how the tension between personal expression and social expectation creates high art. He was often referred to as "the Ambassador of Jazz," although this had less to do with Armstrong's innovations as a composer and instrumentalist than his penchant for popularizing the carefree side of jazz and his tendency to play the ever-smiling musical clown. Unlike Miles Davis, who expressed a potent resentment of Anglo domination throughout his life, Armstrong seemed oblivious to the implications of the "whites-only" nightclub shows he was compelled to play, or how his film appearances were determined by often painful stereotypes. For this reason Armstrong and too many artists of his generation were scorned by post-civil rights black intellectuals. But there is a far more complex story to be told about his contributions, one which finally gets its day in Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy. This is a multimedia show featuring original visual art by some of this century's most important black artists as well as photos and video clips of Armstrong in all his glory. The African-American Museum in Fair Park opens Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy January 28 with a series of events. The show lasts through March 26. For more information call 565-9026.
Gay 101: The Basics of Homosexuality: So you think American gays and lesbians are a predictable bloc of left-wing political ideologies? Consider a recent New York Times poll that indicated 40 percent of folks who identify themselves as homosexual voted Republican in the November mid-terms. Disgust with Clinton has a lot to do with it, but there's always been a big lavender conservative population. Navigating a gay identity in this Newtonian (or is that Gingrichian?) era can be difficult, which is why the Gay and Lesbian Community Center sponsors an informational presentation-discussion entitled "Gay 101--The Basics of Homosexuality." This is not a debate about whether or not gayness is an "acceptable" condition, but a practical, two-and-a-half-hour presentation designed to look at a myriad of personal and political issues facing the contemporary homo. "Gay 101" starts at 6:30 pm at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. It's free and open to the public. The closeted, the curious, and the definitely-straight-but-interested-in-sexual-politics-of-all-stripes are encouraged to attend. For more information call 528-9254.