Deborah Mathis: As strange as it seems, the normally indefatigable national press has been cowed by House blowhard Newt Gingrich's claims that they are "a tool of the Democratic Party" (a charge leveled at professionals who, over the past two years, nailed Bill Clinton--sometimes fairly, sometimes hysterically--to the wall). Scenes like the post-Connie Chung fall-out in which Washington Press Corps members cluster around the Speaker's car asking, "Is your mother a liar?" have fueled the easily stirred ire of the talk-radio crowd. Dallas now has a chance to hear--and question--a woman who has made a living over the past two decades covering urgent national issues from Washington. Deborah Mathis is syndicated countrywide as a columnist by Gannett News Service. She has worked for both print and television, covering a wide range of socio-political issues from Nixon's resignation to the Gulf War (she traveled to Kuwait from Arkansas during that brouhaha and provided on-the-spot coverage). Still, her first love is national politics. Deborah Mathis speaks on "My Public Years Abroad: Not About Travel" at 10:30 am in the performance hall of Brookhaven College, 3939 Valley View Lane in Farmers Branch. It's free and open to the public. Call 620-4117.
Superconductivity and Modern Alchemy: Does science, as an institution, actually inhibit the discovery of knowledge by its fiercely restrictive and exclusive regulation of methods and entire fields of study? Many maverick AIDS activists have claimed so for a decade now, decrying researchers' single-minded pursuit of the HIV virus. At the same time, some feminist scholars maintain that the significant gender differences seemingly delineated by physiological and psychological tests are actually determined by the questions asked. Enter into this fray David Hudson, a chemist who raised more than a few eyebrows among his colleagues by patenting, in 1988, 11 single-atomic, nonmetallic elements. These orbitally rearranged monatomic elements (ORMES) all contained traces of previously established elements such as platinum, iridium, osmium, and palladium, yet they were, unlike those materials, superconductors (in other words, they possessed the property of acting as pathways for energy currents). What Hudson believes he'd found were the so-called "white powders" of alchemy, a field of study officially discredited a couple of centuries ago for pursuing a quasimystical link among all the elements. Why should you care? The discredited Hudson shares with genetic engineers the claim that they can mess with the very soul of the universe. David Hudson gives his talk before the Eclectic Viewpoint at 7:30 pm in the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Admission is $15 per person. For more info call 601-7687.
Wynton Marsalis Quartet: The American art form of jazz is not given to popular consumption. It never has been, of course, but audiences continue to dwindle for the kind of defiant, arhythmic, tonally complex music pioneered by Charlie and Miles and Thelonius. Much of what's being produced now under the label "jazz" is, in fact, the go-down-smooth pop confections that have more to do with attitude than content. This is a dilemma Wynton Marsalis recognized early on, which is why, less than two decades ago, he decided to devote himself to the kind of jazz--at once difficult and universal, demanding and accessible--that inspired him as a youth. As he approaches 40, his dedication to the improvisational purity of the sound has grown greater, not to mention his determination to cultivate that predilection among younger artists--the average age of the other three members in the Wynton Marsalis Quintet is 21. They perform at the invitation of TITAS at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
El Corazon: For three successive Februarys now, artists from Dallas and around North Texas have converged for an exhibition that asks them to render their interpretations of the human heart. Since most of us regard the heart as the only thing that keeps us alive (odd, since it's the brain that allows us to formulate such a concept in the first place), at what point do the organic and spiritual connotations of that organ collide? Is heart something in our chest or something in our character, and if it's both, at what stage do the boundaries begin to blur? These might not be the kinds of questions you wish to ponder on Valentine's Day, but they're behind the multimedia presentations offered in El Corazon. The third annual El Corazon exhibit holds a reception for the artists February 11, 6-8 pm. The Kobushi Taiko Japanese Drummers, an interesting mixture of cultural influences, perform for the opening. The show is open through February 25 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther on White Rock Lake. It's free (but seating is limited). Call 670-8749.
Voices of Change: When former Dallas Symphony conductor Eduardo Mata died in a plane crash, a sizable local community of fellow musicians and music lovers deeply mourned the loss of a man they'd never even met. The members of Voices of Change, Dallas' premier 20th-century chamber ensemble and recent recipient of some impressive national awards, can claim a more personal loss--over the last couple of decades they'd worked frequently with the generous Mata on various projects. Now, they offer their own tribute, in a program that includes works by the great Mexican composers Carlos Chavez and Silvestre Revueltes. Voices of Change presents its "Tribute to Maestro Eduardo Mata" at 3 pm in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free and open to the public, which means in addition to acknowledging a past great talent, the uninitiated can sample the performance of one of Dallas' great treasures. For information call 368-0080.
Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting From the Gaetano Marzotto Collection: When the average Joe or Jane is asked to name a famous Italian painter, one of the great religious painters of the Renaissance is usually cited. If, on the other hand, you ask the same individual to name a painter of merit from the late 19th century, you can almost guarantee that painter will be French. The Kimbell Art Museum hopes to throw light on a long-ignored corner of European art with its exhibition Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting From the Gaetano Marzotto Collection. Curators at the Kimbell make no small claim--that this collection of 120 paintings is the first time Southwestern audiences have ever been allowed to consider works by Italian artists that anticipated, even influenced, the Modern age. Most of the pictures in this collection are still-lifes, portraits, panoramic reproductions of city scenes--anything and everything but the fervent religious images most of us normally associate with Italians' contribution to art. Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting opens February 12 and runs through April 9 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 332-8451.
Third Annual Governor's Exhibition: Now that Shrub Bush has taken root in the governor's mansion, can we expect the same commitment to the popular arts--both as a state revenue source and a forum for individual expression--that former governor and Doritos commercial star Ann Richards provided? Don't hold your breath. Bush seems to have little affinity for the subtle rewards that government-sponsored arts programs can provide. And there's no telling how much longer the Texas Photographic Society will have the resources to present something like its Third Annual Governor's Exhibition--a statewide retrospective that features the work of 43 Texas photographers (five of them hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth area). All subjects and styles are represented in these 56 works. The Third Annual Governor's Exhibition runs through March 11 at the Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W Lovers Lane. It's free. For more information call 352-3167.
Lucky Stiff: In synopsis, it sounds like a slightly more high-falutin' version of the much-revered Weekend at Bernie's movies--a guy must drag a corpse through various social situations and pretend the whole time the damned thing is still alive. Yet this variation on that theme is a musical, staged to great critical acclaim first in London by lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty, and then later in New York City (even Frank Rich, the grumpy former "Butcher of Broadway" turned tireless advocate for public arts funding at The New York Times, wrote a glowing mention of the piece). Based on a serious crime novel, Lucky Stiff imagines what happens when a misanthropic shoe salesman stands to inherit $6 million from his deceased uncle--under the condition that he accompany said uncle on a wild final vacation at Monte Carlo. Before you prejudge the material, please remember that the British can turn the most inane material into a subtle, skillful, poker-faced exploration of human foibles. Let's just see if Theatre Three can do the same. Lucky Stiff in performances on Tuesday-Friday, 8:15 pm; Saturday, 2:30 & 8:15 pm; and Sunday, 2:30 & 7:30 pm through March 12 at the Theatre Three location in the Quadrangle on Routh Street just off McKinney. Tickets are $10-$23. Call 871-3300.
Liebesreigen: Want to do something...well, interesting to celebrate Valentine's Day? Rising Moon Theatre, one of the city's smaller but more defiantly noncommercial theatrical companies, presents what it calls "a Valentine's feast" to commemorate February's pop-culture commemoration of amour lost and found. Their latest production, George Schnitzler's dark comedy about relationships, Liebesreigen, may not be to everyone's taste--it assumes infidelity as a fact of life, and shows the disastrous consequences when five male-female couples go hunting for love and wind up returning, by sheer fate, to the commitments with which they started. Foreign film buffs might recognize Schnitzler's story as the basis of Max Ophuls' 1950 French farce La Ronde, starring Simone Signoret. Yet that version is considerably tamer than the one Rising Moon promises to deliver--they deliver a warning to the faint-hearted that this production contains "strong sexual content and nudity." Can they deliver something more than just cheap shock? Find out for yourself. Rising Moon Theatre opens Liebesreigen February 14 at 8:15 pm. Regular performances run Thursday-Saturday at 8:15 pm through March 4 at the Swiss Avenue Theater, 2700 Swiss. Tickets are $10. For more information call 824-9859.
Porgy and Bess: Remarkable as it may seem, no African-American artist has yet directed the countless local, national, and international productions given to George Gershwin's beloved folk opera Porgy and Bess--until now. While the music from Gershwin's tragicomic look at black American life has entered a collective songbook broad enough to encompass artists from Dizzy Gillespie to Nina Simone to Janis Joplin, it has always remained a largely detached work--a kind of idealization of ethnic experience that relies as much or more on what the majority imagines to be the pleasures and pains of outsiderhood as the experience to which those outsiders can personally testify. The Dallas Opera presents a new--and-umpteenth--version of this controversial American classic directed by theater veteran Hope Clarke and featuring the creative contributions of a host of national opera companies, including the Seattle Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the San Diego Opera, the Cleveland Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and the Portland Opera. Nationally, this is considered a historic production, one which various local ethnic and arts organizations have sponsored in order to offer free or reduced-price tickets. The Dallas Opera offers performances of Porgy and Bess February 15-26, with evening and a few matinee performances scheduled during the run. All shows happen at the Music Hall in Fair Park. For ticket information call 443-1043.