Dallas Public Library Annual Book Sale: These are tough times for folks who like to think of art as an important part of their daily lives. Popular entertainment is certainly an art form, but really effective art should not only celebrate but perplex, intrigue, challenge, maybe even anger you with truths you'd rather not think about. Maybe that's why books by self-marketed spiritual gurus and regular-guy humorists outsell novels and poetry--Americans are desperate to feel comfortable. Your Dallas Public Library branches are happy to provide you with a free two-week crack at as many cream-puff best-sellers as you want, but since people are more than happy to spend their own money to be reassured, most don't go to the libraries for that. It's serious-minded folks--lovers of literature, philosophy, criticism, and history--who use library services most, and right now, they seem to be dwindling in number--kind of like the Dallas library's operating hours. Public libraries are one of the greatest forms of democracy in action, and they deserve your support. Attend the Dallas Public Library's Annual Book Sale, where more than 100,000 books, tapes, records, etc. on every subject imaginable can be had for prices as low as a quarter. All funds go back into the library's new material kitty. The Dallas Public Library presents its Annual Book Sale April 21, 9 am-7 pm; April 22, 9 am-5 pm; and Sunday, 1-5 pm in Ballroom A of the Dallas Convention Center. For more information call 670-1400.
Conte de Loyo Flamenco Theatre: Spanish flamenco dance is an art form that requires tough-minded apprenticeship and punishing practice schedules, but also doesn't mind getting its feet wet come performance time. There, the spirit of gypsy fever busts out all over, the passion of a people who've been forced to travel and so must find joy and fulfillment in the journey, in the near-religious cleansing effect of movement. The Conte De Loyo Flamenco Theatre is a company dedicated to preserving the populist traditions of dance and music known as flamenco. They are a band of purists ever-weary of the cross-pollination of Latino, African, and Mediterranean styles known as world music. The Conte De Loyo Flamenco Theatre presents performances Friday and Saturday at 8 pm at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther. Admission is $10. Call 670-8749.
Beginner: Nationally renowned, award-winning playwright Erik Ehn, who's profiled in this week's Stage column, is a favorite author of Dallas' Undermain Theatre, so much that they commissioned him to write a play--but only after he lost a bet against Undermain actor-director Raphael Parry on the 1993 Texas-OU game (we won't say who bet on which team). The result is Beginner, a loosely connected trilogy of plays about the maddening, hilarious, surreal experience of falling in love. If you've never seen an Ehn play, it's somewhat of a challenge, not so much for its language but in the way he bends time, space, and other phenomena of logic to create scenarios in which human need is the only barrier to wild experience. He also juxtaposes moods in a way that can make you feel you've just finished a rigorous aerobics work-out, but when performed well, his stuff offers a transcendent theatrical exercise. Beginner presents a little girl tailing her beloved grandfather to hell; a study in how lust and love can order our actions like little tyrants; and the metamorphosis of Nolan Ryan into a Cupid figure. The Undermain Theatre gives performances of Beginner Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays & Saturdays at 8:15 pm through May 27 at the Basement Space, 3200 Main in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $10-$16. Call 747-5515.
Fine Arts Chamber Players: Every fourth Saturday of the month The Fine Arts Chamber Players present a free afternoon concert at the Dallas Museum of Art which features principal instrumentalists from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony and often a nationally prominent artist or two. The program used to be called "Basically Beethoven," but they ditched that title once they branched out into composers of other eras, styles, and nationalities. This latest concert features the new principal trumpet player from the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra. The program includes works by Kraft, Mozart, Baptista, and Barber. The Fine Arts Chamber Players perform at 3 pm in the auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. Call 520-2219.