Male Figurative Show: Why is it that everyone's afraid of the penis? From popular entertainment to classic visual art, any Western medium that deals in images over the last few hundred years has treated the male genitalia as verboten--while women's bodies can be viewed from any and all angles without obstruction. It wasn't always so, since Renaissance painters and sculptors regularly depicted male nudity, although much of it was reserved for infants or paintbrush interpretations of Greek and Roman mythology (in this context, Michelangelo's David becomes an act of political defiance clothed in the graceful non-robes of an aesthetic study). As European and then American artists began to collaborate and collide influences, the only penises allowed in those boyz' clubs were the ones you brought with you. There have been numerous theories posited about this, from Christianity rejecting the depiction of male genitalia as being a form of pagan fertility worship, to the feminist charge that the symbolic source of a man's power must be kept under wraps in order to maintain the facade of patriarchal invincibility. The Milam Gallery hosts the last three days of an exhibit in all media by Texas artists who share something in common--most of them, at one time or another, have been prevented from displaying these pieces in various places because of the presence of a male nude. The Male Figurative Show runs at the Milam Gallery, 5224 Milam Street, through May 13. It's free. Call 821-9045. For information call 821-9045.
New Arts Collective: The word "multimedia" has become almost as useless these days as "performance art," since it's been applied to virtually any piece of static or performed art that uses more than one element to achieve the final effect. In its original, more precise meaning, "multimedia" meant the use of dramatically different artistic disciplines in order to achieve a new perspective on each one--or on the nature of expression itself. The brave folks who've started the new performance group New Arts Collective must be painfully aware of the "multimedia" dead end, because they avoid it diligently whenever they identify themselves or their work. The eight members of the group define themselves as an "inter-arts performing ensemble," which might sound like just another case of artspeak. But these folks want you to reconsider the ways in which different forms of art interact. Included in their latest performance are five premiere collaborations, four of which were created by composer-choreographer teams within the NAC and combine photography, dance, and music. The New Arts Collective has honed these works since last July at several area venues, including Club Dada, the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum, and the Mc-Kinney Avenue Contemporary. The Severed Ear String Quartet and local experimental musical outfit blue skye are also on the bill. New Arts Collective performs May 12 and 13 at 8 pm in Deep Ellum's Theatre on Elm Street, 3202 Elm. Tickets are $7-$10. For more information call 303-0543.
1995 Critic's Choice: Critics tend to get all tangled up in their own opinions and forget that what they produce are, in fact, opinions. Yet there are certain critical institutions that have acquired such a reputation of excellence that their judgments bear real consequences for the artists they evaluate. The Dallas Visual Arts Center's 1995 Critic's Choice show has, for more than a decade, been considered one of the most important juried arts competitions in Texas, and its influence is slowly rolling across the Southwest. Every year the Center assembles a panel that's composed mostly of curators and directors from the top museums in the state, and this year is no different--the three jurors are Dr. Don Bacigalupi, Brown curator of contemporary art for the San Antonio Museum of Art; Alison de Lima Greene, curator for 20th Century art at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts; and Bill Ooten, director for the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi. More than 800 works in various media were submitted, but only 55 pieces by 44 artists made the final cut. When you come see the show, remember that everyone's a critic--the difference is, some of us get paid for it. The 1995 Critic's Choice opens with a public reception May 12, 7-9 pm and runs through June 23 at the Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss. It's free. Call 821-2522.
Fort Worth Dallas Ballet: The Fort Worth Dallas Ballet wraps up its hot-ticket 1995-96 season with a populist nod to the country-and-western aficionado in all of us. Don't panic, though, that two pieces on the program--Scotch Symphony and Valse Fantaisie--are by George Balanchine. Artistic director Paul Mejia has reserved his boot-kicking for one of his own works, All the Right Women. For this performance, Mejia and the dancers have enlisted the services of those venerable Texas repositories of honky-tonk virtue, The Dixie Chicks. They'll take the stage to perform live musical accompaniment to the ballet-inflected high stepping. In addition to All the Right Women, another dance by Mejia, Cafe Victoria, is also performed. Fort Worth Dallas Ballet performs its season finale May 12 & 13 at 8 pm in the JFK Theatre at Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth. A representative of the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet presents a pre-performance lecture May 12 at 7 pm in the Convention Center's Worth Theatre to discuss the exhausting miracle this company has just pulled off--producing a full season of performances in both cities. Tickets are $8-$34. Call 1-800-654-9545.