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.
Wendy Warner: What's a great way to make Mom feel not only special, but, well, sort of aristocratic, patrician, maybe even Marie Antoinette-ish? Pile her hair up in an imperious stack, dress her to the nines, and take her to a classical music concert, where she can play "I'm the matriarch of a prominent Texas oil family" by surveying the stage and audience with that look of privilege matriarchs of prominent Texas oil families do so well. And what better concert to take her to than one in the Cliburn Concert Series, the state's claim to international classical fluency? On Mother's Day, 23-year-old Wendy Warner makes her Cliburn Series debut. Warner is a cellist who has studied the instrument since she was four, and began to accumulate internationally significant kudos in adolescence. Of course, it helps that for the last seven years she's studied under string master Mstislav Rostropovich. Five years ago she finished first in the international competition that bears her teacher's name, and ever since then, she's performed as a featured soloist with symphonies in Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Milan, and Tokyo, among others. Warner is accompanied by pianist Meng-Chieh Liu for her performance. Wendy Warner performs at 3 pm in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University. To honor Mother's Day, every ticket-holder may bring his or her mother for free. For ticket information call (817) 335-9000.
Nancy A. Collins: A critic recently observed that vampires are like cars--there's a new model every year. Indeed, it seems the vampire myth is one of the more elastic popular concepts, and it's not hard to understand why, when you stop and think about it. No other creature from our nightmares so perfectly encapsulates that most beautiful and destructive aspect of human nature--need. For just as vampires are consumed by their bloodlust and ultimately must center their entire lives around it, all of us are walking a perpetual tightrope in our relationships with family, friends, and lovers. At any point we can topple over and let our physical and emotional needs drive us straight to disaster. A vampire's thirst makes him or her forever alone, and isn't that, at the bottom, our greatest fear? Author Nancy A. Collins has been charting that fear with bloody, sexually explicit flights of the imagination that are more honestly pulpy than Ann Rice, and therefore more satisfying. Collins, who lives in New York with husband and former Dallasite turned chronicler of the extreme Joe Christ, wrote the storyline for DC Comics' Swamp Thing series from 1991 to 1993, founded the International Horror Critics Guild, and has published many short stories and edited several anthologies. For the record, Collins doesn't concern herself just with vampires--she writes feverishly about all manner of specters--but she comes to Dallas and Arlington to greet her fans and sign copies of her new omnibus collection Midnight Blue, which includes the first U.S. publication of her final book in the "Sonja Blue" series. Nancy A. Collins appears to sign copies of her vampire trilogy May 15, 6-8 pm at Lone Star Comics, 11661 Preston, 373-0934; and May 16, 6-8 pm at Lone Star Comics, 504 Abram St in Arlington, (817) 265-0491.
Marion Winik: In the pantheon of nationally prominent women essayists that includes Ellen Goodman and Anna Quindlen, Marion Winik has contributed a gutsy, sometimes even exhibitionistic honesty to her work that elevates it from the ghetto of "women's issues." To put it simply, Winik doesn't write about men and women, she writes about people--the people she has loved, hated, had sex and taken drugs with, given birth to, and helped ease out of a painful end. The New Jersey native turned Austin resident started publishing her essays in the Austin Chronicle in the '80s, and has slowly risen to national prominence via National Public Radio and the publication last year of her collected essays, Telling: Confessions, Concessions, and Other Flashes of Light. She first started to raise eyebrows with her very frank confessions of living her teenage and young adult years in the counterculture teeming with drugs, experimental sex, and intellectual restlessness. What seemed to anger people most about Winik's stories wasn't so much their content, but that she was neither ashamed nor remorseful about her youthful excesses--she has learned from all of her decisions, and apparently regrets none of them. Winik came to the national spotlight last year when she admitted on National Public Radio that she attended and helped soothe her husband of 10 years while he committed suicide with pills--he was lingering in the final stages of AIDS. Marion Winik reads from and signs the new paperback edition of Telling at Borders Books & Music, Preston & Royal. For information call 363-1977.
Limited Capacity: For the second play in the 1995-'96 season of Teatro Dallas, artistic director Cora Cardona chose a dark comedy by an internationally renowned Mexican playwright about people trying to get along in a very small space. Tomas Urtusastegui's Limited Capacity turns on a simple enough premise--folks of all different experiences get trapped on an elevator together. As the time passes and it becomes more and more obvious that these people can no longer avoid interacting with one another in this cramped space, a flood of desires and animosities is unleashed that reveals the dark side of social relationships. Cardona warns that the play contains very strong language. Teatro Dallas performs Limited Capacity every Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15 pm, May 12-June 10, at 2204 Commerce St in downtown Dallas. Tickets are $10. Call 741-1135.