Events for the week

may 27
Totems and Figures: The kind of images that haunt the Webb Gallery's latest untitled exhibition are recognizable if you do a little soul-searching. The devils, angels, gnomish figures, and nightmarish and heavenly scenes that are chosen themes of the "self-taught" artists on display here represent our greatest hopes and worst fears. You can see a universe of experience, regret, and accomplishment that says everything and nothing about the men who created it. Like many artists, some of the folks here use their work to keep some pretty nasty personal demons at bay, but unfortunately, the title "self-taught" often means "no publicity and no pay," so these creators don't even get the chance to suffer glamorously the way, say, Picasso did. That's beginning to change nationwide, as institutions like the Webb Gallery spring up to showcase an alternative to artists who are factory-produced by the East Coast establishment. Media included are wooden totems and figures, obsessive drawings, clay sculptures, and face jugs. The Webb Gallery features the show through July 9 at 107 N Rogers in Waxahachie. It's free. Hours are every Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 pm, and weekdays by appointment. For information call 398-8085.

may 28
Indoor/Outdoor Memorial Day Music Festival: For most Americans, Memorial Day has lost any meaning except that it's another holiday weekend in which we're supposed to celebrate the memory of something or other by throwing parties and having cookouts and generally doing anything but discussing what Memorial Day means. This attitude understandably chafes people who've served their country in military missions abroad, or the families of those who've lost someone in a war, but Americans as a whole seem to seize every opportunity they can to relax and have fun. We also have notoriously short memories--which is at no time more apparent than on Memorial Day. Like most other public Memorial Day Celebrations, don't expect much commentary on war or history at Club Clearview's 9th Annual Indoor/Outdoor Music Festival. Glancing down the list of scheduled performers, you can look forward to some terrific live sounds--included on the bill are Vibrolux, Old 97's, Funland, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!, and others. Expect some special side attractions. The Festival happens 6 pm-2 am at Clearview in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $6-$7.

Avant-Bard: While Ralph Fiennes and company earn fistfuls of scathing reviews for the latest production of Hamlet on Broadway, one has to wonder what audiences expect these days from poor William Shakespeare. The '80s saw a national explosion in "reinterpretations," "reimaginings," and just plain revisioning of Shakespearean text, to the point where those who stage a traditional production of one of his scripts are apt to get an inferiority complex. Even someone as mighty as Shakespeare can only be performed for so many centuries before the characters and situations, however revolutionary they were in the arena of drama, start to feel a little too familiar. Extra Virgin Cooperative is a nonprofit Dallas theater whose statement of purpose declares it's "dedicated to producing 'first pressings' of original plays that honor our dramatic heritage while furthering a mission of socially conscious, low-tech theater grounded in the concerns of the present day." The folks at this Cooperative have apparently grown a little restless with the Bard themselves, because their latest production is four cabaret-style satires that address a particular contemporary issue using Shakespearean text and dialogue to do so. Political media campaigns, contemporary workplace relations, personals ads, and 12-step programs are all skewered. The four pieces in Avant-Bard run in repertory; two pieces are performed one night, followed the next night by performances of the other two pieces, and so on. The show runs May 25-June 17, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 7 pm at the Hickory Street Annex Theater, 501 Second & Hickory in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 941-3664.

may 31
The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: There is little doubt that Roy Lichtenstein is one of the most influential American artists of the past 50 years, and here we mean influential in a way that most artists, even the most admired and respected ones, can't hope to match. For Lichtenstein's prints, which began to circulate in the late '40s, have helped spawn a whole culture of irony and self-reference that stretches from movies to Letterman to the conceits of the so-called GenX-ers. Although Lichtenstein is considered a Pop Artist, his "Pop" work preceded Warhol and the gang by several years and was as much a spiritual guide to what they created as just another entry in that school. His prints have done great things and terrible things to the art world. A Lichtenstein image is big, inviting, and user-friendly, and people who had always felt intimidated by art museums responded accordingly. He and other Pop Artists celebrated or skewered the American media and mass-market culture, often in the same picture, and fans were comforted by these bright, colorful, familiar images. But what hath Lichtenstein wrought? Now that the American media seem destined to choke on the tongues lodged in their cheeks, all that self-referencing has become anemic, hollow, insular, trivial. Is it possible for anyone to get a substantial emotional experience, much less plain old pleasure, from a Lichtenstein print anymore? Judge for yourself. The Roy Lichtenstein exhibit opens May 28 and runs through August 28 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free. For more information call 922-1200.

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