Annie Leibovitz and Fabrice Berger-Remond: Is there doubt in anyone's mind that Annie Leibovitz is one of the greatest photo-portraitists working in America right now? Sure, she gets the same flak Richard Avedon has for decades now about snapping so many celebrities and working primarily with (gasp!) commercial outlets such as fashion magazines. But at her best, Leibovitz outshines even the brilliantly misanthropic Avedon with the empathy and overwhelming attention to beautiful detail her pictures feature. Leibovitz doesn't flatter her subjects so much as let them emerge on the print in their own terms. Her more purely artistic visual exercises aren't as well-known outside of Los Angeles and New York, but Leibovitz has created a traveling exhibition of them that recently made jaws drop up north. The show doubles as the second annual visual arts benefit for the Dallas chapter of DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. Also on the bill are the expressionistic, color-happy paintings of internationally renowned California artist Fabrice Berger-Remond. The show opens July 7 with a reception, 6-9 pm and runs through August 31 at the State Thomas Gallery, 2613 Thomas Avenue. The reception and the show are free. For information call 220-0365.
Nature Observed, Nature Interpreted: Nineteenth Century American Landscape Drawings and Watercolors: The defining mood of the Amon Carter Museum's latest major exhibition might best be described as serene. Not only the subject matter represented but the media employed all contribute to a sense of reflection and contemplation. The mile-long title says it all--Nature Observed, Nature Interpreted: Nineteenth Century American Landscape Drawings and Watercolors From the National Academy of Design and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Artists represented in the show include all those names that have been relegated to semi-infamy in art theory classes because their pictures are pretty and too easily enjoyed--Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Thomas Moran, William Stanley Haseltine. Two of the most highly respected American institutions for drawing have collaborated for the first time in history by assembling 80 pictures from their respective holdings. The show opens July 8 and runs through September 3 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. It's free. For more information call (817) 738-1933.
Otro Mundo: If somber imagery is your preferred artistic expression, then you should consider checking out the one-man show by Dallas artist and curator Jose Vargas. Not to pigeonhole Vargas, who works with a variety of different media and subject matter, but seeing his work over the last few years suggests he finds bottomless inspiration in Latino cultural traditions--death, honor, tradition, memory, fate. His photos of graveyard monuments are especially eerie and beautiful. Otro Mundo opens July 8 with a reception, 6-8 pm and runs through July 29 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. It's free. For information call 670-8749.
1995 Summer Documentary Workshop Screenings: There very well might be a budding Frederic Wiseman or Barbara Koppel among film students enrolled at the University of North Texas, but you'll have to take the rough edges with the brilliant insights when you attend the 1995 Summer Documentary Workshop Screenings. The program is a part of UNT's Department of Radio, Television and Film and features student filmmakers tackling a variety of subjects using diverse perspectives and techniques available to the documentary short subject form. And remember, don't be too quick to judge an embryonic filmmaking muse--Martin Scorsese cut his teeth on sloppy B-movies. The screenings happen at 3 pm in room 265 of the Speech/Drama Building of the University of North Texas in Denton. There's free parking in the lot on Welch Street between Mulberry and Sycamore. For information call (817) 565-4578.
1995 All Texas Train Hobby Show: What could be the psychological implication of collecting miniature trains as a hobby? A nostalgic impulse figures into it, but maintaining a God's Eye view of old-fashioned railway transit is also sort of a slap in the face to the whole contemporary phenomenon of high-speed communications and world travel. Trains represent taking your time to get where you're going, and with toy trains you can build a whole new world where tiny, invisible people aren't obsessed with faxes and jet planes. The 1995 All Texas Train Hobby Show features vendors and fellow collectors dealing in trains and parts of various sizes. There's also a free demonstration clinic to teach you how to create the details of a train layout yourself. The show happens 10 am6 pm in the Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 S. Main St. in historic downtown Grapevine, Texas. Tickets are $2-$4, but kids under 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult. Call 641-0509.
Manicures & Monuments: All that talk a few years back about Dallas becoming a "third coast" for film and TV production sort of came true, but not in the way the promoters wanted. While the Hollywood studios haven't exactly been flocking to our streets, tough and determined independent area filmmakers have sparked a renaissance. While it looked precarious for a while as theater companies started to drop like flies, the Dallas theater scene has also managed to create an impressive and fertile environment for developing writers and actors--especiallly impressive considering that, by and large, a consistent audience just doesn't exist for home-grown theatrical productions, especially those of a more experimental bent. Dallas playwright Vicki Cheatwood is one of a handful of local scribes to benefit from this, having had her works developed by Rising Moon Theatre, the STAGES and Chimera festivals, New Horizons, Actor's Theatre of Dallas, and Little Finger Productions. The artist-friendly McKinney Avenue Contemporary showcases a new work by Cheatwood, a retro-realist drama about aging entitled Manicures and Monuments. The play runs Thursday Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm through July 23 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Avenue. Tickets are $8-$10. For information call 522-9820.