Las Meninas: Variations: When artists use one artistic medium (say, painting) as an influence on a completely different medium (music), it's an extremely brave gesture but also a journey fraught with peril. Anyone who's ever read Gertrude Stein's attempts to find a verbal equivalent to the great European painters of her era knows that even great individuals can stumble in the effort to find a vocabulary that transcends but at the same time connects the two media. Still, for folks who consider great art to be one of God's gifts to a brutal world, trying to define the relationship between two artworks can be a heady experience. Voices of Change, the Dallas-based 20th-century music ensemble that has earned critical acclaim all over the nation, presents the premiere Dallas performance of Las Meninas: Variations, a chamber piece based partly on Pablo Picasso's visual riffs, which are based, in turn, on the Velasquez painting Las Meninas. The show happens at 3 pm in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. For info call 368-0800.
O'Keefe at Abiquiu: Georgia O'Keefe, who died in 1986, has been coopted in ways that the renowned curmudgeon herself must have found either amusing or appalling. She has been bandied about as everything from the most important lesbian artist in America (her sexual status is and probably always will remain a mystery) to a heterosexual female pioneer who conducted amorous adventures with men many years younger than herself (also unconfirmed) to a pioneer of the abstract form (in fact, she loathed much of the geometric minimalism of modern art). Her weathered, profoundly handsome face has been a beacon to a generation of fans, and it's been captured in a show by Colorado photographer Myron Wood, who first gained access to O'Keefe's very private adobe dwelling in Abiquiu, New Mexico in 1979 and snapped photos of her and her workplace for two and a half years. O'Keefe At Abiquiu December 2 with an open house reception noon-5:30 pm and runs through January 27 at Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W Lovers Lane. For info call 352-3167.
Bill Pickett Invitational Black Rodeo: All that multicultural reeducation about buffalo soldiers hasn't made much of a dent in the popular vision we have of the American West being a caucasian province. That's mostly the fault of popular American cinema (a sin both tweaked and reinforced by Mel Brooks in his classic Blazing Saddles) and the other great mythologizers of the West. The Bill Pickett Invitational Black Rodeo is the nation's only touring black rodeo, and it was named, appropriately enough, after perhaps the most famous black cowboy of his day, the fellow who invented "bulldoggin'"--steer wrestling to you. That's on the program, as well as bull riding, calf roping, ladies' steer undecorating, and barrel racing. The competition kicks off December 2 at 7:30 pm and December 3 at 3:30 pm in Fort Worth's Cowtown Coliseum. Tickets are $7-$12; parking is $3. For info call (303) 373-2747.
The Christmas Witch: The Dallas Children's Theater is very excited about its newest production for several reasons. First of all, it's the most expensive production in the 11-year history of the theater, and secondly, it stands as something of a vote of confidence from Steve Kellogg, on whose book the production is based. Kellogg, one of the best-selling author-illustrators in the country, finally allowed one of his books, Island of the Skog, to be adapted into another medium in 1993. Dallas Children's Theater was the first to perform it, and Kellogg was sufficiently impressed to adapt a second work for the DCT stage, the musical story of an apprentice witch who discovers (brace yourself) the real meaning of Christmas. Performances of The Christmas Witch are Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 1:30 pm; and Sundays at 1:30 & 4:30 pm with a final performance December 20 at 7:30 pm. All performances happen at El Centro Theater, Main & Market. Tickets are $11-$12. Call 978-0110.
The Peaceable Kingdom: As perhaps the most beautiful Dallas home you can visit regularly but never hope to afford, the 21,000 square-foot DeGolyer House is a seasonal treat for the entire city, transformed from holiday to holiday by the caretakers of the Dallas Arboretum. For the 1995 edition of Christmas at the Arboretum, organizers have taken a cue from Edward Hicks' painting The Peaceable Kingdom and done the DeGolyer up right, as a kind of pastoral tribute to raw America. The "peaceable" theme extends to the 66-acre gardens, which have been recreated as an "enchanted forest" of possibilities. Tours of the Arboretum are available daily through December 31, with special events slated to happen each weekend. Admission is $3-$6, but kids under six get in free; parking is $2. The Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Rd on White Rock Lake. For info call 327-8263.
John McCutcheon: Many of us who were born and raised in Dallas have a distinctly love-hate relationship with White Rock Lake, especially those who have lived in or around the northeast section of the city. White Rock is at once the site of some of our most cherished memories (fishing with our parents as kids, goofing off with illegally purchased alcohol as adolescents) and some fairly scary run-ins with the late-night types who hang out there for God only knows what reason. White Rock Lake has been neglected for many years now, and the seedier elements have taken control of this public space. This was only one of the factors behind the referendum-approved bond issue intended for the improvement of the lake. You might be surprised what the bond money wasn't approved for--emergency telephones, the up-keep of water fountains, covered waste containers to keep folks from throwing stuff in the lake, and more. Nationally renowned folk musician John McCutcheon (Holly Near and Pete Seeger are among his fans) has been enlisted to give a concert "For the Love of the Lake." The show happens at 3 pm in the auditorium of Lake Highlands High School, 9449 Church. Tickets are $10-$15. For info call 622-SAVE.