The Inner Spirit: Art of the American Avant-Garde, 1907-1920: "Modern art" is a generic term that, for many decades now, has symbolized the American mainstream's disgust with visual experimentation for its own sake. As antidemocratic as you can get, the American art establishment has every right to seal itself off from populist concerns, but each successive "avant-garde" (born in the U.S. in the early 20th century as a reaction to European preoccupations like post-Impression, Cubism, Futurism, etc.) has distanced itself from trying to see things in new ways and resorted to soullessly referencing what came before. Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum presents an exhibition that should explain why so many Americans without extensive arts backgrounds pulled away from the stuff--and, at the same time, surprise those who think "modern art" throughout the century is all deliberately obscure. The Inner Spirit: Art of the American Avant-Garde, 1907-1920 features over 70 paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and photos by over 30 American artists including Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles DeMuth, Arthur Dove, and Paul Strand. The show runs through April 14 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 738-1933.
Maxine Mesinger: Be it Louella Parsons, Rona Barrett, or Ted Casablanca, the Hollywood gossip columnist sinks or swims on the ability to hoodwink two groups: interview subjects and readers. They must be charming enough to convince the biggest stars that a little bit of scandal (real or contrived) only keeps the ticket buyers coming back for more; and they must be imaginative enough to convince the readers that this little (often very little) bit of scandal really constitutes earthshaking news, or even hot gossip. Maxine Mesinger, perhaps the most famous Tinseltown tattler Texas has ever produced, started out with a legendary column in the Houston Chronicle and moved on to enthrall the national talk-show circuit with her semispicy tales about Sinatra, Minelli, the Trumps, and many others. Julia Sweeney's Tuesday Talk Series welcomes her to Dallas to chat about her experiences. Will the dirt dished without a TV camera or a major circulation be deeper? Find out for yourself. She speaks at noon at the Dallas Country Club, 4100 Beverly Drive. For reservation information call 520-0206.
Signs of Life: The Photographic Archives Gallery features an exhibition of works by two North Texas photographers who both agree photography has little to do with reality. Signs of Life is a two-man exploration of the idea that pictures create whole new mythologies based on moments most people miss. Scogin Mayo, a former Observer staffer and current free-lance professional, started off with obsessions for acting, painting, and magic before he finally discovered, late in college, that he could create a powerful illusion simply by snapping an actual scene. Marc Wolens dropped out of a 13-year-old law practice to take photos full-time on a search for the reality in wrinkles--folded moments that require folks to finish the story themselves. Mayo and Wolens give a gallery talk March 13, 7:30-9 p.m. The show runs through March 31 at Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W. Lovers Lane. Call 352-3167.