Ron Kirk Addresses PFLAG: So you think it's no big deal for Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to address an apolitical support group like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)? In a sane world, such an address would merit a collective yawn, but we are living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, where Newt Gingrich is considered a pinko and any suggestion that homosexuality is a normal expression of complex human sexual identity will get you trampled at a school board meeting. Of course, Dallas mayors have courted homo supporters for years--behind closed doors, and with feet placed close to the fire. In fact, Kirk's public, unapologetic inclusion of the gay and lesbian community in his policies amounts to a Dallas historical first. Could it be that our first African-American leader knows something about outsiderhood that the white boys could not grasp? The PFLAG meeting with Ron Kirk kicks off at 7 p.m. at Midway Hills Christian Church, 11001 Midway Road between Northaven and Royal. It's free, and everyone is invited. Call 348-1704.
Forget the Lithium--Pass Me a Beer: The three young male painters featured in the new Milam Gallery show, Forget the Lithium--Pass Me a Beer, share a few biographical threads: Each grew up in working-class parts of the South on a steady diet of TV, movies, comic books, and fast food. The title of their painting exhibition is at once self-deprecating and dead serious in how it reflects their blue-collar approach to making pictures. Little Rock native Jeff Davis comes home every night, sheds his executive garb, picks up a brush and a Budweiser, and paints wiry, wicked imagery about contemporary chaos. Richard Lewis continues characters like the Boy and the Snowman from painting to painting, providing a bawdy, full-color, large-scale canvas equivalent to the comics page. South Beach native Joseph Seeman enjoyed considerable success at Florida galleries before he moved to Texas; one of his notable projects is a full-scale show on the subject of Mexican wrestlers. Forget the Lithium--Pass Me a Beer opens with a public reception August 9, 7:30-9:30 p.m. and runs through August 31 at Milam Gallery, 5224 Milam Street. Call 821-9045.
Planet of the Apes: The USA Film Festival unveils an August midnight movie series that will tingle your spine so much, this month's air-conditioning bill will look like the price tag on a pack of gum. The Day the Earth Stood Still and 2001: A Space Odyssey are the haunting classics being screened later this month, but the August 9 debut entry for the Festival's "Sci-Fi Summer" is that rarest of sci-fi flicks--a time-capsule curio you can appreciate for its campy moments while still feeling the impact of its somber statement on humankind's collective God Complex. Twenty-eight years ago, Chuck Heston was well prepared for his 1996 public spat with Gore Vidal, for Heston had already gone three rounds with The Planet of the Apes. The latex, sculpted masks worn by Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, and Maurice Evans are still startling in their expressiveness, and Heston, oblivious as usual to his strengths and weaknesses, makes a superb hypermacho everyman. The screening happens at midnight at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. Call 821-NEWS.
Mingei: Japanese Folk Art From the Montgomery Collection: You can tell a lot about a culture by how it views the role of art and the artist. The dormant idea of the artist as a superior citizen and anointed vessel for some divine source, whether it be God or just that overused description "genius," was pretty much a Western invention, starting with the Greeks and winding through the Roman Catholic Church-influenced Renaissance. Meanwhile, the Asian nations and other Eastern cultures recognized little distinction between the humblest pottery maker and the silk-tapestry weaver for royalty. The Japanese, in particular, would have found that backhanded description "functional art" redundant, since all art was there to serve some practical purpose. Mingei: Japanese Folk Art From the Montgomery Collection features paintings, textiles, sculpture, woodwork, ceramic, paper objects, and more originating from the 15th through the 20th centuries. International collector Jeffrey Montgomery spent 22 years amassing these pieces, many of which go on display for the first time here. Mingei: Japanese Folk Art From the Montgomery Collection opens August 9 and runs through October 6 at the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. It's free. Call 768-1688.
Winnie the Pooh's 70th Birthday: Remarkable as it may seem, A.A. Milne's world-weary, potbellied, honey-suckin' protagonist actually earned a mortal enemy shortly after his birth. Between bathtub gin and adulterous affairs, Vanity Fair critic Dorothy Parker found the time to poke the little bear and his creator in print whenever she could, skewering what she regarded as the prefab gentleness "Whimsy The Pooh" vomited in bucketfuls. Seven decades have rescued Winnie from Parker's cynical (if hilarious) condemnation, although the Walt Disney-produced versions almost proved her right. The Enchanted Forest, a children's bookstore, celebrates Pooh's birthday with a reading and puppet show of Pooh Stuck in Rabbit's House at 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., noon, and 12:30 p.m. Winnie also makes an appearance to have free birthday cake with the tots. The Enchanted Forest is located at 6333 E. Mockingbird and Abrams. Call 827-2234.
Big Cat Weekend in Fort Worth and Dallas: When the little one closest to you turns and says, "I want a kitty," in his or her best Jackie Coogan impersonation, press for more details. Will this animal require Tender Vittles poured in a bowl or a side of beef dangled on a pole? Will a team of wranglers and a tranquilizer gun be required to prepare Tabby for The Big Snip? Most important question of all:Who took you to "Big Cat Weekend" at the Fort Worth and Dallas Zoos? Youngsters and oldsters alike will probably fall in love with the 3 1/2-month-old Amur leopard and the 6-month-old clouded leopard that are the Fort Worth Zoo's special guests for these two days of talk on endangered big cats and the care required to keep them happy in captivity. For children there are special art activities and for older kids and adults there are demonstrations and lectures about these animals. Events happen August 10 and 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at 1989 Colonial Parkway in Fort Worth. Tickets are $2.50-$5.50 (kids younger than 2 get in free), and parking is $2. Call (817) 871-7000. As for the Dallas Zoo, it offers its seventh annual Big Cat Weekend with neutered know-it-all Garfield as the master of ceremonies. There are videos, craft activities, "Act Like a Cat" and other contests, live music, and discussion. Events happen in the afternoon and evening of August 10 and 11 at 621 E. Clarendon Drive. Tickets are $2.50-$5 (kids younger than 3 get in free). Call 670-6825.
Mike Hill: Secret Histories: Mike Hill likes to draw pictures of his toys using colored pencils. He also likes to "explore the 'secret history' that operates beneath the historical narrative we observe." Translation:He likes to draw pictures of his toys using colored pencils. The images created by the award-winning Hill, who has been featured in local and national forums, are extraordinary in their depth, dimension, and liquid grace. For Hill, toys are tools we have all at one time or another used in our lives to express the dramas that play out inside us--the tapestry of souls, or "secret history," that pulses like a heartbeat underneath the official explanations of The Way Things Are. The show opens with a reception August 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m., and runs through August 30 in the Mezannine Gallery of the Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Ave. It's free.
Alone In a Crowd: Prints by African-American Artists of the 1930s-40s: If you want to know why much of the imagery in Alone In a Crowd: Prints by African-American Artists of the 1930s-40s is so embittered, consider the defining American experiences of those decades--and try to imagine experiencing them as a triple whammy that includes state-sponsored racism. The Great Depression struck blacks as a population considerably harder than it did any other ethnic group. World War II may have been the last "morally certain" war in which the United States engaged, but the federal government enlisted large numbers of black men to defend a country that had segregated them in public places and hindered their rise in the private sector. Alone In a Crowd features 105 rare prints by 42 African-American artists whose documentation of the period went largely unnoticed by the Art Establishment. The show opens August 9 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call 922-1200.
Health, Herbs, and Happiness: If President Clinton's botched attempt to overhaul the national health-care system accomplished anything, it was to provide a much-needed reality check for everybody. As more and more cost-conscious private companies turn to the HMO model, even those of us lucky enough to afford health insurance must face increasingly skeptical gatekeepers as we seek treatment. Prevention and maintenance would seem to be the best alternative. Sisters Organized to Survive, a monthly discussion and support group for African-American women, had those two things in mind when it organized its August meeting, dubbed "An Evening of Health, Herbs, and Happiness." The holistic approach to care of the self--massage, fitness, meditation, aroma therapy, stress-reduction therapy, bioenergy--is outlined in an evening of lectures and one-on-one discussions with licensed doctors, therapists, and counselors. While the evening is geared toward African-Americans, everyone is invited. The meeting kicks off at 7 p.m. at Stephanie's Collection, 6955 Greenville Ave. It's free. Call 368-2024.