We Have Come This Far by Faith: Although it's unquestionable that the church played a vital role in keeping the African-American community cohesive from the post-Civil War era through the civil rights era, one wonders what its effect might be as American blacks gain economic and political clout. The preaching delivered to generations of blacks has generally been predicated on "the meek shall inherit the earth," a favorite Christian paradigm that in part underlies Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of civil disobedience--and that was, in turn, radically departed from by Nation of Islam leaders. But will the meek inherit CEO positions and great seats at Ranger games? Has the church lingered too long over the notion of African-Americans as "a people set free," thereby emphasizing former slave status? Such questions aren't frivolous in this pivotal time in the community's history. Consider them when you see the Black Dallas Remembered Inc. show We Have Come This Far by Faith, an exhibition of text and photos on black America's relationship to the church. It shows through January 28 in the lobby of Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla St. Call (214) 333-0983.
ID Day: Say your cat dug up something in the abandoned lot across from your apartment that looks really old and either man-made or at least bizarrely geometric for an organic object. Or you uncovered a piece of rock that's either a fossilized vertebra or the corner of some kid's tennis shoe imprinted in last year's wet cement. Do you risk humiliation and incur out-of-pocket expenses to fly to some archaeological center, or do you brood alone at night, wondering if you lost a wing at the Smithsonian by not taking this dusty find to the proper authorities. The Dallas Museum of Natural History brings the authorities to you in one of its most popular annual events. "ID Day" is sort of like an archaeological version of those antique appraisal days, when more than 50 specialists in myriad fields of natural history come to look over your U.N.H.O. (Unidentified Natural History Object). The same experts will be bringing some of the most notable curiosities from their fields for you to salivate over. Events happen 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Natural History in Fair Park. Tickets are $2.50-$4. Call (214) 421-3466.
14th Annual KidFilm Festival: We hate to dump all over those oft-repeated cries from adult advocates for quality children's programming, but here's the bitter truth: Children's programming is smarter and more imaginative today than it ever has been; indeed, the best movies and TV for kids often beat out the best offered to adults. Check out anything from James and the Giant Peach to Matilda to TV's Tiny Toons to even supposed junk like Rocco's Modern World, and you'll find a level of cultural savvy that Seinfeld lost years ago. The reason movies such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden fail with child audiences is not that they suck, or children are stupid: They're films about childhood aimed at adults. The 14th Annual KidFilm Festival bounces around to offer its usual trail-mix of new prestige films and cool old junk. Included in the two-day festival are the world premiere of Tsui Hark's new animated feature, A Chinese Ghost Story; a sneak preview of the new adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers; and classic revivals of Mary Poppins and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Screenings happen January 17 and 18, from noon to early evening at the AMC Glen Lakes, 9450 N. Central. Tickets are $3 per program for kids and adults. Call (214) 821-NEWS.
Golden Rod Puppets: We're used to epic expressions of the human imagination involving hundreds of people a la James and the Giant Peach and whatever multi-million-dollar animated bile Disney has coughed up for this summer's release. With puppetry, the discipline of live performance meets a purer expression of the imagination than regular theater artists can conjure. For 17 years, Hobey Ford has been designing, building, and doing sets and voices for puppets that have earned acclaim across North America. They've appeared everywhere from MTV to PBS. Hobey comes to the Plano ArtCentre to perform World Tales, a multimedia puppet adventure that explores myths from around the world. The performance happens at 2 p.m. at the ArtCentre Theatre, 1028 E. 15th Place. Tickets are $6. Call (972) 423-7809.
Breakfast With the Mittelmans: While we're not sure exactly what would possess a married couple to want to work together (living together causes enough trouble), we do know there are plenty of enduring performance partnerships that fly in the face of such wisdom, from George Burns and and Gracie Allen to Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee. Add to this list Steve Mittelman and Wendy Kamenoff, a married couple who are actually more recognizable for their separate stage and TV spots than for their collaborations. They're trying to change all that with Breakfast With the Mittelmans, a show of monologues and sketches that's brought to Dallas by the Jewish Community Center. The event happens at 7:30 p.m. at the Greer Garson Theatre at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts. Tickets are $15-$30. Call (214) 739-2737.
IV Annual Eduardo Mata Memorial Concert: Voices of Change, one of the country's preeminent chamber-music ensembles, plants a flag in the multicultural terrain by spearheading an eight-day festival of Latino music. This is not your mama's flamenco; all compositions are contemporary works by still-living artists. The jewel in the festival crown is the IV Annual Eduardo Mata Memorial Concert, which features Voices of Change performing with guest composer Roberto Sierro. The event happens at 3 p.m. at the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. Call (214) 922-1200.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Precocious twentysomething photographer Scott Williams transformed himself into precocious photographer-about-the-continent when he traveled 10,000 miles to 10 different countries in three months, his bulb flashing the whole way. (He didn't have to deal drugs or trade arms secrets to finance the cost of film; that was underwritten by a corporation). The eerie, kinetic, surprisingly mature results are included in How I Spent My Summer Vacation. A reception for the artist happens 7 p.m.-9 p.m. January 17, 7-9 p.m. The show runs through January 30 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. Call (214) 670-8749.
An Ideal Husband: Knowing what we know about the late-19th-century persecution of Oscar Wilde, the title of his intrigue-filled 1895 comedy might serve as an ironic moniker for the playwright's own ill-fated marriage, which ended in the same scandal that contributed to his premature death. In its tale of a squeaky-clean politician who's blackmailed over a secret he's kept for years, An Ideal Husband overflows with the kind of wink-wink gay subtext that eventually got Wilde in trouble with the Marquis of Queensberry and, to a lesser degree, his lover Lord Alfred Douglas' irate father. This, one of his greatest successes and second-to-last play, was closed because of trial allegations about the author's homosexuality. Performances happen 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through February 8 at the Kalita Humphreys in Turtle Creek. Tickets are $16-$49. Call (214) 522-4899
Giant: Now that you've visited the work of self-taught Southwestern artists at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's Spirited Journeys, which is actually a touring show even though most of the artists are from Texas, you can see more by Lone Star visionaries at the state's preeminent spot for regional, self-trained artists. Giant is the name of the show curated by the Webb Gallery's Julie and Bruce Webb (who also helped with Spirited Journeys), and it features the "mental recordatorio" of Chelo Amezcua (her visions recorded as drawings); the "home museum" constructions of George White; and the jaunty "junk" sculptures of Carl Nash. A reception happens 6 p.m.-9 p.m. January 17. The show runs through March 7 (appointments for viewings can be made daily) at the Webb Gallery, 209-211 W. Franklin, Waxahachie. Call (972) 938-8085.