An Evening With Gary Leva: It may not be Grauman's Chinese Theater, but then again, Grauman's Chinese Theater ain't what it used to be either: The AMC Glen Lakes offered Dallas native turned indie filmmaker Gary Leva a stellar reception when his first flick, Plan B, wound up outgrossing its big-budget Hollywood neighbors, Starship Troopers and In and Out, on a per-screening basis. Plan B is what happens when a group of wayward young adults has to fall back on alternative plans (hence the title) in order to make a living. The film got terrific local notices, so the Dallas Screenwriters' Association is hosting a return screening of the film with a follow-up by Leva. The event happens at 7:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Theatre, 1825 Abrams Parkway. Tickets are $12. Call (214) 922-7829.
Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company: While flamenco is indisputably a bedrock cultural phenomenon in Spain, some critics of multiculturalism claim that it's more recreational than artistic, essentially the Latino equivalent of calling square-dancing a high Anglo art. Jose Greco II might be inclined to punch somebody in the nose for such an assessment, considering that for two generations now his family has taken this sweaty, castanet-clicking, guitar strumming form to heights of international acclaim. Midway through its 15th season, TITAS presents Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company in performance. His sister Carmela, often cited as the show's star, is rumored to be able to melt the gold in your teeth when she does her thing. The performance happens at 8 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call (214) 528-0126.
Southern Exposure: The question isn't so much "Is there a Southern perspective?" but "How do we define it without shortchanging its richness?" Certainly writers such as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Flannery O'Connor all dealt with the travails of a post-Reconstruction American South, but the similarities end there: Each dealt with unique topics within that very large arena. So it is, in the last few years, that major institutions across the country have grappled with pinning down a Southern style of photography. Photographs Do Not Bend throws in its two cents with Southern Exposure, a show of regional photographers including Shelby Lee Adams, Keith Carter, and Sally Mann. The show opens with a reception January 23, 6-8 p.m., and runs through March 7 at Photographs Do Not Bend, 3115 Routh St. Call (214) 969-1852.
The Misanthrope: We're inclined to look askance at 20th-century updates of classic literature, having watched with horror as one Dallas actor delivered lines from The Taming of the Shrew complete with snakeskin boots, cowboy hat, and a drawl so slow you could take a guided tour on it. But novelist-translator-playwright Neil Bartlett has earned a sparkling international reputation for his Moliere adaptations, and he's found a smashing equivalent to the backstabbing and decadence of the 17th-century French Royal Court--contemporary Hollywood. Fort Worth's Stage West mounts his update of The Misanthrope, a comedy that may be almost 350 years old but is still quite capable of inducing laughs--at least, for anyone who cherishes the art of the well-aimed insult. Performances happen 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through February 7 at Stage West, 3055 South University Drive, Fort Worth. Tickets are $11-$14. Call (817) 924-9454.
Imagining the Open Range: Erwin E. Smith, Cowboy Photographer: Cowboy movies tend to be a drag for their "black hat-white hat" moral simplicity; even so-called complex studies like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven feature the kind of one-dimensional villains normally pursued by Canadian mounties. But take those images of the turn-of-the-century frontier and freeze them as photographs, and all the mythology comes pouring out for us. One of the most celebrated of cowboy snappers was himself known to form unusually close friendships with horses. From shortly after the 1900s began until his death in 1947, Erwin E. Smith snapped eerie, beautiful images of Texas herders and range riders. More than a hundred are collected in a one-man show, Imagining the Open Range. The show runs through May 10 at Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth. Call (817) 738-1933.
A Dallas Dance Gathering: A dancer without a company is a little like a Southern Baptist at a dirty bookstore--you know they exist in droves, but they rarely get a chance to express themselves. For 10 years now, A Dallas Dance Gathering has offered these underrepresented souls (freelance dancers, not Baptists with porn budgets) an annual opportunity to pool their resources and present a show that offers original works in the fields of contemporary, ballet, jazz, and ethnic dance. The 1998 program offers a premiere by Sherry Lacey; a memorial to the late Daryl Sneed choreographed by Lily Cabatu Weiss (who serves as the Gathering's artistic director); and the usual assemblage of graduates from the dance department at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts. Performances happen at 8 p.m. January 22-24, in the Dance Studio Theater of Booker T., 2501 Flora. Tickets are $5-$8. Call (214) 871-8967.
Welcoming Sunday: Speaking of Southern Baptists, the recent decision by the General Baptist Convention to separate from its more--shall we say--enthusiastic brethren came about in part because of the Southern Baptists' anti-gay boycott of Disney. Not that the General Baptists are likely to march in a PFLAG rally anytime soon, but they're smart enough to realize that when a church demands that a corporation deny standard benefits to a segment of its employees, a reputation for un-Christian behavior ensues. For many Christians who believe that homosexuality is as boringly routine as heterosexuality (the stigma adds the spice), accepting gays and lesbians becomes a question of challenging bureaucracy, not God. Bethany Presbyterian Church joins dozens of main-line congregations across the country with its "Welcoming Sunday" for gay and lesbian Christians, a celebration of the 18-year-old decision to resist Presbyterian policy against ordaining homosexuals as church leaders. The event happens at 11 a.m. at Bethany Presbyterian Church, Cedar Springs and Hawthorne. Call (214) 823-2317.
Jasper Johns: Process and Printmaking: The Dallas Museum of Art has had its own Jasper Johns holding, a painting called Device, for a while now. Now the DMA gets more than 125 proofs and limited-edition prints, taken exclusively from Johns' private collection, to either give some context about what this artist has been doing for decades...or make you scratch your head even more over his curious sensibility, which is at once mundane and skewed. Jasper Johns: Process and Printmaking delves into the theme that might be said to resonate throughout Johns' eclectic career--a fascination with signs and symbols for their own sake. The show runs through March 29 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Admission is $3-$5. Call (214) 922-1344.
A Discussion of Oscar Wilde: Oscar Wilde was the kind of unrepentant snob who's probably more fun to read than he was to sit and listen to. His boundless capacity for self-aggrandizement had to have been annoying, so much so that European journalists and moral crusaders couldn't wait to crush him over his controversial last plays and his love letters to Bosie. Wilde's saving grace: Unlike most blowhards, he was brilliant at practically everything he attempted (actually, that must have made him even more annoying). In conjunction with its production of Wilde's An Ideal Husband, the Dallas Theater Center presents Dr. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza of the University of Texas to discuss the eminently quotable, ultimately tragic Wilde, one of her scholarly specialties. The talk happens at 7 p.m. in the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. It's free. Call (214) 522-8499.
Contemporary Vision, Timeless Wisdom: The Biblical Arts Center presents a collection of mixed-media works of two North Texas residents whose Christian perspectives are bolstered by a thematic ambitiousness not normally associated with religious art. The title of the show by artists Pat Blair Szalay and Silvia S. Thornton, Contemporary Vision, Timeless Wisdom, clues you in to the sensibilities at work here. Szalay gloms together paint, sculpture, and photography that ricochet between documentary-style glimpses of symbolism-laden imagery and abstract expressions of Biblical themes; Thornton concerns herself with the distribution of perception and expression in the brain, combining conceptual imagery with unlikely materials. The show runs through March 8 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane. Call (214) 691-4661.
Uncle Bob: Usually, the warning for mature audiences only rolls right off our backs. "Yeah, right," we snicker, smug in our own world-weariness. Then we saw the Undermain's premiere of John O'Keefe's The Deatherians, and after absorbing its pageantry of semen-licking, sadomasochism, and bodily decay, we concluded that maybe there are some things we haven't seen onstage before. A similar warning is attached to the Undermain's newest show, Uncle Bob, an acclaimed jet-black comedy by character actor Austin Pendleton concerning the deteriorating relationship between a reclusive bohemian writer and his visiting nephew. We take the Undermain seriously about these things, and we can't wait. The show opens 7:30 p.m. January 24. Subsequent performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday through February 28 at 3200 Main St. Call (214) 747-5515.