It seems as though everyone is trying to improve Oak Cliff these days. Former Observer staff writer and city councilwoman Laura Miller has focused her attention on saving the area's culture by attracting a Barnes & Noble bookstore (sounds more like a threat than a promise) to the area. Rachel Stirewalt, on the other hand, has actually helped the area improve its culture by opening Art Landing Gallery & Studios, a unique art community that leases private and community studio workspace. The gallery hosts a weekly writing group every Monday and an open-mike night that includes poetry, music, acting, and storytelling. The latest exhibit at the gallery is a group show featuring paintings, custom-designed jewelry, photography, and sculpture by 16 local artists. It's not much, but it's a start. The exhibit runs through August 22. Art Landing is located at Ninth Street and Marsalis in Oak Cliff. Call (214) 943-2064.
To accompany its fine summer exhibitions--King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle and Modernism: The Art of Design 1880-1940, Masterworks from the Norwest Collection--the Kimbell Art Museum begins an afternoon film series on Saturday. The first film is Visions of Paradise: The Taj Mahal, a newly released documentary that celebrates 50 years of independence in India and Pakistan, focusing chiefly on the magnificent Taj Mahal. Following that will be Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century, which contrasts and compares the development of the Bauhaus movement in art with the political chaos and unrest that engulfed Germany when it was created. If you only have time for one, check out the fascinating Bauhaus. The first film begins at 2 p.m., and the second one begins at 2:30 p.m. Both films are free. The series will be held on July 25 and August 8 and 29. The Kimbell Art Museum is located at 3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth. Call (817) 332-8451.
Hot air balloons are some of the most ridiculous things around, yet they are fascinating to many people. We've never been able to understand this phenomenon. For example, every year, mothers across the country wake up their kids to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, for no other reason than to see a 100-foot-tall version of Casper the Friendly Ghost or Woody Woodpecker. For the past 13 years, Mesquite has been hosting its own version of the Macy's parade, the Mesquite Balloon Festival. This year, 40 balloons will appear, including Humpty Dumpty and the Purple People Eater. To anyone under the age of 10, this will probably sound like a lot of fun. To everyone else, it's a good excuse to take a nap. Interesting, but not exactly entertaining. The Mesquite Balloon Festival happens July 24 through 26 at Paschall Park, located one mile east of I-635 in Mesquite. The park will be open from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, and from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The festival is free, but parking is $3. Call (972) 285-0211 for more information.
We hate Texas weather; specifically, we hate the weather in Dallas, Texas. It's not humid like it is in Austin; it's a surly heat that slaps you in the face in the morning and knocks you out at night. We know of one sure-fire way to take your mind off the heat: dollar drink night at Jack's Pub. You could really go to any watering hole in the area to cool off, but there's something about Jack's that makes us come back every time. The only bad part about it is, more than a few people share our opinion. Monday nights are packed, so there's a good chance that the body heat in the room will cancel out the cooling effects of the beer. It's worth the risk, though. Go early, stay late. Jack's Pub is located at 5550 Yale Boulevard. Call (214) 360-0999.
Another good way to beat the heat is to take a sick day and go to NRH20, North Richland Hills' water park. It's got slides and all that other cool stuff that your kids will like, but we like it for one reason: acres of cold water. We know, kids probably urinate in the pool from the time the park opens until it closes. That's why we like to use a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to whether or not there is p in the ool. If you see us there, don't tell our boss. NRH20 is located at 9001 Grapevine Highway in North Richland Hills. Call (817) 656-6000.
The circus is coming to town. We know this because for the past few nights, we've been waking up screaming with visions of Pennywise, the sadistic clown from Stephen King's It. We won't go, but we're still recommending Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth. We wish we could go and see the performing hippopotamus, the pint-sized pachyderms, the trapeze artists, and the high-wire act. But we can't. Well, we won't, not as long as the company doesn't pay for a psychiatrist. Reunion Arena hosts the circus from July 29 until August 9, then it moves to Fort Worth's Tarrant County Convention Center from August 12 through 16. Call (214) 373-8000.