They're not dirty little secrets, exactly, but they're probably dusty. You keep them well-hidden, maybe in a shoebox, tucked behind the extra blankets on a high shelf. The artifacts of your life--a fishing lure from your grandfather, the cheap gold-plated locket from your first boyfriend, ticket stubs, shriveled carnations, love letters--are treasured objects, memory-triggers, tangible proof of your reality. "Reliquaries" is an obscure and reverent word for containers or shrines used for relics of the past, and it's an apt description of the lifelong work of Dallas artist Norman Kary. Kary collects other people's memorabilia, salvaging unrelated objects, photographs and odd containers, which he assembles into poignant, mixed-media art. "I have always been interested in objects and their relationship to surface," Kary says. "My works hinge between painting and sculpture, or specifically between collage and souvenir, in that the objects I use are reminders for me of where they have been." Kary prowls through his collection, selecting a plumb bob, doorknob, photos of silo-shaped observatories, Galileo's portrait with telescope and long-still clockworks. He adds textured swatches, paints a background and assembles all in an old wooden medicine chest for "From the Machinery of Night," a new piece among many in his first solo exhibition, Connecting the Random, at Cidnee Patrick Gallery, opening December 5 with a free reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 2404 Cedar Springs Road. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, Kary acknowledges his reverent approach to art and his found objects. "In many ways, they are like discarded souls seeking redemption," he says. "As the arranger of these relationships, I have to keep these things in mind." Call 214-855-5101. --Annabelle Massey Helber
Where There's Smoke
Forgo your fashion sense and wear flame-resistant polyester to Plush this Saturday night. Note the nearest exits and then stand back as fire performance artist Sean Mathis opens the gallery's d.verz: perception show December 6. Plush proprietor Randall Garrett has a flair for the dramatic, and the opening party with electronic jazz DJs and Mathis only hints at the spectacle of new artwork by Veronica Gonzalez, Suza Kanon, Teresa Nasty and Mark Nelson. "We've got images of bondage girls flirting with feminine restraint, tawdry underwear-clad models, body-image abstracts and graffiti art loaded with symbolism," Garrett says. The smokin' goes from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1410 S. Akard St.; admission is $5. Call 214-498-5423 or go to www.plush01.com/gallery/dverz.html.
--Annabelle Massey HelberCountry and Western
Quick: What's similar about a Dallas cityscape and a Croatian coastline? No, there's no punch line, and a literal answer is just as stubborn in arriving. The solution may require the knowledge of a transcontinental artist such as Toni Franovic, or at least be conveyed through his cultural bridge-crossing brush strokes. The Gallery of Phoenix Art & Supplies is hosting an exhibition of Franovic's "fauvistic expressionism" (an accurate description for his strong use of color as emotion...think Matisse) this Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, and the mingling elements make the show's title, Go West Young Man!!, appropriate through numerous interpretations. The Phoenix art gallery is at 6333 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 125. Call 214-887-6966. --Matt HurshTaste the Difference
We hate raisins. By themselves, in cereal, when sneaked into trail mix, you name it. (We did, however, enjoy A Raisin in the Sun.) Despite our aversion to raisins, though, there is one time when we delight in what is merely the shriveled remains of a plump, juicy grape: when they're sprinkled into a warm, sweet oatmeal raisin cookie. That's why we're considering using our lunch break on Friday to visit Neiman Marcus for a cookie tasting. Eleni's New York, a gourmet bakery in New York City, is holding a tasting of its oatmeal raisin recipe at the downtown store (214-741-6911) on Friday and at the NorthPark location (214-363-8311) on Saturday. Both tastings will be from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. --Rhonda Reinhart