100 Dallas Creatives Down, Thousands to Go

Clockwise from Top Left Sarah Perry, John Pomora, Shay Youngblood, Jonathan Norton, Celia Eberle, Heyd Fontenot
Clockwise from Top Left Sarah Perry, John Pomora, Shay Youngblood, Jonathan Norton, Celia Eberle, Heyd Fontenot
Collage by Tracie Louck/Photos courtesy artists

Last May I sat staring into my laptop and a blank document stared back. One hundred can seem like such a daunting number. But some of the Observer's sister papers in cities like Phoenix and Miami had come up with 100 creative people to feature in an ongoing series, so Dallas could too.

Initially, the struggle was explaining what we were trying to accomplish. First to ourselves, and then to the people we were planning to feature. It wasn't an award -- we have the annual Mastermind awards for creative types -- and we had no precedent for it to be any kind of honor. They were just interviews, opportunities for the writer and the reader to peek behind the curtain in the life of someone whose work we admire. When you're in a job like I have, you feel pretty lucky to have an excuse to knock heads with some of the city's greatest minds.

Then, I had to figure what we were talking about when we said the word "creative." How would we know whom to include? Certainly even accountants have traits or work styles that in context would be considered inventive or original. Being "a creative" is just another one of those buzzwords that's empty as a standalone term. In conversation with one of the first creatives, Art Peña (who, incidentally, I began to date months later), he said it sounded like I was describing a series on Dallas' "cultural entrepreneurs." It was perfect.

The list became about the leaders of the creative class. Who are the people creating opportunities? For themselves and for others? Those are the people I wanted to talk to. I also wanted the list to be variegated and surprising. I wanted to recontextualize what we talk about when we talk about creativity. That Lisa Robison uses her design skills to run her company Dwell with Dignity shares the creative realm with Matthew Posey leading his band of misfits to create beautiful theater at Ochre House. And isn't far fetched to put the political cipher Wylie H Dallas back to back with video artist Carolyn Sortor. Each of the people on the list are responsible for leading Dallas into a more interesting future. There are names on the list belonging to up and comers, such as Kelsey Leigh Ervi, an emerging theater director, and there are veterans such as John Pomora, a go-to painter who mentors a new generation of artists at University of Texas at Dallas. It quickly became a kaleidoscope of artists (Celia Eberle, Ryder Richards , Stephen Lapthisophon), actors (Van Quattro, Adam A Anderson), curators (Brandy Michele Adams, Lauren Gray, Michael Mazurk and Jesse Morgan Barnett), magicians (Trigg Watson, Edward Ruiz), comedians (Paul Varghese, Noa Gavin), choreographers (Katie Puder, Joshua Peugh), musicians (Nathan Olson, Matt Tolentino) and more. Every entry on the list generously shared their secrets to sustaining their creativity, what inspires them, what they wish would change, and why they continue to call Dallas home.

The easy part was finding 100 people whose brains we wanted to pick. The struggle was settling on just 100. There are countless people I wish we would've included. And now that we've reached our final entry in the series, I can say without question that if my boss told me to start the countdown again it wouldn't be a problem. To everyone in Dallas whose work could be classified as creative, thank you. You're making our city an inspiring place to call home.

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. 100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers 25. Rob 'Ain't No Creative Like A Bow-Tie-Wearing Creative' Shearer 24. Scholar of the Stage Susan Sargeant 23. Photographer of Record Justin Terveen 22. Music Man Jeffrey Liles 21. Keeper of the Safe Room Lauren Gray 20. Playwright Jonathan Norton, Man of Many Words 19. Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner 18. Gallerist Jordan Roth, the Art Scene Cheerleader 17. Artful Advocate Vicki Meek 16. Ballet Queen Katie Puder 15. Carlos Alejandro Guajardo-Molina, the Book Guy 14. Janeil Engelstad, an Artist with Purpose 13. Will Power, Playwright and Mentor 12. Gallerists Gina & Dustin Orlando, Boundary Pushers 11. Moody Fuqua, Music Community Organizer 10. Joshua Peugh, Choreographer to Watch 9. Allison Davidson, Advocate for Art Accessibility 8. Ben Fountain, Man of Letters 7. Fashion Maven Julie McCullough 6. Contemporary Curator and Artist Danielle Avram Morgan 5. Irreverent Art World Organizer Kevin Ruben Jacobs 4. Dwell with Dignity's Lisa Robison 3. Artists/Curators Michael Mazurek and Jesse Morgan Barnett 2. Rodney Dobbs, Man Behind the Scenes 1. Shay Youngblood, Writer About Town

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