Hollywood wasn't the first to be fascinated with the American West. Decades before moviemakers began cranking out westerns in the 1930s, artists ventured beyond the Mississippi River to document the landscape and native peoples of the frontier's prairies. Swiss artist Karl Bodmer made some of the first paintings of the virgin upper-Missouri frontier (present-day Montana) in the mid-1800s. He and German naturalist Prince Maximilian zu Wied's two-year trek resulted in one of the most accurate, vivid chronicles of the region. A film series featuring Hollywood westerns influenced by Bodmer's work is under way at the Amon Carter Museum in conjunction with a Bodmer exhibit. This Thursday's 5:30 p.m. film is Elliot Silverstein's 1970 western A Man Called Horse, the story of a lost Englishman who gets captured by Sioux Indians and ultimately becomes a member of the tribe. The film is also a portrait of Sioux customs, language and lifestyle. Framed Scenes: Bodmer's Influence on Hollywood concludes September 4 with a film about the artist. The Amon Carter Museum film series is in conjunction with A Faithful and Vivid Picture: Karl Bodmer's North American Prints, on display through September 14 at the museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. Admission is free. Call 817-738-1933, or check out www.cartermuseum.org for more information. --Cheryl Smith
Bit by Bit
Artists trade brushes for keyboards
Fine-art snobs will tell you computer art isn't real art. They prefer to appreciate computer-aided graphic design for what it is--a snazzy, clever, even elevated form of commercial creativity. But what would they--or we--call the same sort of work when bona fide fine artists try computer software to tweak, scramble and shatter their otherwise handcrafted sensibilities? The co-op artists at Artists' Showplace, 15615 Coit Road, Suite 230, are interested in what they--and you--think. They've crafted a whole open studio/gallery event to showcase the best they can crank out using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel and Fractile Design Paint. Exhibiting digital images during Take a Byte from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. August 22 will be watercolorist Sharon Smith, photographer Stan Allen, oil and acrylic painter Robin Walker and organic abstractionist Reg Humphries. A sidelight show of glass, rock and ceramic sculptural mosaics by Jon McMahan contrasts ultra-hands-on to techno-hands-off. The free reception includes wine and snacks and jazz guitarists Rudy Furtado and Anthony Plant. Call 972-233-1223. --Annabelle Massey Helber
The DMA becomes the City of Lights
"Mon Dieu, how zee time flies when you are having zee fun, n'est-ce pas?" is what you'll be saying after spending seven hours luxuriating in French Impressionist culture. And you don't even need a plane ticket to Paris to hear the songs of Edith Piaf, see sidewalk artists and maybe eat a baguette. The Dallas Museum of Art is holding an Impressionist evening complete with music, art and food to celebrate the Renoir and Algeria exhibit, which closes August 31. Bring la famille to the Dallas Museum of Art on August 22 from 5 p.m. to midnight. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. Members and students with current ID get in free. Call 214-922-1200. --Michelle Martinez
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Waco doesn't have a banner reputation, thanks to publicized compounds and murders. Unfortunately, good art doesn't outrank freakish death in the media. While artist Karl Umlauf isn't from Waco, he is the artist-in-residence at Baylor University. Thursday through September 21, Umlauf's retrospective of his sometimes-controversial work in paint and sculpture is at the Irving Arts Center, and he'll give a lecture at 6 p.m. before his reception at 7 p.m. Saturday at 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Call 972-252-7558. --Merritt Martin