Fairly dark tales
By now, some high school or college English or history teacher probably broke the news to you that the sweet old childhood nursery rhyme "Ring around the rosy/Pockets full of posies/Ashes, ashes/We all fall down" was actually about the Black Death. While we thought we were just holding hands in a circle and falling down, we were actually singing about the bubonic plague, rose-ringed sores and dead children. Fun! And maybe, after you recovered from that shock, you found out that many of your favorite fairy tales were folk stories about sex, abuse, death, abandonment and cannibalism. Grimm was the authors' name; grim was the characters' fate oftentimes. Artist Randy Bolton likewise takes familiar childhood images and morals and adds a modern, subversive wink into classic kids books-style illustrations that become darkly humorous and teach harsh lessons, such as Bolton's "Never Take More Than You Need," in which a beaver discovers he's chopped down every tree in the forest. Gray Matters Gallery pairs in its exhibit Better Than New! Bolton's sweet-on-the-surface, darker-in-the-meaning drawings with Randy Reiger's toys. These works include a package that is exciting but misleading, and one or several sculptures inside that use toy marketing and pop-culture hype as tools for satire, parody and social commentary, such as "God Forsaken Astronaut," who is lost and afraid instead of the brave hero expected. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at 113 N. Haskell Ave. It runs through June 19. Call 214-824-7108. --Shannon Sutlief
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In grade school, I felt the pressure of having to re-create the rose bush in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. And that was just a bunch of green felt and crochet yarn. But we bet such creations were child's play for Santiago Calatrava when he was attending primary and secondary school in Valencia. The internationally acclaimed Spanish architect, engineer and artist has since acquired countless awards and the honor of designing the 2004 Athens Olympic Sports Complex. No pressure, right? With strong ties to Dallas and Southern Methodist University, he also designed the Trinity River bridges. Join him in an open forum at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts at 2 p.m. on May 13 in the Greer Garson Theatre located at 6101 Bishop Blvd. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and seating is limited. Call 214-768-2787.--Jenice Johnson