Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Whew. Talk about a way to make enemies. They've all got their niches, as well as their weaknesses--oops, we mean quirks. Here, then, a few peeves and observations. Some of the "top" galleries in this town (no names here) are way too tuned in to the biennials for our tastes. Others (no names) try way too hard to be hip. And of the few good galleries in this town, only a handful--we're talking three, maybe four--fundamentally get what art is about. Too many get caught up in marketing and PR and society columns and party pix and Who Attended What Opening and all that folderol that, in the end, undermine art's only legitimate purpose: the promotion of ideas and honest debate. We know we're sounding a bit puritan here. And we've got nothing against a good party. But we should never forget that making, selling and writing about art are silly and frivolous occupations that mask very serious purposes. In the words of one theoretician, they are "wasteful, privileged endeavor[s] through which very serious ideas are sorted out." Oh, sure, artists have gotta eat, and gallery owners have to pay rent, and it helps to move a canvas here and there. But way too many galleries in this town are more concerned about selling than about serving as good, old-fashioned marketplaces of ideas. And so, with reservations, we're going to have to pick Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art. Yeah, we know. They don't do emerging artists; they don't take big chances. And in a recent, rather unpleasant instance, they seemed to be unable to understand the difference between art criticism and promotion. But the folks at the top, particularly Ted Pillsbury, get the marketplace-of-ideas thing. And it's the one place in town where you can always see something worthwhile. Honorable mentions go to Mulcahy Modern and Photographs Do Not Bend, two places run by folks who are in it for all the right reasons. If they had the space and resources of Pillsbury and Peters, they'd be vying for the top spot.
It's no secret why KERA called Punch Drunk Comedy one of Dallas' best-kept secrets. The quartet of comedians serves up funny and unpredictable shows every Thursday for four to six weeks at the Home Bar off of Greenville Avenue. It also takes the revues--often centering around a theme and involving costumes, music and more--one step beyond during the final week of the show, when the members try to sabotage one another by improvising and changing their lines during "The Stunt Show." But even during a normal--we use the term loosely--show when they're relying on scripts, the audience never knows what will happen next.
You're taking your early-morning jog with your pet dog Old Blue and desperately searching your headset for some music to run by. Frustrated, you are willing to settle for anything other than the mindless prattle of two self-absorbed DJs who laugh at their own canned jokes as if they were entertaining someone other than themselves. You stumble onto WRR, the sole classical music station in town, and listen to Road Rage Remedy or the March of the Day and suddenly believe there is a God. Even the news becomes more tolerable, particularly as the cool, smooth voice of Valerie Moore hits the airwaves, her news stylings taking on a peculiarly sexy quality. It's just the news, you remind yourself, but with Valerie it's so much more. She knows just when to pause before she anoints the last word of a sentence, when to drop her voice an octave for just the right amount of primal ooziness before going to a commercial break. She seduces you to keep listening, just so you can hear her deliver the weather and traffic..."next."
OK, we've got bronzed cattle-drive re-creations, statues of hard-throwing Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers, mustangs, et al. around town, but if it's real art by master craftsmen you want to see, the Oakland Cemetery, established in 1891, will blow you away. Elaborate memorial sculptures in granite and marble, some done as far away as Florence, Italy, are shipped here to stand guard over Dallas' Who's Who of yesteryear. The cemetery is open until sundown daily and offers not only a magnificent art exhibit but a fascinating visit to the city's history. Don't forget to take a camera.
With Dallas being home to more than 200 ethnic communities, Dallas International sees its mission as attempting to harness their cultural diversity by providing a forum to express the richness of their heritage and thereby create a better understanding of each group to the rest of the city. We think. Each year (generally in June) the organization produces the Dallas International Festival, spearheaded by Anne Marie Weiss-Armush. Regrettably, the festival had to make do this year as funding cuts forced it out of its digs at Fair Park and cramped it into the Majestic Theatre, where Dallas' finest global arts groups performed. The festival's International Bazaar has been rescheduled for November and relocated to the St. Mark's School of Texas at 10600 Preston Road. The food court alone will be worth the price of admission, which is free. Honorable mention: the martinis at Terilli's. Drink three of these and everyone will be your friend.
Too bad we don't have a category for Best-looking City Council Member so she could win twice. Dr. Elba, a dentist, wins this one because we have a very simple criterion: Does the council member do more or less what her constituents want? Garcia attacks her job obsessively as if every single constituent complaint were a dental cavity. She parked on the desk of the director of animal control until he agreed to go catch more dogs. Then she rode in the vans with the dog catchers to make sure they got it done. The Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce loves her because she fixed the huge mess with the Texas Theatre restoration. She got all the city's myriad Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis parades combined into one. And when the council shot down her idea of having the new Latino Cultural Center named for a brand of tequila (bad idea), she got funding instead from a dairy (good idea). So if she's so smart, what's she doing on the city council? District 1 just lucked out, we guess.