Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Portraiture isn't exactly a lost art, although fewer painters choose it as their area of specialty now than they did in the time of Renoir. The demand has changed a bit since the camera was invented. Even well-intentioned, sentimental people who ache to capture the charm of their 6-year-olds, or their moms, dads and grandmothers, spend great wads of cash at some high-priced photography studio, only to be slightly disappointed in the great, glossy, hyper-realistic, frozen midsmile images that they dutifully hang over the fireplace. There is, of course, an alternative. Dallas boasts one of the most innovative, creative and recognized portrait artists in the Southwest. Known for her expressive nature and wide-open personality, Connie Connally paints unique and personal portraits that reveal little nuances and details about her subjects that surprise and delight the people who commission her work. She has a nontraditional approach to portrait "sitting," preferring to visit her subjects in their homes, making animated sketches and taking photographs while she talks with them. Connally takes her research into the studio and comes out with dramatic, detailed faces with exaggerated cheekbones, poignant and expressive eyes and determined chins. Connally's instant affinity with the people she paints is her secret, although years of study and work have honed her technique. In 2000, she crafted 90 portraits into a piece of fine art called "People I Know," which debuted at Craighead-Green Gallery and was selected for exhibitions through 2003 at galleries throughout the Southwest and California.
This place is smashingly good fun in addition to bringing out the artist in folks of all ages. Using bits of broken glass, ceramics and tile (all tumbled to remove sharp edges), patrons turn frames, candleholders, coasters and vases into colorful works of art. Actually, the place has a threefold purpose: It's an art studio, a showplace for commissioning pieces and an art gallery. Owners Robin Franklin and Tracy Graivier are ready to help with ideas. If you prefer doing your smashing and gluing at home, they have take-home kits to get you started. Graivier has even written a book, Crazy Mosaic, which is filled with ideas and hints. So, if you happen to break a piece of Granny's china or knock over her favorite lamp, just scoop up the pieces and head on down. There's art in such disasters.
If you like your reading fast and gritty, with lots of bad-guy chasing and a liberal sprinkling of sex with the scams and body count, Dallas' A.W. Gray is your man. He's been spinning best-selling mystery tales for years, beginning with his popular series about local private eye Bino Phillips (Bino, Bino's Blues, etc.). And here's a little secret: When you think you've read his complete body of work, there's plenty more. The prolific writer has several pen names. Want horror? Try Crossland Brown's Tombley's Walk. Jeffrey Ames (Lethal City, etc.) is a Gray crime fiction nom de plume. For his legal thrillers, look for the name Sarah Gregory (In Self Defense, etc.). He/she can be found in better bookstores everywhere.
Like Riverdance performed underwater by fat people, clogging has its own strange appeal...or not. If you just can't get your fill of mature ladies in sensible shoes making their skirts fly up over their panties, you could see a psychiatrist, or you could call the number above for the Texas Clogging Council and get specifics on next year's Texas Clogger's Rally, to be held March 5 and March 6. There's always a big audience. Maybe you know why.
Say you're a lonely Howard Dean supporter, a witch, a native speaker of French or a pagan (same thing), a John Kerry supporter, Web logger or Goth, and you want to meet others of your tribe. Meetups is the place to go. Operating by Web and all over the world, Meetups arranges get-togethers in local venues for people seeking their ilk, whatever that may be. Plans are still in flux, for example, for the next Dallas-area meet-up of people who are Elvis. But there are already 53 of him signed up. Hey, even if you're not Elvis, how could you miss? There's a movie in here somewhere.
If we were up for drinking games at 8 a.m., this would be the quickest way to get shit-faced. The rules would be as follows: One drink every time Scott Sams mispronounces and/or gives the incorrect name for a local charity, council member or day of the week. Two drinks every time he makes a blatant pass at the eternally uncomfortable Grecian Goddess of Mixmaster Traffic, Alexa Conomos. One drink every time weatherman Greg Field's voice cracks, and another swig any time any one of them tries unsuccessfully to create "colorful banter" after underestimating how much time they have left on the air before the signal mercifully switches back to Good Morning America. We've formed an addiction to Daybreak and watch it religiously before heading off to work. It's funny and gets us going. Don't believe us? Just watch. It's like Laugh-In with extended forecasts.