Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
At the core of this year's best-of artist's category is a loss: the death of our most stellar, the rising young artist Scott Barber. The Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell once said "art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it." It is a meager, dull and uninspired life without Barber and his art. He artfully deployed his private life in the public sphere, waging his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on the painterly surface. Though we know Barber for his lapidary painting, the faintly bubbled and brightly colored planes of the renderings of his cancer cells, he was a polymath when it came to artistic medium. He worked in video and sculpture, the virtual and the plastic. His three large, round urethane-cast wall pieces give light form in plastic hirsute bodies. In yellow, blue and red, they are the primary colors of Mondrian's palette translated into an electric light-swooning affair that is perfectly shagadellic. Barber died on April 22 from complications resulting from a bone-marrow transplant.
Is there no infantile icon that adults can't infuse with a brooding sense of horror? Clowns were kind of freaky to begin with, dolls will never recover from Chucky and every amusement park that Scooby Doo ever came across was abandoned and haunted. But teddy bears? How do you mess with fuzzy, cuddly teddy bears? By making a giant, 10-ton mega-teddy out of cold, immutable granite, that's how. And let's throw in some companions in attitudes of carefree play but wearing that same inscrutable, stony glare that says, "I'd crush you and everyone you love if I had the chance to fall on you." Sure, the workmanship is stunning. Sure, the surroundings are lush and green. But just try and walk past without looking over your shoulder. Hey, wasn't his arm at his side a second ago?
Grandpa ran every Saturday at the lake? Grandmother fed the ducks? Now you can recognize loved ones or honor special occasions by donating money for the Celebration Tree Grove at White Rock Lake, recently approved by the city of Dallas and the White Rock Lake Task Force. Donations to an endowment fund established by For the Love of the Lake will go to plant native trees, starting with some large trees that will give the area a special, secluded feeling. Eventually the grove will include walking paths and a courtyard with benches. For a donation of $1,000 or more, a plaque with Granddad's name will be mounted on a commemorative structure built in the style of the lake's Civilian Conservation Corps-style rock buildings and walls. Don't stop at recognizing your human relations. Your black lab loved the lake, too. For $1,000, you get the plaque and someone else's beloved companion gets more trees to sniff.
Ever since most of us on staff caved in and bought iPods, we haven't bothered with local radio stations to get our music fix, and in the past year, the corporate-owned frequencies haven't done much to change our minds. But that doesn't mean our antennae go unused. Rather, we keep the radio tuned to The Ticket on 1310 AM. And we're definitely not alone. It seems like everyone around town talks about the sports talk shows that run throughout the day, even women and non-sports fans. The biggest reason for the wide appeal has to be drive-time show The Hardline, where Mike, Greggo, Danny and Snake (yes, just "Snake") spend more time on topics like Six Feet Under, tomboys, local music and "jarring" than sports, even though their sports commentary is second to none. Still, the 7 p.m. rundown of the station's best segments from the previous day is proof that the entire Ticket schedule is getting it right, whether by delivering the most incisive sports talk in town or by playing games of "Gay, Not Gay." Once you become a P1, you won't switch your radio back to music stations, either.
The nonprofit Writer's Garret has as its stated mission the education and development of readers, writers and audiences. It stages writing workshops, panel discussions, peer critiques, contests and movie screenings. But the organization's two-year-old Writer's Studio Series, hosted by KERA at Theatre Three, takes the top prize. This year, the series brought best-selling literary stars Margaret Drabble, James Ellroy, Umberto Eco and Walter Mosley to Sunday night readings. KERA radio host Glenn Mitchell interviewed each author, who then read from one of his or her books and answered questions from the audience. Each two-hour session was taped and later played on NPR affiliates. The programs are fascinating, unpredictable and sometimes infuriating, as when politically incorrect and always controversial Ellroy told the audience that John F. Kennedy "got what he deserved." Authors scheduled this fall include Bret Easton Ellis (his new one is Lunar Park), Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking) and Scott Turow. With all the lawyers who want to be writers in town, better get your ticket early for Turow, attorney and author of Presumed Innocent and other novels.
White Rock Lake offers more than bike and running paths. For years, the Bath House Cultural Center on the eastern shore of the lake has been a little powerhouse of art, theater, history and music. Built in 1930, the art deco building is tiny but boasts a 120-seat theater, two galleries, a darkroom and other spaces for activities including yoga classes, jazz concerts and dance workshops. It also houses a small but fascinating museum about the creation and history of the lake. (Did you know people could swim in White Rock until 1953? It was closed to bathers due to "drought, polio and racial tensions.") The galleries showcase regional artists, often those who live and work in the lake area.