Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Creepy Sculpture

    Giant Teddy Bears

    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… More >>
  • Best Way to Remember Paw-Paw

    Celebration Tree Grove

    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… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    The Ticket 1310 AM

    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… More >>
  • Best Literary Inspiration

    Writer's Garret and KERA Theatre Three at the Quadrangle

    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… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Art House

    Bath House Cultural Center

    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… More >>
  • Best Art Invasion

    Pigeon-Stone Project

    You can't fling a paintbrush/film canister/chisel/flashcard/pencil/found object in this town without hitting an artist. They're sketching at White Rock, shooting Deep Ellum in gritty black and white and wandering downtown, picking up lost Post-It notes and other detritus for assemblages. For most, the biggest opening reception their art will see is when they pop the top on a Bud Light… More >>
  • Best Visual Artist

    Scott Barber

    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… More >>
  • Best Gallery

    Holly Johnson Gallery

    Consistently elegant work, large luminescent space and magnetic urban location constitute the trifecta that makes Holly Johnson Gallery a winning space. Though a newcomer, having opened in early April 2005, the gallery has had a triumphant run of shows. Casey Williams, whose work was shown in late spring, makes photographic abstraction out of the molten stuff of a harbor. His… More >>
  • Best Friends of Artists

    A Friend in Deed at Barry Whistler Gallery

    One of the best art exhibits this year had nothing to do with buzz or hipness or hype or scene. It was about heart. But it was still the exhibit for artists to contribute to and for art fans to attend. A Friend in Deed, a one-night show and sale at Barry Whistler Gallery in January, benefited Scott Barber, a… More >>
  • Best Inexplicable Art

    The Marble Cows at Crow Lake

    Like so many things associated with the Trinity River, Trammell Crow Lake Park, between the levees on Sylvan Avenue, is mostly about potential. The parking lot is littered, the soccer fields neglected. The curvilinear artificial lake is mostly mud (from which protrudes a Dallas Morning News vending machine). But with a little sprucing up, this scene could be positively idyllic.… More >>
  • Best Culture and Caffeine Fix

    Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art

    It's an insomniac's dream. Every third Friday of the month, the DMA stays open till midnight with a crazy schedule of activities: music and dance performances, yoga classes, cooking demonstrations (which means free tastings, yum), screenings of cult movies, karaoke. And, oh yeah, there's all that art to hang out with. Free with paid admission to the museum ($10 max,… More >>
  • Best Public Sculpture

    The Blue Dot

    You're driving east on Main toward Deep Ellum, down around Harwood, and all of a sudden this huge blue orb starts to appear in the distance, sort of floating out there over the street. But you can't quite tell where or what it is. As you approach, it grows, but as you near the I-45 overpass, it falls apart and… More >>
  • Best City Council Member

    Dr. Elba Garcia

    When Elba Garcia was our pick for best city council member three years ago, the competition was stiff. It was a tough call. Several people on the council were contenders. This year, it's different. In the competition to be the best, Garcia is already ahead of some on the council by virtue of not being the target of an FBI… More >>
  • Best Rock Garden

    Thursday Night Live!

    There are those fleeting moments when Dallas feels like a real city. Like sitting just off Ross Avenue and St. Paul Street in the hidden cove of the Dallas Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden. The high walls block the street noise, and the large, imposing sculptures bring the eye upward to the skyline, partially obscured by the garden's trees. Just… More >>
  • Best Cheap Group Meeting Spot

    Winfrey Point

    Many public meeting spaces can't seem to find a happy medium between aesthetics and price--you get either a white-shoebox classroom setting or something that's way beyond the budget of a small family reunion, wedding or other gathering. That's why we have our eye on these three city of Dallas-owned venues: Big Thicket (50 people capacity), the Dreyfuss Club (150 capacity)… More >>
  • Best Garden Design Source

    Dallas Arboretum Trial Gardens

    The myth about Dallas is that you can't garden here because of bad soil and hot weather. The truth is that you can garden here, but you have to grow the right stuff--often not what the nurseries are bringing in by the 18-wheeler load and pushing in their ads. The Dallas Arboretum, in partnership with Texas A&M University, has been… More >>
  • Best Reason to Avoid SMU During Summer

    Cheerleading Camp

    Yeah, yeah, we know you're probably wondering why anybody from the Observer would be at SMU long enough during the summer to determine a reason NOT to be there. The answer is simple: One of us still hasn't gotten that piece of paper that determines whether we're going to be just another low-income journalist or a low-income journalist with a… More >>
  • Best Romantic Hotel

    Hotel Crescent Court

    There's no heart-shaped Jacuzzi, but that's part of what's romantic about the Crescent. You can be cutesy, hand-holding lovers and still be elegant in these surroundings. You can eat a fancy, expensive dinner at the Crescent Club (the elegant part) while knowing that you have a luxurious king-size bed waiting back in the suite (the romantic part). While Hotel ZaZa… More >>
  • Best Country Move

    Kaufman County

    Smog, crime, city council--welcome to Dallas. Many Dallasites dream of a little place in the country, a horse, some chickens and fresh air. The mistake many of them make is moving to Collin or Denton County in search of Green Acres. Often overlooked is our neighbor to the east, Kaufman County. Land is less expensive, the major highway (U.S. 175)… More >>
  • Best Way for College Kids to Waste Time and Brain Cells


    Go ahead, call it an obsession. But chances are, if you're a college kid with a bunch of friends, a lot of work to do and a computer with Internet access, then you're logged onto The website, created by Harvard kids for Harvard kids who wanted to visualize their social network and determine their overall importance in the college… More >>
  • Best Heavy Petting

    SPCA of Dallas

    In some tribal societies, if you save someone's life, that person becomes your servant for the rest of their days. That's kind of how it works at the SPCA. The sad reality is that there are more pets out there than people who want to own them, and those that don't get adopted will eventually be put down, euthanized, put… More >>
  • Best Music Station

    JACK 100.3 FM

    If we have to hear one more inane radio contest or another DJ promotion for a local LASIK surgeon, we will pull this car over and rip the radio straight from the dash. We swear. While some people would protest that the JACK format is sterile and computerized, we suggest that, more often than not, adding humans to radio only… More >>
  • Best Hound Sounds

    WRR's Roll Over Beethoven CD for Pets

    Isaac Mizrahi has a line of clothing for dogs, and you've bought most of it. Your kitty has different collars for different moods. Your pets eat the highest-quality food. But what of their cultural growth? Lucy needs her horizons broadened with a little Mozart, a little Saint-Saens. This is apparently what 101.1 WRR was thinking when they compiled the Roll… More >>
  • Best Drum Circle

    FC Dallas fans

    For years, the diehard fans of the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) struggled to create some kind of atmosphere in the cavernous Cotton Bowl. Not surprisingly, the professional soccer team's two booster groups, La Raza Latina and The Inferno, became experts in all aspects of soccer pageantry: singing, waving flags, wearing funny hats. But above all, they drum--on snares, bongos,… More >>
  • Best Role Model Who Doesn't Have a Shoe Deal

    Greg Hatley, head coach

    A few years back, entrepreneur Todd Wagner was looking for philanthropic ways to spend his billions. He and Mark Cuban had just sold to Yahoo and now Wagner had the Foundation for Community Empowerment on the phone, asking for a local nonprofit that was really making a difference in the area. Head to Oak Cliff, the foundation said. Find… More >>
  • Best Daily Newspaper Columnist

    Jacquielynn Floyd

    You may have noticed that other than our own Jim Schutze, there is a distinct lack of angry, ax-wielding columnists here in the metroplex. In fact, the weapon of choice would be more like a Nerf tomahawk. Jacquielynn Floyd isn't going to dismember anybody with her sensible, sanitary opinions either, but what she does have is an uncanny knack for… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    Tracy Rowlett

    The guy has presence, and presence is what you need as a TV anchor. Sure, Tracy Rowlett has more than that. For one, he has responsibility: He's the managing editor, the big man of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. He's ringmaster of the newsroom circus at KTVT. But behind the desk, with the camera on him,… More >>
  • Best TV News, More or Less

    Robert Riggs and Todd Bensman

    KXAS-Channel 5 will be unwatchable till they kick off Mike Snyder and Jane McGarry, who together make half an interesting person; KDFW-Channel 4's got Shaun Rabb's hat collection; and WFAA-Channel 8's gone off the air (what╔nooo╔not really?╔hunh, coulda sworn╔). Which leaves KTVT-Channel 11 as the last, best hope for anyone interested in getting their news from TV. Fact is, there… More >>
  • Best Newcomer to the Airwaves

    Air America, KXEB 910 AM

    Finally, the answer to Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity and the other yakky neo-cons who've held sway way to the right on the airwaves for so long. Air America Radio colors its talk blue--state, that is--carrying the national broadcasts of The Jerry Springer Radio Show (8 a.m.-11 a.m.), The Al Franken Show (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), Randi Rhodes (2 p.m.-6 p.m.) and other… More >>
  • Best Radio DJ

    Hermann Bockelmann

    On Friday night, drivers looking for a hot radio station don't normally flip to the AM dial--certainly nowhere near oldies station 770 KAAM. But you'd be smart to delay the trunk-rattling tracks on Fridays to make some time for Europe Today, the strangest radio program heard on any of Dallas' crowded airwaves. Sure, the all-European song selection is hit-or-miss, unless… More >>
  • Best Radio Morning Show

    The Bobby Patterson Radio Show

    The best morning radio shows make you feel better about waking up, and nothing works like a heaping serving of good old-fashioned soul. On Soul 73 KKDA, it's served up by local legend Bobby Patterson, the man responsible for stone-cold soul classics like "She Don't Have to See You (To See Through You)" and "Quiet! Do Not Disturb." On record,… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show

    The Glenn Mitchell Show

    OK, so he's a little nasal. And he can be condescending and abrupt with callers. But Glenn Mitchell has something no other local talk show host can match: He is interesting, not for his antics, but for his information. When you flick on KERA over lunch, you never know what Mitchell will be talking about. It could be Iraq, it… More >>
  • Best Local CD Release (Tie)

    The Tah-Dahs, Le Fun, and The Happy Bullets, The Vice and Virtue Ministry

    Who knew that a couple of messy pop-rock bands could be marketing geniuses? On a stereo, The Tah-Dahs and The Happy Bullets aren't a perfect musical match. The former rocks out with bare-bones twee-punk while the latter mixes horn arrangements into its softer, Decemberists-loving songs. But the Dallas bands teamed up roughly one year ago to play nearly every concert… More >>
  • Best Blog


    A few months ago, when D magazine's blog, FrontBurner, posted a desperate request for donations to pay for a new Web server, a few Observer staffers chipped in (check the site's archives if you don't believe us). So why would we support a Web site run by a rival publication? Well, quite frankly, we can't live without it. The all-staff,… More >>
  • Best Not-Quite-Podcast

    Texas Gigs

    Every day, Cindy Chaffin proves herself the biggest music nut in town by slaving over her Web site, She summarizes dozens of local music articles, posts countless concert recommendations and babbles on and on about her favorite (and even not-so-favorite) bands. We know the woman isn't making much (if any) money running the site in her spare time, so… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater (Till the NorthPark Opens, Anyway)

    AMC Valley View 16

    Look, there are two kinds of "best movie theaters": the ones that show great movies and the ones that show movies great. For the former, sure, try the Magnolia or the Angelika; they've saved us during this drought-stricken summer, when the best the mainstream googolplexes had to offer was The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But the best moviegoing experience right now is… More >>
  • Best Cheap Movie Date

    Lakewood Theater

    Cheapskate or nostalgic. Spendthrift or creative. Penny-pinching or innovative. No matter the motive--paying as little as possible on a date or looking for something out of the norm to do--the Lakewood Theater makes you look good. Movie tickets, depending on the night and the sponsor, cost a dollar or less. Popcorn also comes cheap. Drinks at the bar are on… More >>
  • Best Movie Comeback

    Inwood Theatre

    For a while she was looking like scary old actress Norma Desmond, standing on a shabby staircase with a scowl on her puss. But a gorgeous facelift and chic makeover have turned Dallas' last movie palace, owned by Landmark Theatres, into a glamorous starlet. Interior designer Brooks Graham spoiled none of the Inwood's existing art deco details in adding cushy… More >>
  • Best Place to See an Embarrassing Movie

    AMC Glen Lakes 8

    You unsuccessfully begged your friends to accompany you to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. You snuck into From Justin to Kelly to avoid the snicker of the guy at the ticket counter. You skipped a night at the bar to watch Boogeyman on DVD. We get it: You have a love affair with sucky movies. It's not a crime, although there… More >>
  • Best Classical Theater Festival

    Shakespeare in the Park

    Starting in March at the WaterTower Theatre in Addison and extending into late October at the Samuell Grand Amphitheatre, the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas is inching toward becoming what everybody wishes it could be--a year-round celebration of Elizabethan theater. But the two best months, for our money, are still June and July, when the festival is doing hard-core Bard for… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    Uptown Players

    Once again, it's all about the all-gay all-the-time Uptown Players. With this summer's sold-out run of Del Shores' Southern Baptist Sissies, this theater group earned enough money (and a little more) to pay off its debts and fund the rest of its season. That's how strong the following has become for this troupe, whose mission is to do theater that… More >>
  • Best Importer

    Dallas Summer Musicals and Broadway Contemporary Series

    If you like Broadway musicals but not enough to actually sleep on the Great White Way to score a ticket, Dallas Summer Musicals and the Broadway Contemporary Series are for you. They bring the best of Broadway (or at least the touring versions of it) to Fair Park year-round, mixing old favorites such as Annie Get Your Gun and the… More >>
  • Best Place to Spot New Talent

    Festival of Independent Theatres, Bath House Cultural Center

    For seven summers the Bath House has played host to a lively festival of experimental works by some of the area's boldest young theater companies and best new playwrights. Limited to one-hour performances, Theatre Quorum, Commedia dell' Carte, WingSpan and others present new plays in rotating rep for several weeks. At times there are performances happening simultaneously inside and out… More >>
  • Best Show for a First Date

    Porn for Puritans

    Porn premiered last summer at the MAC to packed houses and, ah, a less than ecstatic review from our theater critic. But tastes differ. We liked it. And we're not the only ones. Porn's running this fall at Art Centre Theatre in Plano. The show's a great one for a date, preferably a first, as was our case when we… More >>
  • Best Reason to Act Like a Child at the Theater

    Dallas Children's Theater

    Founder Robyn Flatt, daughter of the legendary Dallas Theater Center founder Paul Baker, has made this former bowling alley site into the stunning Rosewood Center for Family Arts, one of the finest professional theaters for children in the country. Time magazine named it one of the top five in the nation and noted that it was the only one of… More >>
  • Best Local Actor and Best Local Playwright

    Steven Walters

    As one of the young founders of the year-old Second Thought Theatre company, this Fort Worth native and 2003 Baylor grad already has earned impressive credits as a writer and actor. He played the sensitive husband in Classical Acting's exquisite Gift of the Magi and the perpetual student in their Cherry Orchard. His new play Apathy and Angst in Amsterdam… More >>
  • Best New Theater Company

    Second Thought Theatre

    Despite the name, this troupe quickly has become a top choice among avid theatergoers looking for exciting new works and attractive young actors serious about entertaining with intelligent scripts. These recent Baylor grads are putting down roots here. "We would like to continue to grow and become a staple of Dallas' theater community," says co-founder Steven Walters, who writes new… More >>
  • Best Opening Night Nibbles

    Theatre Three

    Monday night openings are a little weird. Theatre Three's the only theater in town that does that. But it does cut down on the competition, and to make it more worthwhile, they host an after-party in the lobby. A buffet of snacks themed to each show is provided free for audience and actors, who spill out to the Quadrangle's pretty… More >>
  • Best Local Actress

    Allison Tolman

    With her Dallas debut in Second Thought Theatre's Anton in Show Business last year, this 23-year-old Baylor grad impressed critics and theatergoers with her natural ease onstage and her ability to turn in a breathtaking performance without seeming to hog the spotlight. Described by her Second Thought colleague Steven Walters as "ridiculously intelligent," Tolman visited New York, L.A. and Chicago… More >>
  • Best Stage Director

    Susan Sargeant

    Just when we were convinced that she was the master of staging only mega-serious dramas by Chekhov and Albee, director Susan Sargeant turns around and makes The Miss Firecracker Contest at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas into the madcap comedy of the summer. This native Bostonian has worked in D-FW theaters for more than two decades. She is the founder and… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Play

    Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

    Now in its fourth season, this venue for live theater just keeps getting better with age. Located in a converted church one block off Lower Greenville, CTD had to add more seats to accommodate their growing audiences for PG-13 fare such as Steel Magnolias and the recent Miss Firecracker Contest. Artistic director and founder Sue Loncar and her right-hand man… More >>
  • Best Place to Overcome Shyness

    Terry Martin's Meisner Technique Acting Class WaterTower Theatre

    Who needs therapy when you can study acting under local Meisner Technique teacher Terry Martin? Local actors, including standouts such as Regan Adair and Tippi Hunter, swear by Martin's 12-week course, which uses a step-by-step approach to breaking down emotional barriers and exploring dialogue through lengthy repetition. Martin, who is WaterTower Theatre's producing artistic director, trained under both Sanford Meisner… More >>
  • Best Living, Breathing Dallas History

    Rose-Mary Rumbley, Ph.D.

    Take it from our mom, Rose-Mary Rumbley is a rock star among Dallas' senior set. Her lively speeches and informative neighborhood history tours are sellouts months in advance. Her breadth of knowledge about all things Dallas is spectacular. Historian, humorist, author and actress, Rumbley, who appeared in the movie Paper Moon, is this area's most in-demand public speaker. Making more… More >>
  • Best Cultural Dessert

    Suenos Sabrosos

    Suenos Sabrosos means "sweet dreams" in English, and many of those can be found at this sweet and dreamy ice cream parlor in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District. Saturday nights you can find the Oak Cliff Circle of Poets reading and sometimes performing their works. They are cool about letting non-members read stuff, original or not, and may even offer… More >>
  • Best DWI Attorney

    David Burrows

    So he doesn't stand by a flashy car, tell the cameras to roll and promise to win you a basketful of cold hard cash. When you're looking at a little jail time after chugging martinis and running afoul of a McKinney Avenue roadblock, you need a thorough professional. That's David Burrows, Phi Beta Kappa from SMU and graduate of Baylor… More >>
  • Best Dallas History Lesson

    Facing the Rising Sun: Freedman's Cemetery exhibition African American Museum

    Does Fair Park ever cross your mind outside of car shows, Ferris wheels and all things fried? The African American Museum should help change that, and a visit leaves a deeper impression of the area's history. The museum as a whole is architecturally phenomenal and the collections are impressive, but the Freedman's Cemetery exhibition is powerful. A big chunk of… More >>
  • Best Man About Town

    Mr. Dallas, The Dallas Morning News

    Every daily paper should employ a set of unyielding skeptics churning out columns that force readers to react--and to anticipate the next round. Too bad The Dallas Morning News runs so many tepid columns and soggy editorials. Only Mr. Dallas possesses the weaponry of a great columnist, and he's allowed only the occasional piece about nightlife. Few writers can lambast… More >>

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