Events for the week
10th Annual Southwest Boat and Tackle Show: The press material for the 10th Annual Southwest Boat and Tackle Show is rife with references to "the outdoorsman" and "serving the needs of the outdoorsman." If, in the words of Fran Leibovitz, you believe The Great Outdoors is what you must pass through to get from your apartment to the cab, then chances are nothing that the show will wrinkle your chenille. In fact, folks who would never dream of sleeping in a tent but enjoy a little fishing now and then, remember--The Boat and Tackle Show was really designed with you in mind. An explosion of interest in camping and hiking has happened over the last five years, and organizers have attempted to meet the demand with displays, vendors, demonstrations, talks, etc. on outdoor activities. Plenty of people still come for the fishing paraphernalia alone. The Show happens January 4, 5-10 p.m.; January 5, noon-10 p.m.; January 6, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and January 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin. Tickets are $2-$6 (kids under six get in free). For information, call 732-6100.
Ninth Annual Dallas Video Festival: Although there's something for almost everyone at the international Dallas Video Festival, make no mistake--the Festival isn't for everyone. Folks who tend to view the wonderful world of video communication as a sedative or a narcotic should beware--there's no outtakes from America's Funniest Home Videos scheduled, and the latest Tool Time girl from Home Improvement must have canceled her festival appearance for a monster-truck pull across town. The Dallas Video Festival is for folks who watch TV with an active, discriminating mind, whether it be while exploring the latest innovations in video art or a particularly volatile cultural issue. For a critical guide to Festival programming, flip to the second feature in this issue of the Observer. Scheduled dates are Thursday and Friday, 7-11 p.m.; Saturday, noon-11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-9:30 p.m. Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $8-$10; Festival pass, $25. For more information, call 823-8909.
The City of Lost Children: The Inwood Theatre opens a must-see for movie fans who love to see baroquely depressing visions of the future. The City of Lost Children is an English-subtitled French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, the comic surrealists who gave us the blackly hilarious Delicatessen. Whereas that film was defiantly goofy in even its most vicious moments, The City of Lost Children uses twisted black humor not so much to make you see the absurdity of terrible things, but to reveal the terrifying core of absurdity. Set in a nameless post-apocalyptic world, the film is nominally about the search by a street-corner strongman (the multilingual Ron Perlman) and a wise little girl (Judith Vittet) for the strongman's kidnapped baby brother. The child has been stolen by an evil inventor who cannot dream whose goal is to find a child who won't be frightened by his terrible visage, and then steal the little one's dreams. It's fast-paced, visually thrilling, and at times frightening in that Brothers Grimm-primal fear way. The City of Lost Children opens today at the Inwood Theatre, Lovers Lane and Inwood. For information, call 352-5085.
Family Day: Last year's Family Day was such a success, the Dallas Theater Center has decided to once again reach out to the community at large and remind everyone that you don't need a pedigree to attend and enjoy live theater (although a fat wallet doesn't hurt). For their second annual Family Day at DTC, everything is free, and although the emphasis is on drumming up new audience members for the Center's high-quality productions, the means to that end are a variety of cool events. Many are geared for children, like short, introductory theater classes running all morning; puppet shows; theatrical demonstrations; puppet- and mask-making; and a free performance of The Ugly Duckling. The big draw for parents is the chance to tour the Kalita Humphreys Theater, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Family Day happens 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at 3636 Turtle Creek Boulevard. For more information, call 526-8210.
Texas Abstract: New Paintings in the Nineties: The contemporary art world is currently in the throes of vigorous internal debate over what art means in the ruins of modernism and who among current practitioners might be the ones currently defining it. In other words, it's a semantic disagreement that should concern most of us only insofar as we accept or reject what the art fascists are sending us. A new show opening at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Texas Abstract: New Paintings in the Nineties, is full of award-winning Texas-based painters who all deal in the vocabulary of abstract. That word used to mean drawing yourself or a landscape using ink blots, but as the history of modern art has shown us, artist and art subject have grown increasingly alienated from one another. Texas Abstract continues that trend as the various artists represented take all kinds of stylistic chances that refer to themselves rather than the outside world. The show opens January 6 and runs through March 24 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Avenue. It's free. For information, call 953-1212.
Craighead-Green Gallery: Many of the paintings in Works on Paper and Sculpture, Craighead-Green Gallery's first solo showcase of San Antonio-based painter Larry Graeber, look like paintings by Jackson Pollock that are finally beginning to bloom. In a sea of bold, jagged paint sweeps and strokes emerge faces in contemplation, bodies in repose, knife shapes floating through space, and abstract shapes bouncing off each other like bumper cars. (Abstract expressionism without the attitude?) Graeber has work in the Dallas Museum of Art and has showcased individual works at Craighead-Green since 1994. For his first Dallas one-man exhibit, Graeber includes smaller works on paper as well as sculpture. The show opens January 5 with a reception 6-8 p.m. and closes February 3. The Craighead-Green Gallery is located at 2404 Cedar Springs. For more information, call 855-0779.
Camerata Chimera: Surprise your classical-music-loving friends who think they're hot snot just for having a few CDs by Satie and Shostakovich hanging around the house: Take them to an evening of centuries-old compositions that you're not likely to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra tear into anytime soon. Camerata Chimera is a chamber music ensemble of North Texas instrumentalists whose mission is to keep alive through performance obscure pieces from the Romantic and post-Romantic periods. For this fourth in a series of seven programs, Camerata Chimera showcases piano trios from Dvorak, Faure, and Hoffmann delivered by a piano-violin-cello combination. The Heinrich Hoffmann work is the special highlight of the evening--the ensemble had already showcased two other major works by the man, but this last composition may have never been performed in the United States before. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the St. Thomas Apostle Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood at Mockingbird. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 871-2787.
Elvis Presley Birthday Bash: To some, he was The King--a good-looking white guy who took an American musical art form to the next level. To others, he was The King of Frauds--a good-looking white guy who made his legend and his millions in glorified blackface, then dragged rock and roll into the showrooms of Las Vegas. No matter how you feel about the peanut butter-and-banana-eating, TV-shooting Elvis Aaron Presley, you've got to admit that the man belongs to that small clique of performers who define an era rather than being defined by it. The Hard Rock Cafe celebrates The King's birthday with an impersonation celebration of sorts. The program starts off with a 90-minute Elvis Impersonators Contest for prizes, then segues into an Elvis Revue starring Dave "I am too The King!" Tapley and his 10-piece Vegas band. Elvis' favorite chow--including pork chops, mashed potatoes, and specials on "Blue Hawaiians"--will be served. Tickets are $5. For information, call 855-0007.
The Gulf War: An Academy Award-winning documentary, The Panama Deception, recounted in damning detail the convoluted relationship between Manuel Noriega and the U.S. government, especially under George Bush, who made the decision to invade Panama as part of his self-proclaimed "War on Drugs." Now, the indispensable PBS-TV documentary series Frontline gives a four-hour examination of the military maneuver that will probably define Bush's foreign policy record for generations of scholars to come--Operation Desert Storm. In honor of the fifth anniversary of the conflict, Frontline airs its two-part investigation "The Gulf War." Lest you think the godless communists over at public TV have launched a Panama Deception-style partisan attack, look at the list of participants who contributed to the project--Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, James Baker, Richard Cheney, Margaret Thatcher, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The four-hour, two-part Frontline airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday nights on KERA-TV Channel 13.
Cronan and Himbra: "Image development," "corporate communications," "design consultation"--all these are disciplines that have sprung up around the behemoth of American corporate culture. The name of the game at every level, even during internal, day-to-day negotiations, is the sale of images--of competency, control, vitality, etc. The Dallas Society of Visual Communications welcomes a pair of professionals who specialize in the visual side of corporate promotion--design. Michael Patrick Cronan operates Cronan Design in San Francisco and his wife, Karin Hibma, is president of Cronan Artefact. Both specialize in helping big business create marketable designs for the manufacture of products and services. In other words, they are responsible for doing everything possible to hook you into supporting their clients. This is a real behind-the-scenes glimpse of contemporary American commercialism. The program begins at 7 p.m. at CityPlace, Haskell and Central Expressway. Tickets are $5-$10. For more information, call 241-2017.
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What's happening in town? From underground club nights to the biggest outdoor festivals, our top picks for the week's best events will always keep you in on the action.