Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Rob Shearer was in my backyard, competing in Meat Fight 2011 on a team with his friend Kevin Johns. These were the guys who were running Blues, Bandits & Barbecue-- an actual, legit barbecue event in Oak Cliff. They were the cool guys. They wore hats before wearing hats was cool. They wore ties everywhere. I was stunned that they'd be at my backyard kegger, serving my friends ribs. They were so nice, and so always-smiling, and I just hoped that if I was near their Event-Throwing-Faces, I'd learn a thing or two.
Even before I met Shearer, I was awestruck by his commitment to changing the perception of Oak Cliff. He was a guy who was really doing something. Not just sitting around bitching about this city-- he was promoting small businesses, throwing secret parties in places I'd never heard of, encouraging people to help him grow the positive brand of Oak Cliff.
And to encourage more people to embrace Oak Cliff, he created events to draw people to the area. Dude has major Event Creation Balls. Bastille on Bishop? He and friends started that. Blues, Bandits & BBQ? They started that one, too. Brew Riot? Yep. That insane Mardi Gras Oak Cliff Parade? Still more yep.
I asked Shearer a few questions to find out a little more about the story behind these events and his involvement with all things Oak Cliff. As you read this, punctuate his commentary with the bow tie he was most definitely wearing as he wrote these answers.
Ok. Gimme your Oak Cliff Bio. I want our reader(s) to know what a force you are behind so many Oak Cliff events, and its recent growth and popularity.
I moved to Oak Cliff 11 years ago, and it has been amazing to see the neighborhood change during that time. When I first moved here, I was struck by the fact that the people who lived in Oak Cliff absolutely recognized it as a dynamic and vibrant community with rolling hills, great residential and commercial architecture, and a small collection of quaint shops and restaurants. But the media in Dallas didn't reflect that culture. So I started a magazine with a few friends called CliffDweller - and our goal was to reflect back to the residents of Oak Cliff what made our neighborhood so great. We launched CliffDweller right as things started taking off - Tillman's Corner became Tillman's Roadhouse, an old auto garage became Bolsa, Eno's opened, the Kessler Theater was getting ready to open - it was an exciting time in Oak Cliff. We ended up selling CliffDweller to the publisher of Advocate Magazines and the magazine continues to be popular reflection of the culture in the neighborhood.
In 2010 another group of friends and I started a neighborhood non-profit called Go Oak Cliff. The stated (and perhaps a bit lofty) goal of Go Oak Cliff was to help develop the neighborhood into the most livable community in the country. But the reality was that we all wanted to create great events that celebrated the neighborhood and the neighbors in it and gave everyone an excuse to party in the street. We created Bastille on Bishop, our annual celebration of our city's French heritage, complete with a crushed granite pétanque court in the middle of the street in the Bishop Arts District. We started the Mardi Gras Oak Cliff Parade, which attracts more than ten thousand neighbors along the mile-long parade route. We created Blues, Bandits & BBQ - a celebration of meat and smoke - which this year featured more than 30 BBQ teams competing for the glory of serving the best brisket, chicken, pulled pork and sausage. And we launched Brew Riot - a home brew competition and festival featuring more than 200 different home brews last year.
When we started each of these events, people told us we were crazy. "A French-themed party in the middle of July that is held outside in Dallas? It will never work!" But the thousands of people from across North Texas who have "discovered" Oak Cliff as a result of our neighborhood parties have a new perspective on what is going on in Oak Cliff-- and that is just part of the combined efforts of an entire neighborhood to change the perception of Oak Cliff and create a destination in Dallas that is authentic and charming.
What's your favorite thing about Oak Cliff? My favorite thing about Oak Cliff is the mosaic of people and culture that make it the most unique neighborhood in North Texas. A close second is the fact that all of my favorite restaurants in Dallas are walking distance from my house.
How many events would you say you're involved with in OC each year? Half a dozen "official" events, but in Oak Cliff there's always a good reason to throw another party.
What are the top three hipsterest things you've ever seen happen in OC? I saw a very talented musician busking in Bishop Arts a few weeks ago. He was wearing a fedora, playing what looked like an antique guitar, and standing in front of an airstream trailer AND a teepee. As far as I'm concerned that will never be topped.
When is it NOT appropriate to wear a bow tie? At the pool. I would have to shave my chest to really pull off the Chippendales look.
Where can I buy the best custom-made lady hats and man hats in The World? My lovely wife happens to be the milliner who has a custom hat shop above Bolsa. She really does make the best hats (and bow ties) in Dallas, and I'm not saying that just because I sleep with her.
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Anything going on soon that you want to share with our reader(s)? I just launched an Oak Cliff-based advertising agency with a few friends focused on helping for-profit companies integrate cause marketing and social good into their business and then use that good to form more authentic and lasting connections with their customers. The agency is called Kickstand (http://www.heykickstand.com) and I expect big things from our efforts in 2015.
Thank you, Rob Shearer, for everything you're doing for Oak Cliff. We appreciate your eye for events and your ability to bring something new to each one you create. You are a creative force in our town, and we're lucky to have you.
And Dear Everyone: If you ever go to Oak Cliff, be sure to play "Where's Shearer?" It's like "Where's Waldo?" only instead of looking for a dude in a red and white striped shirt, you're looking for a dude with a bow tie and a cool hat. (This game was easier in 2011, before hat-wearing and bow-tie wearing was in full swing.) If you spot him at an event, you get 10 points, but if you just spot him smiling in Oak Cliff on a random day, you get 50 points. 100 points if you see him outside the limits of Oak Cliff. I swear, once you start looking for him, you won't be able to stop playing this game. Dude is everywhere. And he's somehow always happy, doing something nice, like giving a dog a fedora or petting a baby.
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers