Dallas Observer Masterminds 2014: Meet the Winners of Our Annual Art Awards

There's a peculiar magic that surrounds creation. A collision of matter, sparked by energy, goes on to be viewed as destiny. In recent years our city has experienced a push of new life, a rupturing of culture. An Arts District was built. A museum became communal space. Public art was created to engage and interact with those who discover it. And somewhere in there we've begun reaching toward a better appreciation and understanding of who we are. The possibilities for what comes next feel electrifying. Infinite.

It's an exciting time to be in Dallas and to examine its culture, stew over its potential growth and reflect on those responsible for its current momentum.

Here at the Dallas Observer, we do that annually through our Masterminds awards, surveying the cultural landscape -- film, visual art, stage, activism -- to identify and honor those fostering our city's artful eruption. The parameters are intentionally loose. We might select an artist whose contributions over several decades proved pivotal for our city's evolution. We might choose a new name whose bold decisions changed how we communicate with and relate to the world. We might pick someone who makes us simultaneously laugh, think and wonder. But once we find them, we declare them Masterminds. Then, we throw money at them.

We selected six winners this year, and I'll hand a check for $1,000 to them Saturday at Artopia, our annual art-fashion-dance party. You should join us for that at Three Three Three First Ave., a restored 1926 industrial building with stunning panoramic views of our city. We'll have runway shows, dance groups, performance artists, live music, a magician, visual artists, a ceremony for these Masterminds and probably way too much tequila.

Selecting these winners from the field of talent wasn't easy. I leaned heavily on a collection of thoughtful minds, composed of members of the art community and last year's Masterminds. Weighing in from 2013's batch was photographer (and storytelling treasurer) Dylan Hollingsworth; flamenco dancer extraordinaire Delilah Muse; video artist Carolyn Sortor; performance artist and community organizer Erica Felicella; the twistedly wonderful chimeral minds of Brian K. Jones and Brian K. Scott; and the brilliant director and set designer Jeffrey Schmidt. From the city at large I lured in art critic Betsy Lewis, Ro2's co-owner Jordan Roth and Danette Dufilho, the director of Conduit Gallery's experimental project space.

Once all were inside the Observer conference area, I locked the door. When we finally emerged, weak and shaky, the space resembled a tattered war room.

Very few beers remained intact.

Read all about this year's recipients in the following pages. They can do whatever they like with the money, whether it's developing a new branch or work, framing pictures for their next big show or just finally paying off that bar tab at the Double Wide. We just hope the $1,000 helps them do what they do best: create. --Jamie Laughlin, culture editor

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