Dallas Observer Names Nine Dallas Artists as Finalists in Its First Annual Masterminds Award

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But that's not all Steele is doing. He's just written and directed the indie film Uncertain, TX, shot on location in Caddo Lake and starring several Dallas actors, including Clay Yocum. Steele played the starring role at Kitchen Dog Theater in the two-person Peter Sinn Nachtrieb play Boom earlier this year. He's also a social media and tech trend consultant, flying up to Boston twice monthly to offer his expertise on the future of everyday technology.

Steele grew up in Highland Park and earned a degree in theater and journalism at University of Oklahoma. A believer in "do-it-yourself filmmaking," Steele says he wants the Texas Theatre to be the place Texas filmmakers debut their work. "I want it to be a creative space in general," he says, "with maybe an acting lab like the Actors Studio."

One byproduct of social media, says Steele, is the "movement for localism." That means more interest in locally made films and locally produced plays. Making his own films and owning the theater in which to show them is a throwback to the man who built the Texas Theatre in 1931: Howard Hughes.

Billy Zinser

A small army of brightly colored, avocado-seed-shaped creatures is lined up on the shelves of artist Billy Zinser's home studio on Lower Greenville. He calls the smooth little critters "Macrodons." Made of molded plastic, they are headless, featureless forms, made in limited editions and sold as collectibles for $40 each.

Zinser's sculptures have caught the interest and imagination of children, grown-ups and collectors who find the objects online or at pop-up galleries around town. Zinser, who grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, where his aunt gave him art lessons, isn't sure why he's so obsessed with repeating the shape of the Macrodons, both in the fist-sized toys and in heavily layered paintings on canvas. "I was obsessed with Legos as a kid," he says. "But I don't know where the Macrodons came from. They are whatever you want them to be."

Jeff Koons, Banksy and Shepard Fairey are among Zinser's artistic influences. If he follows his long-term plans, Zinser, 28, envisions making Macrodons in all types of materials and sizes, including giant inflatables (one of which will be on display at Artopia) that he wants to see spring up unexpectedly in public spaces. There will be piñata Macrodons and plush toys, maybe jewelry or even edible versions.

"I'm very happy to be making art in Dallas," says Zinser, who's also director of the Marty Walker Gallery. "You have a great audience for your work here and people are willing to participate and support the arts in this city. That's a good combination."

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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner