Three Awesome Thursday Night Art Parties That Cannot Be Missed (Free Booze, People)

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Tweet up your friends because tomorrow night, March 22, the artistic stars align: It's the painterly equivalent to buying a McRib and Shamrock Shake on THE SAME DAY. Three of our favorite venues are hosting parties by several great artists, each representing a contemporary or outsider lean. The MAC's bash gives complimentary access to works by William Powhida, Bill Haveron and Jeff Gibbons. The Magnolia Theater has gone and lassoed up a new exhibition by Waxahachie favorite Bruce Lee Webb, who will also be in attendance. Finally get zapped up by Tractor Beam, the agency is showing fresh work by N.Y.C/Dallas artist Tony Bones.

I know, I know -- that seems like a lot of hustling, but the payoff is huge: a Thursday night filled with so many great people, cocktails and artwork is a rarity. Here's a quick guide on what you can expect at each location and how to navigate your evening.

1.) Start at the MAC (5:30 to 9 p.m.) This event begins the earliest and is located well for party launching. There are free snacks and cocktails (Absolut and Brooklyn Brewery are booze sponsors) and many wonderful people. But most of all there's access to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's current exhibition, which is fun, compelling and worth a good long look.

I checked it out last week and fell deeply in love with William Powhida's subversive art-as-criticism offerings, especially his over-sized Mad Magazine meets Where's Waldo ode to Miami's Art Basel; he reinterpreted the storage-unit-based convention as an artist's refugee camp tagged with dozen of footnotes and micro-images. You could spend an afternoon exploring that piece alone, but don't. Take time to wander through East Texas artist (and MAC repeat offender) Bill Haveron's series, which incorporates everything from totem pole tributes of inspirational icons to oils and elaborate pencil sketches. Haveron will venture out of the ocotillo-lined East Texas landscape and into the MAC on Saturday, March 24, for a free lecture, so after you absorb his work, return to pick his brain.

2.) Magnolia Gallery(8 to 11 p.m.) An easy hike from the MAC, the Magnolia Gallery is hosting both art and artist Thursday evening, so you can exchange a firm handshake and wild-eyed grin with local favorite Bruce Lee Webb. In the past, Webb has painted over all kinds of media, from wood to T-shirts. He finds joy and beauty in reinvention. His newest series is all done entirely on paper, although the canvases themselves have served various purposes throughout their existence. He's been dabbling with and on the pages of scrapbooks from the early 1900s, painting over them with his primitive, outsider renderings. "Old things have a certain spirit or energy to them," he said, in interview last month. "I can't stand a blank piece of white paper." Get to know the work of Webb, who's gallery -- co-run with wife, Julie -- has been a nurturing home for local artists and musicians since 1987. No word on the drink special or cocktail situation at this affair, but the Magnolia has a bar, so at least you can buy some.

3.) Tractor Beam (7 to 10 p.m.) East Dallas and New York artist Tony Bones has done a little of everything. He's made art for a political campaign/double album release, been thumbprinted for graffiti and dabbled in neon signs (thanks to the inspiration from the above-mentioned Bruce Lee Webb), but these days he's driven toward gallery shows. By having the decadence of added time and space that wasn't always available when Bones' focus was on street art, he's able to create more developed characters and stories for them within his work. Add in that this hometown hoorah is being held at Tractor Beam, which is map-pinned for throwing stellar gatherings, and you can see why we recommend it as an evening's closer, despite its earlier time slot.

We'll see you out there.

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