Dallas has a solid foundation of fine arts to go along with its brash, honkey-tonk image. Here are some places to feed your head. — Lauren Smart, arts and culture editor
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St., nashersculpturecenter.org
Part world-class sculpture garden, part museum, the Nasher Sculpture Center is one of the city’s most progressive spaces to look at art. Constantly questioning the future of sculpture, the Nasher programs famous artists alongside younger, emerging artists. Occasionally interactive and always thought-provoking, you might stumble into a room filled with balloons one visit and ponder the value of a pile of leaves the next.
Dallas Theater Center
2400 Flora St., dallastheatercenter.org
The largest regional theater in North Texas is the Dallas Theater Center, a high-quality company that performs primarily out of the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District. Seasons include both productions of classic works from Shakespeare and Arthur Miller, and world premieres of musicals and plays by some of the most important contemporary theater-makers.
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood St., dma.org
The city’s collecting museum has a permanent collection offering a survey of art history spanning more than 5,000 years, while also presenting a robust calendar of special exhibitions. Recently the DMA adopted a policy of free general admission (special exhibitions and late nights cost $15), allowing visitors to pop in often to visit Picasso, Monet and any other artist friends.
161 Glass St., dallascontemporary.org
Dallas Contemporary, the city’s non-collecting museum, envisions itself as the local kunsthalle, which can be loosely translated to: “the place with bombass exhibitions.” The Contemporary has a reputation for planning bombastic, challenging exhibitions with an eye for expanding the scope of Dallas art and art admirers to an international context. In 2015, thanks to the hire of serious-minded curators, the institution adopted a more intellectual, diverse approach to its exhibitions.
Kettle Art Gallery
2650 Main St., kettleart.com
Kettle Art Gallery is one of the city’s friendliest art galleries, and one of the few in Deep Ellum. Run by Paula Harris and muralist Frank Campagna, this space is home to fun events including the Pegasus Reading Series and the Deep Ellum Wine Walk, plus numerous art exhibitions focused on emerging Dallas-based artists.
167 Payne St., cydoniagallery.com
The Design District can be difficult to navigate for the casual art-goer, but the perfect combination of education and eye candy can be found at Cydonia Gallery. This commercial space features a roster of international artists, all of whom show potential to rise to art-stardom. Gallerist Hanh Ho has a keen eye for talent, offering numerous artists their first exhibitions in the United States.
Danielle Georgiou Dance Group
Choreographer Danielle Georgiou’s interests toe the line between dance and theater. She, alongside collaborator Justin Locklear, creates productions for younger, ADD-addled audiences, often with directly feminist underpinnings. The troupe performs at various locations throughout Dallas.
Second Thought Theatre
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd, secondthoughtheatre.org
If you’re attending a show at Second Thought Theatre, the address will take you to the Kalita Humphreys Theater in Turtle Creek. But to get to the small space that houses this company’s big ideas, you’ll climb the hill around back and look for a small red neon sign that reads: THEATER. Inside Bryant Hall, an intimate space built as a rehearsal hall, Second Thought Theatre produces its seasons filled with compelling new plays and the occasional new take on a classic work.
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3200 Main St., undermain.org
In a basement space on the eastern tip of Deep Ellum, Undermain Theatre tests the limits of theater. Tinkering around with plays from both contemporary playwrights — often world premieres — and heady interpretations of the work that inspires them, Undermain’s shows are for adventurous theatergoers. Run by Katherine Owens and Bruce DuBose, the company has grown from a tiny theater into a mid-size company with a reputation for excellence in the international theater scene.
Kitchen Dog Theater
Started by a group of young thespians fresh out of Southern Methodist University in 1990, Kitchen Dog Theater remains one of the funkiest, spunkiest theaters in town. Currently managed by Tina Parker and Christopher Carlos, the theater touts an acting company of some of the city’s best playwrights, actors, directors and designers. The theater is currently in between homes, but its shows promise to make you laugh, cry or cringe — sometimes all at the same time — no matter where they are performed.
Bishop Arts Theatre Center
215 S. Tyler St., bishopartstheatre.org
Formerly known as Teco Theatrical Productions, this storefront theater in Oak Cliff is just a hop, skip or a few jumps from Bishop Arts District. Run by Teresa Coleman Wash, a 2016 Dallas Observer mastermind winner, the company focuses on filling the gaps in the theater scene. They’re known for hosting playwriting festivals centered on the work of women when issues of gender parity arise. Years ago, they started the PlayPride festival to produce works of LGBT playwrights. Plus, around Christmastime, the company presents a can’t-miss production of Black Nativity.
231 W. Jefferson Blvd., thetexastheatre.org
A stop on every tourism guide to Dallas, the historic Texas Theatre is where Lee Harvey Oswald was hanging out the night he was arrested. As it was for Oswald, the theater has once again become the place Dallas residents would spend their last night out on the town, whether it be for the cocktails at the bar, an art show in The Safe Room, a late-night concert behind the screen, or, oh yeah, a movie. The theater shows the occasional blockbuster, but functions primarily as an art house theater, with repertory screenings or one-night-only events.