Dallas Museum of Art
If public schools paid one-tenth the attention to arts education that the Dallas Museum of Art does, the world would be a better place. Education is at least half of the DMA's mission, and programming for children, with families encouraged to participate, is plentiful and of exceptional quality. The museum's Gateway Gallery is the focal point for young children and parents to learn about art--not only the stuff in the museum's collections but work by local artists who lead free sketching activities, and, of course, hands-on work by the kids themselves in the Gateway Gallery studios. The DMA's dedicated kids space is interactive with puzzles, books, rubbings and crayons, continuously staffed with volunteers and professionals alike. Family art classes are offered, and the summer season is filled with "Children's Storytime" and "Family Film" events. Free weekend programming called "Family Days" includes multiple hands-on art activities, treasure hunts, live music and dance performances and a host of cultural entertainment. DMA educators are quick to remind you that arts education isn't merely about drawing or painting; children develop conceptual thinking, problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, communication, fine motor development, history knowledge and visual skills through art exploration.

When MTV "unplugged" some top rock stars, a whole new generation of young people shivered with the discovery of the sheer power and beauty of the human voice--a cappella or with the subtlest acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment. This, of course, is no big whoop for season-ticket holders of Dallas' Turtle Creek Chorale, who tingle five times a year as 225 lusty male voices reverberate the rafters of the acoustically perfect Meyerson Symphony Center. For almost a quarter of a century, TCC audiences have applauded the award-winning, Carnegie Hall-playing chorus that, under the direction of Dr. Timothy Seelig, performs rock and pop music, Broadway show tunes, spiritual and religious fare, as well as holiday favorites. When they're not singing a cappella, TCC selects the best local musicians to accompany them. Either way, they achieve a pure, special sound with impeccable harmonies and robust rhythms.

Kimbell Art Museum
We took our 9-year-old to this exhibit, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. When children are 9, anything you do, say, present or wish for is declared "booooring." But this exquisite exhibit, which (too bad for you) just ended, was one of the most impressive Egyptian tours allowed in the United States since the King Tut exhibit. Perhaps it was Osiris resurrecting, perhaps the sarcophagus of Khonsu, perhaps the full-scale reproduction of the tomb of Thutmose III--whatever it was, the kid loved it. The audio tour, much of which has children-specific entries, helps keep them involved as well. In all, it was much more inspiring and educational than whatever was going on in the classroom that day. Not saying our munchkin's teacher gave us flak for doing this. Not saying that at all.

Generally, we shy away from that which is popular. Popular movies, popular music, popular mayors--we give 'em all hell. But not when it comes to radio morning shows. The No. 1-rated show for years has been Skip Murphy and the Morning Team, and we think there's a damn fine reason for this: They do radio right. They are intensely local, they love their jobs, they are funny and honest, they make mornings seem joyous. What more could you want from your radio dial?
The credo here is that it is never too soon to encourage a child's artistic interests and abilities. Professionally taught, once-a-week classes are available for ages 2 to 15 in everything from pottery and watercolor to pastels, charcoal and acrylics--all in an atmosphere of fun. There are pizza parties, birthday celebrations and summer camps available. Still, this isn't vacation Bible school stuff. The instructors are serious about their jobs. Twelve sessions (three months) run $225, six months cost $450 and a year's worth of instruction is $835. Says instructor Nora Raggio, "We want the kids to learn and have fun." If classes are full at the Plano studio, which has been operating for seven years, try the newly opened art-a-rama in Frisco, 7158 Main St., 972-377-9900.

We're not as down on the new breed of talk-jocks as one might think. Howard Stern is always worth a listen, but we prefer seeing his freak show on E! rather than listening to it. Russ Martin on KLLI-FM (105.3) is indeed talented, but his supporting cast drives us nuts. And some of the new folks at KLIF-AM (570) at least have a pulse. But in the same way we don't mind reading Maxim but feel better about ourselves after reading The New Yorker, we love turning off the squawkers for a two-hour shot of Glenn Mitchell when possible. Mitchell is not only laid-back and erudite (two must-have qualities on public radio), he also can be whimsical and fun. His guests are usually interesting, and when they're not, Mitchell somehow makes them seem so. His show is a lunchtime treat.
The obvious joke is that you feel at home on The Range, but it's true. While other stations dip their toes in roots, rockabilly and Texas music, The Range has taken the full plunge from Day One. They play novelty country, swing, new traditionalists and old sentimentalists. They play Conway and Merle, Max Stallings and Jim Lauderdale and everything in between. Bottom line: They play stuff you can't hear anywhere else.
As you can tell, we don't have the utmost respect for anchors. They are newsreaders, as the Brits call them. It is a skill, sure, but it ain't journalism. That said, we've always respected Tracy Rowlett. Not just because he has hard-news chops, not because he's overly humble, but also because he's been anchoring and leading TV newsrooms in Dallas since 1975, building up a reservoir of respect that few are accorded. Channel 11 will probably never do as well in the ratings as Channel 8 or Channel 5, and some people continue to suggest this had something to do with Rowlett's worth as lead TV news figure for his station. That's ridiculous. You don't confuse quality with popularity, unless you think that Mike Snyder is the be-all, end-all of Dallas journalism.

We're not dissing the mayor, who, back in the day, could get us all excited with a string of seven curse words. There was something about the dichotomy of her impeccable taste in clothing, her well-mannered air and her filthy mouth that set us tinglin'. Now that she's "mayoral" all the time, eh, not so much. No, the powerful female of the moment for us is Dr. Elba Garcia, the stunning councilwoman who would be totally and completely offended at this objectification, and rightly so. At least, we hope she is. We love it when she's angry.

Skip Cheatham is one of those guys women want to be around and men want to be, a smooth-talking, slang-dropping fella with his finger on the pulse and his foot on the beat. While it's a 24/7 party at K104, it only hits its peak when Skip's behind the mike, whether he's spinning records or spinning yarns, which is one of the main reasons K104 absolutely destroys all comers in the ratings. Here's two more: He's also the station's program and music director, a true radio triple-threat. K104 has a deep bench, but Cheatham is undoubtedly the team's all-star.

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