The Nasher Sculpture Center
This year the Nasher's been home to modern neon sculptures, bulbous fiberglass works and approximately 9,000 golden balloons. Yes, it's been quite the year for the young museum with recent exhibitions including Statuesque, which featured sculptures from Aaron Curry, Rebecca Warren and Thomas Houseago, among other artists, and Sightings: Martin Creed, which was a mesmerizing display of thousands of balloons squished into one gallery space. The current exhibition, Tony Cragg: Seeing Things, features about 30 of the artist's most influential pieces from the past two decades and marks the first time the sculptor has shown his work in the United States since 1992. We love the intimacy of the Nasher and its garden spaces, plus it makes a great spot for a lunch date.
Meadows Museum
Last year, Meadows Museum announced a three-year collaboration with The Prado Museum in Madrid, and as part of the partnership SMU receives three important works from the Spanish museum. Earlier this year, El Greco's "Pentecost" was on display at Meadows, and currently the museum is hosting Jusepe de Ribera's "Mary Magdalene," curated by The Prado's Dr. Gabriele Findali. The partnership has also created a fellowship and symposium that are only furthering Meadows' reputation as a mecca of Spanish art. There's no better place to see the most prolific works of Spain's Golden Age of Art, not to mention a few cute sorority girls.
Dallas Cowboys Stadium
Art might not be the first thing you notice at the gargantuan Cowboys Stadium, but Jerry Jones and wife Gene are art lovers, which is evident when you take the time to gaze upon the 21 artistic works installed in various locations all over Cowboys Stadium. The contemporary pieces include Eliasson's "Moving stars takes time," located near Entry F in the Main Concourse, Matthew Ritchie's "Line of Play" above Entry K and the sprawling yellow rose and spheres in David Muller's "Solar Arrangement" in the Northwest Concession area. You don't have to purchase a game ticket to see the impressive collection because the stadium offers guided art tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and audio art tours on Mondays and Wednesdays. The massive collection will equally impress art lovers and sports fans, plus you might run into a cheerleader or Cowboy on the tour.
Lest you ever doubted that Dallas adores electronic music, consider this: For nearly two decades, and in the face of pressure from their corporate overlords at Clear Channel, KDGE-FM 102.1 The Edge ran a three-hour Saturday night show dedicated to the genre. Even crazier, people listened. Whether you were a fan of EDM or not, Edgeclub was an anomaly worth rooting for, a locally produced show that smirked in the face of the Edge's alt-rock format — a middle finger to the corporatization of American radio. Never mind the fact that the show's host, DJ Merritt, did an amazing job of turning listeners onto electronic talents national and local. That all went kaput back in November, though, when Clear Channel pulled the plug on the show in favor of a nationally syndicated program. Last we checked, DJ Merritt was trying, if only pessimistically, to get the show back on the air. New Edge program director Josh Venable, a local kid and on-air favorite now charged with running the ship, would do wise to give Edgeclub a second chance. If nothing else, it helped KDGE stand out from the radio clutter.
Here's how talented the guys behind local poster design shop Magnificent Beard are: In January, a poster that the team had come up with to promote a December Wu-Tang Clan concert at the Granada Theater was ripped off — rather blatantly — by another local design team looking to make a poster promoting an all-local show. The plagiarizing parties got torn apart for their move, but the fact that they even thought to steal from another poster design team was telling on two fronts. For one thing, there's a surprisingly large, thriving music poster art scene in Dallas. And, second, Magnificent Beard is the top dog in the market. More impressive: Designing smart, hip, eye-catching posters for the likes of the Granada Theater, The Loft, South Side Music Hall and the Palladium Ballroom is only a side gig for the pair behind the force. Connor Hill and Matt Brinker are ad designers by day, poster designers by night. At this rate, though, they might soon be able to quit their day jobs.
Dallas actors don't just love working for director-choreographer Joel Ferrell, they worship the guy. With back-to-back productions this year at Dallas Theater Center, the Horton Foote play Dividing the Estate, followed by the super-sexy staging of the musical Cabaret, Ferrell, a resident artist at DTC, showed what he can do with big shows on a big stage. For the Foote, he turned the Wyly Theatre space into the crumbling mansion of a fearsome Texas family down on their finances. For Cabaret, the audience, seated at café tables with booze service, became patrons of the show's louche Kit-Kat Klub in 1930s Berlin. Able to draw career-best performances from actors and to surprise the most jaded audience members with provocative ideas, Ferrell is taking local theater in all the right directions.
Oil and Cotton
At the risk of sounding old, back in our day, summer vacation meant no school. Meaning no homework. Meaning no summer reading lists, summer "mindwork" or whatever other euphemism teachers want to come up with for giving kids a bunch of busywork meant to keep their minds from atrophying over the summer but which in practice is just something that parents nag their kids about all summer, until the weekend before school starts up again, at which point the kids do the most half-assed job imaginable at rushing through a stack of paperwork. If only teachers would just let kids be kids during the summer — or have them exercise their creativity at art classes like Oil & Cotton's. Ranging from $10 hourlong craft classes to multiweek advanced sketching classes to four-day songwriting workshops, these instructional camps give kids something to look forward to while also keeping them from going brain-dead in front of the tube.
Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art is hardly the first museum in the world to realize that people might rather spend a Friday night in the company of its collection than alongside the Drunky McDrunkerson set, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they've taken the idea and truly embraced it. Every third Friday of the month, the museum bucks its self-inflicted 5 p.m. close time and entertains the masses until midnight. And we really do meant "entertain." Beyond the art, the museum comes alive with all sorts of events during these extended hours — there are DJs, tapas, movie screenings, live music performances (from the likes, even, of The Polyphonic Spree), yoga classes and guided tours. And it doesn't cost you a dime more than a regular trip here would: The same $10 fee you pay for admission during the daytime applies here; so, too, does the fact that children younger than 12 get in for free. It's a great family-friendly time — if your family can make it that late. If not? Well, it's a good date spot too.
Main Street Garden Park
The second annual Homegrown Music & Arts Festival saw downtown's Main Street Garden Park full of music fans gathered to hear a uniquely curated concert. Each band that performed had at least one thing in common — they all have strong North Texas ties. From Neon Indian and School of Seven Bells, whose members started here in town, to The O's and Seryn, who are still hanging around Dallas, the festival's lineup served as a showcase for the cream of the local crop. And 2011's installment went over quite well, with attendance more than twice that of 2010's inaugural festival.
It is the only news program on the local airwaves dedicated solely to, you know, issues — current affairs, as the old people say, shit that matters. Politicos stop to stump; you don't run for mayor in Dallas, Fort Worth or points in between without moving into the WFAA studios in Victory Park, otherwise a ghost town. And columnists slink by to opine; more Bud Kennedy, por favor? Brad Watson knows what he's talking about too, which always helps. Because most of the time, his guests don't seem all that sure. You know who else is pretty good? Gromer Jeffers, who's a little more press the meat than Meet the Press, but it'll do. But would it kill you to book Schutze? Scared, aren't you, Channel 8? Gordon Keith's about as cutting as your edge can handle. Admit it. Well, that's OK, then.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of