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Produced by Julie McCullough Kim and directed by Bryan Embry, this fashion marathon let us see Dallas' best local up-and-coming designers as well as the bigger, more established industry names. They tackled a mountain of applicants and curated a multi-hour runway immersion with looks by 35 different labels. From model selection to accessorizing, each outfit sent down the catwalk was given hands-on care, producing a refined, detail-rich army of walking art. In addition to being a spectacular display, The Pin Show brought well-deserved national attention to our local burgeoning fashion scene. How they pulled it off, we'll never know, but damned if we aren't thankful that they did.

When we first heard that two guys were dressed like video game characters and painting a giant Nintendo mural in Deep Ellum, we didn't grasp the depth of the spectacle. A quick site visit revealed all: A graffiti artist named Kid NES and a graffiti writer named Eder had joined forces over their shared love of eight-bit gaming. Dressed up as WaLuigi and Wario, the arch nemeses of our favorite princess-seeking plumbers, the pair created a temporary mural. It looked like a screenshot from an early-model Mario Bros. edition, recreated on the side of Quixotic World. Only in this life-size version of the old school game, Mario was being painted into a trap where every possible joystick maneuver would end in his peril. Spinys, piranha plants, turtles and other-world-depositing green tubes all filled out the image. People went nuts. Women screamed from passing cars, professing their undying love of Nintendo through open windows. Vehicles flipped U-turns repeatedly so that the drivers could snag photographic evidence of the situation. Basically, it was awesome. And when the whole thing was done, they left us with a memento: a video of the mural being made, set to music.

From In Cooperation With Muscle Nation to Homecoming!, pockets of artists across the region have started joining forces as collectives. It's making everything a bit more interesting. By forming these tiny unions, artists have started turning unconventional spaces into makeshift galleries. From Muscle's takeover of the Goodyear Retread Plant, to Homecoming!'s invasion of The Trinity Railway Express line, these collectives have proven that you don't need gallery sponsorship to show your work. A little groupthink, an idea worth acting out and pals to help with the planning and execution are all that's required. While some are more temporary than others, a handful of tribes have begun putting on interactive events that infuse our viewing experience with a sense of spontaneity and immediacy, while proving that art's working class has its own message to get out. And it won't wait around for the older institutions to catch up.

The Oak Cliff artist designed her solitary confinement in the form of a Plexiglas box. Felicella was on a mission to explore the full range of human emotions that comes from self-imposed isolation, done in plain view. Constructed in her studio and erected in an empty lot behind the Kessler, the box wasn't much larger than a phone booth and it became her dwelling for 48 hours. She even wore a catheter. We only saw movements from the artist as she worked, scribbling a mantra repeatedly onto sheets of colored paper, which when finished were crumpled and dropped to the floor. As they fell, they filled in the limited space around her, until they reached her waist, like water in a dunk tank. Hundreds of curious neighbors gathered to watch and lend support of her mission, but Felicella did not engage with them. Instead, she quietly observed and absorbed their presence. Those who couldn't sit vigil watched her confinement remotely through a live feed that the artist set up before she started her adventure. And when she emerged, wobbly, tired and hungry, we felt whole again. We had gotten one of our own back. So while Felicella's project was meant to research her personal psychological inner workings, we found that it made us take a look at our own emotions and ties to one another.

Cable's Bravo channel came to Dallas and found Courtney Kerr, Matt Nordgren, Tara Harper, Neill Skylar, Drew Ginsburg and Glenn Pakulak, attractive, chatty "socialites" (emphasis on "lite") willing to let cameras follow them around (with producers telling them what to do) for a "docuseries." The show made our city look twinkly by night and sunny by day. It made Dallas singles in their 20s and 30s, like this sextet, look both vapid and voracious in their quests for love with the right paycheck, er, person. Quoth Drew Ginsburg, the formerly fat gay car salesman, about his rocky search for romance: "I do hope to find Mr. Right, but it's super hard because everyone in Dallas tends to be self-centered and shallow." Almost as self-centered and shallow as people on a reality TV show.

He's a wizard with scenery, putting the twinkle and fog in Dallas Theater Center's annual A Christmas Carol. Bob Lavallee also made the boxy Wyly Theatre into a hot box of writhing bodies for Cabaret and this summer painted that stage with whirling pyramids and psychedelic images from the Old Testament for the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. As a production and scenery designer, Lavallee illuminates and expands on the intention of the playwrights' work. When the lights go up on one of his shows, the first thing you hear is the audience saying, "Wow."


Years from now, we'll look back at the work now being produced at the tiny Ochre House theater and marvel that such avant garde brilliance could have come from such a modest company. At the center of it all is Ochre House founder Matthew Posey. He writes, directs and stars in almost everything they do on the 8-by-12-foot stage in his storefront playhouse by Fair Park. Shows like Mean, Posey's dark musical about Charlie Manson (with Posey chillingly good playing Tex Watson to Mitchell Parrack's Charlie). And Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conception of Frida Kahlo starring Elizabeth Evans. And Morphing, a dreamlike cartoon based on Long Day's Journey into Night starring Justin Locklear. With his creative troupe of "Ochre House Boys" (which includes several women), Posey is taking live theater in bold new directions with every new show.


With its devotion to producing American musicals the way their writers and composers intended — full orchestra, full dance numbers, big chorus and big voices — Steven Jones' Lyric Stage in Irving is starting to get the national attention it deserves. Composer Charles Strouse, in his 80s, came to see Lyric's versions of his shows Bye Bye Birdie and Rags (and he loved them). The Rodgers and Hammerstein estate helped with research for this year's magnificent staging of Oklahoma!, which used original orchestrations and added back several numbers usually cut for time. The lavishly produced three-hour show was directed by Dallas' Cheryl Denson, with the 40-piece pit orchestra directed by Jay Dias. Nobody's done an Oklahoma! this size for decades, including the recent revivals in London and New York. Lyric's cast was young and sexy; the singing and dancing sublime. Oh, what a beautiful evening.

Dallas actor and director Jeff Swearingen has created a small but exciting theater company for kids up in Plano. They do plays, musicals and short films, sometimes all in one production, on shoestring budgets. Best of all, he isn't teaching his young thesps the hammy habits some kiddie theaters inflict. Swearingen's actually getting subtle, intensely interesting performances out of very young beginners. His production of Matt Lyle's comedy The Chicken Who Wasn't Chicken made brilliant use of simple props and costumes, but also included impressively done film sequences placing barnyard characters into famous movie scenes. Cute kids dressed as chickens doing dialogue from Gone with the Wind and The Godfather is just downright genius. His adaptation of The Little Prince was another multimedia triumph. This company's latest is an all child-and-teen production of the musical Man of La Mancha. Keep dreaming impossible dreams, Mr. Swearingen. You're doing amazing work.

First, let's get one thing out of the way: Follow Brett Shipp on Twitter and you'll find him to be whiny, self-righteous and enamored with Brett Shipp. That said, the man — not to mention his amusingly large eyebrows — makes great television. In 17 years as an investigative reporter at WFAA, he's broken a ridiculously impressive list of stories and won a slew of awards for his reporting. What makes him truly great, though, is his uncanny knack for provocation. No one else in local journalism could get punched by County Commissioner John Wiley Price, chased across several lanes of traffic by Deion Sanders' football team and get it all on tape for the nightly newscast. The man is an institution.

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