Best Temporary Art Installation 2012 | Balloon Room at the Nasher Sculpture Center | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

It's been almost a year since Martin Creed's exhibit at the Nasher closed, but we're still talking about it, because we miss it so. It was a giant room filled from floor to ceiling with some 9,000 yellow balloons, and you could run around through them. Technically, the piece was called "Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space." What did it mean? Damned if Martin Creed knew. "I'm not a conceptual artist," he told an interviewer just before the show opened. "I don't believe in conceptual art." The balloon room was nothing less than a giddy, transcendent experience: the noise of the balloons like waves, the sensation of kicking them aside to walk, the gold color filling your field of vision as you tried to find your way forward. Please come back, Mr. Creed. Bring more balloons.

Dallas has a wealth of plaster bulls scattered around town, by which we mean two. One is pretty good; it sits proudly atop a steak joint on Oak Cliff's Jefferson Avenue. It's cute, you know? But the longhorn outside Raul's Corral Mexican Food is absurdly, gloriously excessive, a larger-than-life testament to the noble cow, sitting atop a stone platform and surrounded by a low iron fence. It has enormous, slightly dingy white horns and an "RR" brand on the left flank, a tribute to restaurant owner Raul Ramirez. We also feel compelled to mention that it's (sort of) anatomically correct. Visit the bull, honk at the bull on your way home from work, but for God's sake, don't try to steal the bull. We've thought about it. Can't be done. Besides: Raul's longhorn deserves to reign on his throne of rocks forever.

Anime lovers from all over the country flock to Dallas each year for the A-Kon convention. The three-day event is jam-packed with events in which folks get to live out their anime fantasies and participate in everything from art shows and costume contests to role playing. This year, during the 23rd annual A-Kon, tens of thousands of costumed fans took over the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas. But since the convention has gotten so large, it'll move to the massive Hilton Anatole in 2013. Not a fan of dressing up? We recommend grabbing a seat at the hotel bar and spectating.

When Wanz Dover first made a splash in the Dallas music community with his band Mazinga Phaser, he wasn't a DJ at all. At least that's not what he was known for. Nowadays, he has several DJ projects going, and with his German techno moniker Blixaboy as the flagship, Dover has made a bigger splash in Europe than he has stateside. But typically, when you catch a DJ set from him these days, you're going to be hit over the head with his incredible collection of punk garage soul. He's passionate about the music he spins. A simple request while he's behind the ones and twos can lead to a long conversation about music, a subject in which Dover is an expert.

Erykah Badu contributed vocals to a cover of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" on the Flaming Lips' recent album of collaborations, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, and also took part in the video. The latter is where things went awry. Badu and her sister Nayrok were both nude in the video, which includes self-indulgent slow-mo shots of Lips members and a tub full of glitter and a white creamy substance meant to look like jizz. Badu balked at getting in the tub, but her sister didn't, yet the final cut of the video suggests it was all Badu. She then took to Twitter to ream Coyne, telling him to "Kiss my glittery ass." Coyne responded with apologetic tweets interspersed with jokes that suggested he wasn't so repentant after all. It was hard to tell whether the feud was real, a publicity stunt or perhaps some mix of both, but it was the most amusing musician Twitter exchange this side of Courtney Love's stoned ramblings.

It's been a year of turbulence for the Nasher, which has found itself the unfortunate target of a neighboring U.V. ray gun. Sure, some art work has been jeopardized on account of the conflict, and we've lost some dear friends, including the Turrell, because of the encroachment. What has not eroded during that time is the Nasher's curation and execution of remarkably spectacular exhibitions, which are the cornerstone of its fame. We loved every tactile interaction we shared with Ernesto Neto's woven, walk-through installation Cuddle On The Tightrope. And the hauntingly narrative tales spun by North Texas artist Erick Swenson — where acrylic deer were seen in a state of decomposition and plastic snails faced beer-stein demise — left us chuckling darkly, and then immediately contemplating why. Sure, you might fry like untrimmed bacon if you visit the famous sculpture garden during peak sun hours, but that will not deter you. It's a place of respite in a cacophony of downtown bustle, and it's a proven haven for award-winning art. Nothing will stop the Nasher, and we're thankful for that.

KXT started out strong with a good mix of indie rock, folk and roots, playing a mix of local and non-local — what radio folk call "Adult Album Alternative." In 2011, it expanded its playlist to be more "inclusive," as they put it at the time. Apparently, "inclusive" meant "shitty." Matchbox 20, Santana, Everlast and other groan-inducing crap that anyone could hear on other generic stations were such a shock that the Twitter hashtag #kxtfail quickly caught on. But in recent months, the station seems to have reached a middle ground. The occasional Gin Blossoms song has us lunging for the mute button, but overall, program director Mark Abuzzahab has found a balance between enjoyable for the snobs and the slobs. Instead of about two bad songs to every good one, it seems to be the other way around. Hey, no station's perfect. And with events like Summer Cut, the Flaming Lips and St. Vincent concert, KXT is improving its cachet among Dallas' hard-to-please music cognoscenti.

In a neighborhood where nearly every tag is gang-related or the work of one particular ubiquitous tool who has written the same three initials on just about every bare surface available, it's refreshing to see some genuinely clever, whimsical street art. In between white road buttons at Kiest Boulevard and Polk Street, and on another street or two we've noticed, someone has stenciled Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man and colorful ghosts from the arcade game. They're just the right size to be in the right proportion to make the road buttons look like power pellets. They're starting to fade, though, so hopefully the artist will come back and insert another quarter with his or her spray paint.

Whatever we may think of this Swift Boat-funding old rich dude, we have to admit he just got a little more cred. How these two worlds collided is a mystery to us, but we're glad they did. The following is an actual transcript of a May 30 Twitter exchange.

@Drake (Drake, rapper and Degrassi: The Next Generation's Wheelchair Jimmy): The first million is the hardest.

@BoonePickens (T. Boone Pickens, Texas tycoon): The first billion is a helluva lot harder.

@Drake: @boonepickens just stunted on me heavy

His story of leaving his lawyer career to pursue full-time fiction writing is inspiring enough to make us consider walking away from our own day job. The New Yorker "late bloomer" write-up by Malcolm Gladwell — about how contrary to popular belief, genius can emerge later in life — reinforced the notion that maybe it's not too late to do so. But then we just have to read a beautiful description from his short story collection Brief Encounters With Che Guevara or a wonderfully original simile in his 2012 novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and we realize we have a long way to go before we can give up that paycheck.

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