Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Anyone who's lived in Dallas for more than a few years has heard of The Balcony Club. Settled a few feet above ground adjacent to the historic Lakewood Theatre, the Balcony Club is primed for people-watching. The club opened in the late 1980s and has faced many closure threats through the years. Yet the club's original decor and comforting, community-based feeling survives. Folks commingle among the dusty neon and velvet unlike any other place in the city, and whether it's in the bar or the dance floor at Mi Cocina below the balcony, there's always something to eavesdrop on. The best time to visit the club is Sunday nights, when jazz, poetry and people who actually go out on Sunday nights convene. You never know who you'll meet — or what you'll hear.
Jeff Gibbons, Susan Kae Grant and Julie Buck Jones are just a few of the many artists represented by Conduit Gallery in the Dallas Design District. Since opening the gallery in 1984, owner and director Nancy Whitenack, who founded the space without any formal art training, has brought the work of established, mid-career artists and emerging talent to the public, showing works by artists not represented elsewhere. The space features an assortment of contemporary works, including paintings, photographs and sculptures, and is one of Dallas' top destinations for avant-garde and experimental pieces.
Victoria Neave followed up a strong freshman term in the House by passing one of the most important bills of the 2019 session. The representative's House Bill 8 gives the Texas Department of Public Safety more than $50 million to catalog and test Texas' backlog of unexamined rape kits. Despite being in the Democratic minority, Neave continues to fight successfully for victims of sexual violence, making her one of the most effective members of Dallas' delegation in Austin.
This 55,000-square-foot museum and 1.5-acre garden give visitors the chance to see more than 300 pieces of sculpture by dozens of artists. The museum's sculptures allow interaction with art in a different way: Viewers can walk around and, in some cases, through the work, viewing it from all sides. The outdoor sculpture garden is a walled-off piece of tranquility in the middle of downtown Dallas. The museum's 'til Midnight at the Nasher program allows visitors to hang around, as the name suggests, until midnight on the third Friday of every month, enjoying museum tours, activities and outdoor concerts.
All dance (at least, all good dance) blatantly shows off the capabilities of the well-trained human body. Contemporary dance does so with a sense of trickery: The audience isn't always sure why bodies are moving in this bizarre way, but we are amazed that they are able to do so. We're even more surprised when these strange human shapes end up telling a story. Dark Circles Contemporary Dance combines this enchanting, slightly confusing use of the body with unique traditions and stories, often bringing two seemingly incongruous styles together. Their 2019 winter and spring series exemplified the company's style of storytelling: in Winter's Boys Are, Dregs and Bud, four choreographers created dances exhibiting their queer identities, a surprising rarity in the dance world. The dances were expectedly erotic, unexpectedly hilarious. Whatever stories they decide to tell, and however they decide to tell them, Dark Circles ends up impressing its audience members, whether they are well-versed in the oddity that is contemporary dance or not.
Cinemark 17 doesn't have wait service, craft beer on draft or a yearly Hitchcock festival. It's not the Alamo Drafthouse. What it does have is Dallas's best IMAX screen, the one you go see a movie on if you want a true, immersive experience with all the bells and whistles but without the unnecessary frills.
The problem with commercial radio is that it's too commercial. Flip from one Top 40 station to the next, and you'll hear the same songs, the same artists and the same commercials. KXT is a listener-supported public radio station, giving them the ability to hand-pick songs you aren't likely to hear anywhere else. The station also sponsors local concerts and hosts live sessions where established artists and up-and-coming acts give intimate performances in the KXT studio and at other locations across North Texas and beyond. Each performance is archived on the station's website.
If Oscar Wilde's bon vivant, Dorian Gray, lived in Dallas rather than Victorian London, we could find him at the artsy lobby of The Joule Hotel. Joined by fellow aesthetes, his morning begins with a scone and cortado at Weekend Coffee, where the previous night's theater ignites spirited opinions. Eventually bored with the mindless chatter, he reclines in a midcentury modern chair, perusing titillating images from a glossy tome in The TASCHEN Library. Next, he meanders through the Hotel Shop, sniffing candles named "Loose Lips" and "Loveless." After lunching at Americano or CBD Provisions, he laughs riotously with a foxy "friend" over craft cocktails. If you desire to follow Lord Henry's iffy advice, "Be always searching for new sensations," then this lobby will indulge every whim.
Covered nearly head to toe in tattoos, Hetzer literally embodies the power of a great tattoo artist. The proprietor of the award-winning Dallas Tattoo and Arts Company is also an accomplished artist and has taken his inkling for ink on the road and across the globe with appearances on TV shows and at international tattoo fests. But don't worry: Hetzer's shop and clothing line are here to stay, and so is his tattoo gun.
Undermain Theatre is daring enough to please everyone. With each season, Undermain stages classic plays we've almost forgotten about and new plays we've only just heard of. If you go see an Undermain production of Ibsen or Shakespeare (or even a stage adaptation of the classic novel Madame Bovary, premiering later this season), you'll reflect on how the world has changed in the last however many hundred years — but go see one of their world or regional premieres, and you'll come to understand something about the world of right now that you'd completely failed to notice. Either way, you will find yourself falling into a fascinating production in a dark, mysterious basement literally under Main Street.
Bar trivia used to be a simple thing. You showed up, ordered a couple of beers and drank just enough so your brain could remember useless facts like the population of Sri Lanka or the number of seasons Shelley Long was a regular cast member on Cheers. Then someone decided that trivia nights had to be live entertainment productions with attempts at comedy, visual aids and more unnecessary special effects than a Michael Bay film. Every Tuesday at Malarkey's Bar and Tavern on Trinity Mills Road, the pub trivia night hosted by Rick Brown is focused more on the trivia than most places. Brown has honed his art by sticking to the challenge of trivia and the friendly competition it produces between new and regular teams. He speaks each question and score with the efficiency of a drive-time news radio anchor and plays high-energy, retro music that relates to the category just enough to make you wonder if he did it on purpose. Brown has the poise and gravitas to be the Alex Trebek of Dallas pub trivia with more impressive facial hair.
Perhaps the strangest and least known art showcase in Dallas, The Hand Collection at the Baylor Medical Center is exactly that — an assortment of bronze hand casts. The exhibit was founded by esteemed hand surgeon Dr. Adrian Flatt, who began making hand casts for research. After retiring from surgery, Flatt decided to expand the craft into a sort of artistic expression. Celebrity hands, surgeons' hands, deformed hands and baby hands are all on display, as well as a strange video. The sound of Dr. Flatt monotonously speaking hums on loop in the background, all fuzzy and VHS, in a recording likely unchanged since the collection was put on display in 1982 — and the hands of Andre the Giant loom large and encased in the corner. The exhibit is located in a nook of the lobby of the George W. Truett Memorial Hospital. While parking at the Baylor garage costs money, the showcase itself is free to view at any time of day.