According to the Jenga-like stack of publicity materials covering my desk, Kennedy season has peaked. Plays. Readings. Art shows. Lectures. Films. Acrobats. Clown cars. Kitten parades. Cooking demos -- who the hell knows? It's getting JFKrazy out there.
When chaos smothers meaning, we look to the arts for answers. From historical movie theater re-enactments to ensemble musical offerings, we've found eight events that are worth your time. (Psst: A 75 year-old exotic dancer is looking to take you back to the Carousel Club, 1963.)
Friday 11.15 Safe Room presents Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. Lauren Gray's newish gallery space is nested upstairs inside Texas Theatre. Her newest group show, Things do not happen. Things are made to happen., opens this Friday, November 15, and will still be up during the historic theater's JFK programming marathon on the 22nd. So if you miss its big reveal, consolidate visits next week.
The group exhibition tackles Kennedy's ruminations, then filters them through the minds of Dallas' most wonderfully eccentric local artists: Tom Sale, Homer Henderson, Randy Murphy, Bruce Lee Webb and Chuck & George. (Actually, after re-reading those names, I'm a little nervous about this one.)
(6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 15, at 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. It's free.)
Daniel Kusner presents 214 Trans4m + JFK50 Local photographer and general view-alterer Daniel Kusner brings a multimedia talk to the Dallas Public Library on Thursday, November 21. That's where he'll charmingly punch through his unconventional thesis: "Can drag artists lift the veil of shame surrounding a presidential murder scene?" (Obviously, I fall into the "Yes, they can" camp.)
You may have seen his take on that iconic Jackie image, poised in front of DMN at last year's Art Con seed auction. It featured a transgender Jackie, wired up with an audio recording from the authentic First Lady. It was stunning. So good, in fact, that it sparked a helluva bidding war. (Things got "wings out," as the kids say.)
Kusner's series has also shown at CentralTrak and the Kessler and was recently turned into a photobook, designed to re-mythologize the Kennedy-Oswald Affair, starring all-transgender models.
For this program you'll hear the artist's thoughts on how the assassination affected the gay community, both locally and beyond. How it piped through John Water's early Eat Your Makeup, inspiring the director to cast Divine as America's favorite pink-suited gal. And how the queer threads got knotted up in all things Oswald. Don't worry, Kusner will pick through those frayed ends.
(6:30 to 8 p.m. at Oak Lawn Branch Library, 4100 Cedar Springs Road on Thursday, November 21. Free.)
Martin Sheen Reads Noah's Ark Admittedly, this could be terrible. It could also be: campy, peculiar or surprisingly good. Really, Noah's Ark is a dark horse candidate.
Happening at Martin Sheen's request, this new play is inspired by James Douglass' best selling book JFK and the Unspeakable. Sheen reads the character of Trappist Brother Thomas in a story centering around military White House insider Colonel Benson.
Will other actors read the other roles? Probably. We got hypnotized by Martin Sheen's hair and, understandably, didn't finish the press release. Donations benefit the Dallas Peace Center.
(7 p.m., Thursday, November 21 at Unity Church of Dallas. Tickets cost $15.)