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Where Were We: SMU's Free Museum, Black Fine Arts Show, Dallas Intl Film Fest, 'Endgame' at the Undermain, Kashmere Stage Band


by Anne Bothwell 12 Apr 2010

The Art&Seek team gets around. Where Were We is a new occasional feature about where we – and our guest bloggers – have been recently.  Kicking it off w/a couple stops I made this weekend. Tale of Two Art Shows: First up – The Southwest Black Fine Arts Show at the African American Museum Friday […]

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The Art&Seek team gets around. Where Were We is a new occasional feature about where we – and our guest bloggers – have been recently.  Kicking it off w/a couple stops I made this weekend.

Tale of Two Art Shows: First up – The Southwest Black Fine Arts Show at the African American Museum Friday evening. Actually, the name’s a bit narrow – I met artists from Memphis and Atlanta as well as the Southwest. The museum was crammed with booths and displays of sculpture, painting, collage and photography. Think Dallas Art Fair, but devoted to work by black artists or from the galleries that represent them. And like the Dallas Art Fair, organizers said the goal was to provide exposure, and to prove there’s a market for this art. “Buy, buy, buy!” one speaker urged the crowd. The show ended Sunday afternoon. Hope to check back this week to see how sales went.

Also Friday night, Professor Michael Corris officially opened the Free Museum of Dallas in his office at SMU’s Meadows School. Kristen Cochran had the honor of being the first artist to show in the space, which is indeed the size of an office and tucked in behind a mail room at the Owens Art Center.  Her rubber “bricks” were stacked up against the window and look like they’d glow like Jolly Ranchers in the light.  The bricks were a meditation on a painting by Peter Doig, Picture of Houses, which hung on a nearby wall.

Associate Curator Leila Grothe spent some time filling me in on plans: the museum is an opportunity to launch shows and start conversations without the constraints of more traditional settings.  It’s also one more home for artists and work that, for whatever reason, doesn’t fit neatly into existing gallery or museum space.

What’s Up Doc? One of my favorite parts of the Dallas International Film Festival is the panel discussions it brings to town. The DMN‘s Chris Vognar led one Saturday afternoon at the Nasher on “Call to Action” documentaries.  Stephen Nemeth (Climate Refugees), Alison Ellwood (Casino Jack and the United States of Money) and Melina McKinnon (Torey’s Distraction) talked about getting docs with a message in front of audiences and helping those audiences take action if they’re moved by the film. (There’s a recap on DIFF’s site.)  Particularly interesting are the lengths doc makers are going to facilitate that action. Melina says they set up swab stations so audiences can join the bone marrow registry outside screenings of More to Live For, a doc on cancer patients waiting for bone marrow transplants.  Alison’s team works with  Participant Media, which makes encouraging audience action part of its mission.

Beginning of Endgame: You’ll hear much more from Jerome this week on KERA radio about the opening performance of Samuel Becket’s Endgame at the Undermain Theatre Saturday night. I don’t think I’m stealing his thunder when I say get your tickets now.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this weird combination of  laughing so hard and simultaneously feeling so deeply disturbed by Becket’s gloomy message about life.  Related: new risers at the theater mean a new seating plan. Soon, the theater’s chairs will be refurbished as well.

Funked Up: Stephen told the story behind the documentary Thunder Soul to KERA listeners on Friday. So of course, I had to go check out a reunion performance of Kashmere Stage Band at Reel FX in Deep Ellum Saturday night. There had to be 20 folks on stage, and they were bringing the house down with funk deep enough to make you want to say yowza! Impossible to watch the horn players sway and dance and not join in. If you didn’t make the party Saturday, don’t worry – the band is coming back for two performances on May 1, thanks to The Black Academy of  Arts and Letters.

Regrets: Sigh. Did not make it to Oak Cliff for Crave and all the associated activities going on there this weekend. Nor did I get to Main Street Arts Festival in Fort Worth.  If you did, I’d love to hear highlights.

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