ASSESSING THE ARTS DISTRICT: At this point, we all kind of know the pluses and minuses of the Arts District, right? Still, it’s interesting to see how a fresh set of eyes sums it all up. That’s what Blair Kamin, the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, did over the weekend. “Is it a good idea to organize arts buildings in such a clear and concentrated fashion? Or does the more mixed-up Chicago way make better sense? I ask because, despite its impressive architectural firepower, the Dallas Arts District can be an exceedingly dull place,” he writes. Still, he holds out hope for the district’s ace in the hole. “The park over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway could go a long way toward rectifying the district’s lack of urbanity. Indeed, it could be a model for other cities, among them Chicago and St. Louis, that have looked into “capping” or “decking” sunken highways.”
JAZZ IN THE BOX: On March 29, the Smithsonian Institution will release Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, a six-disc box set. It was compiled by critics and scholars, including Jose Bowen, the dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. So how’d the do? “The true problem is that Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology isn’t really a canon at all. It’s a House of Representatives,” Ben Ratliff writes in The New York Times. “What’s missing is its desire to be any more than a list, rather than an argument or a thesis.”
SHINING A LIGHT: They say you should write about what you know, but early on Emily Holland couldn’t have known much about the subject of her new book, And Still Peace Did Not Come. The book tells the stories of those involved in Liberia’s two civil wars; Holland grew up in Fort Worth and went to a private school. But she learned about her subject through her job at CNN and by working with her co-writer, Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna. “My hope is that a spotlight gets shown upon these unbelievable young men and women who are working very hard to rebuild their lives with not a lot of help,” she tells dfw.com.