Kultur: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Josh Herod and Lolly Patrick take on ‘Cabaret’ ...
... along with Michael Cook, Melissa Terrill (top), and Rachel Rice at TCU this week.
Time Out

Arty types who turn back the clock can’t stop a seventysomething dance-world luminary from shining or Peace, Love, and Understanding from flowing.


Anyone who’s ever even glanced at a copy of the Weekly knows that we desperately heart Gallery 414. The nonprofit Cultural District exhibition space may be the only place in town to see professional-grade, envelope-pushing visual art. Yes, there are a lot of other spaces that exhibit really good stuff, but a lot of them are hit-and-miss, and none have the reputation and hipster cachet of 414. Overall, Gallery 414 is a North Texas treasure.

The story I’m about to relay to you, I hope, does not reflect poorly on the gallery or its stewards, Adele Krause and master painter and UTA studio prof John Hartley. What happened this past weekend during an opening for Stilled Lives, an exhibit by Rachel Black and Jessica Cook, could have happened anywhere, in any city. That it occurred at 414, though, is weird and, frankly, a little disturbing.

Here’s what went down: An average-sized fortysomething guy in a goatee, glasses, and pearl-snap shirt, and wearing a straw hat ambled into the gallery with his wife and a friend. As the trio moseyed around, taking in the art and the vibe, they began to feel slightly uncomfortable. The likely reason: Fellow art lovers there were making snide comments (i.e., “Nice hat”) and casting suspicious, disdainful glances, as if the three visitors were yelling “death to infidels!” on a plane headed for New York City. WTF?! I thought the point of appreciating art was to become more civilized. What then explains such condescending behavior, especially at one of the most progressive, art-loving galleries in the Metroplex?

The moral of the story: Unfortunately, the concept of societal uniforms lingers. I can understand patrons of a Stockyards saloon giving odd looks to a grown man togging a sequined ball gown. But art lovers are supposed to be above the fray, civilized, open-minded. Evidently, some esthetes still have a long way to go.

Yes, I agree that a pearl-snap shirt and straw hat may suggest “redneck,” but in an age in which distinctions between high- and low-culture are spurious, why do some people — art lovers, no less! — continue getting hung up on appearances? When Henry Wotten from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray said, “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances,” the statement’s underlying force is completely tongue-in-cheek — definitely not something to be taken literally.

For the record, the “redneck” in question is our paper’s art director, Mark Goodman, and the friend is staff photographer Vishal Malhotra, the two main employees on whose shoulders falls the enormous task of making the Weekly look cool, from front to back. If any two folks in town appreciate the power of imagery, it’s them. In a tragic twist, Goodman, a recent transplant from Colorado, had never before visited the gallery. He says he’s not scurred to go back (“not in the least”), but as much as I love 414 — absolutely love the place — I wouldn’t blame him for taking his progressive, straw-hat-wearin’, redneck-lookin’ self elsewhere.

Energizer Benny

He may be turning 70 this month (the operative phrase is “may be”), but Texas Ballet Theater artistic director Ben Stevenson just keeps on moving. Besides choreographing a new ballet called Preludes for Van in honor of legendary Fort Worth pianist Van Cliburn, Stevenson is reviving his Cinderella for the company; the evening-length piece opens in Bass Performance Hall on May 5 and will be performed at Big D’s State Fair Music Hall the following weekend.

In between, Stevenson will fly to London to help celebrate the birthday of vaunted jazz singer Cleo Laine, who’ll be turning 80. Feting fellow stars is apparently part of his job: He recently tackled (though elegantly, of course) a guest role in Tulsa Ballet’s farewell tribute to company ballerina Daniella Buson. In addition to Stevenson, three other veteran dance-world luminaries — American Ballet Theater’s Bruce Marks and Ivan Nagy, and the indomitable Frederick Franklin, a nonagenarian who’s still active in character roles — appeared as Aurora’s suitors in the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty. (Apparently, the last time Franklin danced the Rose Adagio was with Alicia Markova in London ... 70 years ago.) The cameo dancers reportedly performed with amazing grace. Each took turns supporting the ballerina around a leisurely turn as she balanced on pointe, one arm raised overhead and one leg elevated behind. Said Stevenson wryly: “We all managed to hobble through the promenade fairly well.” Happy birthday, Ben.

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

Most yokels probably don’t know this, but Fort Worth has a hippie streak as thick and shiny as those of other, similarly sized towns. About two decades ago, the Tarrant County Arts Alliance took shape as an artist-to-artist, multi-media support group, and one of its first projects was Miracle on Berry Street, an open-mic spoken-word event that for five years ruled Sunday nights at The Hop (now The Aardvark). The project, and the group, eventually fizzled out, only to be reborn recently — grayer, yes, but allegedly just as fired up. From 5 to 8 p.m. this Sunday at the Black Dog Café (inside the Black Dog Tavern, 2933 Crockett St., near the Cultural District; 817-332-8190), some former members of the Arts Alliance will be trying to rekindle those days of yore via a spoken-word throwdown. The ultimate goal of the quasi-reunion, say organizers, is to build a head of steam going into 2008, the official 20th anniversary of the Arts Alliance and Miracle on Berry. ... The first Miracle on Berry happened at the end of the Main Street Arts Festival, which takes place Thursday through Sunday on Main Street between 2nd and 11th sts., downtown. Coincidence? Hmm. For more info, call 817-336-2787. ... After seeing Lizer Minelli and Joel Gray in the lead roles of the 1972 cinematic version of 1971’s Cabaret, aspiring thespians thrown into contemporary productions of the musical should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Why bother?” By casting Minelli as the star showgirl of a speakeasy in pre-war Germany, the producer and acclaimed choreographer, the late Bob Fosse, used her penchant for overacting to his advantage; the character, Sally Bowles, is always acting, whether onstage or in real life. As the speakeasy’s emcee, Gray is a delicious mix of carnival barker, Pan, and highly refined man of life, love, and art. But I guess if hopeful stage actors strove only for mediocrity, theatre would stagnate. So to the TCU students performing in and directing John Kander and Fred Ebb’s take on the classic (April 25-30 at Hays Theatre, 2800 S. University Dr.; 817-257-5770), I say, Maybe this time. ... In last week’s column, the name of Chris Goble’s new film was incorrect. It’s Leaving Fate. Fort Worth Weekly regrets the error.

Contact Kultur at kultur@fwweekly.com.

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