Yesterday, I spent my afternoon richly, catching up with good friends and enjoying the imaginative tiny worlds conjured up by artists at the Third-Ever Diorama-O-Rama. Having been to the first two in 2008 and 2009, I’m happy to report that this latest edition was the biggest and best so far. Or, as I stated on the event’s Facebook wall, You’ve come a long way, baby.
This weekend’s o-Rama was housed at a Bolt Productions studio in the Design District, a wonderful find. Open, airy and plenty white, it was the ideal blank space for this kind of party, where art was on display, folks mingled indoors and out, bevs and snackies were handed out, and DJs supplied the jams. We sipped on beer and wine, and The Tamale Company provided delectable eats.
The event’s benefitting charity was represented there, with Cafe Momentum participants serving sweets during the afternoon and founder and Parigi restaurant co-owner Chad Houser saying a few words on the org’s behalf.
And the art? Alternately curious, introspective, humorous and illuminating, all intelligent and thoughtful — many pushing the definition of “diorama,” for sure. Folks bid on a couple dozen silent auction works, while a few dioramas were set aside for the live auctioning. A very loud live auction — I’m experiencing some mild hearing loss today. (Note to self: Don’t perch yourself next to the speaker next time, duh.)
All in all, I had a thoroughly wonderful time, and I’d say the event appeared to be a big success. I hope D-O-R can sustain an annual pace from here on out — I already can’t wait for the next one! I see it as one of those great little events that if Dallas really embraces and gets behind, can only add to the uniqueness of our fair city. And that’s sayin’ a lot — so kudos, Diorama-O-Rama!!
Here, some more snapshots of the fabulousness that was Diorama-O-Rama …
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Wednesday night I attending the opening of the Broadway musical “Green Day’s American Idiot,” a rousing, gut-churning performance that had even non-fans of the pop-punk outfit mesmerized.
Me, I’m a huuuge Green Day fan since the trio hit big with “Dookie” (I have the cassette tape around here somewhere!) in 1994. Who’d have thought Billie Joe Armstrong & Co. had Great White Way aspirations for their raging opinion piece in song, “American Idiot”? But here it is, a loud, guitar-grinding journey following three young men in post-9/11 suburbia looking to inject their staid lives with adventure and maybe a little meaning.
It took me about 20 minutes to get hooked by this musical, as it doesn’t quite follow a traditional format of, say, a Rodgers & Hammerstein piece. On the one hand, the writer in me wanted a tad more character development, but then again, the three leads aren’t exactly the deepest of characters, and maybe aren’t meant to be plumbed to their core. But I enjoyed their ride, and the music? The guitar-driven score pounds into your chest, and each song fit into its respective place in the narrative so aptly — some, like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “21 Guns” had extra resonance in the context of the play, even bringing me near tears. Damn you, Billie Joe.
The musical’s an ass-whipping roller coaster of emotion, and the leads, especially Van Hughes as Johnny (right), filled every pore of their character’s skin with a boiling mix of rage, confusion and angst. Adding to the frenetic pace of the characters’ whirlwind adventures was the glowing, blinking, scrolling digital billboard of a set — some of the images that populated the flat-screens that dotted the wall were stunning, spectacular and unique (when a character sings about being pregnant, the screens resembled ovens with something baking inside).
“Green Day’s American Idiot” calls the AT&T Performing Arts Center home until May 20. Fasten your seat belt, it’s worth the ride (oooh, but leave the young’uns at home — this ride is a decidedly adult-themed experience).
Adorbs little event to clue you into that actually doesn’t involve food! OK, it peripherally does (a Diva’s gotta eat!), but food isn’t the main focus.
This May 12 marks the return of Diorama-O-Rama, a quirky exhibition of those artsy little capsules we used to make in elementary school, only on a grander, more artistic scale. Folks pour their souls into creating some awe-inspiring dioramas that not only go on display, but are also auctioned off to benefit a great cause.
You may remember D-O-R from a few years back — I’m proud to say I’ve been to each one — as it originated in 2008 and had a second run the following year. After a hiatus, the event is back, with its benefitting charity being Cafe Momentum (aHAA, food IS involved!), the Dallas restaurant and culinary training facility that teaches and inspires at-risk youths.
Lest you wave off dioramas as being a puerile art form, check out some expert examples of them at the D-O-R’s Facebook page, and you’ll see it takes some skill, precision and considerable creative vision to pull off a convo-starting piece. Which is necessary, considering this is a juried event — ’tis! A panel of judges will award prizes for the top three creations, and people’s and hosts’ choice trophies will be handed out, too. Best part is, anyone can enter, as long as they are pre-registered. Click here for deets on that.
Other deets about the event: Admission is $5 (free for childrenfolk), with the first 50 attendees receiving a tote screened with an illustration by Dallas artist Tania Kaufmann — and filled with swag! The party goes down from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bolt Studios, 2408 Converse, Dallas, and it will be a party — food will be available for sale, DJ Chikki G and DJ Hammertimez will provide tunes, and guests can have their photo taken inside a life-size diorama. Sign me up for that one!
I’ve been asked to take part in what should be a richly beneficial event next week, and I hope all my professional ladies looking to learn, network and get motivated will join me.
On May 2, I’ll be a panelist at SheSays Dallas’ monthly meeting, which this particular month sports the theme “Digital Does Dallas.”
I and some fellow female online badasses will be discussing how to mine success in the digital space in Dallas – and rock it.
It’s a free event by SheSays – which cultivates mentorships and networking among professional women globally – that kicks off with cocktails and mingling at 6:30 at Moroch, 3625 N. Hall St., #1100. Register here to save you a seat. I sure hope to see you there!
Here’s a fun little affair coming up this Friday. Fashion designer Edgar Gomez – a finalist in the Fashionistas’ Young Designer Showcase last year – will present his romantic garments inspired by works of art, in a venue for fine art, the Cohn Drennan Gallery.
Cocktails will flow, socialistas will mingle to the beat of the DJ’s musical stylings and models will wear Botticelli-inspired couture … sounds like a fabulously chic weekend kick-off to me. The party rolls from 7 to 9 pm at the Design District venue.
Back row, from left: Jewelle Gomez, Cristine McMurdo-Wallis, John Guare, Piper Laurie, Thomas Keith, Amy Dickinson, Ace Atkins, Jodie Markell. Front row: Christian LeBlanc, Janet Daley Duval, and Paul J. Willis. Photo by RIDE HAMILTON
So my travel and Tennessee Williams Lit Fest cohort, Dimples (aka James Casarez), attended a couple of the event’s staged readings of the author’s plays. Here’re his thoughts from one of them …
Hiding in Plain Sight
An author as prolific as Tennessee Williams, who penned over 33 full-length plays and over 75 one-act and shorter plays, is bound to have an arsenal of hidden gems through his lesser-known works. The Tennessee Williams Literary Fest class “Hiding in Plain Sight” brought together a collection of scenes through staged readings of both his lesser-known works and more recognizable ones. Luminaries of the stage and page came together to breath life again into some of Williams’ most outstanding characters.
Six actors and four authors reading from eight different works created an intimate setting, allowing for a true connection with each scene. The actors were: Piper Laurie, (Carrie, Children of a Lesser God and a 1965 Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie), Christian Jules La Blanc, (The Young and the Restless), Janet Daley Duval, Amy Dickinson, Christine McMurdo-Wallis, and Jodie Markell. The authors were: John Guare, (The House of Blue Leaves and Six Degrees of Seperation) Jewelle Gomez, Ace Atkins, and Thomas Keith. Staged readings are unique: If you are not prepared, it can throw you off, as all stage directions are read in conjunction with the dialogue to help you build the scene in your mind’s eye.
Duval read a scene from “The Mutilated,” which debuted as one of a double bill of one-act plays by Williams titled “Slapstick Tragedy.” As with most of his plays, “The Mutilated” – which takes place on Christmas Eve as a group of ragtag carolers makes their way through the French Quarter – tells the story of a group of misfits and their desire to be accepted. Duval acted out the story of a young woman who had one breast removed. In this work, Williams explores the different pairings in life — a pair of breasts, pair of feet, a pair of people — and how not being in one of these pairs can make one feel like a lonely outcast in life. “Slapstick Tragedy” only lasted a week after opening, but Duval’s moving portrayal seemed to indicate that perhaps this work is ready to be brought back for a second glimpse.
From one of Williams’ better- known works, “Camino Real,” LeBlanc read a scene as Jacques Casanova, a once-infamous lover of women who is now an old man and only has one friend in the world. “Camino Real” is one of Williams’ most abstract works, yet was accepted and revered by audiences despite being slammed by critics. Technically, LeBlanc made outstanding use of timing to make the verse-like structure of this piece relatable and comprehensible to the audience.
I am not usually a fan of authors performing in staged readings, but John Guare changed my mind-set through his reading of one of Williams’ posthumously published pieces, “Mister Paradise.” It’s the story of a fading poet at the end of his life whose repertoire is rediscovered when a young woman finds one of his lost works holding up a broken table leg in an antique store. She is determined to give “Mister Paradise” back to the world, even though his only wish is to be left alone to finish out his days. Guare brought a voice to this poet that had us all believing that we were witnessing his chance encounter with the girl on the street.
The best reading really was saved for last, as Piper Laurie read from “Suddenly, Last Summer,” my personal favorite work of Williams. Laurie didn’t just read, she performed like none other. Laurie drew us in as she embodied Violet Venable and told the story of her deceased son finding the face of God in the Galapagos while watching the hatching of sea turtles. Laurie truly brought the entire audience into her lap with her soft yet determined voice. The intensity and precision of each syllable left us hanging on her every word. Laurie was in her element in this setting, and she showed it. Her performance rivaled that of the best known actress to tame this role, Audrey Hepburn.
“Hiding in Plain Sight” left me wondering what other works of Williams are just waiting to be explored again.
– James Casarez
I hadn’t planned on writing up this event, seeing as I thought Cadillac and Patron magazine hosting a “closing reception” meant the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art was, well … closed.
But, NO — chickadees, you have until Feb. 12 to see this astounding testament to the considerable talent of the French fashion designer. So many words came to mind as I viewed it (sorry, kids — photos inside the exhibit weren’t allowed!): iconic. Controversial. Madonna. Sex. Scandale. Eerie — and I mean that in a good way, in a way it seems Gaultier might appreciate, a fan as he is of off-kilter beauty. A heady array of art, garments and electronic cheekiness, this was simply one of the best art exhibits I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Go, go, go!
As for the party — I wasn’t there for very long before heading down to the exhibit, but it was loverly. Seventeen Seventeen restaurant was transformed into a sleek white-on-white lounge space decked with crystal fixtures and lit-from-within furnishings. Fun! Methinks Gaultier himself would’ve had a blast
Ah, a Diva’s partying is never done. Alright, alright … her blogging is never done because of the partying. Guilty as charged!
I’ve been to a handful of elegant gatherings recently, featuring food, festivity and, of course — drinky-drinks. Here’s the quick-and-dirty:
PATRON MAGAZINE LAUNCH
The new, luxury-skewing, art-centric publication (pronounce PAY-tron, not Pah-TRONE!) celebrated its first issue, which contains a story from yours truly on pre-theater dining. It’s a lovely mag, and seems poised to become a force in local arts coverage. You can’t have enough, if you ask me.
My favorite part of this shindig was its location — in the beautiful, well-lit Rotunda at Chase Tower, which you see whilst driving up Ross Avenue in the Arts District. I’ve always been so curious about the space — it’s sooo lovely, how come it’s not packed to the gills with parties every evening? Dunno, but I was left even more baffled after being inside it — gorgeous space indeed.
MARCH OF DIMES’ WHISK IT UP
This dress-up event involved 20 of the city’s most talented chefs coming together for the cause of feeding me. I mean, fighting birth defects in babies. Each celebu-chef served mini-servings of a dish from their respective restaurants: a yummy dumpling from Pyramid; this succulent ricotta-filled, pork-topped ravioli from Charlie Palmer; scallops from Sevy’s. All washed down with a variety of wines and bubbly flowing at bars scattered through the Fairmont’s Regency Ballroom. A fun touch: a couple of photo booths for silly pics in your nice get-up. The after-party left a bit to be desired (what? A cash bar after an open-bar situation? Sacrilege, I say), but Fairmont rooftop is always a sight to behold.
I was hella excited for this food and wine event, as it took place inside the spankin’ new Omni Dallas Hotel downtown. The building didn’t disappoint — I wanted to peek around every corner! But we were off to the spacious Dallas Ballroom a couple floors up. The hosting French-American Chamber of Commerce picked well — the crowd was considerable!
The party was a toast to the arrival of the 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, which was my first sip of the evening. Talk about fruit-forward! The vino was suggested as a perfect base for sangria, and I agree.
From there, it took a while till my guest and I realized that if we were gonna need to join the long, slow cattle call to get some grub. Every line seemed to be about 20 people long and flowed into the line for the next table of food. Grack! No worries — we skipped straight to the wine tastings, and after about six mini-pours and an attack on the La Madeleine cheese bar, lines were no bother. I wish there’d been more notable restaurants in attendance (umm, Eddie Deen’s?!), AND I wish I’d been notified about the Austin Powers theme of the event, but nonetheless, I had a really great time.
Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a fete to toast artist Amanda Dunbar‘s line of guitars,
Dunbar (center) wows her fans.
Precious Rebels. What’s so hot about a line of guitars, you may wonder. Dunbar, an art wunderkind who kick-started her painting career in her teens, bejewels the instruments in Swarovski crystals, creating intricate designs that sparkle in every sense of the word. Taylor Swift, U2 and the Black Eyed Peas have been among the customers for her line, which starts at $15,000 (totes in my budget!).
Thursday’s soiree took place at her studio in the Design District, right across from the Dallas Contemporary. The media members and VIP collectors gawked at the jewel-encrusted axes, which hung on the walls, on floor stands and even from an elaborate motorized “chandelier” in the center of the space (below).
Dunbar’s gallery itself is a lovely spot, expansive yet cozy-feeling. While we roamed the venue, wine, cocktails (the Rebelicious, meowr!) and nibbles, including mini lamb bites and crab cakes — courtesy of chef Zac Campbell — found their way into our hands.
Speaking of grabbing stuff, a rock duo took a shiny guitar from among the display and played a mellow set for the crowd — “Those guitars are cool and functional,” I commented to Dunbar as the guitarist wailed away. “At that price, it betta play itSELF,” I wanted to add but didn’t.
Check out an up-close look at one of her creations (below) to really appreciate the painstaking detail Dunbar puts into them. And keep in mind that she uses different sizes of Swarovski rocks to achieve different effects. One can only imagine how long each guitar takes — and she’s made dozens of them! I think I would start dreaming in crystals, ha!
Among the artsy luminaries in attendance at the Precious Rebels party were Anthony Muelle, who’s makin’ moves with his sweet line of retro-rockabilly gear, Hueso Outlaw. I also ran into and made a date with designer Elizabeth Anyaa, whose line made a splash at the Fashionistas’ last show. You can check out some of her handiwork, perfect for holiday gifting, at her Dec. 6 and 7 trunk show at the Dallas Museum of Art, as part of its celebration of the exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. (Thanks, Amanda, for facilitating my studio visit with Elizabeth!!)
Want a Precious Rebel of your own, or to peep more of the collection? Visit the collections website.
Perhaps amid this extreme heat it’s too early yet to be thinking about hanging outdoors, but that clearly wasn’t the thinking at the Hilton Anatole recently. Last week, the hotel threw a party to unveil the Trinity Corridor, a gleaming indoor walkway that was a perfect spot for cocktails and mingling.
Just off the tower lobby, the Corridor stands in the shadow of two considerable slabs of the Berlin Wall … yes, that Berlin Wall. Random, yeah, but it’s an imposing chunk of modern history and it’s fun to ponder the meaning of all its colorful graffiti — plus, it’s a great spot to get your photo taken!
A veritable cornucopia of sweets was set up in an adjoining room, complete with coffee and tea.
The standout was a mini creme brulee tart (above), the classic French treat — complete with the crisp, torched top — tucked into a crumbly crust, which made it ideal for snacking. Mmmm …
Although it was minimally populated on this particular evening, the centerpiece of the Corridor is the gorgeous outdoor patio located just through the double doors.
A giant half-circle sofa and some smaller seats dot a rock garden, at the middle of which is an outdoor fireplace that was, blessedly, unlit (there was also another adjacent outdoor lounging space). Spray misters offered some relief in the early-evening sun, but I imagine come fall and winter, this patio will be a cool, warm place to chill out.