2009 YEAR IN REVIEW: ART & CULTURE

Posted on 29 Dec 2009 at 5:33pm
By ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com
ART FOR ART’S SAKE The Winspear Opera House is the architectural focal point of the new Downtown Arts District, which opened in October to much fanfare. (Terry Thompson)

Culture — high and pop — was in a frenzy in Dallas (and the U.S. as a whole) in 2009, largely with gay undertones. From national events like Adam Lambert’s runner-up finish on American Idol — and far more controversial appearance on the American Music Awards — to the reemergence of Whitney; from the deaths of celeb like gay Britpop singer Stephen Gately, bisexual author Dominick Dunne, butch actress Bea Arthur and the almost overlooked passing of one King of Pop; from the coming out of Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas to the success of TV’s Glee and Neil Patrick Harris’ campy hosting duties on the Tony Awards and the Emmy Awards, a queer sensibility dominated.

But while we here think globally, we act locally. Here’s are rundown of the notable local stories in the arts and pop culture.

The Arts District opens. After years of planning, Dallas’ Downtown Arts District finally comes online with the opening of the Wyly Theatre (housing gay-led Dallas Theater Center) and the Winspear Opera House, which later this year will premiere Moby-Dick by gay composer Jake Heggie.

OUT AND ABOUT | Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, left, bounce rubber chickens along the Midway during a Texas State Fair appearance that garnered national attention.

Adam Bouska comes to Dallas. The young L.A.-based fashion photographer became the hottest gay political activist-slash-artist when he launched the NOH8 Campaign, protesting California’s Prop 8. He made his first foray outside the Golden State when he appeared in Dallas over Pride Weekend, shooting numerous members of the Dallas LGBT community and reigniting enthusiasm for marriage equality locally.

Clubland strikes back. The nightlife scene took many turns this year. Crews Inn, Bill’s Hideaway, Mickey’s, the Brick, Joe’s and Buddies II all closed. But the scene also injected itself with a slew of openings. BJ’s NXS! took over the old Crews Inn spot, Cherries and Sisters Club revitalized a dying Maple Avenue strip and the Brick and Joe’s bounced back big time with upgraded digs on Wycliff. Party on.

Caven entertainment director Richard Curtin and his drag alter ego, Edna Jean Robinson were among the 100 or more locals shot by photographer Adam Bouska for his NOH8 campaign in September.

Dallas actors release a fundraising CD. The Five Friends Foundation, made up of five gay locals in the theater community (Marisa Diotalevi, Patty Breckenridge, Carrie Hein, Bob Hess and Doug Miller), decided it would be good if they shared their talents for a good cause. So they tapped about 45 of their closest friends to record a CD of Christmas carols, called it Holidazzle, and sold it in theater lobbies during the season. The benefit CD was such a success, there’s talk of doing more.
Queer radio goes on the rise … and then falls. In the latter half of 2009, we saw LGBT radio at its most prominent with Lambda Weekly on KNON, The Jack E. Jett Show and the new Rick and R.J. Radio Show airing on 1360 AM’s Rational Radio.

Jett also began a new venture with Radio ilume. With varied voices, these shows extended the reach of gay media into the airwaves. And then Rational Radio went kaput. It lost its bandwidth lease and stopped airing Jan 1. There was some good news as Rational will continue streaming shows online. Just no Jett, Rick or R.J. Bummer.

Oprah attends the State Fair of Texas. Oprah surrounded by fried bacon? ‘Nuff  said.  

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 01, 2010.

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