The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance

Fashion-1

DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.

………………………

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay film director James Ivory at SMU for screenings of his works this week

James Ivory

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Ivory will not be in attendance for the Q&A sessions tonight and tomorrow. Those will be hosted by Sean Griffin. Ivory will be doing his master class today. I regret the error.

James Ivory, who with his collaborator and partner Ismail Merchant made some of the best period dramas of the last 30 years, is coming to Dallas for a series organized by the SMU Division of Cinema-Television’s gay chair, Sean Griffin.

Ivory’s best-known films as a director, which netted him three Oscar nominations, include A Room with a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day, but his output also includes the gay coming-of-age romance Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge and his last film with Merchant (who died in 2005), The White Countess.

Ivory, who despite his European/colonial sensibilities is American, will participate in a series of master classes and presentations of three films (followed by Q&As) on consecutive days this week: Heat and Dust on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Surviving Picasso on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.; and The Remains of the Day on Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. (two Merchant-directed films will also be screened). All showings take place inside the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art. For tickets, go here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Applause • Thoroughly modern Jeffrey

Jeffrey Grove, the DMA’s new gay curator of Contemporary Art, takes a forward-thinking approach to keeping art — and museums — vibrant

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

Jeffrey Grove
Jeffrey Grove, who came to the Dallas Museum of Art last fall as its first titled curator of Contemporary Art, poses in the museum’s sculpture garden. Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Museum of Art
1717 Harwood St. The Jeffrey Grove-curated Luc Tuymans exhibit
continues through Sept. 5. Tuesdays–Sundays, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. (open until 9 p.m. Thursdays). $10. 214-922-1200. DallasMuseumofArt.org.

For Jeffrey Grove, modern art is more than just a paint-splattered canvas or the iconic portrait of a soup can; it’s a way of life. The Dallas Museum of Art’s newly minted Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art boasts stints at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. In addition to being the first person at the museum to hold the modern art curator title, there’s one particular item on Grove’s extensive resume that always piques the most curiosity: “Founding curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.”

“It’s everyone’s favorite part of my history,” Grove says with a grin. “And a very fun place.”

Originally a student of industrial design, Grove began his career wanting to make objects, but along the way he became more interested in the history of the things themselves — and consequently developed a passion for art history. After receiving a master’s degree in archeology and art history from the University of Missouri, Grove received a doctorate in art history from Case Western Reserve University.

While studying art, Grove simultaneously began immersing himself in artists’ culture and the act of staging small shows.
“I really wanted to help artists translate their ideas — you know, be a facilitator,” he says. And his career as curator was born.
Grove arrived at the Dallas Museum of Art last September to help its department of Contemporary Art with exhibitions, programming, publications and acquisitions. One of his immediate large-scale projects was coordinating the presentation of the first U.S. retrospective of the work of the Belgian painter Luc Tuymans. Jointly organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts, the installation showcases Tuymans’ interest in interiors, landscapes and figural representations. Among the highlights of this particular showing are six additional works by the artist on loan from Dallas residents, on view through Sept. 5.

In conjunction to the installation, Grove has coordinated a sculptural installation to supplement the artist’s iconic works entitled Mass and Material: Sculpture Since the 1960s, featuring work by artists Barry Le Va, Charles Ray and Bruce Nauman, among others. It runs through Oct. 24.

“It’s the first solo show I have done [at the DMA]. It’s drawn from Tuymans to be a compliment to the painting exhibition.”
Given the often unfamiliar and non-traditional nature of contemporary art, Grove faces a larger challenge than many other curators: How to get people to connect with the often abstract or misunderstood.

Over the years, Grove has developed numerous exhibitions, including the 1997 retrospective Fame & Misfortune dedicated to the life of LGBT icon Andy Warhol, a giant of contemporary art.

“You see his self portrait in magazines. He’s the [contemporary] artist that every school child knows and thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” says Grove, who is also gay.

Nonetheless, he’s quick to squelch the notion that modern art must be explained away to be enjoyed.

“I don’t feel like people have to know it to appreciate the work, but certainly a more contextual knowledge creates an understanding of the artist’s situation, which leads to different identification the viewers’ part,” he says. “Didactic wall hangings, smart phones or someone like me giving you the information [are some of] the preferred ways.”

And because of the nature of contemporary art, the collection he oversees is always growing and changing. A quick look at his bookshelf brimming with muses, including gay artists like Jasper Johns and the late Texas Robert Rauschenberg, gives a hint to what’s on Grove’s wish list for the museum. However, he’s careful to add that the collection requires specific parameters when adding new acquisitions.

“[You must know] what compliments what is already here and really analyze the collection. Where it is going? Where can strengths be built? What is being collected in the community?” he notes, adding that he’s still working on all these questions having only been on the job less than a year.

Earlier this year, Grove led an after hours “walk & talk” for the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas as part of its partnership with the DMA. It was a chance to introduce Grove to Dallas’ LGBT community while allowing participants to hear firsthand his unique perspective about the museum’s collection — witty quips and all.

With a bright view of the future, Grove sees a new dynamic in the way museums and individuals will continue to collect art, specifically modern art. “I think that the change will be in the distinction between private collecting and institutional collecting,” he says. “Speaking particularly about contemporary collecting, on a high level Dallas is already a pioneer in partnering with individuals and organizations to share acquisitions. ­­No great museum can afford to buy all the great art and keep pace with cultural production.”

As for staging his dream collection, Grove says, “stay tuned,” but should it not work out, he can always return to his bio highlight, a world of espionage and double agents. As he says, in a tone laced with sarcasm, “All the conspiracies are true: It’s all a way to support things like Salt.”

The Angelia Jolie spy movie? No, thanks. We prefer Grove in this day job working with some real art.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas