We continue our look back at ’13 with a list of the people in North Texas arts and culture who helped define the year
Here’s what we remember most from the arts in 2013 — as well as our cultural touchstones as a community.
1. Dallas Museum of Art offers free general admission; its Jim Hodges exhibit is one of the best in memory. The DMA kicked off the year by offering free general admission in a business model some worried would be risky, but which has so far paid off great benefits. It also the start of museum director Maxwell Anderson’s second full year in charge, with a series of smart programs (the new restoration atelier), collaborations (joining with the DTC’s production of the art-themed play Red) and exhibits (culminating in a retrospective of gay multimedia artist Jim Hodges, one of the finest exhibits the DMA has ever offered).
2. Dallas relives JFK assassination over … and over … and over. By the end of the hubbub over the 50th anniversary, from pundits to books to art installations, we all felt we needed to celebrate the JFK assassination for one more day like we needed another hole in the head.
3. Nasher XChange makes public art a citywide event. Although not all the pieces were raging successes — and some weren’t even “art” — the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 10 commissioned works, mounted around North Texas to commemorate the museum’s 10th anniversary, was one of the most ambitious efforts to explore the meaning of public art a city has undertaken without having Christo wrap a building in Mylar.
4. Dallas’ leather community gets a big competition — but also evidences a divide. Dallas became home in 2013 to the International Leather Sir/boy and Community Bootblack competition, but an ill-advised memo that seemed to disqualify trans contestants revealed a rip in the rarefied world of leather.
5. The Bush Library opens, officially becomes the first presidential museum to have a coloring book section. Kidding.
6. Lower Greenville becomes a hot-spot again … and Trinity Groves for the first time. With the opening of central Dallas’ first Trader Joe’s, Lower Greenville Avenue became a destination, but enterprising foodies had already caught on, with hip new joints lining the streets. Simultaneously, the fallow district at the end of Large Marge became Trinity Groves, giving gourmands yet another destination to explore.
7. Aurora shines a light on Arts District. Call it a light festival, an installation, a block party or an arts explosion, but Aurora’s one-night splash in the Arts District was monumental. Despite dropping temperatures and high winds, throngs descended on Flora Street from City Performance Hall to the DMA, then jaunted over to Klyde Warren Park to get a taste of live music, food trucks and most of all, the illuminating displays adorning the streets and buildings, lit with astonishing works of projection art. With some 90 installations over 19 blocks, crowds were visibly amazed by works that featured automatic umbrellas synced to “Singin’ in the Rain,” and light sculptures that were delicate but resilient enough to walk through. Even a few miscues due to high winds didn’t diminish the overall amazement.
8. Love Field gets a makeover. On the eve of the repeal of the Wright Amendment, the historic airport gets gussied up with clean new terminals, expanded services and businesses, a clever marketing campaign and a heavy dose of public art. All that’s left is for the new baggage claim carousel to be completed (mid-2014) and we’ll all be in Love again.
9. Icepocalypse. Dallas comes to a halt for almost a week in December under three inches of snow; officially the first time Dallas’ gay community got excited over a mere three inches.
10. Sprinkles opens an ice cream shop and a “cupcake ATM.” Gay waistlines are forever transformed, but we’re too deep in a sugar coma to care.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 3, 2014.