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Posted September 19, 2007 by Weekly Staff in Best Of

Dance Performance – Female
Critic’s choice: Olga Pavlova in La Bayadére
The Metropolitan Classical Ballet prima ballerina is always a joy to watch. The title role of La Bayadére, the betrayed temple dancer, was a perfect vehicle for her dramatic range and technical virtuosity. The assignment was challenging, but the artist shone.

Dance Performance – Male
Critic’s choice: Anatoly Emelianov in Joaquin Murieta
Dancing the title role of a ballet created for him by Metropolitan Classical Ballet co-director Alexander Vetrov, Emelianov explored the dramatic highs and lows of the darkly brooding Russian rock-opera with remarkable intensity. The ballet did not hang together well overall, but Emelianov’s dancing was inspired.

Dance Troupe

Readers’ choice: Frances Lea Dance Center
Critic’s choice: (tie) Texas Ballet Theater, Metropolitan Classical Ballet
The landscape of Fort Worth dance is changing. Even though master contemporary choreographer Bruce Wood was forced to close shop recently, the style has never been more popular here, with Margo Dean (Ballet Concerto) and Contemporary Dance Fort Worth becoming increasingly strong presences. Classical ballet, on the other hand, has always been the Fort’s forte and still is. Our two major companies, Texas Ballet Theater and Metropolitan Classical Ballet, both deserve the award for different reasons: TBT for being the more youthful, funky (relatively speaking) outfit and MCB for its consistent emphasis on serious, Bolshoi-style footwork.

Outdoor Cultural Event

Critic’s choice: Ballet Concerto Summer Dance Concert at Trinity Park
Margo Dean’s outdoor summer programs vary in quality from year to year, but this June, her students were right on the money in works by Bruce Marks, Fernando Bujones, and Luis Montero.

Museum Art Show of Last 12 Months
Readers’ choice: Ron Mueck, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Critic’s choice: Ron Mueck
The Australian sculptor’s touring show received wonderful treatment at the Modern: There was a lot of breathing room between his hyperrealist figures, and fluctuating sizes gave proper respect to the exemplary pieces. “Dead Dad,” a tiny sculpture of the artist’s father naked and on his back had an entire room to itself. Over-the-top but effective.

Local Visual Artist

Readers’ choice: Randy Guthmiller
Critic’s choice: J.T. Grant
If painting were a contact sport, J.T. Grant would be Fort Worth’s undisputed heavyweight champion. His sexually charged, hyperrealist figures, still-lifes, and landscapes navigate the dusky territory between kitschy and downright nightmarish. Represented locally by William Campbell Contemporary Art, Grant also is a strong personal presence on the local scene. He has lectured at the Modern Museum of Art and taught painting and drawing at the Kimbell Art Museum and Texas Christian University.

Performing Arts Organization

Readers’ choice: Texas Ballet Theater
Critic’s choice: Artes de la Rosa
This hard-working group (formerly the Latin Arts Association of Fort Worth) has turned the once-sleepy Rose Marine Theater into a thriving center for theater, film, music, gallery art shows, and Northside holiday celebrations. For their important contribution to the city’s cultural life, they win our rosa.

Gallery Art Show of Last 12 Months
Readers’ choice: Arts Goggle, Fort Worth South, Inc.
Critic’s choice: Summer Mix, William Campbell Contemporary Art, 4935 Byers Av, FW
Blending new works by regional faves with prints by legends, William Campbell’s most recent exhibition could have won on star-power alone – featured artists included Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Indiana. But the Texas work – from Joachim Kersten, Sevan Melikyan, Carol Ivey, and J.T. Grant – was just as impressive.

Art Gallery
Readers’ choice: Edmund Craig, 3550 W 7th St, FW
Critic’s choice: William Campbell Contemporary Art
Other than Joachim Kersten’s Digitalis Purpurea, every exhibit at William Campbell over the past year has been a group show. Two of them – Summer Mix and Looking Forward / Looking Back – had a retrospective feel to them. The others, photos from the Nature Conservancy of Texas and New and Emerging Texas Talent, revealed an unseen side of Bill Campbell: social awareness. There’s a sense that to exhibit here you have to know the right people. But you can’t fault co-owners Campbell and wife Pam Campbell for being picky – there’s a lot of talent in our backyard.


Male Actor
Readers’ choice: Evan Mueller
Critic’s choice: Regan Adair, Right Ho, Jeeves, Stage West
Adair, as Bertie Wooster, was deft, erudite, virtuosic, and a little exhausting in Stage West’s most recent adaptation of a P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves-and-Wooster novel. Jeeves, played in this show by Jim Covault, is the vermouth-dry manservant to the impulsive, egotistical, utterly oblivious would-be playboy Wooster. The rest of the cast became Adair’s foils as he orchestrated one disastrous social situation after another. A less nimble actor would’ve been insufferable, but Adair’s bottomless reserves of charm kept the show trotting along at a fast clip.


Female Actor
Readers’ choice: Dana Schultes
Critic’s choice: Jody Rudman, As Bees in Honey Drown, Stage West
The central character of this quintessentially ’90s New York comedy is Alexa Vere de Vere, an alleged rock music producer and certified bon vivant who has the habit of nicknaming new friends “lamb” as she flutters her expensively manicured fingers. And everyone Alexa meets is a new friend, especially if they have spare cash they’d like to be divested of. The DELETE is meringue-light, but Rudman played this shameless con artist with flamboyance and sharp cunning. In the second act she did a marvelous kind of striptease, removing not clothes but layers of the carefully constructed Alexa persona.

Theater Troupe
Readers’ choice: MoMentuM Productions
Critic’s choice: The Butterfly Connection
Artistic director Adam Dietrich was mentored by Hip Pocket Theatre’s Johnny Simons, among others, to champion a raw, spontaneous kind of theatrical aesthetic. He and managing director Joshua Reeves work with pros, amateurs, and first-timers to create multimedia shows that knock down the wall between performer and audience – including a recent exploration of Bob Marley’s Rastafarian spiritual roots and a jazzy riff on the notorious, historically suspect “Willie Lynch letters” that concern the “art” of slavemastering.

Local Production
Readers’ choice: Rudy, Jubilee Theatre
Critic’s choice: According to Goldman, Circle Theatre
This award is a triple, with acting nods going to splendidly complex performances by Trey Walpole, Josh Heard, and Linda Leonard. Bruce Graham’s comedy is about a has-been screenwriter aching for a comeback, and his entrée (in more ways than one) is a shy young student, the son of African missionaries, who agrees to collaborate on a story about his life. According to Goldman, directed with quicksilver fluidity by Jennifer Engler, examined with a microscope how personal agendas shape artistic perspective and vice versa.

Show at Bass Hall in the Last 12 Months

Readers’ choice: Pink Martini
Critic’s choice: Frau Margot
Thomas Pasatieri’s opera, capping off the newly revamped Fort Worth Opera festival, also served as the first of what we hope will be many world premieres at the downtown venue. Though it wasn’t a great opera (with its second-act sag and some bad verbiage in the libretto), its stylish Art Deco scenery, Hitchcockian atmosphere, and terrific singing made it a spellbinding experience.

Classical Music Performance

Readers’ choice: Gustav Mahler Festival
Critic’s choice: Ken Iisaka
One of many brilliant pianists who graced the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Amateurs, the Mill Valley, Calif., investment analyst lit up the stage at TCU with his renditions of Nikolai Kapustin, Antonio Soler, and Charles-Valentin Alkan. His refusal to play the chestnuts of the piano repertoire probably cost him the top prize, but then it also allows him to come back for the next piano competition.

Book by Texas Author Published in Last 12 Months
Readers’ choice: Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Critic’s choice: Iraq and Back, by Kim Olson
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Olson (Ret.), the first female combat-trained pilot in the traditionally all-male Air Force, was the top aide to Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, sent by George Bush & Co. to rebuild Iraq and keep the peace after Baghdad fell – only the Bushies didn’t tell them how they were to do it. Garner, Olson, and their small entourage spent a year there with no direction from Washington, flying by the seats of their pants, trying to get the electricity and water flowing again, the schools open, houses rebuilt – all the while dodging assassins’ bullets and car-bomb attacks and attempting to maneuver through a deadly tangle of tribal and religious politics. Olson has written a fascinating account of that year – what it did to her and her family and how the war has done long-term damage to both Iraq and the U.S. military – all told from the perspective of one tough woman.


Local Filmmaker

Readers’ choice: Amanda Micallef
Critic’s choice: Mat Hames
The documentary Last Best Hope by this Grand Prairie native and Creative Arts Theatre School alumnus became accessible to Texas audiences via public television this past year, and though it wasn’t quite as much of an event as showing the film (about the Belgian resistance movement in World War II) to a royal audience in Brussels in 2005, it was still undoubtedly a thrill for Hames to unveil it to his hometown.

Locally Made Film

Readers’ choice: Little Boy
Critic’s choice: Left
When Daniel Del Purgatorio’s short film screened at the Angelika Dallas this summer, one of the viewers called it “a little too extreme.” Not sure what that means – the nearly wordless piece juxtaposes a story about a woman’s murder at the hands of her boyfriend with an interpretive dance work to minor-key piano music. The effect was somber and beautiful, a creative take on a familiar story.

Dance Production
Readers’ choice: The Nutcracker at Bass Performance Hall
Critic’s choice: Texas Ballet Theater’s Sleeping Beauty
Ben Stevenson’s sumptuous setting of the Tchaikovsky classic was ravishing to look at and wonderfully danced, a world-class happening on the Bass Hall stage.

Outdoor Art
Readers’ choice: “United We Stand” at Fire Station No. 8, 1301 W Rosedale Av, FW
Critic’s choice: Garden chapel in Meadowbrook
People driving or strolling by the corner of Normandy and Ederville roads on the East Side often come to a complete stop in front of this collection of tall, snow-white gothic arches that suggest a chapel. Once the windows of Christ the King Episcopal Church on Lackland Road, the arches were obtained by the church’s former rector, Gayland Poole, when the building was renovated. He designed what he calls “sawhorse saddles” to hold the arches in place and to elevate them more closely to their original height in the church. Huge flagstones form a floor, and a larger arch recovered from the 2000 tornado’s destruction of Calvary Cathedral seems to hover protectively nearby. The “apse,” as Poole describes it, is illuminated by night and is surrounded by serpentine walls, gardens, and bits of statuary.

Film Series
Critic’s choice: Cine de la Rosa
A significant addition to this area’s list of film series devoted to foreign and classic movies is Artes de la Rosa’s periodic showings of Mexican movies from decades past. A 2006 highlight: the Halloween showing of the 1931 Spanish-language Dracula, made at the same time and on the same sets as the more famous Hollywood version with Béla Lugosi.

Place to See Art Films
Critic’s choice: AMC Grapevine Mills, 3000 Grapevine Mills Pkwy, Grapevine
Tarrant County’s biggest multiplex typically devotes umpteen screens to the latest blockbusters, but this past year (more so than in previous years), they’ve also been showing stuff that doesn’t play anywhere else, from well-regarded epics (Mira Nair’s The Namesake) to exotic horror (Bong Joon-ho’s The Host) to the simply indecipherable (Gregory Jacobs’ Wind Chill).

Locally Produced Comic Book
Critic’s choice: The Lost Books of Eve, by Josh Howard
Among fanboys, Josh Howard’s Dead@17 is easily the best-known locally produced work. But another by the North Texan gets our vote as the best in this genre: the first issue of his The Lost Books of Eve. Starting off with a unique premise (after Adam is kidnapped, Eve must venture out of the Garden to rescue him), Lost Books has everything a great first issue needs: a good set-up and story, catchy art, and a nice cliffhanger. Howard’s signature artwork is on beautiful display here, with Eve looking like the gorgeous woman everyone imagines while also conveying naivete and innocence. And his rendition of God is so simple yet strikingly out there that it has to be seen. The bimonthly wait is definitely worth it.

Outsider Artist
Critic’s choice: Joe Art
When Joseph Arthur LaBerge brought his portfolio to the Firehouse Gallery, owner Lori Thomson re-christened him with her remark: “Well, Joe Art, this is good work.” If you roamed through this year’s Gallery Night, you might have seen his stuff at Firehouse, Rebecca Lowe, or the Upstairs Gallery – pieces ranging from colored pencil abstractions to rough-and-rusty sculptures featuring wood and nails of serious size. But he’ll use almost any medium. “I let the universe tell me what to do with objects,” he said. In 2004, he completed a series of 78 papier-mâché bowls in graduated sizes, and he’s done paper collage, batik, assemblages with polychromatic wood, and a series of broken plaster human figures. The 42-year-old artist’s life story is as various and spiky as a lot of his work, and he makes no secret of his ups and downs. He’s also generous with his time and talent. When we caught up with him for, he was teaching kids to weave at Firehouse’s annual art camp.

Example of Art Altruism

Critic’s choice: Scott Grant Barker’s preservation work
The guy who’s probably the most knowledgeable about early Fort Worth art history isn’t a museum curator, college professor, or even an artist. Barker is a fan – a very curious one with a love of painstaking research. He’s made major contributions to art awareness through the catalogs he’s written about early artists, his work as curator at art shows, his public speaking engagements, the oral histories he has compiled with elderly artists, and through the Collectors of Fort Worth Art, which he founded. And he does it all with a relaxed but passionate panache.


Arcade

Critic’s choice: Tornado Terry’s Family Amusement Center, 4530 Keller Hicks Rd, Keller
About a million years ago, five bucks was more than enough to pack an afternoon with all of the ghost-munching, bug-blasting, and donkey-konging you could handle. Nowadays, dropping two quarters to play one game of Galaga not only makes us feel old, it makes us feel a little ripped off, too. Fortunately, there’s Tornado Terry’s, just a hop-skip-and-a-warp-zone away in Keller. For $12.50, a gamer gets full access to the Free Zone, where classic quarter-munchers stand beside their modern-day descendents. The best part? Your gameplay is limited only by a phone call from Ma or your significant other begging you to leave, because the games are free with that admission. Plus, the concession stand has enough junk food to keep Q-Bert hopping. It’s affordable fun for the whole family, a unique date spot, and the perfect place to rock that Jefferson Starship tape you’ve been hoarding all these years.

Day Trip
Critic’s choice: WinStar Casinos, I-35N,Oklahoma
A day trip, by definition, means you can leave the house in the morning, have a grand ol’ time, and return home that evening relatively intact. WinStar offers the lights, action, and gambling experience of a longer trip to more distant (and better- known) gambling destinations, but it’s located only an hour’s drive from Cowtown (at least it was only an hour in pre-NAFTA times). The Friday night buffets are scrumptious, the slot machines shiny and new, the live entertainment top notch, the craps tables a blast, and the soft drinks free and tasty. Soft drinks? Uh, yeah. WinStar doesn’t serve booze, which means you can actually drive yourself home, an important criterion of a day trip.

Green Space

Critic’s choice: Tandy Hills Nature Area
Back in the day, young stoners enjoyed sneaking out and inhaling herbage amid the 160 acres of indigenous prairie alongside I-30 just east of downtown. Nowadays, the number of youthful partiers at the park has fallen to near zero, while the number of park protectors and activists has steadily grown. (Some of the early stoners just grew up and got new priorities.) Their fervor is understandable. Tandy Hills is an anomaly in this land of concrete and asphalt, offering unsurpassed panoramas of wildflowers each spring and a last-gasp reminder of the Great Plains as it once looked in these parts. Recently, however, Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. bought an adjoining 55 acres and is considering drilling there for natural gas, perhaps threatening the serenity that makes this place so special. The company brags about how environmentally conscious and community friendly they are; let’s see if they’re for real.

Outdoor Workout Space

Critic’s choice: Game Time Parcourse FitCenter, Longhorn Trail at Briar St, Crowley
For those of us who ain’t got the scratch for Gold’s or the time to wait for our turn at Bally’s, the Game Time outdoor mini-gym on Longhorn Trail is a wonderful alternative. This little workout spot behind the Crowley High School baseball fields has 15 simple pieces of equipment – bars, metal benches with hand grips, slant benches – set into a gravel patch, perfect for a daily tune-up. And nearly all the equipment is also for those who are wheelchair-bound.

Urban Digs

Readers’ choice: Texas & Pacific Lofts, 221 W Lancaster Av, FW
Critic’s choice: The Tower, 500 Throckmorton St, FW
No, it’s not the linchpin of all existence, but The Tower and its living spaces are still pretty impressive. And while Fort Worth does its darnedest to distance itself from Dallas’ high-falutin’, nouveau-riche sensibilities, there’s still a lot of hip, stylish folks here with the cash to afford some palatial space sans the less-than-hip trappings of a suburban-eclectic McMansion. Enter: The Tower, the erstwhile steel-’n'-plywood F2-twister casualty that has since risen from the ashes and come into its own as the place to put up one’s Italian-leather heels. The upper floors offer a stellar view of Sundance Square and the surrounding skyline. For those evenings when the Cristal flows like wine, it’s within staggering distance of SoDo hot-spots like the Aqua Lounge, Bar 9, Bent, and Embargo. Or for when you meet that special someone who, y’know, likes expensive granite countertops.

Urban Redevelopment
Readers’ choice: Berry Street FW
Critic’s choice: T&P Building, 221 W Lancaster Av, FW
One of those buildings you could tell was absolutely bad-ass back when it was built in 1931, the T&P is now the center of a major renovation effort. Already the apartments inside have received some snazzy re-do’s, and now the building next door and the adjoining part of Lancaster Avenue are in for the same treatment. On top of that, the Trinity Railway Express station in the back (now with more parking) will make going to Dallas super-easy.

New Public Architecture
Critic’s choice: Stonegate Mansion, 4100 Stonegate Blvd, FW
It’s not new per se and was briefly open to the public years ago, but Stonegate Mansion, once known informally as the Cullen Davis mansion, is now open for business as a banquet facility. Managed by Events by Danya with catering by Ashton Hotel, BK’s Creative Catering, Bravo, and Reata, Stonegate offers two stories, 19,000 square feet, and wonderfully Brutalist design for your next wedding reception, corporate meeting, or double-murder dinner theater. This year’s runner-up trophy goes to the Ryan Family YMCA (8250 McCart Av, FW), expanded and remodeled by Hahnfeld Hoffer Standford and built by Steele & Freeman Inc., both of Fort Worth. It’s boxy, glassy, and bright, equal parts hip and friendly.

New Architecture
Readers’ choice: The Tower
Critic’s choice: Eoff Residence, Arlington
Designed by legendary residential architect and Fort Worthian Richard Wintersole, this 3,000-square-foot house-for-one is short, flat, narrow, broad, angular, and hyper-Modern, especially in its dipping roof, lending the entire structure the appearance of a phoenix rising.

Renewal/Relocation

Readers’ choice: Stage West
Critic’s choice: Pendery’s, 1407 8th Av, FW
We welcomed the reopening of Pendery’s with high hopes and an empty cupboard. For 137 years, give or take, the store has supplied Cowtown with chile powders, peppers, and spices. Nowadays, these are joined by cookbooks, aprons, and pepper-related tchotchkes. We loved the old downtown location (destined to become part of the new Tarrant County College campus), but the new Hospital District place is even better. Rather than one big space, the rambling warren leads the shopper through nooks and crannies packed almost to the ceiling with items to fill your culinary needs. The prices are right, the smells are heady, and service is top-notch.

Skate Park

Readers’ choice: Freestyle Skate Park, 4130 S Eden Rd, Kennedale
Critic’s choice: Havik Skate Park of Texas, 609 N Great Southwest Pkwy, Arlington
Sadly, this award is post-mortem, or at least, given in absentia. At the end of July, groms and poolsharks alike mourned the closing of Havik Skate Park. Hope is still kicking, however – the place is for sale. (Somebody rich and, like, cool, please be reading this.) So, let us honor what we’re missing: Enclosed in a warehouse off Industrial Parkway, Havik offered an inventive street course, a pro shop, cool staff, and, best of all, a kick-ass, laminate bowl where wannabes and never-did-wannabes could flow and grind to board-pounding accolades. It was a safe hangout to drop off the kids, and the Pabst-friendly parking lot was a great place for vets to revisit Gator-era glories. And while Fort Worth has plans for a park of its own (reportedly without a stoke-inducing bowl – lame!), the currently defunct Havik wins for its totally rad legacy.

Place to Take Kids (Under 10)
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Zoo, 1989 Colonial Pkwy, FW
Critic’s Choice: Storytime, various locations
Do you despair of getting your kids to read? Never fear. Look for the “Kids” section in the Weekly’s Calendar. Every week several storytime sessions are listed, at local bookstores and the public library. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the enthralling power of the written word. And hey, they’ll be surrounded by books – the magic is bound to wear off on ‘em eventually.

Place to Take Kids (Over 10)

Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Astronomical Society
What more magnificent place could you take your kids to than the stars? No, not the Dallas Stars games, although that’s fine, if you’ve got that kind of money to spend. But a lot cheaper and less violent is the local astromers’ group. Student membership is only $20, or $40 for the family. The group holds frequent “star parties” and is happy to share its knowledge about telescopes and the cosmos. Find them at www.fortworthastro.com. Note: The science museum is closed for construction, but the hands-on exhibits are across the street at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

Place to People-Watch

Readers’ choice: Sundance Square
Critic’s choice: Ice at The Parks skating arena, 3811 S. Cooper St. Arlington
There’s nothing funnier than watching adults fall down trying to ice-skate. And, there’s nothing cuter than watching young children putter along the ice at a snail’s pace, grinning ear to ear. Both can be achieved at the Parks Mall rink. If you’re really lucky, you’ll see a young virtuoso spinning and jumping around with the grace of Kristi Yamaguchi.

 


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