Arts Humping

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Posted October 17, 2007 by JEFF PRINCE in Clubs

The last time I went to a house party, I stumbled and busted my lip on an above-ground pool and ate an entire jar of peanut butter (but not at the same time), all before the evening degenerated into wildin’-style fisticuffs.

Ahhh, high school. Obviously, the crowd I was running with back then bears scant resemblance to the crowd I’d like to think I run with now, normal people and, more often, normal people with artistic inclinations and a devotion to Fort Worth’s burgeoning arts scene.

For the past three months, a group of local artistes and scenesters has been throwing parties at various folks’ houses. The clear goal is to create a cross-pollination among artists, arts groups large and small, arts patrons, media types, fans, whoever. The results have been manifold, according to Cathy Hernandez, Rose Marine Theater executive director and the head of the braintrust behind Arts Hump.
“A lot of groups have found new resources and new funding,” she said. “A lot of small groups have been having trouble getting to the media, but the media are coming – there’s free food and drinks,” she added, coyly suggesting that if free food and booze were not offered at gallery openings and arts mixers, media types would not attend (and probably would not eat the rest of the week).

Free food and booze: Now let that marinate. Wow. But before any interested scenesters don lampshades and drinking hardhats, understand that partying is merely a happy byproduct of what is mostly a professional networking endeavor.
“We’ve seen a lot of small arts groups here facing the same problems,” she said. “We just wanted to get them all in one place and have fun.”

In Hernandez’ view, Arts Hump achieves – and possibly even surpasses – the benefits of attending staid workshops or participating in seminars. Plus, in my opinion, a little booze and a little loosening of the neckties have been known to set mouths a-flap. Sometimes even pocketbooks, too.

The first event was held at the house of the Guitar Guild’s Mitch Weverka, the second at the home of Q Cinema’s Todd Camp (guess my invite got lost in the mail), and the third takes place tonight (Wed) at the abode of Butterfly Connection’s Adam Dietrich.
“The only real requirement is presence,” Dietrich said. “Just be with us and share what happened with you during the week. We all have an interest in seeing the scene develop.”

You might not believe it, but arts people aren’t made of money – while they’ll be offering free libations, do the right thing and BYOB. Fisticuffs and sophomoric tomfoolery are highly discouraged. For more information, e-mail adamjdietrich@gmail.com.
- Anthony Mariani

MacHenry’s R.I.P.
A favorite acoustic music venue that has been teetering between solvency and going bust finally met eyeball to eyeball with the grim reaper – or, more likely, the grim accountant. MacHenry’s closed its doors last Friday after about five years of offering acoustic roots music seven days a week and showcasing fascinating but obscure acts such as the Asylum Street Spankers, Darden Smith, and Willis Alan Ramsey. Club owner John Walker is a sweet guy and a longtime musician who understood the importance of providing a venue for up-and-coming local musicians. But nice guys don’t always make good businessmen, and Walker seemed to be perpetually struggling financially. Part of the problem was simple bad luck – the bar’s original location atop an Italian restaurant on Camp Bowie Boulevard was charmingly decrepit and a lot of fun but was sold out from under him and demolished.

MacHenry’s new digs farther west were sterile and hard to find, and the crowds grew smaller. Taylor moved his club to West Magnolia Avenue a year ago and seemed to have found a perfect home next to Benito’s Mexican restaurant in the Hospital District. The club felt homey and a rebirth seemed imminent. Alas, the combination of higher overhead costs and old debts proved impossible for Walker to surmount, although he predicts the club will reopen soon under new ownership. – Jeff Prince

Contact Last Call at lastcall@fwweekly.com.


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