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A touring photo exhibit perplexes, while the 817’s two major dance companies generate some ka-ching.

Texas Music singer-songwriters, with their been-there done-that faces, would seem the perfect models for most any portrait artist. And yet the touring color photography exhibit Texas Singer-Songwriters: An Americana Portrait is hit or miss, dazzling one minute and strangely lifeless the next. Midwestern State University art professor Gary Goldberg spent four years with a Nikon D100 digital camera taking pics of Texas musicians posed outside. Culled down to 50 photos, the exhibit is evenly split between splendid portraits and stinkers that fail to offer insight or evoke much emotion. A couple of decades ago, on commission from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, legendary photographer Richard Avedon traveled the Southwest, posing people against white backdrops and producing extra-large prints to create the stark, brilliant, and mind-blowing exhibit In the American West. Goldberg’s concept is similar, but he uses simple backdrops with mostly flat surfaces: brick walls, barn tin, flaked paint on dry wood, battered doors. Stephanie Urbina Jones’ dark eyes and hair are framed perfectly by white flakes of chipped paint, while an ugly green door with rotted wood and a rusted knob somehow make Joe Ely stand out like the coolest guy alive.

 

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