Readers’ choice: Monet: The Late Years, Kimbell Art Museum
Critic’s Top 5: Chameleon wasn’t big, but it was tasty, like a flavorbomb of visual juice. Displayed at Fort Works Art, Jay Wilkinson’s photorealist paintings and Austin Fields’ amorphous sculptures danced an elegant tango, creating the impression of crashing somebody’s way-cool pad in the middle of a party. • Mick Jagger, Madonna, David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Clash, Lou Reed, Deborah Harry, William S. Burroughs, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, and dozens of other rock-culture stars from the 1970s and ’80s were immortalized by Kate Simon, whose retrospective at Fort Works Art, Chaos and Cosmos, was a pure delight from start to finish. • This is why the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is among the best institutions of its kind. Bringing to life conceptual, mostly performative art isn’t easy, but the Modern did just that with Disappearing-California, c. 1970: Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein. How they assembled the 50,000 nickels with matchsticks on them or squeezed the real-life boats indoors is beyond us, but we’re glad they did. • It wasn’t too long ago that to play the gallery game in town, you had to have an MFA. Not so anymore. Case in point: One of the biggest shows of the year was Fuck Your Art Degree, a one-off at Shipping & Receiving Bar featuring work by mostly unlettered talents from not only North Texas but all over, bringing some much-needed national flavor to what can often be an insular North Texas art scene. • Though losing his vision and growing older, Monet not only never slowed down but arguably improved. With Monet: The Late Years, the Kimbell Art Museum brought viewers into the French master’s world through an expansive collection of his painterly obsessions: water lilies, water lilies, and more water lilies (with some Japanese bridges, trees, and one or two other features of his sprawling estate thrown in for good measure). It was a treat and shows you what a treasure the Kimbell is.
Readers’ choice: Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, 817-332-8451
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, 2900 W Berry St, 817-257 2588
As the principle space among The Galleries at TCU, the Contemporary showcases the work of national and international artists in all media. Helmed by international curator Sara-Jayne Parsons, the 2,000-square-foot gallery features high-quality art and art practice with a focus on innovation. The Contemporary works collaboratively with artists, TCU students, local schools, and the wider community to establish creative partnerships. Recent shows include print work by Europeans Gfeller and Hellsgård; Gendersick, a video installation from London-based American Jordan Baseman; and Flaneuse, a group exhibition featuring eight international artists whose work draws attention to the role of gender in contemporary urban experience. Current exhibition Abstract Utility runs through November 23.
Readers’ choice: Alexander Lozano
Critic’s choice: Raul Rodriguez
Rodriguez’ work is informed by the contrast between his identity and the political and social characteristics of the United States, often gravitating toward communities that are in the fight. His documentary approach is composed mainly through the camera lens. Although he is primarily a photographic artist, his curatorial, educational, and social practice has led to opportunities in galleries and community and educational spaces working with organizations like The Boys and Girls Club, TCU, The Oak Cliff Cultural Art Center, Make Art with Purpose, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. He is the founder of the photographic platform Deep Red Press, is part of a Latinx artist collective named Latino Hustle, and has showcased the work of peers and artists locally and regionally.
Critic’s choice: House of Iconoclasts
House of Iconoclasts strives to showcase as many unsung, unknown, and outsider artists as possible, and to that aim, each of the two shows the collective has thrown this year boasted work from more than 100 creatives, as well as record-setting attendance numbers. By democratizing the local art scene and making it fun and exciting –– and even HOI’s marketing is kind of thrilling –– this collective gives a voice to artists who would otherwise go unnoticed. And in the process, the collective has put together a couple of pretty bangin’ art parties. Keep an eye out for whatever they do next.
Critic’s choice: “Tabachin Ribbon”
Much of the admiration for public art at Fort Worth City Hall is directed toward the “Twelve Triangles Hanging” sculpture that looms over the main concourse. That shiny silver design is mesmerizing, for sure, but don’t discount Yvonne Domenge’s “Tabachin Ribbon,” a carbon steel sculpture donated to the city in 2014 and placed in front of City Hall. The bright yellow, oddly shaped abstract representation of the Tabachin Tree in Mexico is a fitting installation considering the odd and abstract decision-making that emanates at times from inside those brick walls.
Performing Arts Organization
Readers’ choice: Amphibian Stage Productions, 120 S Main St, 817-923-3012
Critic’s choice: Arts 5th Avenue, 1628 5th Av, 817-923-9500
Despite being tucked away in a residential neighborhood off Magnolia Avenue, this little dance studio is treasured by generations of artists and dancers across North Texas. Some of their biggest events are National Tap Dance Day, Jazzy Valentine’s Day, the Django Reinhardt Festival, and numerous burlesque and theater productions throughout the year. Owned by Gracey Tune (an internationally recognized tap instructor and choreographer), Arts 5th Avenue is an example of a small business bringing the community together and nurturing dancers from all walks of life.
Readers’ choice: Texas Ballet Theater
Critic’s choice: Texas Ballet Theater
One of Fort Worth’s major artistic institutions, Texas Ballet Theater features a repertoire that showcases styles that span the ballet spectrum. Productions give audiences a chance to expand their horizons, from classical performances such as Sleeping Beauty to contemporary productions like artistic director Ben Stevenson’s The Nutty Nutcracker. We also hope TBT will consider staging another production of Dracula soon –– just putting it out there.
Readers’ choice: Texas Star Dinner Theater, 816 S Main St, Grapevine, 817-310-5588
Critic’s choice: Circle Theatre, 230 W 4th St, 817-877-3040
The last time the downtown troupe won this thing was in the last decade (or the beginning of this one, depending on how you count), but they had a superb year with challenging productions tackling big themes with dramatic zest and no small amount of humor, from the ingenious staging of Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men on Boats to the unconventional staging of Sweeney Todd. Rose Pearson would have been proud.
Readers’ choice: Inspiration Alley, Carroll St
Critic’s choice: Mag & May apartments, 315 W Magnolia Av
Along the ground floor of Mag & May apartments are 20 unique murals that were painted on street-facing stucco stoops. The artworks were jointly commissioned by Art South and Hudgins Companies. More than 130 artists applied for the chance to paint one of the murals. Best yet, each artist was paid $1,000 for their work, and supplies were provided. The works are a beautiful display of Fort Worth’s wide range of artistic talent.
Readers’ choice: Edgar Miller Images
Critic’s choice: Lynne Bowman Cravens
Fine art photographer Cravens, a former member of the artist-run cooperative 500X Gallery, has had her work recently featured in several publications, including Friend of the Artist, Voyage Dallas Magazine, and Austere Magazine. Cravens also has had solo exhibitions at the Moncrief Cancer Institute and at 500X Gallery. She is currently working on a large-scale commission for Fort Worth Public Art.
Show at Bass Hall in the Last 12 Months
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Mahler Symphony No. 5
Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony, will soon become a familiar name in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra leadership recently awarded the Grammy Award-winning conductor the position of “principal guest conductor.” That public announcement came the same day that Spano led the FWSO on its most impressive performance of the year. Gustav Mahler’s symphonies are a dense patchwork of orchestral layers that must be sifted through to convey clear lines and melodies. Melodies abound in his fifth symphonic masterpiece. Spano deftly guided the veteran musicians through a sonic tapestry that is as wide and varied as any in the symphonic canon. That evening, the Adagietto was particularly affecting, entering as dreamily as it left. The FWSO’s brass and horn sections deserve praise for their thoughtful phrasing (and reserve when needed). As music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya enters his 20th and final season as head of the FWSO, the musicians appear and sound as good as ever. Spano’s three-year term as principal guest conductor begins next year.
Readers’ choice: Arts Goggle
Critic’s choice: Fortress Festival
Fortress Fest’s third year was the best yet. Not only did its Leon Bridges-anchored lineup draw even bigger crowds than before, its savvy partnerships with Dickies and other local sponsors gave the fest a more Fort Worth-centric vibe, as did its robust roster of opening acts from around North Texas. Next year’s Fortress Fest is on April 25 and 26. You should buy your tickets now.
Readers’ choice: Creme de la Creme
Critic’s choice: Salty Lady Burlesque, Denton
Denton is becoming a nightlife town, and its burlesque scene exemplifies that. Salty Lady Burlesque is a great fit for anyone looking for a fun night of music, dance, and flashy corseted entertainers. This troupe has something for everyone –– quirky acts, classic feather dances, vaudeville, and more. Plus, the show’s LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere makes Salty Lady a good option for people looking for inclusive entertainment. Tickets are $10-30.
Classical Music Performance
Critic’s choice: Pascal Rogé
This past summer’s PianoTexas festival focused on French music, and there’s scarcely anyone better to play that than the venerable French pianist. Playing a program filled with familiar-looking items such as Ravel’s Sonatine and Debussy’s preludes, Rogé reveled in the textures and colors of these Impressionist masters and made these often-played works seem fresh again. Bringing in a pianist of this caliber shows why PianoTexas is one of the city’s overlooked cultural treasures.
Readers’ choice: Frida Monet
Critic’s choice: Frida Monet
Cowtown’s towering trash queen is as hilarious as she is tall, and her well of hot sass runs deeper than the Mariana Trench. She’s the hostess with the mostess, piling on the extra in fabulous, leopard-print glory, and whether she’s emceeing art parties or captivating audiences with her commanding song and dance routines, Frida Monet is an inimitable star.
Book by Texas Author Published in Last 12 Months
Critic’s choice: A Soldier’s Tale: The Extraordinary Life of Jon Lippens, TCU Press
Fort Worthian Jon Lippens had several near brushes with death. The Belgium native was a teenager when his country was invaded by Nazi Germany. Lippens joined the resistance, first as a saboteur, then as a cold and efficient assassin. When the Allies began retaking parts of Western Europe, Lippens joined the reconstituted Belgium army. After the war, he settled in Fort Worth, where he married. Late in life, he met J.W. Wilson, who recorded and transcribed Lippens’ interviews. Those stories were recently published as this book. For any lover of military history, this detailed (and often graphic) biography gives detailed insight into an often forgotten chapter of history — the plight of the Belgians before, during, and after WWII.
Locally Made/Shot Film
Critic’s choice: Henry by Katreeva Phillips
After a successful career as a local actor and playwright, Katreeva Phillips is focused on establishing herself as a film director. Her recent short Henry, made with the help of director of photography Clint Howard, follows the home life of a middle-aged man named Henry (Francis Henry) who suffers from extreme agoraphobia. Visually, the movie is shot with low-contrast coloring, giving the film a dull, faded patina that brings the viewer into Henry’s fuzzed-out headspace. Henry shows that Phillips has a strong understanding of how to craft narratives with only the use of visual cues and of timing and character development.
Critic’s choice: Crumpled Dreamz
This mysterious oil painter’s brand of photorealism literally mashes up pop culture, depicting visual puns on stuff like Lindsay Lohan and Bratz Dolls as the crumpled, discarded trash that all media ephemera end up becoming. His is a playful take on the ultimate value of consumer goods and pop culture, relying on an inventive and astounding mastery of technique utilized in the service of whimsically lowbrow brilliance.
Open Art Studio
Critic’s choice: Garret Pendergrass Pottery, 1307 Hurley Av, 682-554-4997
This pottery studio opened in the Fairmount neighborhood over the summer, and we’re glad they did. GPP is a fun place to get creative with a friend or just brush up on your starving-artist skills. Limited spaces, so check out their website for scheduling. The instructor/owner is very nice and encouraging, so you won’t feel bad about yourself – even if you can’t throw clay worth a damn.
Critic’s choice: Pinstripes, 5001 Trailhead Bend Way, 682-352-0808
Bowling alleys are no longer the dingy, dank holes in the wall that entertained suburban folk one generation ago. The recreational sport has since become a family-friendly affair in which people of all ages can gather while laughing off the occasional gutter ball. Pinstripes’ blend of quality dining, affordable drinks, and clean environs make it a home run. Mixed metaphors aside, the food here is solid, and the service is top-notch. If you’re worried about the cost — it is within the swanky Shops at Clearfork — a split hour-long game is cheaper than two movie tickets, and $3 to $4 beers are not uncommon. If you are looking to splurge, Pinstripes’ espresso-crusted filet mignon goes swimmingly with a glass of Alverdi cabernet sauvignon. Just saying.
Critic’s choice: Turner Falls, Oklahoma
Traveling up 35-North to Turner Falls, your first thought may be, “Damn, the Red River is small.” Your second might be, “Damn, these casinos are crazy-looking.” Your third and most important might be, “Turner Falls is hella fun.” With super-rad swimming holes, spacious (but admittedly pricy) cabins, and sumptuous walking trails, this nature-first retreat in Oklahoma is only about an hour’s drive from downtown Fort Worth.
Critic’s choice: Greenwood Memorial Park, 3100 White Settlement Rd, 817-336-0584
Call us weird, but some of our favorite places to become lost in greenery and reverie are cemeteries. Their manicured lawns provide a sense of order. Rows of headstones etched with the names of strangers promote somber reflection. You can’t play your radio loud or throw Frisbees at Greenwood, but few spaces in the city offer a better site to ponder your place in the universe and put your soul in perspective. Drive past the impressive bronzed statues of horses at the front gate, park your car, and go for a walk. You might be surprised how alive and content you feel afterward.
Readers’ choice: Dream Park Fort Worth, 2001 University Dr
Critic’s choice: Z Bonz Dog Park, 6950 Camp Bowie
Found at the south end of North Z Boaz Park, Z Bonz has two separate, fenced-in playgrounds for your pooches, and the big dog area has a nice pond with a fountain for your goodest boys and girls to get nice and dirty, as well as agility obstacles for them to tire themselves out on. Watching canines at play is good for the soul, and Z Bonz offers plenty of seating for humans. Just be sure to offer pats and scratches if approached by a furry friend.
Critic’s choice: Supreme Golf Warehouse, 201 S Calhoun St, 817-916-8628
At last glance, there’s only one unit currently available at Supreme Golf Warehouse, meaning that tenants tend to stay in these sought-after lofts for a long time. Not only does the SGW’s restored-old-building aesthetic offer a hip and inspiring space for your decorative instincts, but the lofts are above Shipping and Receiving Bar, itself a cornerstone of the Near Southside’s cultural architecture. Add to that a walkable neighborhood that’s in the midst of an exciting boom of bars, breweries, restaurants, and retail boutiques, and a loft in the Supreme Golf Warehouse becomes a highly coveted place to hang your hat.
Readers’ choice: Rockwood Golf Course, 1851 Jacksboro Hwy, 817-624-1771
Readers’ choice: Topgolf, 2201 E 4th St, 817-349-4002
Critic’s choice: Topgolf
Is there anything more satisfying than smacking golf balls off a second-story balcony onto a giant green space while sipping a cold beverage and snacking on A-plus grub? If there is, it probably involves sex stuff, and we can’t discuss that here. Topgolf is great for a happy hour hangout, a night out with the boys or gals, or fun for the whole family. You might even shave a few strokes off your game in this no-pressure setting.
Example of New Architecture
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Camera, 1600 Montgomery St, 817-335-3456
Designed by local architects Ibanez Shaw, this venerated company’s new digs in the Cultural District are powerful and contemporary yet elegant, with a striking concrete screen wall depicting “the graphic proportionality of seven standard apertures,” the architects say. With its pockmarked pattern, it reflects the subtly holey walls of the nearby Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Nice.
Critic’s choice: South Main Village
It’s amazing what long-term planning and stakeholder buy-in can accomplish. In many ways, South Main Village builds off the pedestrian-friendly, hyper-local magic that other Near Southside hotspots along West Magnolia Avenue have benefited from. Near Southside business stalwarts Shannon Osbakken (The Bearded Lady) and Autumn Brackeen (The Boiled Owl) have set up shop along South Main Street along with dozens of independently owned boutique shops, coffee joints, restaurants, and bar/restaurants. The long-shuttered storefronts are now largely occupied. South Main Village is open for business
Place to Take Your Kids
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Zoo, 1989 Colonial Pkwy, 817-759-7555
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Zoo
Since 1909, when the zoo opened, kids and adults have enjoyed this place. And it keeps getting better. There are new exhibits every year, constantly improving habitats for the animals to live in, and animal keepers who really know what they’re talking about. From rhinos to Komodo dragons, tigers to orangutans, monkeys to coatis, the zoo offers up wonder every time you visit. There are after-school art classes for youngsters, a petting zoo, lots of very cool things to buy at the zoo shop, and a ticket price that won’t have you fainting. It is a genuinely fun place to take the kids, and, since it’s such a learning experience, you might consider giving them an occasional Wednesday off from school, when admission is half-price.