Sunday in the Park

This weekend was the grand opening of Klyde Warren Park. A visionary concept for forty years and under construction for the past three years, this 5.2 acre engineering feat spans over Woodall Rodgers Freeway and creates a walk-friendly green link between the Dallas Arts District and Uptown neighborhoods.

I went today – participated in events, ate lots of food, and watched a mass of people enjoy the weather and performances by talented students from Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet School.

The Dallas Center for Architecture hosted a game table upon which children collectively built a Dr. Seuss-worth city. Each started with a 4” x 6” plot of land, materials and their imagination. Here’s some of their work.

Others chose to learn knitting from the Shabby Sheep (2112 Boll Street) staff.

Master knitters covered tree trunks with their intricate handiwork.

Lots of parents strolled around with their kids.

Dogs and owners were in no rush.

This was the start of free yoga and tai chi classes in the park.

Thinking of Stephen Sondheim’s Sundays in the Park with George, there probably were many Georges present today. Georges Seurat would have been proud of the single-minded focus of many Dallasites who made this weekend’s opening a reality.

If you are interested in how Klyde Warren Park was championed, designed and built, visit an excellent exhibition on this subject at the Dallas Center for Architecture – runs through November 9th. The building is located on 1909 Woodall Rodgers, across from the northern edge of the park. Look for a blue-and-white lettered sign, “The Five Star Institute,” towards the top.


Hope to see you in the park. It’s fun to imagine you’re walking above a busy, noisy freeway completely oblivious to it being there, if you didn’t know otherwise.

Enjoy your week,


The Dallas Arts Community – It’s Pretty Fantastic

Looking back on last week, it reminds me once again that Dallas has matured into an interesting city with both breadth and depth in the arts – enriched by  a wonderful community of museums, galleries, philanthropists, developers, educators, artists and overlapping circles of networkers all of whom are open to sharing their talents. Here’s a snapshot….


Monday night was a déjà-vu event for two of my friends who are artists and aficionados of well-done independent or documentary films about artists.  Anita Horton recently wrote her weekly blog about the film gatherings she and others organized in the late 1990’s. She really missed these viewings. Coincidentally, another friend Elle Shuster, a jewelry designer and photographer, decided to organize a film group on Monday night. She wanted to see Spike Jonze’s The Fall again, and sent a viewing invitation which I extended (with permission) to Anita. More friends were made – the creative circle expands.



I’ve had this particular Tuesday Evenings at the Modern on my calendar for months. In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs, I am a big Lucien Freud fan and have been to the Modern many times to see his portraits. Well, last Tuesday several friends and I carpooled over to Fort Worth to hear Martin Gayford, the British critic, writer, curator and subject of painting, “The Man in a Blue Scarf” (see image above).

Gayford traveled 60 miles from his home to Freud’s studio one to three times a week for six months. Freud, being attuned to slight variations in color and a stickler for consistency, required that the same pink shirt, blue scarf and other clothing be worn for each sitting. Gayford owned two blue scarves which looked the same to his eyes; but on arriving at the studio one night, Freud knew the blue was off, and asked if Gayford had worn the wrong scarf. He had.

I whole-heartedly recommend the next talk at the Tuesday Evenings at the Modern where the artist Bruce Nauman, a pioneer in many multi-media disciplines, will speak on November 13th at 7:00 PM. It’s free – get your ticket when the front desk opens at 5 PM.

And, notice the large (you can’t miss it) sculpture at the main entrance. The artist is Brooklyn-based KAWS and the piece is called “Companion (Passing Through).”


The Dallas Center for Architecture (DCFA), located on 1909 Woodall Rodgers near the Northwest corner of the soon-to-be opened Klyde Warren Park, hosted another Wednesday Film Series. Women in the Dirt: Landscape Architects Shaping our World won Best Feature Documentary in the 2011 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. The paths of seven professional women, who are the grand dames in the field of landscape architecture and trendsetters in California, were traced. After the movie, Greg Brown, DCFA’s energetic Program Director, facilitated an engaging discussion.



One of my favorite special interest groups is the Avant-Garde Society (AGS) at the Nasher Sculpture Center. The AGS mission is to provide opportunities to learn more about modern and contemporary sculpture and architecture in a welcoming and informal environment. Thursday was the second year for Art Y’All, the annual members’ party, which has – as the name implies – a Texas two-step, fun vibe. Once again, photographer Steve Wrubel was the entertaining auctioneer, selling three sculptures to raise funds for the AGS and innovative Sightings exhibitions. Curator Jed Morse asked three well-known, local artist couples to collaborate and make a sculpture to be auctioned. Couples from left to right in the image above: A big thank you to Tom Orr and Frances Bagley, Benito Huerta and Janet Chaffee and Terri Thornton and Cam Schoepp for their three pieces of art that warranted the evening’s competitive bidding.

For anyone who wants to join this group, the next event is December 5th at The Mason Bar for the annual Holiday Happy Hour. January 12th is an exclusive tour of the Art Warehouse owned by art collectors Rachofsky and Faulconers. And, on March 2nd, we’ll take a day trip to see collections and studios in the Big Easy City, New Orleans. Click here for membership information.


I’m a DCFA docent who’s trained in the history and architecture of the Dallas Arts District. On Saturday, I gave a special tour to three visitors from Denver who were a delight and very knowledgeable which is not surprising given the guests were Curtis Fentress, founder of Fentress Architects which won the AIA’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, the CEO Agatha Kessler and CFO Colin Lewis who had previously worked for the City of Denver and on the growth of their Arts District. Mr. Fentress knew the Wyly Theater well because he was a member on the AIA Jury that conferred the 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture on this innovative theater.

The four of us walked back to the Nasher where they continued with an audio tour; and I had lunch before a lecture in the Nasher’s 360 Speakers Series.

Dr. Catherine Croft, Adjunct Assistant Curator at the Nasher, presented the themes in her recently released book, An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism. She posed questions: Was Dada a movement or an attitude? Can an artist looking at and responding to another artist’s work create original art?

After Catherine’s presentation, I talked with Karen Weiner, gallery owner of The Reading Room, who had been a panelist at The MAC on Thursday night. Complementary themes were discussed by her panel titled, “The Anxiety of Influence,” a term coined by literary critic Harold Bloom. The panel explored Bloom’s tenet of creativity: Since we are all influenced by something, this phenomena can cause self doubt in a poet (or artist) about the possibility of making any truly original works of art.

“The Anxiety of Influence” was part of “Spin Off: A Series of Panel Discussions” sponsored City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. The MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary) | 3120 McKinney Avenue

The last stop before heading home on Saturday afternoon was with Connie Chantilis, mosaic artist and owner of Two Sisters Catering, and her studio which was open to the public as part of the annual White Rock Lake Studio Tour. Her Little Forest Hills’ studio complex sits behind her custom-designed, eco-friendly contemporary home.

Enjoy your week…I’ll be back in two weeks on October 28th.


Kent and Tracy Rathbun’s 9th Annual Art Party – Tickets Sold Out

Since this was the 9th year for the Rathbun’s Art Party, artist Scott Harben used the Chinese symbol for nine in his invitation design.

Back in 2001, the restaurateurs and art connoisseurs Kent and Tracy Rathbun threw a housewarming party to thank the crew who helped build their new home. For that night, they created a “pop-up gallery “ – well before this term and art venue were all the rage – by inviting local artists, some of whom worked in the couple’s restaurants, to exhibit their art for sale.

 Kent said he saw the event as…”a business model for a new way of selling art…artists can be presented with so many obstacles and financial barriers. Why not just make it fun? The way it ought to be.”

Ever the visionaries and known for pushing the boundaries, Kent and Tracy asked themselves: “Why not make this an annual event and raise funds for a good cause and continue showcasing local artists?”

The idea took hold and worked.

Tonight’s 9th Annual Art Party’s tickets sold out weeks ago. All proceeds raised from ticket sales benefit the Dallas March of Dimes whose mission advocates research, programs and education to ensure stronger and healthier babies are born.

 The line-up of featured artists proves the Rathbuns have an ongoing loyalty to a stable of local talent. Some of whom have worked for the couple in their restaurants and catering business are invited back each year:

  • Mindy Collins, painter
  • Rick Griggs, painter
  • Scott Harben, sculptor and photographer
  • Ron and Chris Marrs, glass workers
  • Tamara White, painter

Here’s more about each artist.


Tracy Rathbun called this piece, which was a surprise gift at the 2001 housewarming party, “delicious.”
(photo: Mindy Collins website)

Her paintings large and small are hard to miss, and you don’t want to because the colors are arresting and the resin adds a slick, textured sheen.


Artist Rick Griggs tonight in front of his paintings. (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Rick earned a reputation in Dallas among the “foodinistas” as a notable pastry chef for his culinary creations first at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and then at Abacus. Scott paintings are shown at Abacus and Jasper’s, both Rathbun enterprises. Kent has said that “Rick has always been one of the greatest pastry chefs I’ve ever worked with and turns out, he’s an incredible artist as well,”

Between painting and baking, Rick says “I see a lot of similarities. I use a palette knife because I realize there is a technique similar to putting icing on a cake. A lot of my work also has that splattered paint like I have used with sauces. It’s a lot of the same fluidity and control.” (On a personal note: His desserts tonight were delicious.)


“Onomatopoeia” Series | powder-coated 16 gauge steel
(photo: Scott Harben website)

The Rathbun’s are a catalyst for established commercial artists like Scott to experiment. For him, the 7th Annual Art Party marked a change in work style. He created 3-D powder-coated, 16 gauge steel wall sculptures of words known as “Onomatopoeia.” Words like these have been used in comics and graphic novels for years to create a visual sound effect, like “BLAM” or “KRUNCH.”

Tonight Scott presented his metal assemblages. See image below.

“LS-Cell” | Artist: Scott Harden
(photo: Scott Harben website)


“Platters” | hand-blown glass | MarrsArt
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Ron and Chris, a father and son team, are both practicing architects – with degrees in Architecture from Texas Tech University – and glass blowers. They’ve worked in their studio on weekends for the past 15 years, steadily building a reputation and gaining commissions.

Chris notes that “Kent’s been incredible, even outside of the Art Party, in connecting us with clients who might be interested in our art, in our style”. Their patron base has exploded in part thanks to the Rathbuns’ support and the rise of artists such as Dale Chihuly who has single-handedly changed the perception of glass into a fine art medium.

“The Light of God” | blown glass | Ron and Chris Marrs, owners MarrsArt
Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas
14’ x 5’
(photo: AIA Dallas website)

Not on display tonight, the commissioned “The Light of God” (see image above) is worth experiencing in person at Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas. Before tonight’s party, I ran across a picture online, and told Chris I admired this work. Chris shared with me this was a labor of love for the patron, Peter Fonberg, who hired MarrsArt to make a glass sculpture commemorating his deceased wife.  Made from 49 hand-blown pieces with seven pieces representing a menorah’s flames, “The Light of God” took more than a year to produce.


(photo: Tamara White website)

Before we both became members of The Art Menu, I had seen and respected Tamara’s work at friends’ homes, such as the beautifully appointed rooms at Josy Collins, co-owner of Scott+Cooner, and public places, like Abacus Restaurant on McKinney Avenue. Tamara currently has a solo show at the Belmont Hotel.

Curious about her process because her work is a tribute to the thickness of oil paint, I had the opportunity to talk with her about her process. I was not surprised with the comment, “I believe the more the merrier; there is no such thing as having too much paint on my canvas.” Using the palette knife as an extension of her hand, she allows each color to determine what happens next. She prefers painting straight from the tube, keeping the paint as dense as possible. She’s disciplined, in the studio every morning working on many canvases at a time. When paint is left from scraping one canvas, she adds another layer to a nearby painting or begins a new one. “Each painting inspires the next.” I find her finished work like an archaeological site, connoting a geological dig with evidence ready to carbon test to determine what period in Earth’s history each layer represents.

A few weeks ago we had an excellent lunch at Rosemont, which is Tracy Miller’s new restaurant in Deep Ellum, and Tamara reminded me that I needed to buy my ticket to the Rathbun’s Art Party. And, glad I am for her notice because of the “Sold Out” status. Glad I went tonight.

Glass Bottom Boat”| 8’ x 4’ | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

“Rise Above” | 16” x 20” | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

You can continue mixing and mingling with art and gourmet food at one of Kent’s or Tracy’s restaurants. Just make a reservation or find a seat at Abacus, Blue Plate Kitchen, Jasper’s (Note: Kent named this place after the artist Jasper Johns), Shinsei and DUO – All Things Culinary (Note: I recommend trying the freshest tasting juices made at DUO’s Gem Bar until 2 PM).

Enjoy your week.