The Drop Everything List
The Round Dance Halls of Texas, Kristin Chenoweth, and the Bathing Beauties Contest . . .
Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a seeing Kristin Chenoweth in Dallas and a Steak Cookoff in Hico to learning about round Texas dance halls and a retro swimwear pageant. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[May 17–May 24]
Katie Luber, the director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, remembers being a teenager in Houston and having her mother take her to New York “for some culture.” During her trip she visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw Guernica, Pablo Picasso’s masterwork. “I was just shaken to my core by the painting,” Luber said. “I think it was the first time I had a transformative experience looking at a work of art.” Luber’s fascination with Picasso’s allegorical response to the 1937 bombing of the Basque region of Spain—a 25-foot-long mural depicting a horse and bull entwined with people—will come full circle when she hosts a Gallery Talk about the piece. Her visual aid will be the first of three tapestries made of Guernica by the French weavers René and Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach, in cooperation with Picasso. This cloth reproduction, which once hung outside of the Security Council at the United Nations, was a gift from the Nelson Rockefeller family and was recently acquired by the San Antonio museum. The tapestry is a couple of feet shorter than the original mural and introduces browns and yellows into the spectrum of white, black and gray, an added touch directed and approved by Picasso. On the bombing’s 75th anniversary, take Picasso’s challenge to react to the work he famously refused to interpret.
San Antonio Museum of Art, May 18, 6 p.m., samuseum.org
While researching topics at the University of Texas at Austin for her master’s thesis in historic preservation, Steph McDougal came across a Texas dance hall unlike any she had ever seen: a 12-sided, round one. The more research she did, the more of these round-style halls she found—18 in all, congregated along the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe rail lines running north and south near Texas Highway 36. “I’m not really a country music fan,” said McDougal, whose attraction to dance halls, German and Czech community centers known for their live music, stems from her background as a swing dancer. “As someone not from here, it became this interesting mystery of why these were created and why in this specific area.” McDougal will expound on her findings for the lecture “The Round Dance Halls of Texas” at the Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park. You will learn how these halls, first constructed in 1897 by the German immigrant Joachim Hintz, a self-taught carpenter, are architectural wonders. And you might consider how much more of an efficient use of space it would be to waltz, polka and two-step in one of these circular rooms.
The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, May 23, 7 p.m., heritagesociety.org
Steak Your Claim
People in Texas work for the weekend because that’s when it is most convenient to fire up the grill and cook some steaks. Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 answers on the best way to prepare one. To sear, or not to sear? Overnight marinade, or a simple dusting of salt and pepper? Cook with the cover on, or off? There is no right or wrong way; results are all that matter. At the Texas Steak Cookoff, backyard masters will showcase their home-tested tricks for the honor of best 12-ounce ribeye steak or, even better, celebrity status as a Texas meat master.
Historic Downtown Business District, May 19, 10 a.m., texassteakcookoff.com
Losing Her Religion
GCB, the television parody of rich Dallas Christians, was canceled last week. Perhaps it wasn’t funny enough. But a better conclusion is that the critical backlash it sustained from Fox News and Newt Gingrich, among others, doomed it from the start. It certainly was not the fault of one of its actresses, Kristin Chenoweth, the bubbly but smart triple-threat performer. Chenoweth will appear in Dallas for the first time since the bad news about GCB. Look for a strong reaction to this turn of events, plus maybe some impromptu song and dance.
Winspear Opera House, May 24, 8 p.m., attpac.org
Down in the Valley
Jan Epton Seale is the first of 49 Texas poet laureates who is from the Valley, the southernmost tip of the state, so when people attend “Jan Seale: A Texas Poet Laureate Speaks,” and hear her read her verse about that remote land, it will resonate.
Museum of South Texas History, May 20, 2 p.m., mosthistory.org
As part of the Bathing Beauties Contest at the Galveston Island Beach Revue, dozens of women will don retro swimwear and gather on the beach in a grand look back at the 1920 pageant that inspired theirs—all in a symbolic start to summer in this tourist town.
Various locations, May 18-19, various times, ibcgalveston.com