Art works in two small museums in Port Arthur and Tyler. Plus: A new image projected in Fort Worth; a masterful exhibit mounted and timely music played in Houston; and an in-tents new circus in Austin.


Canvasing the State

It’s no secret that the state’s big cities regularly show stunning art exhibits, thanks to institutions such as the Menil Collection, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. But Texas’ smaller cities have also hosted great exhibits lately, and this month, two especially attractive shows will be unveiled in East Texas. “L’Esprit de la Louisiane” opens at Port Arthur’s Museum of the Gulf Coast on October 2, featuring Chestee Harrington’s Cajun-themed carved-and-painted-wood reliefs. This is the only Texas showing of the internationally touring exhibit, cherie, and if you want to get the full experience, attend the opening, when a Cajun band and dancers will turn the space into a miniature Mardi Gras. A little farther north, in Tyler, they’ll be celebrating the success of Salle Werner Vaughn, whose paintings have been collected by private art enthusiasts worldwide as well as by the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Fifteen of the Tyler native’s surrealistic, mural-size paintings will be diplayed at the Meadows Gallery in an exhibit titled “Beauty Unforsaken.” When it opens in conjunction with the sixty-sixth annual Tyler Rose Festival on October 16, you’ll see that the city cultivates more than just beautiful flowers. KATY VINE


Filming the Frontier

The location of the Fort Worth Film Festival in historic Sundance Square brings to mind Utah’s high-profile Sundance Film Festival. But Fort Worth’s version, which takes place October 21–24 in the city’s entertainment district, doesn’t need a connection with Mr. Redford (which there isn’t) to hold its own among the growing number of film festivals in the state (Austin’s Film Festival and Heart of Film Screenwriter’s Conference also take place this month). Buoyed by the last year’s success, which included a screening of Wes Anderson’s sleeper hit Rushmore, the second installment of the fledgling fete spotlights silver-screen icon Gregory Peck, who will make an appearance during a roundup of his films, including the 1958 epic western The Big Country. Fans can catch that big star and others under the stars on an outdoor screen. On the artier side of things comes the premiere of Cafe Purgatory, a black-and-white Rod Serling-esque effort co-written by Oklahomans John Wooley and Leo Evans. Though last year’s lineup high-lighted westerns—and another new independent, Ang Lee’s Ride With the Devil, has a western theme—the fifty or so films on this year’s program focus on “more than one kind of frontier,” say’s mike Price, one of the festival’s directors. “The West is just a frame of mind.” EILEEN SCHWARTZ


A Brush With History

Poor Stanislas the Second. When enemy nations divided up Poland in 1795, its last king lost not only his throne and his country but also more than 180 old-master paintings he had purchased to establish a national gallery. His loss, though, was England’s gain: The British dealers who had amassed his collection used it instead to create their country’s first public art museum, the Dulwich Picture Gallery. No American museum has a comparable variety of old masters, but Texans can enjoy a rare opportunity to view ninety of the Dulwich treasures when “Rembrandt to Gainsborough: Masterpieces from England’s Dulwich Picture Gallery” opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on October 24. The works include eleven canvases by the old masters’ masters: eight by Rubens, the supreme renderer of skin tones, and three by Rembrandt, the greatest evoker of gesture and facial expression. Other light-infused paintings by the eminent likes of Tiepolo, Canaletto, Gainsborough, van Dyck, van Ruisdael, and Murillo further embody the era’s thematic hallmarks—biblical scenes, classical mythology, pastoral landscapes, portraits of the royal and the rich. Many lesser-known artists are represented as well—for example, one Adam Pynacker; never heard of the guy, but he too wielded a mean brush. ANNE DINGUS


It’s About Time

In honor of the approaching millennium, Da Camera of Houston presents a chamber music season dedicated to the relationship between music and time. “The coming of the year 2000 is causing all of us to think about the passing of time,” says Sarah Rothenberg, Da Camera’s artistic director. “There is no better way to experience this artistically than through music, which is, after all, the art of time.” In the season’s first concert, on October 2, compositions include Haydn’s 1797 milestone “Quinten” quartet, jazz master Artie Shaw’s 1940 Concerto for Clarinet, Osvaldo Golijov’s contemporary Last Round (Tango for Piazzolla), and Olivier Messiaen’s World War II masterpiece, Quartet for the End of Time, which was written in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Joining pianist Rothenberg for the tour de temps will be the renowned clarinetist David Krakauer, who is equally at home in the classical and klezmer repertoires, and Canada’s adventurous St. Lawrence String Quartet, a young ensemble poised for international fame in the new millennium. Other highlights of the season feature programs devoted to Beethoven’s sense of time and Schubert’s timelessness, which will contrast with the jazz timings of Christian McBride, Shirley Horn, Ahmad Jamal, and hometown legend Illinois Jacquet. The timing couldn’t be better. CHESTER ROSSON


Put a Tent on That Circus

If the baseball dreams of your youth occasionally unfolded on artificial turf, then you are of an age when the terms “big top” and “circus” are most likely to conjure images of a botched double play in the Astrodome. Long gone are the memories of the valiant ringmaster and the dancing bears, the Flying Wallendas and Tom Thumb, to say nothing of Jumbo or even poor Dumbo. But just as Enron Field will reintroduce Houston hardball fans to real grass next spring, this fall Barnum’s Kaleidoscape will put the Greatest Show on Earth back under the big tent where it belongs (or, more precisely, three tents that cover 150,000 square feet), where each night the shadows of classic circus performers will dance beneath the canvas canopies in Ringling Bros.’ first traveling tent circus in the U.S. since 1956. Witness the Clown of Clowns, David Larible, and his partner in mime, European whitefaced harlequin Pipo! Marvel at Spanish juggling genuis Picasso, Junior and the breathtaking trapeze mistress and horse trainer Sylvia! Their display of big top derring-do and wonderment will dazzle Austin from October 11-31, then move on to Dallas and Houston. The chances that you will grow nostalgic for the antiseptic civic centers that housed the circuses of days gone by are next to none. JOHN SPONG