The Art of Surfing
To coincide with the annual citywide Dallas Art Fair, the Dallas Contemporary will feature the opening of two of the most buzzed about exhibitions anywhere this year. The first is “Negation of the Universe,” a collection of pop culture paintings and videos constituting the first solo show in the United States by Richard Phillips, the New York artist whose Playboy Marfa installation piece, which has been transferred to the museum grounds from West Texas, has blurred the line between art and advertising. The second coup is “An Artist Has a Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails),” the first American exhibition since 1987 for Julian Schnabel, the New York painter and filmmaker. This show will include fifteen paintings from the past decade, among them Untitled (Goya), 2007, with a sunburned awning from a butcher shop in Morocco as the canvas. “It speaks about life and rebirth and is an amazing large-scale work that every painter would like to make,” said Peter Doroshenko, the director of the Dallas Contemporary, who will host a chat with Schnabel that will explore his Texas ties, and perhaps how the artist picked up surfing at age fifteen when his family moved to Brownsville from Brooklyn.
Dallas Contemporary, April 11-Aug. 10, dallascontemporary.org


The Gospel
Baylor University’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, founded by Professor Robert Darden, was recently included in the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture that is opening in 2015. Arguably the epicenter of the black gospel music genre, Texas is the birthplace of Blind Willie Johnson, the God-fearing singer whose “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” was included on Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, an album of earth sounds, aboard Voyager spacecrafts of the seventies. The state also is home to Peacock Records, the Houston label that in the sixties featured a large number of great gospel performers. Among the current Texas acts forging a new gospel sound is the Jones Family Singers, consisting of five sisters, two brothers, and their father, Bishop Fred Jones of the Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, in Markham. Rolling Stone included the Pentecostal family in its list of 25 can’t-miss performances at last month’s South by Southwest music festival. If you missed the Jones Family and need to repent, put on your Sunday best and catch the album release party this weekend for The Spirit Speaks.
Threadgill’s South, April 13, 5 p.m., thejonesfamilysingers.com


Meat Market
Exceptional food and drink are often the byproduct of experimentation. To ensure the culinary revolution continues in creative fashion in Central Texas, the Austin Food and Wine Alliance is doling out four grants totaling $25,000 for exploration in the fields of cuisine, wine, beer, and spirits. Carnivores can do their part to spark this innovation by attending Live Fire, the beef bonanza at the Salt Lick, proceeds from which will benefit said grants. The lineup of meat purveyors is a who’s who of pitmasters and chefs, including Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue, in Pearland; Timothy Rattray of the Granary ’Cue and Brew, in San Antonio; and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, who, just about every food critic agrees, prepares the best brisket in the world.
The Salt Lick, April 17, 6:30 p.m., austinfoodwinealliance.org


Keyed In
The peacekeeping mission of Van Cliburn, the Fort Worth pianist, has come full circle. Months after his death, in February 2013—55 years after he helped to melt the Cold War by winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition, in Moscow—Vadym Kholodenko, a Ukrainian pianist, won top honors at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Kholodenko will join the 2013 Van Cliburn finalists, Fei-Fei Dong of China and Nikita Mndoyants of Russia, in performing solo works at Thursday’s Grand Concert, aptly named because ARTS San Antonio, the organization that hosts this annual Van Cliburn victory lap, usually features only one performer.
Lila Cockrell Theater, April 17, 7:30 p.m., artssa.org


Whiskey and Wild Game
The first bottle of legally produced Texas bourbon was sold only four years ago, and already the Hye-based distillery Garrison Brothers has become a critic’s favorite for its corn-heavy whiskey, which will be paired with locally harvested game prepared by chef Jon Bonnell of Fort Worth as part of the semiannual Stillhouse Series benefit feast.
Garrison Brothers Distillery, April 12, 6 p.m., stillhouseseries.com


Birds of a Feather
The recent oil spill in Gulf waters near Texas City is a reminder of the fragility of the diverse wildlife on the state’s coast and is all the more reason to hightail it to the Galveston FeatherFest and Nature PhotoFest, the annual birding extravaganza featuring one hundred field trips by bus and boat.
Various locations, April 11-13, galvestonfeatherfest.com