Behind the bookshelf in the library of Audrey Geisel’s California home is a secret room where the walls are lined with the hats that her deceased husband, Theodor, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, collected throughout his globe-trotting life. There are Japanese, Italian, and German military hats; a feather hat and a drum-major hat; a detective’s hat modeled after Inspector Clouseau’s; Seuss-ian hats that people made for Geisel; and, of course, a Cat in the Hat hat. “You can see a direct correlation between these hats and the art work and characters he created,” said Bill Dreyer, curator of the Art of Dr. Seuss collection. These hats have never left the Geisel house until now, as part of the national traveling exhibition “Hats Off to Dr. Seuss,” celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Geisel’s second children’s book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. The exhibition also includes reproductions of drawings, paintings and sculptures that Geisel “created at night, for himself, that he didn’t share with the public.” But when Dreyer speaks Saturday at the opening, he will mostly talk about the hats and how Geisel made dinner party guests wear them when things needed livening up, or how he would don them to relieve writer’s block. “Somehow that got the creative juices flowing,” Dreyer said.
Art on 5th, April 6-20, 10 a.m., drseussart.com
The Lawnmower Races, on Lake Whitney, might be just the thing to convert those who dread the mowing season into weekend warriors who embrace sculpting their yard to perfection. Last year, for the inaugural races, about 700 people gathered to watch racers from as far away as Alaska exceed sixty miles per hour on modified riding lawnmowers. “It’s kind of like Nascar on dirt,” said Diana Reed of the Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce, the event organizer. “These guys are serious about racing these lawnmowers. They’re all souped up. And they’re in uniforms and hats just like race car drivers.” Approximately 225 bales of hay line a track about 185 feet long by 150 feet wide to cushion the impact of wrecks. Male and female racers compete in six different heats (depending on the size of their engine), and there is a pit row where spectators can visit after the race and talk with the racers. If you don’t know who to cheer for, go with the two hometown favorites: Brady Gaches, who works at the Valvoline Express Care, and Wayne Lancaster, whose mother-in-law is the owner of the Texas Great Country Cafe & Pie Pantry.
Bar DS Ranch, April 6, 9 a.m., lakewhitneychamber.com
The Art of It All
The first part of the twentieth century was a booming time for Deep Ellum, in downtown Dallas. In 1913, 100 years ago, Henry Ford opened a Model T plant there, and in the twenties through the forties, many musicians, from Robert Johnson to Bob Wills, performed in the nightclubs. The Grateful Dead also popularized a song about the area. By the fifties, though, an era of decline started—even the pawnshops had moved out. But thanks in large part to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, the free street party started in 1995, Deep Ellum is having a revival of sorts. During this year’s three-day celebration, learn about the area’s rich cultural past, and listen to 100 bands play on five outdoor stages, eat some food from street vendors, purchase works from 200 jury-selected artists and laugh at dressed-up pets that will march in a closing-day parade.
Various locations, April 5-7, deepellumartsfestival.com
Ready, Set, Go
Today’s youth has come a long way from soapbox derbies. Now, instead of building a svelte, fast-racing set of wheels judged on speed, students are using the latest technologies to create vehicles with maximum endurance. The Shell Eco-marathon Americas brings together 110 teams of students from Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States to compete to see whose creations can travel the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel. Out of the 140 participating vehicles, you just may see the prototype for the Prius of the future.
Discovery Green, April 5-7, shell.com
Mouth of the South
Jeff Dunham, the ventriloquist from Dallas who embraces stereotypes, has in his cast of characters a border-hopping puppet named José Jalapeño, whose appearance at Thursday’s show in Odessa, where the Hispanic population hovers around fifty percent, might get more than laughs.
Ector County Coliseum, April 11, 7:30 p.m., jeffdunham.com
The Houston artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, whose fantastical, mythological work is on display in Cowboys Stadium and has been featured in the Whitney Biennial, will move beyond the two-dimensional world of painting with the ballet “Cult of Color: Call to Color.”
Ballet Austin, April 5-7, balletaustin.org