Out to Pasture
The title of the thirteen-foot-by-ten-foot Esther Pearl Watson painting that will hang in the atrium of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art beginning this Tuesday is Pasture Cows Crossing Indian Creek, Comanche, Texas. Looking for the old Civilian Fort of 1851, North of Gustine and a mile west of Baggett Creek Church. It’s a bucolic piece of folk art on canvas, depicting a childhood memory of her grandfather’s ranch in Comanche. There are thirteen cows scattered about, some birds and horses, two kids playing, a man tilling the earth with his dog by his side, and, front and center, a giant pink flying saucer encircled in clouds. “My dad built flying saucers in the yard when we were growing up in the Dallas–Fort Worth area,” said Watson, who created the painting specifically for the Amon Carter as part of the museum’s new initiative to prominently feature the work of living artists. “He thought of them as future vehicles that did not use oil or wheels.” Watson’s father was born in Italy and adopted by an American family. He eventually reunited with his biological sister and moved back to his homeland. The practice of spaceship building ended there but his curious fascination rubbed off on his daughter and UFOs have become a constant in her work. “I take it as a metaphor to follow your dreams, no matter how crazy they seem, and they will take you where you want to go,” she said. Pasture Cows Crossing Indian Creek is the largest painting to date by Watson, who is also the creator of Bust magazine’s “Tammy Pierce is Unlovable” cartoon series and the author of the forthcoming book The Weirding Field: The North Texas Spacecraft of Gene Watson, Father and Visionary, to be published by McSweeney’s in May 2016. Glazing the flying saucer in the Amon Carter painting with glitter to play off the light in the atrium, Watson explained, “I am very aware of how it will be viewed from the ground level as well as when one climbs the stairs and looks down at it from above.”
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, May 19-May 30, 2016, cartermuseum.org
From Morrissey to Selena
Some Mexican musicians have a thing for Morrissey, the romantic British singer formerly of the Smiths. In fact, there is a super group of Mexican performers who have a Morrissey tribute band—called Mexrrissey—whose recent New York show earned a rave review from Rolling Stone. Two of the players in that band, Camilo Lara and Ceci Bastida, will participate in this weekend’s Pachanga Latin Music Festival. In its eighth year, Pachanga, which translates loosely as “party hard,” is expanding, adding pre-shows in Houston, on Thursday, and Dallas, on Friday, prior to the big shebang in Austin, on Saturday. Lara, a DJ who merges electronic music with traditional Mexican music under the moniker Mexican Institute of Sound, will perform with fellow DJ Toy Selectah, and Bastida, whose take on Morrissey’s song “The Last of the Famous International Playgirls” calls out Mexican drug lords instead of London’s Kray twins, will perform as herself. They will join the group Kinky, another player on the Mexican electronica scene, as the three acts comprising the two pre-shows, before joining Saturday’s full lineup, which includes Bidi Bidi Banda, a tribute band to the Mexican songstress Selena.
Warehouse Live, Gas Monkey Live, Fiesta Gardens, May 14-16, pachangafest.com
Chasing the Dragon
Chinese immigrants first arrived in Dallas in 1869 to help construct railroads, and then, in the seventies, another wave from Taiwan and China, perhaps fed up with Chairman Mao’s tactics, settled in Richardson, just north of Dallas. Over time, this population has expanded throughout the Metroplex, offering an increasing number of cultural immersion opportunities. A highlight is the ninth annual DFW Dragon Boat, Kite, and Lantern Festival, occurring this Sunday as part of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Dragon boats, which date back two thousand years in China, are enormous rowboats of sorts, adorned with a dragon’s head at the bow and a tail at the stern. In 278 BC, after the Chinese poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River in protest of his government, people began hosting dragon boat races in his honor. Today, dragon boat racing is a burgeoning sport in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Competitions like the one on Sunday feature boats with around twenty rowers each along with a single drummer, who simultaneously acts like a coxswain and percussionist, racing a forty-foot, five-hundred-pound vessel across 250 meters of water in a spectacular display of power, stamina, and teamwork.
Lake Carolyn, May 17, 8:30 a.m., dfwdragonboatfestival.com
They’re called shotgun houses because you can stand at one end and have an unobstructed view—or shot—all the way through to the other end. Houston’s historic row houses in the Third Ward are a prime example. The exhibit “Shotgun,” on display through this weekend only at the site-specific Rice University Art Gallery, puts a twist on this utilitarian style, fusing the frames of five shotgun houses into one larger hybrid structure shaped like an asterisk. It’s an homage to an extinct style of architecture with strong cultural ties to Houston; and it considers how to resurrect the bygone form in a reimagined way. Students at the Rice School of Architecture worked on the project in professor Jesús Vassallo’s class, “Learning From Houston,” in collaboration with Atelier Bow-Wow, the Tokyo-based studio venerated for its small-housing solutions. In each wing of “Shotgun,” visitors encounter historical research done by the students, plus their visions for the future of shotgun houses in a post-McMansion world.
Rice Gallery, May 15-17, ricegallery.org
Life After 60
At an age when most things—people and other entities—start to slow down, the McNay Art Museum is doing the opposite and ramping up, as evidenced by the exhibit “Rodin to Warhol: 60th Anniversary Gifts and Recent Acquisitions,” open through this weekend only. The show contains new artwork that has been collected and arranged by each of the museums’ four curators and divided into prints and drawings, modern art, contemporary art, and theater arts, with pieces such as Rodin’s terra-cotta bust, “Head of Pierre de Wissant,” and Warhol’s acrylic on paper, “Untitled (Boots).”
McNay Art Museum, May 15-17, mcnayart.org
It’s been almost six months since Ian McLagan, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, former keyboardist for the sixties British rock band the Faces, and frontman for Austin’s Bump Band, passed away. Celebrate Mac’s musical prowess and zest for life at a party for what would have been his seventieth birthday, with a buoyant collection of live musical tributes from Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo, and several other lifers.
The Continental Club, May 15, 10:15 p.m., continentalclub.com