100 Dallas Creatives: No. 57 Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry

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"I don't know if I've made any significant contributions other than following the advice of an early mentor to 'keep making art'," says Val Curry, sculptor and installation artist about making art in Dallas.

But he's probably wrong about that. This guy is one of the most interesting people you will meet in Dallas. He just keeps making art that has people talking, whether it's the giant outdoor cat sanctuary he has built in his backyard, his window installation with Robert David Reedy at Urban Outfitters Mockingbird Station, or his recent show at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary that displayed his view of the Universe--and it's one that's full of spirals and waste--Curry has a unique take on the world, and it is through his art that he communicates it.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 58 Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Edward Ruiz. Confetti Eddie. The man with the giant dinosaur outside of his studio. You might know him by any of these names, but did you know that Dallas is Ruiz' hometown? Well, it's true. The Oak Cliff-born visual artist, now a fixture in Exposition Park, has cemented himself as a magical force to be reckoned with. Drawing on his art, design, and theatre background, Ruiz has learned to fuse the technical and the entertaining to perform his art and illusions. And he just wants to share it with all of us.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 59 Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

"Sorry if the reception's bad, I'm headed into a national sequoia forest," Toby Halbrooks says, answering the phone in California. The musician come filmmaker is currently in the golden state to work on his latest venture with fellow Dallas darling, David Lowery. This time it's a project for Disney, a remake of the 70's children's film Pete's Dragon. They are writing the script together, and Lowery will direct.

The pair, along with producer James Johnston, forms the team Sailor Bear. Sailor Bear's first release, a short film called Pioneer, won the Grand Jury prize at seven film festivals and catapulted Halbrooks headlong into the world of independent film. Prior to that, Halbrooks had been working as a commercial producer and director.

"David and I started working together in 2006. I met him on this commercial and we became fast friends after working all night on the job," he says. "Within a couple of weeks we were writing together. I never set out to be a film producer. It just happened. James has known David for even longer and when we all met we decided to do Pioneer together."

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 60 Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings

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Courtesy of the artist
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Michelle Rawlings is one of the emerging Dallas-based painters we'll be able to say "we knew her when." She's one of a young group of artists working in this city who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and just years into a promising career, she's exhibited at the Dallas Contemporary, Oliver Francis Gallery, Hello Project Gallery in Houston, and several other galleries nationally and in Europe.

Her interests are not limited to any one medium -though she is a masterful painter - and each piece seems like an attempt to tell something to the viewer about the artist, like a gentle whisper in a game of telephone. And it's this elusive playfulness that makes her work mesmerizing. Her work is delicately obtuse, balancing self-portrait with obscuration. Currently, she is the (FEATURE) artist at Goss-Michael Foundation, where her work leaves you the pleasant sense that you would get along swimmingly with the artist.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 61 Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch

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James Bland
The couple that plays together, makes Dallas better.
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Classical music. It seems as though we've had a love/hate relationship with it over the past several decades as we continuously debate its ever impending demise. Mark Landson and Patricia Yakesch think they have a solution.

Fed up with the solitary experience of the concert hall and its seeming inability to draw in a new, 21st century audience, Mark, the classical musician, and Patricia, his marketing brain, are the brains behind Open Classical with an open mic at Buzzbrew's three years ago. It took some time but over the last few years the two have built a dedicated community of students, professionally trained musicians and just plain music lovers, and their network, and programming schedule, just keeps growing. Oh, and somewhere along the way they fell in love.

This year the classical couple are branching out even further, with new programs, free shows and more.

"Essentially, we are creating an alternative universe for classical music, both in terms of audience experience and professional opportunities for musicians," Mark tells me.

We chatted with both to gauge the temperature of the Dallas classical music community, their Open Classical mission and what's next.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 62 Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson

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What do you think, ladies? Beard or no beard?
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

When I meet him for coffee, Nathan Olson is sporting a new look -- a thick dark beard he grew "mostly out of laziness" over the summer. He's actively soliciting advice on whether or not to keep it or go back to the boyish, clean-shaven look he usually sports. So far he's gotten mixed reviews. I get the sense that, like most 20-somethings who are indecisive on matters of facial hair, he wouldn't mind if a pretty girl told him decisively which look suits him best so that he'd know whether or not to shave.

In this and other ways, Olson comes across as completely accessible and, well, a pretty normal 27-year old. He plays in a couple of indoor soccer leagues with friends and dabbles in tennis and racquetball to stay fit. He rented an apartment in uptown when he moved here three years ago, but just bought a townhouse off of lower Greenville and is excited to explore his new neighborhood. He loves sports, is strongly opinionated about LeBron James and the Miami Heat (he used to live in Cleveland) and, when it comes to dating, like most of us, he's still "figuring that out."

All of this makes it easy to forget that Olson is an exceptionally talented, successful classical violinist. He started college at 15, completing his undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music at 19 and his graduate degree at 21 (also at CIM). At 24, Olson won the job of co-concertmaster at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

If you go to the Meyerson Symphony Center on any given night to hear the DSO, you'll be able to spot Olson seated front and left of center, dressed in a black suit, doing what he does best.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 63 Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

When Kelsey Leigh Ervi graduated from Baylor University, moving to Dallas would've been an obvious choice. Quite a few alumni of the theater department land in Dallas, fine tune their mechanics and fly away to a bigger city. And local theaters are happy to be used as a launching pad for the careers of these aspiring actors, comedians, director. But moving to Dallas was a redirection for Ervi, but one she says gave her a home base she plans to keep for quite some time.

Just a few years into her career, she's made her professional directing debut at WaterTower Theatre, where she also has a day job as the Assistant to the Producing Artistic Director. More important, she's found a community. She's adding a fresh perspective to the theater scene here and proving that young people can get jobs -and good ones! - in the theater.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 64 Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia

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Self-Portrait
Part of 40-photo essay about all the possible ways this hat may be worn, which showed at Conduit Gallery for TepeQuetzalandia in 2013
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

No matter the medium, the work of Roberto Munguia seems riddled with mystery. It's not that it's enigmatic, although interpretation is often difficult, it's that he creates complexities. Throughout his career, Munguia has worked in numerous media from ink drawings to encaustics to clay. Simultaneously he been investigating language, sculpting words into poetry. And he's done much of this artistic inquiry in Dallas.

He remembers a time when the Dallas Museum of Art was still in Fair Park and the gallery scene was next to non-existent. He belongs to the city's artistic old guard, but his work continues to be fresh. I've long been an admirer of Munguia's work and it was nice to put a face and a story, with his rich, varied approach to art.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No 65 Writerly Wit Noa Gavin

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Dallas Comedy House performer and writer Noa Gavin started her comedy career by creating the popular comedy blog community Oh Noa! and the League of Fuckin' Bitches as an outlet for her sense of humor that she couldn't showcase in her original job as the co-operator of a chain of marital arts stores.

Since then, she's earned a spot on the DCH roster of long-form improv comedy club regulars who helped create one of its most signature groups, Atlantic Pacific Billy -they reenact movies - and one of its first sketch shows Various Artists. She also writes regularly for the NickMom humor blog and recently started a short story project with fellow APB members Nick Scott and Alicia Sherrod. We got the lowdown on how she pulls creativity out of herself and why comedy is better (and cheaper) than therapy.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No 66 Intrepid Publisher Will Evans

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

The hyper-connected world we live in makes art and music from the far reaches of the globe easily accessible to everyone, but "for some reason, literature is the only art form that is constantly being made to defend the right to be disseminated and experienced outside of its original culture," observes Will Evans. And he aims to do something about that.

Of course there is a barrier to entry that doesn't exist in visual art or music - and that's language. Evans, who recently launched a small publishing house in Dallas he's calling Deep Vellum Publishing, is about to start doing his part to cross that barrier. This year Deep Vellum, which is functioning as a non-profit, will publish five original works in translation and he's already turning heads in the international publishing world.

We pride ourselves in Dallas on our burgeoning arts scene but as Evans sees it, we're missing a crucial segment of the art world by turning our back on the literary scene. So if you ask him well, why Dallas? There's your answer. The organizations and resources exist, the Writer's Garret and Wordspace, for example, we're just failing to capitalize and discuss what's already happening in our community.

"There's no reason not to have more of the type of local literary community that people could identify similarly to Minneapolis--a very similar city (far from the coasts, tons of big business) that is internationally recognized for its dynamic arts scene, including a huge literary arts community," says Evans of Dallas.

We couldn't agree more and while Evans is dreaming really big, he's already influencing the conversation. And he hasn't even published his first book.


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