100 Dallas Creatives: No. 29 Fashion Forward Charles Smith II

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Thomas Hoeber
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

I've always thought the notion of an "x factor" is a little bit hokey. But after meeting Charles Smith II at Glasshouse Studio in Expo Park, it began to seem like a real thing. Smith is sporting an alluring all-black ensemble -- imagine what a bagpipe-playing motorcycle gang might wear -- and his hair is wild. As a look, it totally works for him, and he designed all of it himself. (Except for the jacket, which is Alexander Wang.)

Smith is a fashion designer from Harlem and he's the creative director of Glasshouse, a photography studio. But that's hardly all. Basketball is what initially brought Smith to Dallas when he was in high school. He's really good at it. (Like, scouted by the NBA good.) Then, one day in New York City, he caught the attention of another kind of scout: a modeling rep. Within weeks, he was a professional model walking runways in Milan...while still playing basketball...and then going to art school? It's hard to keep up.

Most people spend their whole lives trying desperately to succeed at just one of those things: Smith clearly has a magic touch. And that excitement and energy is present in the air when you talk to him. These days, he's focused entirely on his fashion line -- Smith the Second -- which is currently available online but will hopefully also be in physical stores sometime in 2015.

Someday I'll probably be bragging that I spent a couple of hours talking to Charles Smith II. "Charles Smith the basketball player?" my friends might say, or "Charles Smith the model?" or "Charles Smith the designer?"

I just don't know what he'll be famous for.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 30 Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Robert Boland
Meehan in action.
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
The touch of artist Margaret Meehan is delicate. Which is not to say that her work is sugarcoated, but respectful, intricate and sensitive. Gleaning subject matter from history and literature, much of Meehan's work pulls back the curtain on those culture has outcast or deemed "freaks." Her art is obsessed with monsters and the creation of them, repositioning the grotesque within the lovely, exploring questions of race, gender and how we build history.

Her work is layered and laboriously researched. She creates in numerous media, and has shown her work at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Dallas Museum of Art, Soil Gallery in Seattle, David Shelton Gallery in Houston and Conduit Gallery in Dallas, to name a few. Her art moves people, because she works in concepts we all understand and participate in on a daily basis. And she seems to be encouraging us in the most beautiful way to reconsider -- which is one of the loveliest things art can accomplish.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 31 Critical Artist Thor Johnson

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If you see this dancing machine, buy him a beer.

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

Thor Johnson has great stories. A lot of great stories. And a lot of shocking ones too. He's been in and out of the art scene in Dallas since the 80's, with his first exhibition when he was still in high school at the long-defunct Theatre Gallery, which was owned by Russell Hobbs in conjunction with his Prophet Bar. Although, he was never formally trained, Johnson's art has been reviewed by major national publications, and his art remains some of the most provocative work in the city, with its consistent critique of the corrupt mythologies we use to build our societies from religion to politics.

Plus, Johnson is one of the most recognizable faces in the left of center Dallas art scene. You might not see him in slideshows of the DMA art ball, but if you frequent local concerts or art openings, he's the one with the big smile dancing to the music.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 32 Cultural Connector Lauren Cross

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Lauren Cross knew she wanted to start a gallery when she was living in London as an undergraduate student. She'd transferred from University of Texas at Arlington, just a car ride from her family, to Richmond -- home to The American International University in London -- to study art. That's where she says she fell in love with the gallery, and came into her own as an artist.

Her journey to WoCA Projects, a Fort Worth space dedicated to showing the works of underrepresented artists, was a winding but focused one. On what was meant to be a short visit home, she met her husband, with whom she moved to Boston. There she enrolled in an MFA program, with an emphasis on artistic independence. She became versed in feminist and social justice theories, and fluent in the language of exclusion. Not just in textbooks, but in her own artistic experience -- an issue she never experienced in London. Eventually she and her husband made their way back to Dallas, where she enrolled in a doctorate program at Texas Women's University with scholarship in social justice and women's studies. And nearly three years ago, she opened the doors to WoCA.

"I'm a believer that just because you're an artist doesn't mean you can't do other things," says Cross.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 33 Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Giovanni Valderas runs one of the hottest galleries in town. He programs the work of both up-and-coming and established artists in his comfortable, well-lit space. But you won't find his space in the Design District. As the director of the Cliff Gallery at Mountain View College, Valderas has been tasked with creating an artistic culture on the campus of Oak Cliff's community college. And by all appearances, he's more than risen to the challenge.

The University of North Texas graduate not only programs and teaches at MVC, he also serves as the Vice Chair on the Cultural Arts Commission, which the mayor uses as his arts community advisers. And Valderas is a mixed media artist whose earned a reputation for his riveting collage art. We chatted with him about his work as all three, and what's next.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 34 Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Brent Elrod
Stefan González as Orgullo Primitivo
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Oak Cliff native Stefan González has been honing his craft since grade school. The now 29-year-old auditory adept has pushed his skills, into a Bermuda Triangle of emotional experimentation. While most commonly associated as one-third of the free jazz trio Yells at Eels (alongside his brother Aaron and father Dennis), González has no shortage of musical and creative outlets.

The avant-noise expressionism of his solo project Orgullo Primitivo has been described by Observer music writer Jonathan Patrick as "refreshingly skeletal, free from the overwrought decadence that defines so much of Dallas' 'experimental music.'" González's abilities have also graced the stage of the Ochre House Theater during their production of Christhelmet earlier this year.

And if that wasn't enough, González finds the time to teach a new generation of skin-slammers as part of La Rondalla. The program offers free after-school music education for eager students ages eight to 18 and was founded by his father Dennis in 2010.

From violently hammering on an amplified coil, teaching kids to lay down break neck blast beats, curating his weekly Mixtape Session at the Crown and Harp, and changing the very definition of music as we know it, González is the epitome of Dallas avant-garde. We luckily had a chance to talk with González (who by the way, just won a Dallas Observer Music Award for "Best Drummer") about what fuels his passion and why he still calls Dallas home.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 35 Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot

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Maxine Helfman
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
Heyd Fontenot is the director of CentralTrak, the artists' residency for the University of Texas at Dallas. He curates all of the shows in the gallery and manages CentralTrak's gaggle of residents, which makes him something like a camp counselor for adults -- albeit absurdly creative adults. Fontenot is a natural in that highly social role, because in addition to being an incredibly talented artist himself -- he does really interesting figurative work featuring mostly human subjects -- he's exceedingly warm and personable.

He's exactly the type of person the Dallas art community needs. Someone who knows his stuff, but who can make the art world less intimidating and more appealing to outsiders. I joined him in his studio, as he was packing up a large drawing to send to a museum, where it will be joining the permanent collection. In the course of our talk, which drifted from his own art, to Art Basel, to the moneyed art world, Fontenot even referred to himself as an outsider. If that's the case, then the rest of us average joes are in great company.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 36 Rising Star Adam A. Anderson

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

He's young, but he's already got the critics raving. Adam A. Anderson is one of the rising talents in the Dallas theater world. He's won the DFW Theater Critics Forum Award for best actor and widespread accolades for his performances in plays like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and The Brothers Size.

An SMU graduate, he spends his days as the graphic designer for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and his nights in rehearsals or running his creative company, The Striped Heart (formerly known as SiHK). We're not exactly sure how he fits it all into a seven-day week, but he's making it work and he's doing it well.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 37 the Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Michelle Marie
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
I met Frank Campagna for the first time earlier this year, when I suggested we put him in the People Issue. We spent time together leading up to to our interview, and if I'm being honest, I wasn't sure what I thought of him at first. For decades, he's made a living painting murals in and around Dallas, particularly Deep Ellum. He's a soft-spoken man with a gruff exterior, and -- I've learned -- a heart of gold. Since then, we've become friends. I've joined the hundreds, if not thousands, in the Dallas art community who have a special place in their hearts for Campagna and his Deep Ellum staple, Kettle Art Gallery.

Unlike other art galleries in town, Kettle's mission is one of inclusion, visible in the size of its artist roster, and in its price point -- which varies from two to four digits. Surface-level stuff. But it's Campagna, and his partner Paula Harris, who keep people coming back. They've made Kettle homey, and everyone who walks through the door is just one conversation away from feeling like family. So, Campagna makes the list not just for being an artist and a gallery owner, but for creating an art community that welcomes every new member with open arms.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 39 Literary Framer Karen Weiner

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Kevin Todora
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.
When Karen Weiner opened the Reading Room in Dallas, she turned a new page for the gallery scene, creating a project space unlike anything else that exists here. Her snug little spot in Exposition Park hosts everything from book swaps to art exhibitions to readings, with topics running the gamut from history to the current exhibition that makes a case for the mailman with clever, hand drawn post cards.

Weiner's background is in bookmaking and photography, and she spent years running the UTD artist residency program with Rick Brettel, which was originally in the South Side at Lamar building. (Now the residency program is known as CentralTrak and is right down the street.) Both Weiner and her Reading Room are two staples on the Dallas arts scene, equally charming and intellectually stimulating. Words and art collide regularly, but with the Reading Room, Weiner found a way to collapse them - to frame them.


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