Where Is Dallas' Iconic Bookstore?

Movilius In Mobili
Portland has Powell's. Dallas has ... not much.
In downtown Portland, Powell's Books stretches the length of a city block. Inside, hundreds of wooden bookshelves stuffed to the brim with everything from classic literature to engineering manuals keep crowds of regulars and tourists engrossed. When you go to Portland, you have to go to Powell's.

Even readers who haven't been to Oregon have probably heard of the store. Like Seattle's Elliot Bay Book Company or San Francisco's City Lights, Powell's is a national landmark, one of a handful of bookstores that help define the characters and cultures of their hometowns. Los Angeles has Vroman's and The Last Bookstore, New York has The Strand and Book Culture. They're both cultural centers for locals and regular stops for tourists, who are as likely to walk away from these stores with T-shirts as they are copies of the latest best-seller.

"If you haven't been to Powell's, you haven't seen something," says Miriam Sontz, CEO of Powell's Books. "It's one of the top things to do in Portland, and when visitors come, they want to take something with them as a souvenir of their trip."

You won't see anyone wandering the streets of Portland wearing a T-shirt with the logo of Dallas' own iconic bookstore, because we don't have one. It's an odd missing piece in a city that has dedicated huge resources into reshaping its downtown into a nationally recognized center for the arts. We've invested millions in building what the city proudly calls the nation's biggest dedicated arts district, with homes for opera, theater, the symphony, painting and sculpture.

The literary arts, meanwhile, have been all but ignored in Dallas' top-down planning for igniting its cultural life. You want to find a book downtown? Try the public library, if it's open ... and it's probably not.

Which is a shame, because bubbling away outside the official boundaries of "art" is a small, devoted literary scene that's beginning to show new signs of life. The question is, can we cultivate the love of books without a central outpost? Or to put it in words Dallas will understand: What kind of world class city doesn't have its own damn Powell's?

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Dallas Holocaust Museum's Book Burning Exhibition Should Be Irrelevant But It's Not

Dallas Holocaust Museum

In early 2013, news broke that New Mexico high schools were banning Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. But this was not the only book on the list. Titles like Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, and a Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary - because it defines obscene words. In Arizona, bans have only recently been lifted on a number of Mexican-American books. In fact, many of the cities along the border have struggled with numerous book challenges and book bannings. That government-endorsed censorship is not yet an outdated issue seems obvious, which is why everyone should spend an hour or two at Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings, a traveling exhibition from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum now on display at the.Dallas Holocaust Museum.

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Expo Park's Newest Gallery Opens with Dallas Artist Thor Johnson's State Fair Photos

Midway Gallery

The idea of inviting strangers into their home is not new to Lily Taylor and Sean Miller. When the artistic couple lived in Denton, they participated in the (International) Home Theater Festival, a movement to take performance out of the theaters and use house venues. Recently, they became Dallas residents and the musician/video artist couple decided to open up their live/work studio to the public as Midway Gallery, a space dedicated to video art.

For years, artists have been trickling into Expo Park, filling it with oddities like Confetti Eddie's magic and burlesque show, Ochre House Theater's intimate theatrical productions, Central Trak's live/work gallery space, Beefhaus' progressive art space, and 500x Gallery - Texas' oldest artist-run space. More recently, Cohn Drennan Contemporary moved its gallery space to the shady block on Commerce St. It's this milieu that attracts artists like Taylor and Miller to live here in the first place and its proximity to Fair Park that inspired the gallery's name.

"We named it Midway referring to the populist form of exhibition and amusement first introduced in The World's Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1983," Taylor explains. "And we're excited that the timing works out to present Dallas-based artist Thor Johnson's historical collection of State Fair photos as our first exhibition."

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Bishop Arts District's Newest Gallery Was Inspired by a Margarita, Sort of

Cap Pannell's The Birth of Venus
Come November, Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District will be welcoming its newest member, the EXHIBIT3 Art Gallery. The grand opening on November 2 will present art centered on Day of the Dead themes to coincide with the neighborhood's celebrations.

The gallery's owner Art Spigel, a Dallas-native, says he's hoping to feature up-and-coming and new artists alongside his own photography.

Spigel specializes in panoramic photography, largely focusing on environmental shots. He still works a day job as an IT consultant, but his career has allowed him to travel across the globe, including South America and Europe. In exploring these places, he always took time to stray from his work to find pleasing aesthetics in nature.

"I just like getting lost," Spigel says. "I think we have so many beautiful things in this country and it's just endless. Sometimes it's hard to choose where I want to go next."

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15 Best Texas Weekend Getaways

Wikimedia Commons
Texas Highways carry me... away from home...
Amy McCarthy and Jaime-Paul Falcon are Dallas' foremost experts on traveling around Texas (not together, separately, and by "foremost" we mean they get around a lot). Anyhow, in the interest of making sure you get the most out of your late summer days off they decided to give you the 15 best destinations you absolutely should visit if you want to call yourself a Texan. Or even if you don't want to call yourself a Texan, but don't want to have to board an airplane.) It's up to you whether you decide to drive two hours or seven, but each of these places are absolute must-dos.

(NOTE: Houston is on this list, much to Amy's chagrin. After three hours of arguing and countless impassioned attempts at helping Jaime see the light, it's on the damn list. They settled it with a coin flip.)

Possum Kingdom

Brazos River Authority

Distance from Dallas: 141 miles
Time it takes to get there: 2 h 42 min

You're going to have that goddamn Toadies song in your head the entire time, but the near-three hour drive to Possum Kingdom is the type of road trip where that rock music of your disaffected youth makes some actual sense. Once you get there, though, you'll forget that this lake situated in the middle of a massive state park is just a few hours outside of the city and probably change the music to Enya or something. Outdoorsy types will find plenty to love, including SCUBA diving, hiking and whatever a "nature study" is. If roughing it on the campgrounds isn't in the cards, you can get a cabin for four at $75 a night and enjoy the closest thing we've got in North Texas to a beach. AMC

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Are You Looking for Adventure? The Mixmaster Is Looking for Arts & Culture Writers.

It could get hairy.

It's a jungle out there. The Mixmaster is looking for a few good writers to come along on our expedition through the arts and culture in Dallas. Ask yourself the following questions: Can you sniff out cool ways to spend the weekend? Do you wander into new shops out of sheer curiosity? When you meet someone interesting do you find yourself bursting with questions? Do you know a story when you see one? Are you brave enough to critique Dallas culture?

If you have an unbridled spirit of inquiry and are up for an adventure, we'd like to send you deep into the wilds of Dallas culture to report on the artistic flora and fauna.

We're looking for the following people to join us on our safari:

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Dallas Museum of Art Lands Exclusive Jackson Pollock Exhibition

© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2014
Jackson Pollock's "Yellow Islands," 1952

It seems we can expect great things from Gavin Delahunty. Just two months into his tenure as the Hoffman Family senior curator of contemporary art, he's making huge strides to bolster the Dallas Museum of Art's interest in modern art. One such effort is his curation of an exhibition of Jackson Pollock's work dedicated to a phase of work known as his Black Pourings.

Thursday morning the DMA announced that it will host Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots in November 2015. This collaboration with the Tate Liverpool, where Delahunty previously served as head of exhibitions and displays, promises a wide display of Pollock's work focusing on a period in his career long ignored.

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Finally! Small, Local Theater Companies to Perform in the Dallas Arts District


Six floors up in the Wyly Theatre, there is a black box theater that has been sorely underused; Nine floors up there is a rehearsal space that rarely sees an audience. Both the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly will enter year five this fall, which makes them ripe for reinvention. After letting the Dallas Theater Center settle in and determine how they want to use the big, silver box of a space, the AT&T Performing Arts Center is ready to flex some programming muscles. To fill the sixth floor performing space, this fall the center launches "The Elevator Project."

They've invited six local companies to perform a show in one of the spaces on either the sixth or ninth floor. The long-absent Upstart Productions will kick off the series with Year of the Rooster, which opens August 22. The other companies are Second Thought Theatre, DGDG: the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, Cara Mía Theatre Co., African American Repertory Theater and Dallas Actor's Lab.

Beyond keeping the Arts District filled with artists -- something the area has struggled with -- these are all companies that don't have consistent performance spaces, which can often make it difficult to produce work, or build an audience. The center will sell $100 passes to the entire six-show series at attpac.org.

Chipping Smooth Is Something 'Bout Love, Most Likely

Pipe Dream Productions/Taylor 'Effin Cleveland
Chipping Smooth features Mary Ehrlicher and Beaven Waller.
"It's like I can feel our electrons falling so love with each other's positive particles...Because chemistry is the only thing deep enough to explain this."

This the last line in the trailer for Chipping Smooth, the inaugural work from Pipe Dream Productions, a rag-tag organization of artists founded just this summer in anticipation of the showing of this work. The spontaneity surrounding Pipe Dream is actually quite exciting and reminds me of my readings on art groups and collectives from the 1960s -- groups of experimental and traditional artists coming together to work on a project, finding a location to present their work, and springing invitations on us. Invitations that came from word of mouth, written notes slipped under doors disclosing a secret location for you to arrive at, and posters and signage pointing you toward something that might change the way you view the world.

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Follow Dallas Designer Emmanuel Tobias' Journey On Project Runway

Courtesy of the designer
Project Runway struts its way back onto the television Thursday night for season 13. It's your classic reality competition show that narrows contestants down with each episode until there is a grand prize winner.

It's a favorite among fashion lovers or aspiring designers, and anyone else who just loves watching Heidi Klum. Every once in a while, a local designer lands a spot on the show and this season we've got three Texans. Dallas-based Emmanuel Tobias will be taking on the competition, which includes Samantha Palencia from San Antonio and Emily Payne who's from Temple, Texas.

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