Designer and Tailor Tracy Popken is Trying to Get Dallas to Hang on to its Vintage Clothes One Stitch at a Time

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
"I don't want my clothes to be noticed," Tracy Popken says, standing in the cluttered but orderly studio inside her Bishop Arts District home. It's a surprising credo for a designer and tailor, but Popken sells the idea hard, convincing you that she just wants her work to show off the personality and values of whoever's wearing them. And there's supporting evidence all around her: that conservative gray pencil dress in her sitting room, its collar edged like a buzz saw; racks of vibrant dresses from the 1920s and 1960s; ceiling-high shelves of color-coordinated fabrics.

"A lot of these 60-year-old dresses are still relevant," says Popken, 28, who along with having her own line restores clothes constructed in the 1970s or earlier. They may just need the neckline lowered, the hem raised. That's where Popken comes in.

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Angela Scott Captured the Attention of the Shoe-Buying World, and She's Not Stopping at Your Feet

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Angela Scott has always drawn inspiration from men's fashion, so when she moved to Dallas from her native California, the cowboy fashion of the South naturally found its way into her designs. You can see it in her spring/summer line -- "rooted in the heartland of Texas" -- where several of the shoes bear a toebug, the decorative stitch-work on the toe of a cowboy boot. It's a flourish that might seem out of place on a pair of towering heels, but Scott gracefully combines the rugged look into her modern designs.

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Legally Blind Artist Stephen Lapthisophon Challenges Students and Viewers to Open Their Eyes Wide

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Stephen Lapthisophon's studio is a mess. It's not disordered, really; the rooms of the converted apartment and garage are organized enough. But they're filled with so much stuff: paint, hardware, wood, Italian dictionaries, anthologies of world literature and in-progress artwork, including some made of maps or series of numbers.

You could have predicted this -- should have, really -- from an artist who last year had two works in the Dallas Museum of Art comprising bacon, eggshells and coffee grounds, and whose recent show featured a projector looping political text and a room influenced by the writing of a Russian formalist. Lapthisophon's work looks at big issues and makes broad connections, and does it through a lot of different materials. Things get cluttered. But that's the way he sees his art, and the rest of the world.


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Filmmaker David Lowery Works with the Stars, but None Shine Quite Like His Home State

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

It's no secret that one of the best character actors in film is Texas. Its performance is often minimalist, haunting, elusive. On screen, from the reflective glass of Dallas' skyline to the power-lined gravel roads of Hill Country, Texas is a lightning bug in a jar.

David Lowery is talking about that electricity now, on a sun-stroked June afternoon at the Pearl Cup on Henderson. Lowery -- whose Cannes-selected film Ain't Them Bodies Saints hits theaters in August -- moved to Irving when he was 7, and gleefully points out that his house is just a short drive from the best movie theaters in Dallas.

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Jeremy Strick is Expanding the Nasher Sculpture Center's Reach, and its Reputation

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here

Born into the lushly creative coupling of an Academy Award-winning filmmaker father and a theater critic/author mother, Jeremy Strick spent his Los Angeles upbringing immersed in artistic projects. Now the director of the Nasher Sculpture Center is dipping into all aspects of his past to push the museum forward, through local engagement and international collaboration alike.

Under his governance, the museum's permanent collection has come thrillingly alive, accentuated by frequent exhibitions featuring contemporary artists. And now he's taking the 10-year-old institution even further, beyond its walls and into the streets. Nasher Xchange, a multi-million dollar public art initiative that opens in October, is a commission of 10 site-specific works by living artists for hand-selected corners of Dallas.

You can see his excitement build as he talks about it, even if his voice and gaze remain focused downward, floating through thought.


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From Her Oak Cliff Salon, Miriam Ortega Primps and Protects Her Adopted Home

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here .

Miriam Ortega is posted at the bar of Oak Cliff barbecue staple Lockhart Smokehouse, staring down a smorgasbord of ribs and turkey and deviled eggs and, stealing the spotlight from all of that, Ortega's signature cocktail, The Misfit. It's a grapefruit vodka and grapefruit juice concoction that on a good day also includes some grapefruit, and it is fucking refreshing.

Which is a good way to describe Ortega, come to think of it.

"A misfit is an outsider," she says of the drink's moniker. "Someone who doesn't care about the rules. Someone who moves in their own lane. Who creates their own lane."
Studio 410, Ortega's beauty and barber shop in the Bishop Arts District, is her new lane, a place where a Cinco de Mayo party means Cumbia-ing, sweating and beautiful women simultaneously passing out drinks and keeping the party in line. On the surface it's contemporary in every way: a street-inspired beauty shop complete with barber and nail artist, Dallas-made jewelry and clothing collections lining the front window, Sade and Erykah Badu scoring cuts and colors and blowouts. When you start to poke under the surface, though, it's clear that Ortega and her pack of stylists have actually created something almost old-fashioned.

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For Paul Varghese, It's as Much About What Comes Out of a Joke as What Goes In

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here .

Two nights after Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest stand-up comic in the world, came to Dallas, Paul Varghese, the biggest stand-up comic in Dallas, comes to Vickery Park, a bar on Henderson Avenue. Varghese hasn't been perched on his stool more than a minute, hasn't even sipped his Maker's, before it comes flying out:

He saw Seinfeld on Saturday night. Seinfeld, Varghese says, was perfect.

And he's right.

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You Might Know Tina Parker from Breaking Bad. You Should Know Her from Somewhere Else.

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here .

Tina Parker always knows when she's stayed away from acting on her own stage a mite too long. After one of her rousing pre-show speeches -- audiences expect and love her opening "Howdeee!" -- a new patron will grab her in the lobby later and tell her she's so entertaining she should think about maybe auditioning sometime.

Parker, Kitchen Dog Theater's co-artistic director, has been with KDT since 1993, and she now shares running the 22-year-old company with Christopher Carlos (like KDT's founders, they're both SMU grads). Parker produces and directs plays every season, including directing the world premiere of Kitchen Dog member Tim Johnson's One: Man.Show. at the recent 15th annual New Works Festival. She did have a rare starring role this spring, turning in an outrageously funny performance opposite Max Hartman in the pharmaceutical comedy RX, but she's done more acting on the big and small screens in recent years than she has on KDT's two stages at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary.


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Her Husband and Partner is Gone, but Pan-African Connection's Akwete Tyehimba Keeps Going

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here

Akwete and Bandele Tyehimba dove into their love affair and opened Pan-African Connection -- a shop known as much for its rich collection of cultural artifacts as its educational programming -- during their first year of courtship. That was 24 years ago, and it was immediately followed by marriage, kids and a union based on energizing a community to demand improved living conditions.

When Bandele died in February 2012, Akwete mourned him by discovering the power of her own strength. She now shoulders the entire load, continuing the work they began together.

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On Stage and Screen, Liz Mikel is the Hardest-Working Actress in Dallas

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here .

Here's where you might have seen Dallas actress Liz Mikel: singing the roof off the Wyly Theatre as wicked-sexy Evilene in The Wiz, as the song-belting narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as one of the ghosts in A Christmas Carol or doing comedy improv in Second City Does Dallas, all at Dallas Theater Center, where she's a resident company member. Or maybe you caught her in the title role in the musical Black Pearl Sings at Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre.

Or as temptress Hetaira in the musical Lysistrata Jones at DTC, later getting rave reviews from New York critics for playing the same part in Off-Broadway and Broadway productions. Perhaps you spotted her in the role of Powers Boothe's caregiver in the movie Straight A's alongside Luke Wilson and Ryan Phillippe. She's also in a national ad campaign for White Cloud bathroom tissue and she played a judge on the cable TV reboot of Dallas.

All this, by the way, has happened over the last couple of years.

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