ZimSculpt at the Dallas Arboretum

ZimSculpt, a collection of over a hundred Zimbabwean stone sculptures, is on display within the Dallas Arboretum, now through July. ZimSculpt 1I first glimpsed the sculptures while attending an arboretum concert. I knew I had to return to see them all! The garden, with its backdrop of brilliantly colored flowerbeds and greenery, frame the stone sculptures perfectly, much like a gilded frame showcases a painted canvas.

The garden sculptures range in height from three to seven feet. The artwork is carved from serpentine and semi-precious stone. In many of the garden pieces, the sculpture seems to emerge from within the stone.ZimSculpt 2 I love the fluidity of the lines and liquid smoothness of the art. Other sculptures mix the textures of rough stone with glossy sculpture. All have a simplistic beauty about them.

Shona sculpture

The tradition of Zimbabwean sculpture dates back to the Shona tribe and the eleventh century. ZimSculpt is a modern version of the ancient Shona sculptures. The renaissance in Zimbabwean sculpture began in the 1960s and continues today. Thematically you’ll find animals, mother and child depictions, and women, along with a few abstract pieces.

All of the pieces in the garden are available for purchase at prices ranging from one to twelve thousand dollars. There is also a ZimSculpt Marketplace where you can purchase more affordable pieces and also watch the artists at work.

Beat the heat

This time of year, it’s tough to beat the Texas heat. To avoid wilting in the sweltering temperatures, visit the arboretum when it first opens at 9 am. It is as much fun to pack a picnic breakfast as to sweat over a picnic lunch. Even better yet, Dallas Arboretum members can enjoy a ‘members only’ early morning on Saturdays from 7 to 9 am. Arboretum colors are at their height during the garden’s springtime Dallas Blooms. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of flowers currently in bloom, even in the summer heat. You’ll find flower beds loaded with color from sunpatiens, winecup, mrytle, and cone flower.

Details

The Dallas Arboretum is at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. The gardens are open 9 to 5 pm daily (until 8 pm on Wednesdays). ZimSculpt is on display until July 31. Adult admission is $15. On Wednesdays, you can buy one adult admission and get one admission free. Guided ZimSculpt tours are offered without additional charge on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

DFW Summer Concerts

Summer ConcertsWhat better way to celebrate summer than to enjoy great entertainment while dining al fresco under the stars. The DFW area offers a host of summer concerts, some free; most with minimal ticket prices. Here are a few of the best. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and enjoy the show.

Summer Sounds

For almost two decades, the City of Allen has hosted Monday evening outdoor concerts. Held at the Joe Farmer Recreation Center Amphitheater (1201 East Bethany, Allen), concerts cover all music types from classical to country. Picnicking is encouraged. This year, the first 1000 guests can enjoy burger meals from In-N-Out Burgers. While the city does not prohibit lawn chairs, they prefer blanket seating for concert attendees. Joe Farmer Amphitheater is co-located with Bethany Lakes Park. Before the concert, why not go fishing with the kids in one of the ponds, or enjoy nine-holes of disc golf in the park?

Details: The remaining two concerts are June 19 (Jolie Holliday & Sonny Burgess) and June 24 (Downtown Fever). Concerts begin at 7pm and are free.

Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

No listing of  DFW concerts would be complete without mentioning the Levitt Pavilion Community concerts. Featuring everything from world to gospel music, Levitt Pavilion hosts dozens of free concerts through July.  The expansive lawn area at Founders Plaza accommodates up to 3,500 people. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, along with your picnic. You may also bring beer and wine, but glass containers are not allowed.

Details: Concerts at Founders Plaza (100 West Abram Street, Arlington) are held Thursday through Sunday. Parking is available in the Pinnacle Corp. lot, at First Baptist Church and in the UTA College Park parking garage just south of First Baptist Church. You can call a 24-hour hotline at (817) 543-4301 for day of concert information.

Beckert Park Summer Series

Beckert Park (5044 Addison Circle, Addison) is the site of summer long fun. From June through August, families can enjoy free Saturday concerts. Bring your coolers and picnic to the park. Or, if you want to splurge, try one of Addison’s fabulous restaurants. Check the concert series webpage for special discounts at local eateries. Beckert Park is also an ideal location to view Addison’s annual KaBoom Town festival, a Fourth of July party with an airshow, concerts, and fireworks.

Details: Concerts begin at 8pm. Complimentary parking is available in the parking garages around Beckert Park.

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare Dallas presents Shakespeare in the Park during June and July. Two plays are offered this summer season: Merry Wives of Windsor and Quixote. Performed at the amphitheater in Samuell Grand Park (1500 Tenison Parkway, Dallas), this is a fun way to introduce your children to the famous bard. The shows are free for children under 12 years old.

Shakespeare Dallas allows lawn and sand chairs in certain areas of the amphitheater. They also rent sand chairs. Bring your picnic supper or buy snacks from the food vendors. Beer and wine are allowed, but no hard liquor.

Details: Tickets are $10 (Thursday and Sunday) and $15 (Friday and Saturday), and special discounted tickets are available for students and seniors (+55) at the venue. Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer season are “pay what you can” nights, with a suggested donation of $10.

KXT Sun Sets

The KXT Sun Set series showcases two performers, a local opening band and a headliner. Concerts are held at the Dallas Arboretum (8617 Garland Road, Garland), with four remaining shows this year: June 27, July 11, July 18, and August 1. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Coolers are okay, as is wine and beer. There are no concessions sold on site.

Details: Parking is free in the Arboretum garage. Individual tickets are $35 with free admission for children six and under.

Roses and Tigers inTyler

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This weekend, Tyler celebrates its 83rd Rose Festival with a parade, rose show, arts and crafts fair, and guided rose garden tours. If you visit Tyler, be sure to stop by the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge and support this nonprofit that provides a home to rescued big cats.

Tyler and roses

Nicknamed the Rose Capital, Tyler’s agricultural industry shifted from growing peaches to roses in the 1920s. By World War II, Tyler grew over half of the rosebushes sold in the United States. Tyler’s market share has decreased to about 15 percent, however, roses remain a major, area industry. Each October, Tyler celebrates its rose history with the Texas Rose Festival. The Tyler Rose Museum, open year round, tells the region’s story with rose festival memorabilia, video, and a computerized catalog of 250 rose varieties.

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden

The garden is at its height during the month of October. You’ll find 500 different rose varieties with fanciful names like Cinderella’s Song, Summer Wind, and Freckles. The rose garden contains over 38,000 rose bushes. I also recommend visiting in early spring when the garden is ablaze with blooming azalea displays in pink, salmon, magenta and red.

Tiger Creek

Located just outside Tyler, Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge’s stated purpose is “to provide rescue and rehabilitation to big cats that have been abused, neglected, or displaced.” The tiger-creek-800x800refuge spans 150 acres and houses over 40 big cats from tiger to bobcat. Several of the cats were victims of the exotic pet trade of the 1990s. Some cats were relocated when other refuges closed. And many of the cats have physical problems, like Babs. A bobcat, Babs is blind, most probably due to poor nutrition when he was kept as a pet.

Each big cat has its own story. There is a tiger rescued from a man who abused her and had her fight dogs when she was a cub. The tiger, Sierra, was once owned by Michael Jackson. Then there is Tin Cup, a mountain lion. A farmer’s dog brought the cub (the size of a tin cup) to a farmhouse porch in New Mexico. Efforts to locate Tin Cup’s mother failed, so the farmer contacted Tiger Creek. Tin Cup, a handsome, playful, and photogenic cat, is my family’s favorite.

When you go

The Texas Rose Festival is October 13 through 16. Most events are free. Both the Tyler Rose Museum (420 Rose Park Drive) and the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden (624 North Broadway) are open year round.

Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge (17552 FM 14) is open most days. While more expensive, I strongly recommend the guided tour, or the combo tour. The docents are extremely knowledgeable about the cats and their stories.

State Fair of Texas

big-texBig Tex is back! Yes, it’s time for the Great State Fair of Texas.

Fair Park in Dallas is alive with midway games, amusement rides, fair food, livestock shows, and exhibits. Old favorites return and new exhibits have been added.

Old favorites

I love the animals at the fair. Tucked in the back corner of Fair Park by Gate 12, you’ll find the cattle, swine, and horse barns. It’s all about traditional fair events with young people showing off their prize livestock. Want to see more farm animals? Check out the Lone Star stampede and pig races in the Pan Am building.state-fair-3-800x800

Fried food is everywhere. Personally, I’m quite content to give a pass to fried jello. However, I wholeheartedly recommend a Fletcher’s corn dog…even if you need to stand in line. Fletcher’s is located next to Big Tex, so be sure to get your photo of the iconic Texan while there.

New exhibits

Who would associate Michelangelo with the State Fair of Texas? This year, the Women’s Museum building is the site for an exhibit featuring full-sized reproductions of the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings. These panels give an up-close view of the famous ceiling. There is an $8 admission fee.

Hard to please pre-teens may enjoy the Taylor Swift Experience, a collection of Taylor Swift memorabilia on display in the Hall of State building. All ages will enjoy the pogo stunts of Xpogo.

Insider tips

  • Tickets, rides, and food….it all adds up to big bucks when you visit the fair. You can save on tickets by purchasing them online or in advance at Walgreens or Kroger. Better yet, visit the State Fair on a discount day. Bring four cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank on Wednesdays and purchase your ticket for just $4. Even better, if you are 60 years old or more, visit the fair for free on Thursday.
  • Thursdays are not only free to seniors, but many concession vendors offer discounted food for Thrifty Thursdays.state-fair-2-800x800
  • To avoid crowds, consider a weekday visit to the State Fair. You’ll get the same great fair experience with less hassle.
  • Need to cool off on a hot day, the Hall of State, Automobile building, and many other buildings are blissfully air conditioned and wonderful ways to escape the heat.
  • Limit your time at the midway. Rides and games can be an expensive. Instead, take advantage of free entertainment. Special activities for kids are set up around the Pan Am Arena.

The Great State Fair of Texas continues until October 23.

 

 

Allen’s Community Theater

Allen’s Community Theater (ACT) is a gem tucked away in a nondescript strip mall. Located in far west Allen, ACT’s outside façade hides a delightful little theater. It’s ACT (800x494)community theater at its best with reasonably priced tickets and well-done performances.

Blithe Spirit

ACT’s current production, Blithe Spirit, is a good old-fashioned English drawing room farce. The Noel Coward play pokes fun at death and marriage. Set in 1940’s England, the play centers around an author, his first wife (a ghost), and his current wife. It’s a night of laughs when the bungling medium, Madame Arcati, is thrown into the mix of characters. My entire family, including my teenage son, thoroughly enjoyed the play. However, go forewarned, Blithe Spirit is a three-hour play, with two intermissions. Blithe Spirit runs through May 15.

ACT has two more plays scheduled for its 2015 – 2016 season. The Superhero Ultraferno runs July 8 – 17; and The Magical Land of Oz runs August 12 – 28. My family is looking forward to both plays.

When you go.

You can order tickets to ACT’s performances online at their website. They accept payment by credit card and PayPal. This is community theater, so don’t expect a fancy venue. That said, I was impressed by the quality of the acting and stage craft of the production. You can buy refreshments (including a glass of wine) to take into the theater. Refreshments are by donation (so be generous). Allen’s Community Theater is located at 1210 E Main Street, Suite 300 in Allen.