Fort Worth Magazine — May 2012
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Culture
Brennen Anderson

A Tale of Two Americas

The Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibit, America by Glenn Ligon, is a provocative and fascinating discussion of identity in America.

Walk into the huge foyer, look up and left: “negro sunshine” shines down from the second story. Entitled Warm Broad Glow, artist glenn ligon fashioned letters from “black neon” tubes (painted black and filled with navy blue light) and yellow-white neon tubes. The dark letters seemingly cast a bright shadow. The phrase and title of the piece are appropriated from gertrude Stein’s story Melanctha.

In the catalog accompanying ligon’s exhibit, Scott rothkopf notes that the phrase alludes to an unsettling stereotype and may seem “alien” in an art gallery. But, rothkopf explains, “the work inverts the relationship between light and dark one expects … it casts a pall over Stein’s nagging phrase.”

the exhibit is a mid-career retrospective of ligon’s work, beginning with his early fascination with text. He dwelled on the dichotomy of black text on white canvas. Zora neal hurston’s quote, “i feel most colored when i am thrown against a sharp white background,” illustrates the multiple levels of these initial works.

Ligon uses the same stencils throughout each project, so the quality of the letters slowly degrades. Andrea karnes, the museum’s curator, explains the stencils demonstrate the “room for error and the human touch.” karnes used her extensive and intimate knowledge of the museum’s space to help the artist arrange the exhibit, whose schedule includes only three cities — new york City, fort Worth and los angeles.

In other works, ligon eschews text, demonstrating his adeptness in myriad mediums. In a series of huge silkscreen prints, ligon excerpts sections of photographs from louis farrakhan’s 1995 Million- Man March, enlarging particular sections until they become very granulated.

In another piece inspired by the story of henry “Box” Brown (a slave who mailed himself in a box to freedom in the north), ligon arranges shipping boxes marked with the international symbol for fragile. In yet another project that is equal parts socio-political study and art, ligon asked children from the Minneapolis area to color pages from a 1960’s coloring book, featuring the images of famous civil rights activists.

Ligon appropriates the work of others to explore the binaries of american life and initiate a conversation — not only about otherness, but how america talks about otherness. This is evident in the exhibit’s title piece, America. Karnes explained that the intent was for america to form the spine of the exhibit, so it is arranged in three recesses along a hallway that unites the many galleries in which the exhibit is situated. America is a series of three neon words, each spelling a different variation of america. Ligon explains in an interview in the exhibit’s catalog that he was dwelling on the opening lines of Charles dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. America is ligon’s poignant assessment of the best of times and worst of times in america.

The exhibit runs through June 3.

Nosey About the Human Body

A world of snot, slime and stink

by Ellen Parker

The Fort Worth MuseuM oF science and history is inviting audiences young and old to take part in an interactive experience exploring the yucky, slimy side of our bodies. The traveling exhibit, Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, is presented together by advanced exhibits and science World British columbia. Through sept. 3, visitors will be able to look at oversized versions of their nose, digestive system and much more. The exhibit is based on the bestselling children’s book series by sylvia Branzei, Grossology. Through her experiences as a teacher, writer, curriculum designer and microbiologist, Branzei gives children the opportunity to understand why their bodies do gross things by translating it into their language.

Initially greeted by an animated character, her grossness, guests are immediately transported into a world where belching and snot are not only accepted, but expected. The “tour du nose” introduces the guests to 10 nasal features through an interactive oversized nose, complete with nose hair and a view down to the throat. Once guests walk to the back of the nose, however, a gust of wind will come as a surprise as the nose lets out a large sneeze. Adding to the realistic features of the exhibit, there is a skin climbing Wall, which has everything from moles to pimples, as well as a 3-d model of the digestive system at the gi slide.

To creatively teach the young audience which foods cause gas, there is a “gas attack” pinball machine that includes an animated pig who talks to the players before and after the game. As visitors make their way through Grossology, they will also meet a “Burp Machine” and a section that helps further their understanding on how the kidney works to remove waste from the blood at “urine: the game.” to conclude the tour, guests are allowed the opportunity to test their new knowledge of Grossology at “let’s play grossology,” which is a multiple choice trivia game.

Open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through saturday, and noon-5 p.m. on sunday, Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body offers a unique experience for children to learn more about the complexities of their growing bodies. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children 2-12 and seniors 60 plus. They can be purchased online (fwmuseum.com), on the phone (817.255.9540) or in person. The gift shop also contains items of Grossology that can be brought home as a souvenir from the exhibit, consisting of merchandise like board games, books and more.

The Sins of Tarrant County

by Sandy Prindle $19.95

The Honorable Sandy Prindle, a former justice of the peace in Tarrant County, left his law career behind but could not break free from courtroom suspense. The judge-turned-author released his first novel, The Sins of Tarrant County, writing about what he knows best: the book’s namesake.

In the novel, Judge Ray Sterrett, an esteemed judge in Tarrant County, sends defendant Billy Earl Stewart to jail in a peace bond case. What seems to be a normal decision at work ends up putting Sterrett and his family in grave danger.

Stewart, once released, vows to get revenge on the judge who sent him to jail. His ultimate goal: murder. Stewart sets his plan in action, but he misses his target. On his rampage, Stewart kills three people, but not Sterrett. Police are puzzled by the attempt and fail to locate Stewart at the scene of the crime.

Stewart’s attempt draws the attention of two political groups in the community. Both develop a similar plan to murder Sterrett and then transfer the blame to Stewart. The judge finds himself targeted now by not one, but three different murder schemes.

Prindle actually drew on his own experiences in the courtroom in the novel. Since the release of The Sins of Tarrant County, Prindle has released his second novel, Cleansing the Sins, and plans to release another in the summer of 2012. Prindle retired as a Justice of the Peace in 2006 and now focuses on his writing.

Cinnamon Roll Murders

by Joanne Fluke $24

What if you could combine yummy recipes with an equally delicious murder mystery novel? When your eyes grow tired of reading, just pop some cookies in the oven and snack during the next few chapters. When will someone think of combining these two wonderful activities? Oh, wait. Joanne Fluke already did that.

Fluke’s Hannah Swensen murder mystery series tells the stories of a small town bakery owner faced with numerous mysteries. Through twists and turns, Hannah must delve into the mysteries and collect clues, but she doesn’t forget to bake.

Cinnamon Roll Murders opens with news that the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band will play at a festival in Hannah’s town. Hannah decides to attend the concert and bring, of course, cinnamon rolls. As the band rolls into town, tragedy strikes. The tour bus overturns, sending keyboard player Buddy Neiman to the hospital. All seems to calm down until someone stabs Buddy in his hospital bed, making it clear that someone certainly wants him dead.

A little digging reveals that something is a bit off with Buddy. Mainly, that his name isn’t even Buddy. Hannah jumps on the case and drafts a list of local suspects.

Fluke sprinkles 22 unique and tasty recipes throughout the novel, so feel free to stop and take a baking break before immersing yourself once again in the mystery.

Fluke tried out more than 10 different careers while working to establish herself as an author. Her first book, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, introduced heroine Hannah Swensen 11 years ago. Since then, Fluke has written 18 Hannah Swensen murder mysteries … complete with recipes, of course.

Lone Wolf

by Jodi Picoult $28

In many ways, Luke Warren adopted the lifestyle of wolves. He devoted his life to learning about his favorite animals, even living in the wild amongst the wolf packs.

His wolfish ways drove a wedge between him and his family as Luke became more solitary and less loving. After his wife and his son abandoned him, Luke only has his wolves and his daughter, Cara, left in his life.

Edward Warren cut off contact with his father six years ago, leaving behind hard feelings. Memories of his father haunt him still, but he cannot bear the thought of returning home to Luke anytime soon. Edward has moved on, hoping that nothing will draw him back to his father.

One day, Edward receives a terribly alarming call. An awful wreck left Luke fighting for his life, and Edward and his sister must determine their father’s fate. Now stuck in his nightmare, Edward must decide how to help his father recover… or let him die.

The lessons from the wolves tie back in to guide Edward in the most challenging decision of his life while Luke hangs in limbo. Whether his father was guided by wolves or by humans, family still remains close to his heart.

Author Jodi Picoult describes Lone Wolf as a novel about medical science and moral choices. It is one of Picoult’s 22 novels. To view a list of Picoult’s works, visit jodipicoult.com. Picoult is best known as the author of My Sister’s Keeper, the popular tearjerker about family bonds amidst illness that became a hit movie.

the writer's block

Use Your Judgment

Local author Sandy Prindle left his law career but kept his knowledge.

by Jennifer Retter

You wouldn’t read a cookbook written by a mechanic, nor would you pick a picture book illustrated by an accountant. So why not leave your courtroom novels to a judge?

When the Honorable Sandy Prindle retired in 2006, he wasn’t quite ready to forget about Fort Worth law … and his wife wasn’t about to let him forget about his writing.

Prindle actually finished The Sins of Tarrant County manuscript before retirement, then got busy and set his draft aside to collect dust. A comment from his wife persuaded Prindle to search for a publisher.

“My wife picked it up off the shelf one day and said, ‘You wrote this? I can’t believe you wrote this!’ ” Prindle said.

The two tracked down a publisher and sent The Sins of Tarrant County, now found in Barnes & Noble, to press.

After you finish Prindle’s first hit book, keep an eye out for his third novel, Revolution II.

“It’s a political novel that’s really in the current time frame,” Prindle said. “To get it marketed, I need it out this summer before the elections are over.”

In his career, Prindle has won the three highest awards given by the Justices of Peace and Constables Association: the T.A. Vines award, Judge of the Year, and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Perhaps we’ll see some writing awards added to the list, too.

Picture Show

Neon Trees $12.05

With a unique name and unique music, Neon Trees has won over the mainstream music fan base. Between 2010’s hit Animals playing on KISS FM every five minutes and performances from SXSW in Austin to iTunes Live’s Festival in London, it’s hard to miss Neon Trees for now. With upcoming tour dates nationwide and throughout Europe, Neon Trees hopes to stun fans with new tunes.

Picture Show, the band’s second album in just over two years, needs to impress fans to keep Neon Trees in the spotlight. So many bands can record a stellar album and drop off the map with a disappointing sophomore follow-up, but Neon Trees hopes to take a different path. Based on recent success of the band’s single, Everybody Talks, no one plans to forget about Neon Trees anytime soon.

Expect the same upbeat, pop/ rock tracks on the band’s second album. Neon Trees promises music you can turn up at a party and dance to, or pop in your car to stay awake during a long drive. The same mainstream sound adopted by bands like Cobra Starship and Hot Chelle Rae characterizes Neon Trees’ appeal, too.

Neon Trees formed in Provo, Utah, the home of Brigham Young University. Vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen grew up together in Southern California. The two joined up with bassist Branden Campbell and drummer and vocalist Elaine Bradley upon relocating to Provo. Habits, the band’s first album, was released in early 2010.

Everything

Josh Tatum $8.99

Step one: Purchase Everything by Josh Tatum. Step two: Plug in your headphones. Step three: Be happy.

It’s as though Josh Tatum crafted his first single off his new album, Everything I Need, just to pick you up on a dreary day. “Oh, oh I know I’m not the only one who thinks we can all agree / That this world can be an ugly place / Today it’s so beautiful to me,” Tatum sings over his guitar. Check out the music video for an extra shot of happiness.

Not every song on Everything will lift your spirits, however; the new musician isn’t afraid to get serious. Tatum considers his music “eclectic, soulful, passionate, timeless and deep,” but you’ll hear a hint of Texas country mixed in, too. Sample the 12- song full-length album to explore all the sides of Fort Worth’s new rising star.

Tatum started his first band at age 13 right here in Fort Worth. The singer also has his fair share of guitar talent; 17 years of practice led to impressive melodies in his tunes. He has since relocated to Los Angeles for his career, but keep up with his tour dates to catch Tatum back in Texas for a show.

After three long years of writing, Everything was finally released in late March, and Tatum hopes to follow up with tours and a new album. Tatum describes the wide range of songs on the album as “a really good representation of what I do musically. It’s something I’m really proud of.”

Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones $9.99

If you attended SXSW 2012, you may have already heard all of Little Broken Hearts. Norah Jones, a seasoned SXSW performer, played her new songs for this year’s festival-goers before the album’s May 1 release. If you did not have the opportunity to hear Jones live, though, don’t worry; you can pick up her new album or download it this month!

Jones always charms with her jazzy, soft voice. Some of her more popular tracks, like Don’t Know Why (2002) and Sunrise (2004), stood the test of time, still playing in rotation on everyone’s iPods. Jones is an artist who fits a niche market; she’s remained the jazz/pop darling for the decade. She flies just low enough under the radar to avoid mainstream pressure, but her talent won her millions of fans.

The first track to drop from Little Broken Hearts comes with a retro lyric music video. Happy Pills, the surprisingly optimistic tale of leaving behind an old love, highlights Jones’ sweet soft voice. “With you gone, I’m alive / Makes me feel like I took happy pills / and time stands still,” Jones croons on her Little Broken Hearts track Happy Pills.

Currently, Jones does not have any upcoming concerts in Texas. She’ll be bumping back and forth between the U.S. and Europe this summer, so visit her Web site at norahjones.com/tour if you’d like to see her elsewhere this summer. Jones also sells piano, guitar and voice songbooks via her Web site.

Norahs-in-training, take note! A little practice, and you’re on your way.

the groupie’s corner

Texas Transplant

Josh Tatum may live in Los Angeles, but his roots are here.

By Jennifer Retter

Despite preparing for an upcoming tour, rising star Josh Tatum gave us a glimpse into the busy life of a musician.

What made you decide to perform as a career? To be honest, it kind of just happened naturally. I started playing guitar right out of the second grade. It evolved into becoming something more and more important in my life as I got older.

Are you planning on recording a sophomore album? Absolutely. I’ve probably already got enough material for a couple more records. I’m writing all the time, and basically, we’re going to be hitting the road. We’ll gear up for a full-band tour, then recording another one as soon as possible. I can’t wait to get back in the studio.

Any advice for other young musicians? Make music your way and never quit doing it. Continue doing what you feel like you need to do, no matter what the trend is. Stick to what’s right for you.

Visit joshtatum.com for more information and upcoming shows.
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