Denton’s arts scene has had a busy year. The community bid farewell to a few beloved musicians, but it also saw innovation and success.
The community laid to rest two pianists who climbed to their professional heights in part as teachers at the University of North Texas College of Music.
Harold Heiberg taught voice from 1971 through 2004. He was respected as a voice teacher and especially loved as an accompanist at the piano. A piano recitalist, orchestra soloist, chamber musician and accompanist, Heiberg received the UNT Citation for Distinguished Service in 1989 and the university’s J.H. Shelton Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000.
Musicians — especially singers — remembered Heiberg as a man with surprising sensitivity as an accompanist. Heiberg espoused the three “Bs” of accompanying singers: being with the singer, breathing with the singer and providing the singer with the bass line for their performances.
Heiberg was also considered a top-notch translator, and wrote more than 250 English translations of songs, opera and choral music printed. Heiberg spoke, wrote and read German, French and Italian.
Heiberg died at age 91.
Bob Rogers was a professor emeritus and an alumnus of the University of North Texas. He died at the age of 91 on May 14. Rogers began his teaching career at UNT on 1939, when the school was still the North Texas State Teachers College. He taught piano pedagogy and applied piano from 1948 to 1984 and served as the assistant dean in the College of Music from 1969 to 1975.
But Rogers was best known as a generous volunteer for the Denton performing arts scene. He often volunteered to play at the Denton Benefit League Charity Ball, and was a longtime member of the Trammell Group, a Denton troupe of performers who sang parodies by local writer and humorist Donna Trammell. Rogers was an accompanist for the group — and often bantered with the performers during shows.
Glass artist Christie A. Wood was selected by the Denton public art committee to create a memorial work to Tom “Pops” Carter, a local blues legend who died a pauper in 2012.
Wood is making a large-scale, three-dimensional stained glass piece that depicts Pops just as he finished a song at his 91st birthday party. The flamboyant blues singer was wearing his signature ruffled shirt, pork pie hat and chunky gold rings on just about every finger. The blues singer will be depicted seated — Carter had grown a tad frail in his last years — with the microphone in one hand and a rag in the other. Carter perspired a lot when he sang, and often used a handkerchief or towelette to mop his brow.
The city of Denton commissioned Wood to make the piece for $29,200, which is paid from city hotel funds.
“This isn’t going to be my usual technique,” Wood said in an interview. “It’s going to be a 3-D piece and I’ll be layering glass on top of glass. It’s like the glass will be in relief.”
Wood is a busy artist who owns Art Glass Ensembles near downtown. When she isn’t making stained glass, she plays saxophone in Foo McBubba, the big band affiliated with the music ministry of First United Methodist Church of Denton. She’s a classically trained flutist, and was a musician in the UNT Nine O’clock Lab Band when she attended there.
Neo-Soul musician and UNT graduate Quentin Moore has been in the trenches of the Dallas soul and R&B scene for about a decade, producing his debut, Vintage Love, which was followed up with the 2012 mixtape Quentinized. After raising more than $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, Moore released his second album, You Forgot Your Heart.
The third record was the charm for this one-time Denton artist. After the single “Natural Sista” went to the top of the soul charts in the United Kingdom, Sweet Soul Records came a-knocking.
The Tokyo-based company saw Moore’s groove set fire to the British soul scene with a song affirming the beauty of natural black hair. Moore was inspired to write the single after former Shreveport, La., meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired for responding to a viewer’s criticism of her short hair.
The company is redistributing Vintage Love as well as You Forgot Your Heart.
Moore said he expects to tour in Japan in 2014 as part of his signing. Soul music is enjoying popularity across Japan, with American, English and Japanese artists answering a surge in demand among Japanese consumers.
In March, a collective of Denton craftsmen and women went from being a strong local presence on the online retailer Etsy.com to being a collective with a storefront.
The Denton Independent Makers Exchange, formerly Etsy Denton, opened a shop named the DIME Store at 510 S. Locust St.
Spearheaded by fellow crafters Rachel Aughtry, co-founder of the exchange and curator at DIME Store, and Shelley Christner, co-founder and curator at DIME Store, local artists who make decorative art and functional objects by hand went from having two successful local sales a year while independently selling their wares online to having merchandise in downtown Denton. (Most of the artists maintain their shops on Etsy.com.)
The collective plugged itself into the young creative scene in Denton, still hosting events — and inviting food trucks to park near the shop. Before the DIME Store opened, the collective would invite sellers to join “pop up” shows at concerts and events. If an idea attracts shoppers and buyers at a music festival, the exchange members would use the same idea on a smaller scale.
The DIME Store sells handcrafted furniture, clothing, bath products, art and accessories. Check them out at www.dimehandmade.com.
Denton’s craft brewery, Armadillo Ale Works, debuted its first brew for distribution: Quakertown Stout. Founders Yanni Arestiis and Bobby Mullins (both of whom are UNT alumni) looked a little dazed at the big bash that celebrated the first mass pouring of the coffee-scented, maple syrup-noted dark brew.
The crowd was too big to be contained at the Oak Street Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor. Hundreds streamed into the bar and packed the back patio. Souvenir glasses sold like hotcakes, and before the party was over, all the kegs had been tapped.
The stout got raves from friends of Arestis and Mullins, but it also got a lot of thumbs up from patrons who had no idea the draft house was to be unveiling a local brew.
A bit after the smashing success of the stout — with its rich head and mahogany hue — Armadillo Ale Works introduced its summer swig: Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale. Decidedly lighter than the stout, the Farmhouse ale had a toasty wheat top note and a swell, sweet aftertaste.
Denton institution gets big bucks for new art
The Good/Bad Art Collective got its highest recommendation just a few months ago. It was recruited for the Nasher Xchange, the celebration of Dallas’ internationally recognized museum of sculpture (much of it contemporary).
Nasher officials gave nine artists and one collective, Denton’s Good/Bad Art Collective, $100,000 to create a new work of public art.
Enter the quirky Denton assembly of artists who established local fame — and maybe a little notoriety — from about 1990 to 2000, through the successful staging of one-night-only events. Sometimes, the event was a benefit concert. But just as often, the event was a curious set-up of the audience.
Would people come to a location to watch three adult men wearing nothing but underwear keep a teeter totter in constant motion for 24 hours?
Yes, people would.
Would locals pick up a scavenger hunt guide, find locked boxes all over Denton, then bring them to a location where a volunteer would unlock the box and give the item inside to the finder for keeps?
Yes, people did.
And what if Good/Bad hosted a battle of the bands in which every single band would play its set simultaneously?
Audiences ate it up, and the collective took its show to Seattle, Brooklyn, Dallas and Houston.
There was only one rule: mess with convention, and do it seriously.
The Good/Bad produced “Curtains” for the Nasher Xchange. As usual, the audience was kept partly in the dark about the event. The collective turned an entire floor of Bryan Towers into three television studios. Fans and newbies were invited to take a number, meet a spirit guide and follow the guide into the studios. All anyone knew was that they were part of an infomercial.
What was “Curtains”? An infomercial featuring a Steve McQueen look-alike who was selling immortality to viewers. The infomercial was aired in earnest on local public access television in November, without any explanation.
UNT art developments
The UNT School of Visual Arts and Design saw two major changes.
The Texas Fashion Collection was relocated over the summer in time for the 2013 fall semester.
The collection, which has amassed a vast number of unique pieces — from early Texas frontier dresses and wedding gowns to designer dresses worn by Dallas and Fort Worth luminaries.
To prepare for the move from Scoular Hall, which was to be demolished, students, graduate assistants and faculty carefully cataloged and packed clothing and accessories. Some garments were wheeled out on long racks and driven carefully across campus.
Another major development was the pitching, planning and planting of a natural dye garden.
A small group of students — Analise Minjarez, Morgan Kuster, Abby Sherrill and Sarah Westrup — researched the project that became the University of North Texas Natural Dye Garden. The group first pitched the idea of a dye garden and rain catchment system to the We Mean Green Fund, which granted $25,000 to open the garden on campus. (The rain catchment project was later dropped from the proposal.)
The We Mean Green Fund is administered by the UNT Office of Sustainability and was established in 2009. The fund collects $5 from each student during the fall and spring semesters. The sustainability office started funding projects in 2011.
The first harvest from the garden was in October, and fiber arts students helped visitors dye fabrics in the natural colorants from the garden.
Fiber art students will lead workshops to teach underclassmen how to use natural dye to color the textiles they work with.
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877.