Mosey on down to Galveston this month for the city’s yearly blow-out celebration in honor of Mardi Gras. The festivities begin on the 21st and continue on until March 3, but the revelry really heats up on Saturday, Feb. 29 with the Momus Grand Night Parade. Winding its way from Seawall Boulevard to the historic Strand District, the parade can put anyone in the mood to celebrate Fat Tuesday. For event and hotel Info., call (409)763-4311.
STRAIGHT FROM THE ART
PEOPLE Dallas’ ex-darling, artist Dan Rizzie (who left Big D for the Big Apple last year), has designed the label for a 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon from California’s Alexander Valley in the heart of Sonoma County. The artwork-and the wine-is called “Il Cuoré” (“The Heart” in Italian). Oenophiles can savor the elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Rizziephiles can appreciate the label-its curlicues and colors are typical of Rizzie’s work, which showed up on everything from tablecloths to menu covers while he lived here. Rizzie is the only living contemporary artist to be shown solo at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth; his work is owned by the Dallas Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Now, for a sweet $12.99 or so a bottle, you can afford a Rizzie yourself. Or give one to someone you love. (This is a limited edition-fewer than 4,000 cases were produced.) -Mary Brown Malouf
Home Safety for Toddlers
SERVICE “Parents should get down on the floor to see the world from the baby’s perspective, ” says Thomas Golden, better known around town as “Dr. Baby Proofer.” His baby safety business, in the infancy stage for the last six years, is now starting to walk on its own.
Since he gave birth to the idea, Dr. Baby Proofer has made hundreds of homes “baby safe”-and Golden covers more than electrical outlets. “Half of what I do is educate.” says Golden, who has a 300-item checklist he reviews with new parents. All cabinets should be locked up, he says, but with the right gadget. Out of 41 safety latches on the market, Golden recommends only three. “Most either don’t work or can injure children,” he cautions.
As a registered nurse, Golden knows the potential dangers that await toddlers. While working in hospital emergency rooms, he and his wife, Susan, also an RN, dealt with hundreds of children killed or injured in home accidents. So when Susan became pregnant, the couple searched for items to make their home safe. When they couldn’t find what they needed, the idea of Dr. Baby Proofer was conceived. “Nine months later, we birthed our business-and our daughter, Charlotte,” Golden says, laughing. An average home costs about $750 to baby proof. Home evaluations start at $75 and can be scheduled by calling 824-3964.
Pushing Petals by Mail
GARDENING Green-thumbed grandmothers used to spend endless hours fussing over their roses. But was all that pampering really necessary? Not if the pampered petals were antique roses, says Brenham grower Mike Shoup, who counts many Dallas gardeners among his customers.
“Modern roses are bred for the long stems and bright colors,” says Shoup. “They overlook survivability, fragrance and disease resistance. Antique roses give the customer a break, because they’re going to live forever.”
He should know. In the early ’80s, Shoup, then a wholesale nurseryman, stumbled upon old garden roses thriving at abandoned home sites and along fence rows near his Brenham home. His discovery led to a new business venture. Shoup’s Antique Rose Emporium is now a nationally known mail-order company, with a luscious nursery surrounded by bluebonnet fields in Independence.
Even when the chilly February winds blow, Shoup sells roses. Bare root roses are shipped to customers until the end of February; after that, the roses arrive with their roots planted in two-gallon cans. With thousands of roses in stock, gardeners can pick their favorites from 230 varieties, from early hybrid teas to bourbons, from chinas to rugosas.
The emporium’s catalog contains rose selections and planting and growing instructions. Call (800) 441-0002 or write Rt. 5, Box 143, Brenham, TX 77833. The catalog is $5 per copy. -Derro Evans
A Melting Pot of African Art
ART Africa Explores: 20th Century African Art, an exhibit opening this month at the DMA, spotlights Africa’s contemporary art scene and sheds light on the massive continent’s sprawling artistic diversity.
The curators of this traveling show, which was organized by The Center for African Art in New York City, have divided more than a hundred samples of 20th century art from Africa south of the Sahara into categories that flow as easily into one another as mountains into savannas.
At the heart of African art is traditional sculpture. Even though the village apprentice system that gave it life has turned to manufacturing kitschy tourist trinkets, traditional art continues to cast its influence everywhere.
The social and spiritual place of the sculptural tradition is now occupied by new functional artists whose commissioned works, like a coffin in the image of a Mercedes-Benz or a painted concrete sculpture of a bureaucrat-chief, embody the cross-tribal and cross-ethnic themes that are forged by cosmopolitan life.
Where they have survived, village crafts such as mask-making now incorporate non-traditional raw materials such as enamel paint, colored tissue paper and plastic dolls. Familiar media take on unexpected messages in these vibrant pieces. Both conspicuous and subtle, the vestiges of colonialism thread throughout Africa’s complex patchwork of artistic symbols. European ideas often are incorporated into tribal art, resulting in such startling objects as a miniature commemorative knife that has a carved wooden handle resembling an automatic weapon.
The most thrilling insights into Africa’s contemporary soul come in the exhibit’s urban art section, in which the vigorous undercurrents of modern life surface luxuriantly in commercial, political, documentary and religious works by self-trained painters and photographers. Working in a melting pot of old and new values, these artists take on confusing and difficult themes such as the formation of new communities, the toll of decaying dictatorships, ravages of natural disasters, praise for heroic, martyred personalities and chronicles of violent events.
The international art area displays the work of African artists who have made the outside world their own and brought it home. These academically trained artists use widely recognized, formal artistic styles in uniquely African ways. Their exploration of non-African art forms brings the theme of Africa Explores full circle. The exhibit will be at the DMA from February 9 to April 5.
-John Trimble and Phyllis Williams
FASHION The best offense is a good defense, which means the only way to face the bluster of spring is to be properly attired. Any old outerwear won’t do. This year, the more unconstructed the better, with colors muted and earthy, and fibers natural. The look is relaxed and comfy; these are clothes that feel lived in before you ever put them on.
Near right: Andrew Fezza softens the anorak this spring in natural linen ($325), here over his indigo-dyed linen “life saver” shirt ($125) and cream canvas jean ($125). From Neiman Marcus (all Dallas and Fort Worth locations). Far right, upper: Armani’s melt-in-your-mouth summer-weight leather bomber ($1,455) could be a ’90s must-have. Here over a basic cream cotton T and linen trouser ($155); jacket and trousers from The Men’s Store at Stanley Korshak. Far right, lower: Armani’s classic lightweight trench ($725), fresh this spring in a softened chartreuse to mix with a single-breasted raw silk jacket in persimmon ($460). Textured cotton crew ($125) and double-pleated linen trousers in chocolate ($155). All Armani from The Men’s Store at Stanley Korshak.
The Library of Love
GETAWAY Who would guess that the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, would house one of the world’s great shrines to romantic love?
The Armstrong Browning Library is a veritable temple to the lives and works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the legendary lovers who defined the depth and breadth and height of romantic love for generations of sweethearts. The published words of these doting poets who daringly eloped in 1846 are evoked to this day by amorous wannabes whose own twisted tongues fail to pack the poetic punch of Elizabeth’s sonnet “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
A.J. Armstrong, Browning scholar and Baylor English department chairman, was the moving force behind the library’s construction after World War II. Thanks largely to his expansive personality and unrestrained enthusiasm, the library gradually grew from Armstrong’s personal collection of Browning memorabilia to include a genuinely quirky collection of Browning relics, all of which are suitably enshrined in elaborate displays. Among these are pressed flowers and locks of hair the poets sent to each other; Elizabeth’s autographed fans, which sport impressive Victorian signatures; household items from the poets* Italian palazzo; and even a piece of plaster from Robert’s boyhood home and a brass window latch from his study.
The library’s 23-carat gold-leafed dome, two-ton bronze chandelier, rare walnut paneling, polished Italian marble columns and Gothic oak parquet floors are but the setting for the library’s crowning jewel, the Foyer of Meditation. Here visitors can contemplate a bronze casting of the Brownings* clasped hands, bathed from sunup to sundown in the dusky-golden glow of specially stained windows.
The research library’s windows are the world’s largest collection of secular stained glass and, like the massive bronze-paneled entry doors, they depict incidents from Robert’s poems. An alcove devoted to “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” displays illustrations done by the sickly child for whom Robert originally wrote the famous poem.
A seven-page walking tour handout will clue you in to every poetic allusion in sight and, like admission, it’s free. The Armstrong Browning library is located on Speight Avenue, between 7th and 8th Streets, on the Baylor campus. Visiting hours are 9 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Call (817) 755-3566 for more information.
-John Trimble and Phyllis Williams