From “First Night” To Diane Al-Habid, The Arts District Rocks And Rolls Along

Let no one tell you that the Arts District is a ghost town. Perfect example was Friday, November 21, with the foodie trucks of every flavor lined up on Flora Street like Highland Park Belles. Okay, so maybe the fumes puffing from the trucks’ exhaust compromised the yumminess of the offerings, but take one bite and you’re sold.

Dallas Opera’s “First Night”

Just east of the gourmet truckers was the Dallas Opera’s “First Night” gala at the Winspear Opera House with a red carpet tra-la-la. There’s definitely a energy pulsating at the DO nowadays. It’s not the blue-haired-and-multi-millionaire’s baby only. Thanks to General Director Kevin Cerny and his staff, they’re expanding their efforts and reaching a younger audience who prefers a more casual environment. But more about that later.

Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Gala Chair Kaki Hopkins was determined to make this red carpet splashier that the norm, so she recruited two experts in the world of splash — Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers. They put their coiffed heads together and came up with a novel game plan — have a local designer create a costume representing the diva of each of the 2011-2012 operas and have them modeled by a socialite.

No small challenge, but they rose to the occasion with

  • Geoffrey Henning and D'Andra Simmons

    “Tragic Obsessions” with designer Geoffrey Henning and model D’Andra Simmons

  • Liz Kimple and Khanh Nguyen

    “Lucia di Lammermoor” with designer Khanh Nguyen and model Liz Kimple

  • Tanya Foster

    “Tristan & Isolde” with designer Abi Ferrin and model Tanya Foster

  • Shannon Skokos

    “La traviata” with designer Michael Faircloth and model Shannon Skokos

  • “The Magic Flute” with designer Nicolas Villalba  and model Linda Ivy

And what is a red carpet anywhere without fans? So, Rhonda arranged to have area students on the sidelines taking photos and applauding as all the black-tie guests arrived. The frosting on the red carpet was having WFAA-CH.8’s Ron Corning on the carpet doing interviews with key guests. No, you didn’t see it in your home media room. But anyone in Sammons Park could watch it on a bigger-than-a-food-truck screen. (Remember the screen. It’s part of the “more about that later” segment.)

Linda Ivy

While all the ladies magnificently presented their designer gowns, the showstopper of the night was Linda Ivy. As Ron described the look, “It’s a little Technicolor dream coat” as Linda turned again and again to the delight of the band of photographers. Linda’s husband Steve Ivy was watching from the sidelines. Steve chuckled, “I just made the cover of D CEO and yet I’ll be known as the man who escorted Linda Ivy to the opera.”

Emily Wyly and Niven Morgan

Other action on the red carpet included: Don Winspear showing off his one-of-a-kind boots designed by his wife Ellen; Emily Wyly glowed in a gold gown on the arm of Niven Morgan; Margaret McDermottin her environmentally correct vehicle (a wheelchair) had to wheel backwards

Mina Chang

down the steps of the red carpet entry; Mina Chang held her own on the carpet wearing one of a Nha Khank; as one fan got a bit winded from clapping and found herself sprawled on the ground, another started showing wear and tear and headed into

Colin Duchin

the Winspear for relief; D’Andra’s fiancée, Colin Duchin, looked like a model for GQ as he waited for his girl to complete her runway stroll.

Oh, you were wondering about “that more about that later” issue. While the swells were gathering in the Winspear and taking their places in the hall, families with children, single young people in shorts and elderly couples were seated in Sammons Park watching and listening to the opera’s simulcast for free and made possible with AT&T Performing Arts Center. It was a beautiful evening to love and learn about an art form that has been passed down for centuries and endures.

Sightings: Diana Al-Hadid

Jeremy Strick, Diane Al-Hadid, Jed Morse

Just a couple of blocks west, the Nasher was hosting a sneak peek at “Sightings: Diana Al-Hadid’s” Gradiva’s Fourth Wall in its Corner Gallery. Perfect timing on the part of the Nasher staff. On the eve of the Two x Two weekend, it provided out-of-towners with a place to “hang” and hang they did.

Nasher Director of External Affairs Jill Magnuson said they invited 100 of the out-of-town Two X Two “gallerists” and artists because they had a “night off” between Thursday’s First Look and Saturday’s gala. It gave them something to do and the visitors took advantage of the invitation.

Naime Haine and Kathryn Andrews

Naïme Haïne in from Paris was comparing notes with Los Angeles artist Kathryn Andrewson the terrace. . . Inside

Phil Grauer, Michael Williams and Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart was checking in with New Yorker Phil Grauer, who has a gallery called Canada, and NYC artist Michael Williams, who hadn’t been in Dallas in 10 years, when “my car broke down here.”

Jon Lott

After Diana Al-Hadid checked other parts of the gallery with New York architect Jon Lott, she got together with Marianne Boesky, whose New York gallery represents her, and Serra Pradham in front of her dramatic sculpture that she had been working on just minutes before the doors opened.

Gradiva's Fourth Wall

One person passing by the window and trying to see what all the hubbub was about commented, “It looks like a convention of ghosts.” His companion muttered, “Reminds me of white chocolate covered pretzels.”

Oh, well, everyone sees art differently.