Tuesday, August 15, 2017

After Charlottesville

Dallas has a park in Uptown that's named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

I've always liked this park.

It's beautiful.  In the spring azaleas bloom.  All year round there are trees and grass, a handsome building (loosely modeled on Lee's Arlington) and a fine bronze equestrian statue of Lee and an adjutant.  I like equestrian statues.  To a designer it sits especially nicely on the site. Plus the granite steps at its base are a good place to eat a sandwich.

General Lee is an fascinating historical figure: a great and still-studied general; a traitor who chose the Confederacy over the Union; and a slave owner who freed his slaves during the Civil War... although once I researched that fact, it turns out that he did so only because it was required by his father-in-law's will.  Complicated and ugly history.

Even before Charlottesville this was a controversial park and statue.

Before Charlottesville I would have suggested that hiding history is a mistake - better that the statue be left as it is but with context added, and not just that doomed adjutant and a few informative plaques.  I'd like to call in a brilliant artist like Kara Walker to add that context physically, perhaps adding bronze silhouettes in her style spiraling out from the original bronze.  Silhouettes of... slaves and those slaves made to dig trenches for the Confederate Army, of wounded soldiers of both armies, of lynching, of civil rights protesters and Dr. King, of Black Lives Matter and the Dallas police who were killed, and now, sadly, of Charlottesville.  There is also a local artist who might add projections to this ensemble, turning Lee and these contextual bronze cut-outs into screens for the continuing story of race in America.

I think that could turn a memorial of Jim Crow Dallas into a living, growing, and perhaps important art work pointing toward an America that lives up to its promise.

But now?

I'm afraid even great art might become only a magnet for alt.right, neo-Nazi, and the KKK.

I do wish we could keep just the horses.  Horses are innocent.

A mock-up of what the Lee statue might become... 
(After the art of Kara Walker.  If you haven't seen it, you MUST.  Powerful, powerful stuff.)

Whatever eventually becomes of Dallas' bronze Lee, his sidekick, and their beautiful horses, we citizens must now make perfectly clear:

Bigotry is wrong.  It betrays the soul of America.  
We reject it.

Anyone or any group that advocates bias or violence against anyone because of their race, color, religion, origin, gender or sexuality is unAmerican.  

ADDENDUM #1: Obviously, we need to change the name of the park back to its original one, Oak Lawn Park.

ADDENDUM #2:  Another suggestion for unwanted but historic statues, plant them together in a park like the Russians have... read the BoingBoing post HERE.

ADDENDUM # 3:  Complicated issue isn't it?  But I think a consensus is emerging that the confederate monuments should be removed.  Here are Stonewall Jackson's descendants' views, from an open letter to the Mayor of Richmond, Virginia :

"They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display."

ADDENDUM # 4:  This has been a pretty serious discussion - here's the flippant one:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This Country

“this country—this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good, and magnificent country....  

What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting done much apart.”   Sen. John McCain

If you haven't watched Senator John McCain's heartfelt speech, you should.  HERE   

He's speaking to the Senate, but we should all apply his cry for bipartisanship to all our lives: talk to each other!  listen!  be open and work together to help each other and our country.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Battle for Net Neutrality

Call your representatives please.  Tell 'em you like your internet neutral!

Need more info?  Listen to comic John Oliver  HERE.

And, of course, you can only watch that video because we HAVE net neutrality... otherwise mine would be a   very   slow    lane    indeed.

Two Things...

Two completely unrelated things:


Whenever you're shopping on Amazon, please consider using the Amazon Smile page HERE where you can select Kitchen Dog Theater as recipient of free money! (Amazon donates 0.5% of qualified purchases.)  

Please and Thank You!  We're saving to fix up our future Dog House so we appreciate every penny.


A lovely and timely quote from Henry David Thoreau...

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downwards through the mud and slush of opinion and tradition, and pride and prejudice, appearance and delusion...
till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place which we can call reality and say, 
"This is and no mistake."

Isn't that a wonderful image?  

Anyone who's ever sat on a riverbank wriggling their toes in the green-y mud down to the cool, water-smoothed limestone below, you know how reassuring that solid, non-slip footing is.

Today - when life and especially politics! - seem especially slimy with opinion and lies... well, a fact that's an actual FACT is a comfort.  I believe strongly that at this moment it is our civic duty to wriggle down through the muck to find truth.  

Then to act on that.

The surface under our feet is shifting at this moment - rules for healthcare, the environment, the internet, education, immigration, trade, foreign wars and relations - all  changing.  We need to let our legislators know what we need and want RIGHT NOW.  

We each need to figure out what truth we stand on.

(Thanks to Chris Tucker's review of the new Thoreau biography for reminding me of this Walden quote.  Time to reread that book... and to look for that new bio: Thoreau: a Life by Laura Dassow Walls.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Color Names

Finding good names for colors is a vital skill for paint companies, but it's hard.  

I understand that, years ago, the endless torment of trying to decide whether to call that beige-y pink "Baby's Face Pink" or "Seashell Blush" drove one company to throw up its hands.  (Corporations are legally people, people generally have hands, ergo corporations have hands.)  They decided to just give colors numbers!  Briefly.  Because, turns out, #346-A7 doesn't sell as well as "Rhapsodic Red."

It's a problem.

Well, check out this post at Ars Technica on using artificial intelligence to take over the job...   HERE  Humans ain't outa work yet.

My favorite AI generated names might be "Cremper Viulet" or "Kold Of Tale" - which would make great fairy tale character names.  "Blue Child" (a pink) is a another favorite.  But "Copper Panty?" ...bet that name sells!

Believed public domain image - found HERE with others!

On the subject of corporations as people... one of my trusty art and set dressing supply sources, Hobby Lobby, has just been caught illegally buying Iraqi antiquities, with the money possibly funding Islamic terrorists.  This confused me because, um, why?  New selections in Home Decor?  Or in... Ceramics?  But it seems they're starting a Biblical museum.


I've been trying to overlook Hobby Lobby's no-workers-here-get-birth-control-'cause-religion stand on the theory that workers can quit (theoretically) if that offends them.  But I feel pretty strongly about knowingly fueling the stolen art market.  Plus, you know, terrorists.


Guess Michaels will be getting most of my business now.  

(Can't believe this, but I just took time to read Michaels' "Code of Business Conduct and Ethics" and to check their Better Business rating!  They sound good.  In fact, their "Code" seems admirable in content, presentation, and concrete examples.  I'll hope they follow it.) 

Theater doesn't just talk about ethics, it requires 'em.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Color Wheel

Going through some old files, I found this sketch for a class on interior design that I taught ages ago...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How'd That Turn Out?

Thought you might like a few pics of the completed Native Gardens set:

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

That's real dirt people, and (mostly) real plants.  A heroic job by the set-build crew!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arts and Healthcare

One of the hazards of relatively bad pay (and artists mostly earn low pay!) is that it comes - if it comes at all - it comes with relatively bad healthcare too.

Whatever your politics, you need healthcare.

This is the week to talk to your U.S. Senator to remind them how important your health is.

A very young Statue of Liberty

(Well... a very young protester merged with that goddess for online anonymity)
I messed with her charming face and the background... but couldn't improve her sign.

Speak up!

I'm not kidding about the importance of good health - and the healthcare that helps preserve that blessing.  A good friend, a theater designer, died prematurely because he couldn't afford insurance and so went to the doctor much too late.


Take care of yourself.  Find insurance you can afford (through a spouse's employer maybe? or the ACA while it lasts).  Eat well.  Sleep.  And don't fall off that ladder while you're "exercising"!

Friday, June 23, 2017


A fascinating explanation about creating coooool....

The MAYA design theory by Raymond Loewy at The Atlantic HERE.

car design by Raymond Loewy - public domain from the Library of Congress

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Color War!

Wired has the best write-up I've seen on the feud between artists Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple over the rights to the blackest BLACK and the pinkest PINK


Public domain image from Publicdomainpictures.net

Design Contracts

I'm of the school of thought that: 

If you don't trust 'em, don't work for 'em.

Because, believe me, if your client doesn't want to pay you - or can't - no amount of contract language can make them.  Not even small claims court.  (And I've tried that.  But I said "No" to the TV-judge-court, because that's just tacky.  Long story.)  

Luckily, most people are good people.  

Likewise, if your gut or heart tells you that you're not compatible, believe it.  (Your head will be screaming, "But we need the money!"  Ignore it.)  And, rarely, if you get deep into a project and then discover that you and your client have serious trouble understanding each other or have stopped liking or trusting each other, learn how to leave gracefully.  One of my earlier bosses, an interior designer, taught me to Fire the Client.

This is not to say that every moment working with a wonderful client will be all celestial harmony and mutual admiration... there might be just a few fleeting moments of, um, disagreement.  This is right and natural.  Good.

The website BoingBoing today featured the design firm Segura's wonderful new client contract:

    You give me money, I’ll give you creative. 

    I’ll start when the check clears. 
    Time is money. More time is more money. 
    I’ll listen to you. You listen to me. 
    You tell me what you want, I’ll tell you what you need. 
    You want me to be on time, I want you to be on time. 
    What you use is yours, what you don’t is mine. 
    I can’t give you stuff I don’t own. 
    I’ll try not to be an ass, you should do the same. 
    If you want something that’s been done before, use that.

    If you want your way, you have to pay. 
    If you don’t pay, I have final say.

    Let’s create something great together.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dream Dilemma

Classic designer thing - go to bed thinking of problem / wake up with solution.

This was what my muse handed me this morning:

I'm asserting copyright on this one - Clare Floyd DeVries 2017

(My avatar is the kid screaming over her bowl of orange sherbet.  While the others are foolishly oblivious to the hazard of asphyxia inherent in running a motor boat inside a tunnel/canal completely blocked by more orange sherbet.  I mean, come on!  Everyone knows about this danger.  I'm sure there are pamphlets explaining it.)

Hmmm...  Not quite sure how to apply this to the problem at hand.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


It's been a very busy year for me so far - both onstage and off - and, you know, sometimes you just need a rest.  Artists especially, I think, need to refresh and recharge their creative batteries.

Luckily, I now have a bit of a lull in theater deadlines.  A break.  So, rest.  Yay!

But recharging?  How do you do that?

Well, what I've found helpful before is as follows:

1) Take better care - eat and sleep better, exercise more, catch up on doctor's and dentist's visits etc.  Buy new socks or underwear... and maybe a few cool summer clothes.

2)  Have fun.  Some of that exercise might be at the pool or beach!  Watch movies.  Goof off.  Do something different...

3)  Do  / see / read / hear / experience something different.  Like visit a museum.  The Kimbell in Fort Worth has a terrific show about its original architect Louis Kahn right now.  Lots of drawings and models, including a full scale mock-up of part of one house.  (Plus, of course, the museum building itself.  More HERE.)  And the neighboring Amon Carter Museum has an interesting exhibit of Polaroid photography.  More on that HERE.  

I visit museums with a sketchbook... 
you can't always photograph what interests you

After the sheer wonder of the BIG Polaroids I never knew were possible - 20"x24"! - the images I found most interesting were two by James Nitsch that incorporated both the actual object - a razor blade, a leaf - and its image.  Fascinating to see the passage of time separate these objects still further... the razor blade rusts and its photo ages differently, the leaf dries and turns brown while its photo stays green.  Time physically trapped in Art.

The most touching image was a Polaroid by astronaut Charles Duke during the 1972 Apollo 16 mission: a family photo (protected in a plastic baggie) lying on the dusty surface of the moon, a surface rumpled by astronaut footprints and the tire tread of a rover.  That little snap-shotted American Family (kid in a tie!) lying there so long ago so very very far away...  realizing that that kid's grown up now, yet that photo still lies there...  

Photo by Charles Duke / NASA - public domain
See it in more detail HERE at MFA Houston


There's a new thought and image to store up.

Artistic restocking is all about new thoughts and images stored up.  Gathering!

So I'm reading, web surfing (is that still a phrase?), listening to podcasts and TED Talks (artist Dustin Yellen's work, wow!  HERE).  To someone who works in collage, Yellen's 3D collages caught in glass are amazing phenomena.

I'm going to the library again, now that I have time to actually bring back the books on time.  

I've also traveled, briefly, to the Pacific Northwest - a beauty I hadn't seen before - and to today's Waco and HGTV's hot interior design Magnolia Market - a beauty I had not wot of.  A marvel of marketing certainly.  More travel soon!

Is it time for you to take a refreshment break too?

ADDENDUM:  Found and added that great moon-snapshot.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Legendary Scenic Designer Eugene Lee

A great interview with the legendary designer Eugene Lee... who's been designing sets for Saturday Night Live since it started in 1975!

Oh, and little shows like Wicked and Sweeney Todd for Broadway.

On Vox HERE.

Sounds like the pace of live TV would kill me...

Friday, June 16, 2017


Perhaps you've heard about NYC's Public Theater production of Julius Caesar, which features a Caesar dressed as a Trump lookalike?  

This costuming gives Shakespeare's brutal killing scene  - always upsetting - added, um, political bite.  Obviously controversial.  Let's be clear though, the production does NOT celebrate this murder.  It's presented as a bad step in a tragic direction for the play's world.  

Pros and Cons...

Personally, I think trump costuming in combination with graphic stabbing was a bad idea - though fair game artistically - but it just seems too violent for an ugly and potentially violent time.  The recent shooting of baseball-playing Republicans (which the theater company couldn't anticipate) underlines the violence which we all feel simmering.  On the other hand, many people are genuinely worried about a slide into authoritarianism - and a Juilus Caesar / Trump helps clarify those issues.  Kinda a think-piece, this production.  Certainly folks are thinking about it.  But... a completely different quibble: doesn't the trump-look make the audience giggle at first appearance?  I'll have to reread the play because I can't remember if that would be appropriate or not.  I'd like to see the production, which is the only way to evaluate it.  

Artistic choices...

Anyway, that NYC company has had serious push back - including loss of some funding and a huge public fuss.

Believed public domain image - Julius Caesar


Our local Shakespeare company has gotten death and rape threats!
(They're producing one of the Bard's comedies and Quixote - not a toga in sight.)

Maybe it's not surprising that people capable of vile emails don't read theater programs carefully.  And, know what? writing vile emails is free speech and their right... just not the threats part.  (Threats get sent to the FBI.)  

So please support theater.  Even controversial theater.  Because free speech matters.  Art matters.

Read further articles HERE.  Or get a ticket to see the Bard locally HERE.

Shakespeare certainly is keeping up with today's politics isn't he?

ADDENDUM: I corrected the name of Shakespeare Dallas' production, just Quixote, no Don.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Big Tony

Last night The Dallas Theater Center was given a rare Regional Tony Award for their work.   

Well deserved!  

In a radio interview Dallas Theater Center's artistic director, Kevin Moriarty, credited this win "to every carpenter and..." going on to explain that it is the result of decades of good work under several ADs and by many many artists and box office clerks and so on...  

I agree.  This is, in part, a win for the whole theatrical ecosystem of DFW.  

Important as the DTC is and Tony-Award-winningly TM excellent! as it's work obviously is, it just can't do such high quality work without a whole supportive world of contributors.  Contributors of both ticket money and artistic talent.  A Tony!  Wow, what a great validation.


Speaking of Thanks Due, I'd like to nod now to several theater colleagues who aren't around to share this community thrill:  

Kristina Baker, who died seven years ago now.  A wonderful performer and singer who I remember best as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.  I remember this show well because it was my first set design for a musical.  (Who knew musicals were different?  Or so hard?)  Kristina was wonderfully patient and good humored about those crazy-tall kinda-welded-together rickety metal stairs I made her climb.  While singing!  This show put WaterTower Theater on the map.  (And me too.)  Kristina helped raise the bar for local actors, while being unfailingly kind and helpful to us all.  Helping create the kind of theater ecosystem we have here.

Wade Giampa, who died in 2009.  A terrific scenic designer.  Lovely scenic painter.  His work raised the production values at Lyric Stage - famous for their musicals - and wherever he worked.  I remember a conversation with him onstage at a civic theater where, as we talked, he nonchalantly painted with a brush on a long bamboo pole... creating, effortlessly!, a birch forest.  A good and wise friend to me as I was learning about theater, generous with his experience.  Kindly sharing hard-earned wisdom with the newbies is - as Wade's example models - one of the best parts of our theater community.

Rene' Moreno, who died this year.  A wonderful director and much sought after, he was famous for the intellectual seriousness of his work and his gift with actors.  But also a lovely actor.  I had the privilege of designing several sets for him and the unique chance to design a set at Kitchen Dog Theater that featured him in Richard III... in a wheelchair.  A design challenge - all ramps - except for one set of stairs where, at the early off-to-the-party-ditch-Richard scene, his Richard was left behind, unable to climb after the others.  From the bottom of those stairs the look on Rene's face...

Or his voice speaking Shakespeare's:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

These were all exceptional people... and yet part and parcel of a work-a-day theatrical community that continues on, doing good work...

So great congratulations to the DTC on their Tony!  And a moment to give thanks to - and for - colleagues like these who create a community in which such a cool thing is possible.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Just a quick note - crazy busy building two shows (and helping out on a third designed by someone else).  One show is King o' the Moon  at Circle Theater.  The second is Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater.  Here are a couple pictures:

The model of Native Gardens photographed at my studio window.

The set under construction... Real dirt!  Real plants!  Real hard work!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Museum Day!

A good day to visit your local museum.  A good day to urge you to write your congress people in support of the arts!

Here, use this postcard:

Go ahead, print it at 4 1/4" x 6"

Preachin' to the choir here if you're reading this blog... so let's all preach at Congress, huh?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Death of a Frog

A while back I wrote about copyright and design theft (HERE) and talked about Pepe the Frog, a cartoon slacker-amphibian stolen by the alt-right for neo-Nazi and other hateful memes.  

Pepe's creator, Matt Furie, tried to fight, to rescue his creation, to rehabilitate him.  (I picture a sort of drying-out clinic/swamp for skinhead amphibians - filled with repentant Amazonian poison frogs in gang coloration, taking the twelve-leap program.  The original, innocent Pepe might have appreciated that image.)  His creator tried to save him.  But now...?  Now he's still listed by the Anti-defamation League as a hate symbol.  Now even his creator has had to give him up as irredeemable.

A guilty frog.

Collage from Public Domain images (and poor, poor Pepe)

I joke - sorta - but it's not funny.  

It proved impossible to save Pepe from the haters.  Just as many other artists find it impossible to assert their copyright when their works are stolen for profit .  And all the online fans who previously created joyful or silly memes now have to concede that Pepe The Frog is lost to them too.  

This is why we can't have nice things.  

Today Matt Furie killed off Pepe.  

Today, on Free Comic Book Day, is Pepe's wake.  Read more HERE.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


You have to have dogged determination to run a small theater company.

Read a good article about my company, Kitchen Dog Theater, and our struggles with venues, fund raising, and homelessness HERE.

Photo by Clare DeVries

As you read the Dallas Morning News article, please keep in mind that BOTH shows described as interrupted by the Fire Marshall were ones I designed!  

Basic problem?  We need much money to finish out our new space!  So we can move into it!

Believed Public Domain image

I have to say though that this new show, Trevor, is worth all the hassle - a really good script.  Good production.  Come see it!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Loading In... and Up

Just a fast post...

Kitchen Dog's production of Trevor has been relocated to the Wyly Theater in Dallas' Arts District:

Photo by Tim Johnson

Unloading the truck at the Wyly's elegant loading dock, fitting everything into the elevator, and up to the 9th floor...

Photo by Clare DeVries

Trevor opens this Thursday, the 4th.  A really good show - join us upstairs to see it!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Wright at Home

In the market for a new home?  There's a pristine 1960 era Frank Lloyd Wright "Usonian" house for sale!  With all its original furniture and fittings.


Plan for FLW's Dana House - believed public domain

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tax Payers

I'm paying my taxes...


Demand to see our president's tax returns. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Portable Hamlet

If you're planning on seeing today's DAVID CARL'S CELEBRITY ONE MAN HAMLET at Kitchen Dog Theater (and if you're not you should be) be warned:


Now showing at Dallas' Fair Park at the Margo Jones Theater / Magnolia Lounge.  2:15 and 7:45.  (I'll be at the 2:15 show and so will the Dallas Mayor - come join us!)  

Because of this last minute Fire Marshall induced move of venue, Kitchen Dog is offering half price tickets... Call 214-953-1055 or email  whitney@kitchendogtheater.org or just show up at the door and say you were sent by company member Clare DeVries.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hooch & Pooch!


David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet

Gala Performance: March 25th
Additional Performances: March 26th
The only Texas appearance of the critically acclaimed and wildly hilarious one-man show-David Carl's Celebrity One Man Hamlet. Details on the show here: http://www.buseyhamlet.com/
Gala Night is  Saturday March 25th   - 7:30pm- 12am with sips, snacks, a small silent auction, and a DJ after the show. Additional performances of the show on Sunday at 2p & 7:30p. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

More Coolo NASA Travel Posters

NASA has the best travel posters!

I wrote about some of their earlier posters HERE.  Well, they're at it again - repeated graphic excellence.  Check out the new posters HERE.

NASA travel poster!

Isn't that gorgeous?  Just makes you want to buy a ticket to far star-strewn places doesn't it?  Between NASA's poster campaign and the new Star Wars films space is suddenly cool again... maybe we'll get that Mars Colony in my life time.

And now that I've set up an inevitable and not-in-my-favor comparison, let me show you some more of the protest postcards I've been designing lately.  (Protest?  Why ever?)

A handy be-kind-not-cruel card to send to legislators about immigration issues.  

A health-care issues postcard.

And, for ticked-off women who, whatever your politics, are annoyed by powerful men
Not Listening...

In my head the Statue of Liberty is starting to live quite a heroic superhero adventure.  The perfect avitar for this moment in American history.

Please, if you're writing to your congressional representative or senator and you like a postcard design, feel free to print 'em and use 'em.  Pass 'em on!  

(Print on card stock at 4 1/4" x 6" or stuff, any sized, in an envelope.)

Oh, and don't forget the artsy one - the arts need all the help they can get:

From a behind-the-curtain artist's view, all these designs are collages done with computer image / photo editing software (rather than scissors and glue) from public domain images.  Turns out, for me at least, political upset means a chance to hone my computer / art skills!  Who knew?  So, if our American Experiment slides into Authoritarian Tyranny, maybe I can at least get work as a Propaganda Poster Hack.  Who knows? 

Or they'll need artists on Mars.

And, before I lose this stickynote again, here's a gem of a topical poem I found in the NY Times written by Susan McLean:

Trump seethes at what the writers say.
He'll pull the plug on the N.E.A.
The jokes on him. Art doesn't pay.
We write our satires anyway.