Photo by Max Schwartz

Engaging with a work by Doug Aitken is an act of ultra-sensory contemplation.

Whether it's 2014’s freestanding resin phone booth twilight (which glows or dims depending on how many viewers cluster near it) or an immersive video installation such as 1997’s diamond sea (a virtual stroll through the computer-controlled Namib Desert diamond mine), his pieces demand a moment of reverie in an over-stimulated world.

The subject of a new career survey at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Aitken’s “Electric Earth” highlights four of the artist’s iconic video projections along with photography, sculpture, and text-based wall reliefs. It’s an impactful introduction to Aitken’s themes, which include isolation, transience, environmental degradation, and the commercialization of social relationships.

Originally trained in magazine illustration and graphic art, the Redondo Beach native emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the third wave of Los Angeles artists. With spiritual descendants such as Ed Ruscha, Nam June Paik, and Bruce Nauman, and a cinematic vision influenced by experimental film, Aitken evolved his oeuvre over the past few decades from early collages to alternate digital universes.

Organized by director Philippe Vergne for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles last year, “Electric Earth” is the result of Vergne’s 18-year relationship with Aitken.

“They had known each other for decades and worked together on other projects,” says the Modern’s Alison Hearst, who serves as the exhibition’s local curator. “It was Philippe’s coming to MOCA LA which prompted him to look at Doug, who is kind of the quintessential L.A. artist. They worked on the show for quite some time — I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Philippe to narrow it down in the first place, there are so many site-specific projects.”

It was equally difficult to narrow the work down for the Modern’s cozier environs. Moving to nearly a third of its original square feet meant a more honed edit was in order, although some of Aitken’s installations that didn’t fit the space (such as the Chloe Sevigny-starring black mirror) will be screened in the Modern’s theater Tuesday through Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to noon.

Among the works that did fit is the show’s blockbuster opener Song I, an in-the-round videoscape that originally adorned the outside of the Hirshhorn building in Washington, D.C. A study of factory workers, drivers stuck in traffic, Doo-Wop musicians, and celebrities like Tilda Swinton and John Doe singing the classic ballad “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Song I brings its co-stars and viewers together through music’s universal connection.

“The themes of community and communication occur over and over again [in the work],” explains Hearst. “Song I is really about inviting people from all walks of life through this simple idea of one song coming through the airwaves. It’s about this common experience that we’re all in it together, no matter what part of life we come from.”

This holds true for Atiken’s wall pieces as well. 1968 may be a direct reference to the artist’s birth date, but it also alludes to the pivotal year when we lost Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, when the political climate of America and Europe came to a boil. Interpreted as a mirrored, shimmering sculpture, it has the glossy allure of a posed model on a billboard, the classic appeal of the Marlboro Man.

“He chose that year because it was a pivotal moment for people, but the work is more connected to traditional methods of advertising — it’s slick and sexy and glossy. It’s totally L.A. and he’s using the language of Hollywood and advertising to communicate ideas rather than selling a product,” says Hearst.

However one interprets “Electric Earth” — even how the sculptures and videos are viewed — is strictly up to the individual, and Aitken prefers it that way.

“People who don’t normally seem to respond to video art have been responding to this show,” says Hearst. “They can come in at any point and still get it. [The work] is lush and beautiful and great to watch, but you don’t feel like you’re missing out on any dialogue. He really wants the viewer to be the protagonist. It’s like a choose-your-own adventure."


"Doug Aitken: Electric Earth" runs through August 20 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

twilight, 2014, cast resin, acrylic, responsive LEDs.

Doug Aitken
Photo by Max Schwartz
twilight, 2014, cast resin, acrylic, responsive LEDs.

Dallas-Fort Worth food fanatics get their fill at best Tastemaker Awards yet

Fab Foodie Party

Hundreds of hungry fans packed the Hall of State in Fair Park for the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, the grand finale of our annual program that honors the top talent in the Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant and bar communities. This year was better than ever: Eighteen restaurants — ranging from Americano to Uchi, Revolver Taco Lounge to Ellen's Southern Kitchen, Madrina to Mudhen Meat and Greens — served up small plates that showed off the best in local dining right now.

Upon entering, guests posed for pics that would end up on Instacookies, a tasty idea from Kellie's Baking Co. that frosts faces onto cookies. Near the massive cheese display from Whole Foods, there was another photo op, complete with zany props and costumes to up the fun factor. Speaking of fun, a pair of masked and bewigged typists manned the Truth Booth, offering up witty and charming assessments of each guest that paraded and posed for them.

Awaiting partiers in the Park Place Lounge were a bubbly bar and sweets station stocked by Haute Sweets Patisserie and Fluff Bake Bar. In addition to something sparkly, attendees could choose from Herradura margaritas, Chloe wines, Alaskan Brewing Co. beers, or Perrier. As they sipped, DJ JT Donaldson provided the soundtrack.

In the chic Herradura Tequila Lounge, Bartender of the Year nominees Danny Caffall, Kyle Hilla, and Zach Potts mixed up original cocktail samples for the Bartender's Showcase. Attendees could show their love by voting for their favorite libations with golden coins, and it was Caffall's Enlightener, a mix of Herradura Reposado, citrus mix, chipotle jalapeño agave, Angostura bitters, and mezcal "mist," that amassed the most treasure.

But this party wasn't only about the eating and drinking; we had some awards to present. Celebrity chef emcee Dean Fearing revealed this year's winners to an enthusiastic crowd, who were able to cheer on Fort Worth entrants for the first time, in the categories of Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Best New Restaurant. Special thanks to judges Tim Byers, Jimmy Contreras, Farah Fleurima, Sarah Chastain, Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder, Graham Dodds, Jay Jerrier, Jenny Kornblum, Malcolm Mayhew, Hans Peter Muller, June Naylor, Cody Neathery, and Randall Warder, who helped us determine which would take home the titles.

Spotted in the crowd were Tastemaker Award nominees Jack Perkins,Brooks Anderson, Bradley Anderson,Courtney and Brian Luscher, and Andrew Dilda, plus partiers Linda Snorina, Gina and Derek Lynn, Richard Graziano, Julian Leaver, and Cordy Lash.

Now go read about all the winners, and we'll see you next year.

Adrian Abeyta, Stephanie Cole

Adrian Abeyta, Stephanie Cole
Adrian Abeyta, Stephanie Cole
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How to make a deceptively fancy dinner with only a few on-hand ingredients

Dinner Reinvented

Eggs, butter, flour, cheese, milk, and frozen spinach. Got these ingredients? Then you've got a deceptively fancy dinner.

Roni Proter shows you how to whip up — literally — a spinach souffle in this Dinner Reinvented video. There are no special skills required to make this simple yet delicious version, and you don't even have to worry about this famously temperamental dish falling flat on you.

After thawing a cup of spinach and pressing out the excess water, mix butter and flour together before adding salt and milk steeped with a bay leaf. This step, and the dash of grated nutmeg that comes next, are easy ways to give your meal a little extra oomph without getting too complicated.

Add the spinach and cheese, then froth six egg whites (but don't toss the yolks — you'll need some of them in the spinach mixture) until they form soft peaks. Fold it all together, pour into a souffle dish greased with butter and Parmesan cheese, top with more sprinkles of cheese, and pop in the oven for about 45 minutes.

When the dish emerges all fluffy and buttery, your taste buds will swear you spent more time cooking than you did.


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How to make the world’s easiest shrimp pasta for comforting weekday dinner

Dinner Reinvented

At the end of a long day, sometimes even ordering takeout can seem like too much work. In this video, Dinner Reinvented host Roni Proter reveals how a couple of freezer staples like shrimp and peas can be transformed into comfort food of the highest order.

In a skillet prepped with simmering butter and fresh garlic, add about 10 defrosted shrimp and stir.

Sprinkle in a little salt and add a few splashes of vermouth or white wine. Proter says to always keep some on hand, and that's one ingredient we can definitely have at the ready.

After it’s cooked down a bit, bring out the frozen peas — no need to defrost — and pour in a splash of cream.

Once it’s all bubbling, add pre-cooked pasta and stir just a little bit more. Top with Parmesan, dish out, and voila! Dinner that didn’t require stopping by the grocery store or ordering in, yet still delivers on taste and convenience.

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This stir-fry works when you have veggies to use and little time to cook

Dinner Reinvented

You know those days when you feel like you don’t have a minute to cook a decent meal? (Of course you do.) That’s when you need this recipe for chicken teriyaki with stir-fried vegetables. It’s what host Roni Proter turns to when she needs to have dinner on the table stat.

In this episode of Dinner Reinvented, she starts with a couple of chicken breasts she’s marinated in teriyaki sauce ahead of time. Don’t worry if you didn’t; even 15 minutes will do the trick.

After she puts the chicken on a heated grill pan — diagonally, to get the start of a nice crisscross mark — she rough chops whatever vegetables she has on hand. In this case, zucchini, red bell pepper, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Proter also offers a great tip for washing ’shrooms: Wipe them down with a clean, wet paper towel. If you rinse them under the faucet, they will soak up the water, and you want the mushrooms to soak up the teriyaki sauce instead.

When it’s time to cook the vegetables — after flipping the chicken — she throws them into a sauté pan with a little olive oil, then adds some teriyaki sauce. She lets the vegetables cook for about five minutes.

Proter notes that you can use whatever pasta or rice might be available. For this video, she uses spaghetti, which she mounds on the plate before topping with a spoonful of vegetables and sliced grilled chicken.

To see all the steps, watch the video.

Whatever vegetables you have on hand will work in this stir fry.

Roni Proter preparing chicken teriyaki stir fry
Courtesy photo
Whatever vegetables you have on hand will work in this stir fry.
Courtesy photo

Watch how a little marinade in the morning means dinner is almost done

Cup of Content

Looking for ways to trim time off dinner prep? In this episode of Cup of Content — a video series chock full of cooking tidbits — host Roni Proter admits to using bottled marinade.

She marinates chicken in the morning, before she starts her day, so there is less to do come dinnertime. She begins by trimming raw chicken breasts (or thighs) of fat, then places them in a bowl.

She pours on a few “glugs” of bottled marinade — she likes Kikoman teriyaki — then pierces the chicken with a fork so it absorbs lots of flavor.

Then she covers the bowl, places it in the fridge, and lets it sit until she’s ready to cook. “When I get home, all I have to do is put the chicken in a hot grill pan on each side for a few minutes, and dinner is practically done,” she says.

For more helpful videos, watch previous episodes of Cup of Content or Proter’s other series, Dinner Reinvented.


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Using a bottled marinade saves precious time.

Raw chicken in a bowl
Courtesy photo
Using a bottled marinade saves precious time.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Concerts in the Garden drones light up this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Fort Worth Symphony launches summer concerts with sparkly extra: drones. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra returned with its annual summer concert series, Concerts in The Garden, featuring 11 concerts taking place at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, starting May 26 and running through June 11. And the coolest part of the 2023 series might be the light show: For the first time, they're replacing old-school fireworks with the use of cutting-edge drones.

2. Openings and closings head up this Fort Worth restaurant news roundup. This roundup of dining news around Fort Worth has an opening, a closing, a gofundme campaign, and loads of new menus for summer. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

3. Decadent desserts in jars from celebrity Top Chef roll in to Fort Worth. Desserts in jars from a celebrity chef are coming to Fort Worth: Jars by Fabio Viviani, a fast-casual dessert brand serving popular desserts in jars, is opening a location in the Trinity Commons/Tom Thumb center, at 3000 S. Hulen St. #150. It'll open in late 2023.

4. 3 Dallas-Fort Worth entrepreneurs rank among Forbes' richest self-made women for 2023. Twelve of the country's 100 most successful female entrepreneurs live in Texas this year, and three of them call Dallas-Fort Worth home. So says Forbes in its 2023 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, released June 1.

5. 5 tips for stunning beach sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners. “Playing” in the sand on the beach isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest. Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

Cafe with made-to-order mini-doughnuts to open near TCU in south Fort Worth

Doughnut News

Little doughnuts are rolling into south Fort Worth via a new doughnut cafe. Called Batter & Beans, it'll serve doughnuts, coffee, and more, and it's opening at 3548 South Hills Ave., south of TCU in Westcliff Center.

They'll be right around the corner from Cafe Bella [which it should be noted recently won Best Neighborhood Restauant in CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards].

Batter & Beans will be a family-owned collaboration between Matthew Whip, a partner at Ernst & Young, and his brother-in-law, who worked for a restaurant group in Michigan and brings the food knowhow.

They'll be doing miniature doughnuts, similar to the Pittsburgh-based Peace, Love, and Little Donuts chain (which has one location in Texas, in Southlake).

They're aiming to be open by early fall.

"We'll be doing fresh, made-to-order mini cake doughnuts plus premium coffee we're sourcing out of Chicago, from Metropolis, a small-batch artisan roaster," Whip says. "We're originally from the Chicago area, and that's always been my favorite roaster, and they also roast coffee for Yolk, which has a location in Sundance Square."

The cafe will also offer fresh lemonade, iced tea, and ice cream, for neighbors who want to stop in for a treat at night.

Whip and his family first relocated from the Chicago area to North Texas in 2018, then moved down the street from the shop last year. It's a small storefront, about 920 square feet, and they're currently in the final stages of design and permitting.

"There's lots of kids in this neighborhood, and I think a place with mini doughnuts would do well," Whip says.

It was only after they signed on to do the shop that they learned from a neighbor that the space they're taking had good doughnut karma, with a longtime history as a doughnut shop, most recently a place called Donut Palace. Sadly, it closed during the pandemic. Now the doughnuts will return.