We love a list and a Best In Dallas list is even better! Today, literary enthusiast and self-proclaimed “bibliomanic” Charles Dee Mitchell pays homage to our eclectic city in his Best In Dallas list.
Retired bookseller Charles Dee Mitchell’s interest in the Dallas art scene is still going strong. He stays active in the industry by curating for exhibitions and working with WordSpace, a non-profit Dallas literary organization founded in 1994. By supporting education and writers and connecting locals with the best of world literature, he is able to produce over fifty events per season right here in the Bid D. With its Headliner Series, WordSpace has brought to Dallas such national figures as John Waters, Laurie Anderson, and Sandra Bernhard. Next month, the literary group will bring internationally-recognized artist Meredith Monk to Dallas City Performance Hall on March 16. More info and access to discounted student tickets can be found here. Read on for the literary enthusiast’s Best In Dallas picks!
“The Webb Gallery has championed the work of outsider artists for thirty years,” Dee told us. Of the Waxahachie-based gallery, he exclaimed, “their 10,000 square foot building off the square in beautiful downtown Waxahachie hosts wondrous exhibitions, great opening day celebrations and a back room filled with hundreds of works by craftsmen, visionaries and some people who are just downright strange.” Housing a huge collection of everything from self-taught art to old fraternal lodge objects, Webb Gallery also hosts events that are right up his alley like film screenings, performances and speakers.
Foodie Favorite: El Taquito Café
“El Taquito Café serves up the Tex-Mex menu I grew up with,” he told us of the local hole in the wall. Dee insists that nostalgia comes with a price at this Mexican eatery, meaning that once you devour a combination plate at El Taquito, you’re out for the day. “Tuesday is chicken soup day,” he told us fondly. “A small bowl accommodates a chicken leg and half an ear of corn along with potatoes and vegetables. Comfort food doesn’t get more comfortable.”
Unsurprisingly, Half Price Books is one of Dee’s favorite places in Dallas. Founded locally by Pat Anderson in 1972, HPB now has over 120 stores nationwide and sellers from around the globe. “‘Bibliomania’ is compulsive book buying,” said Dee. “It’s a condition first identified in the 19th century and I have a mild case of it. But it’s not catching, so I’m safe to be around. Half Price Books exists to enable bibliomaniacs.”
“At my somewhat advanced age, it takes a conscious effort not to have a ‘been there, done that’ response when I check out what the cool kids are up to,” Dee stated. “Culture Hole, a project by artists Gregory Ruppe and Jeff Gibbons, shatters my jaundiced veneer. These are one night events, held between 10 p.m. and midnight, in a space six feet underground in a space so cramped that no more than five or six people can see it at one time. The experience is uncomfortable, slightly unpleasant and always worth the wait in line.” The mysterious project definitely seems like it would make for an interesting night out.
I Heart Dallas: Fort Worth
“When people ask me what to see in Dallas, I often say, ‘Fort Worth,'” Dee told us. “It’s a smart-alecky answer, but having a city that offers so wide a range of experiences – from museums to restaurants to the stock show – just a few miles away is tied into the identity of Dallas. It is the two cities together that make this area remarkable.” He insists Fort Worth is more than just cowboys and touts it as one of his favorite things about DFW. Today, the modern city hosts international art institutions, fabulous theater and ballet performances and a thriving music scene.
Image 1 courtesy of Charles Dee Mitchell. Image 2 courtesy of Best Road Trip Ever. Image 3 courtesy of Blog Doctorz. Image 4 courtesy of KRIS TV. Image 5 courtesy of Culture Hole. Image 6 courtesy of Thousand Wonders.