Spring happenings in Downtown Dallas

Spring 2017 in North Texas is shaping up to be a great season. April and May are ideal for getting out and about, and spring is also a good time to cultivate new interests and try out new activities. Check out all that Downtown Dallas has to offer before we even hit Memorial Day.

The garden at the Nasher Sculpture Center is irresistible this time of year but step inside the museum long enough to get a peek at the exhibit of prints by Richard Serra, one of the nation’s most important living artists in any medium. This show, which closes April 30, provides unique insights into Serra’s practice and his career-long engagement with mass, scale and the very definition of the term “experimental.”

April also marks the return of The Great Create, a family-oriented event in which children 12 and under and their parents are encouraged to inspire each other. The Great Create features multiple opportunities to make art and interact with practicing artists from Dallas and beyond. All proceeds go toward a good cause: the Nasher Sculpture Center and, specifically, its educational programming. The Great Create happens from 11AM to 5PM Sunday, April 23, in the Nasher Garden.

Next door to the Nasher, at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), more than 200 masterpieces of modern Mexican art will be on display starting March 12. The DMA will be the only institution in the United States hosting México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco and the Avant-Garde, which will be traveling from a successful engagement in Paris. This special exhibit is not to be missed, nor is a free concert featuring modern and contemporary opuses inspired by the exhibit: Sueños y Musica de México/Dreams and Music from Mexico. Join musicians from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Horchow Auditorium for this recital at 3PM Sunday, May 21.

It seems like Klyde Warren Park is always abuzz. Weekends are particularly bustling on the deck park’s lawns, and not just because so many people are out strolling. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Klyde Warren is a hive of physical fitness enthusiasts. Whether you prefer the slow burn of tai chi and yoga or crave something more intense such as the Barre Code’s full-body workout, you should have no problem burning some calories here.

But what if you want to build your mental muscles, too? The Perot Museum of Nature and Science turns Klyde Warren Park into a giant laboratory on Saturday, April 1. From 11AM to 2PM, park visitors and participants in the museum’s Family Experiments program can get hands on with the natural world and investigate what makes urban ecosystems so distinctive.

Spring wouldn’t be spring without at least one music festival. This year, downtown’s Main Street Garden plays the role of Max Yasgur’s farm to two local Woodstocks. April 8, favorite sons The Old 97’s return to Dallas for the 2017 Country Fair. They’ll be joined by Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks and 1310 The Ticket’s Gordon Keith. As if that line-up weren’t festive enough, the Fair will also feature attractions more associated with October’s State Fair, from a stuffed animal-stocked midway to corny dogs.

The following month — May 13 — the Homegrown Festival moves in. Now in its eighth year celebrating all styles of Texas music, this year’s Homegrown lineup is probably most notable for its headliner: Tripping Daisy, one of the most successful bands to come out of the Deep Ellum early 1990s alt-rock scene. Tickets start at $50, but kids under 10 get a free pass.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center’s spring calendar is packed with slightly more sedate, but no less captivating, forms of entertainment. The Dallas Theater Center’s artistic director Kevin Moriarty offers a new take on the classic Greek tragedy Electra April 4 through May 21 in the Annette Strauss Artist Square. While the performances will occur under the stars, don’t expect an amphitheater experience. Moriarty plans to make full use of the outdoor space and audiences will actually follow the actors as they move from locale to locale in reenacting this ancient yet timeless story.

The Winspear Opera House will be especially busy in May. First up, humorist Garrison Keillor brings his unique brand of Americana from Lake Wobegon to Downtown Dallas Tuesday, May 9. The very next evening, May 10, bandleader and saxophone master Branford Marsalis leads his all-star quartet through an exhilarating program of jazz standards and originals. Vocalist Kurt Elling, who collaborated on Marsalis’ latest recording (“Upward Spiral”), will appear as a special guest. Finally, Broadway returns to the Winspear thanks to the Fiasco Theater’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Sondheim’s versions aren’t the fairy tales you grew up with, but they’re no less full of wonder. Into the Woods’ limited engagement runs from May 16 through May 28.

There’s never a bad time to celebrate our great city. However, this coming spring features three events that promise to engage and delight anyone who loves calling Dallas home. In April, the Dallas Public Library, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and The Dallas Morning News will convene the third annual Dallas Festival of Ideas. Keynote speakers at its various public forums include technologist Douglas Rushkoff and former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, as well as noted authors Andrew Solomon and Yaa Gyasi. The Dallas Book Festival is also partnering with the Dallas Festival of Ideas this year. The Book Festival aims to promote a love of literature through performances, lectures and creative workshops. Both events will take place at the main branch of the Dallas Public Library, Saturday, April 29.

Almost exactly one month later, May 28, Dallas’ diversity will be front and center at Klyde Warren Park. Passport to the Park: Exploring the Culture of Dallas is a free, family-friendly and interactive day of programming. Budding artists from the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy Jazz Band, the Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra and Mariachi Los Unicos de Grenier Middle School will be present to share their communities’ contributions to civic life. Did we mention the food trucks?

Of course, this list doesn’t represent everything that’s on Downtown Dallas’ menu for spring 2017. It’s just a sampling. But remember: Dallas is your city, and the better you get to know it, the more you might learn about yourself.