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Hats off to a new Dallas landmark, the Cedars Bowler Hat
January 2013

DALLAS — Heading west on Interstate 30, it sits perched on a larger-than-life coat stand. At 30 feet tall, 20 feet wide and weighing in at two tons, the structure is sure to be one of the more unique pieces of public art.

It’s a bowler hat. Why not?

Commissioned by British brand name furniture store Timothy Oulton, the Bowler Hat was supposed to complement the new storefront at Central Expressway and Henderson. The space was not big enough, however, and the company’s plan to house it on the roof of the building did not comply with the city’s sign ordinance. Ultimately, Timothy Oulton donated the hat to the neighborhood of the artist, Keith Turman. The hat is located on a property on Ervay Street owned by Structural Studio, an engineering consulting firm.

“We might be overthinking it in terms of how it represents the city. It’s not designed to be that,” said Nigel Brown of Structural Studio. “It’s a piece of public art that is being displayed in a neighborhood that has a real strong presence of artists, which makes it relevant to Cedars neighborhood.”

Brown is grateful to have the Bowler Hat on his property since Timothy Oulton contemplated destroying the installation after their original plan fell through. The hat, which took about four months to produce, is a mix of wood, steel, fiberglass, epoxy, and rigid foam. Work to install the steel sculpture began on December 30 and is expected to be completed by the end of January, according to a press release.

- Tiney Ricciardi

 

Cosmic Workshop donates to Black Tie Dinner Luxury Auction
October 3, 2009

The 2009 Black Tie Dinner will offer "Live Luxury Auction" on Saturday, October 3rd. A $12,000 gift certificate from Cosmic Workshop will turn your home furnishings design dreams into reality. You'll work with local artist and sculptor, Keith Turman, an honest innovator determined to create perfection with cast concrete, steel, wood, plastic, and fiberglass at his specialty fabrication shop. Turman's client list is a virtual who's who of Texas restaurants, nightclubs, film studios, and museums. This auction is valued at $12,000.

Black Tie Dinner, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supportive organizations serving North Texas through a premier event of empowerment, education and entertainment in partnership with the community.

Since 1982, the nation's largest GLBT fundraising dinner has grown and prospered in a supportive environment. The evolution of our community is reflected in the yearly increases that our beneficiaries have enjoyed. From the first year that produced a $6,000 donation to the Human Rights Campaign Fund, this premier community event has grown to distribute a total of nearly $12 million to our national and local beneficiaries. In 2007, the Black Tie Dinner distributed $1,270,000 to our national and local beneficiaries.

Black Tie Dinner, Inc. is the most successful dinner in the country supporting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. It also has the distinction of being the only dinner benefiting HRCF to support local beneficiaries as well. Up to twenty local beneficiaries are selected each year by the Black Tie Dinner Board of Directors.

Black Tie Dinner

 

 

Tour Shannon Wynne's spoon-fed backyard swimming hole
BY CHRISTOPHER WYNN /Dallas Morning News, September 3, 2009

We're used to Shannon Wynne making waves.

So when the legendary founder of hot spots such as 8.0, Flying Saucer and Flying Fish transformed his Highland Park backyard into pool-party central, we knew there'd be no lifeguard on duty. Wynne's penchant for adorning his eateries with oversized sculptural bling is well known, and, of course, there was that famous theme park in the family. No surprise, then, to float here beneath the shower of a super-sized steel spoon fountain, or grill under the unblinking gaze of a stained-glass eye.

The setting started out traditional enough. Wynne purchased the 1932 Spanish-eclectic duplex six years ago, enlisting Jones Baker architects to draft his design and lead the conversion to a single-family dwelling. He then sketched plans for an artsy and idiosyncratic outdoor living room, courtyard and guesthouse. "Shannon bounced ideas off me, and we made them work architecturally," says William Baker, who blueprinted Wynne's visions of a dense, Mexican-style courtyard. The patio's Gothic arches echo the home's original facade, and a "wood-clad stepchild of a garage" was re-imagined as a two-story guest tower and studio. (A nifty tornado shelter is hidden under the concrete staircase, which happens to be punctuated with inset beer bottles, bottoms up.) Wynne then poured on the water, collaborating with Complete Landsculpture, a boutique firm that has swanked-out pools from Turtle Creek's Warrington to the W Hotel. Owner Chris Strempek recalls spending hours leaning over the restaurateur's laptop to view 3-D renderings Wynne had composed in Google SketchUp.

"Shannon has an amazing insight into design because of his background and really knew what he wanted," Strempek says. Turns out, Wynne's most eccentric request for the compact pool was also the hardest to achieve: He wanted it deep enough to play the pool-tag game Marco Polo. "Not water polo, Marco Polo." The team took the plunge, creating a radical contour line in the pool floor, which drops steeply from 3 to 9 feet in depth. A border of fossilized limestone reveals indentations of sea life that once lined the ocean floor. Wynne loved it because it's the same stone that covers the Park Cities YMCA, where he spent so much of his childhood.

Constructing the rest of the packed courtyard was like "building a ship in a bottle," says Strempek. Raised terraces were added to make room for plants. A small, elevated corner spa appears to drain into the larger pool through a series of 8-inch-wide channels inspired by Wynne's travels through Barcelona and Granada. "Little irrigation gutters run all through those 15th and 16th century Spanish palaces, and I loved the idea of doing that here. It was also another way to add more water sounds."

Still, the loudest splash is made by the can't-miss spoon that juts over the pool like a giant shower head. The 16-foot-long piece was sculpted by Cedars metal artist Keith Turman, whose past collaborations with Wynne range from a bass fish for the short-lived '90s eatery The Big One, to the metal spacecraft and beer-bottle chandelier at the first Flying Saucer. "Keith can make anything I put in front of him," Wynne says.

In this case, a spoon with a bowl as wide as you can reach crafted from 10-gauge polished stainless steel. The bowl's lotus pattern of perforations forms the perfect water droplets. "There's 563 holes drilled in there by hand," says Turman, the number clearly etched into his brain.

Wynne conceived the piece after seeing an Austin "slap fountain," where large sheets of water hit the surface at once. "I loved the sound it made, so I created my own version that would work within the neighborhood, but still look modern." He opted for the spoon design because "there are not a lot of shapes you can use to get just the right water flow," and the resulting sound is "soft enough to let you carry on a conversation, but loud enough to mask the city sounds."

Turman says the pool's cement walkway became an impromptu project when "Shannon picked up the caulk gun and started writing stuff all over it." Wynne even made thumbprints in the wet cement "just to give them a little traction" – and personality. Is Wynne a frustrated artist? "Maybe," says Turman. "He's got a great eye."

Make that two, if you count the multihued one peering from the guest house tower. Wynne borrowed the design from a pair of heirloom Mexican cuff links belonging to his late father, Six Flags Over Texas founder Angus G. Wynne Jr. (One of the project's contractors kept a photo of the tower on his desk, prompting the mantra, "Shannon is watching you.")
Other details are similarly personal.

The porch's limestone pilasters were hand-carved by Wynne's cousin, stone sculptor Harold F. Clayton, forming an informal triptych. On one piece, Clayton subtly carved the six flags of Texas. Other members of the Wynne clan – including his brother-about-town in the entertainment biz, Angus G. Wynne III – are symbolized by animals.

"My family is divided between the snakes and the mongooses," Wynne explains, pointing out images in the stones. "A mongoose is the only thing that can kill a snake. If you marry into the family, you're a mongoose; if you're born into the family, you're a snake."
Good to know.

A small, wall-mounted catfish pool and fountain – "because I'm in the catfish biz, of course" – depicts a fish and eight bubbly little Os, for Wynne's trail-blazing 8.0 restaurants. Flashy gold bricks on the backsplash come from the famed Blenko Glass factory in West Virginia. More bricks, bright green, jut from the garage wall. Wynne adorns those with ornaments for Christmas, and up-lights them for Halloween.

Wynne's backyard wonderland may be nestled behind brick walls, iron gates and lush plants, but the upper half, at least, is plainly visible from the street. And tongues have wagged from day one. There was uneasy speculation about the giant spoon – Wynne's name is still synonymous with the go-go '80s – and especially the looming eye. "I was rumored to be everything from a coke dealer to a Satanist," Wynne says, laughing. "But once my kids started having their friends over to swim, the whispering changed to 'Oh, it's OK, that's just Mr. Wynne's house.' "

Indeed, the restaurateur seems to relish his role as neighborhood eccentric (go on, we dare you, ring the doorbell). And contradiction suits him just fine, too, right down to the Prius parked nose-to-nose with the Yukon in the circular drive. "Basically, I wanted a place where my family could be comfortable and relax," Wynne says. "But now that it's all done, I'm almost bored. Kind of like an obsessed director who isn't interested in watching his own movie."

He stammers for more words, then pauses. "I wish I could be more poignant, but I'm just not that deep."

 

 

 

 

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