The new creative class: 13 people to watch in 2013


They have wildly different talents and utterly different perspectives. The one thing these Dallasites have in common? They are the future. The agents of change. The new provocateurs.

FD Luxe editors and contributors make the case

portraits by MEI-CHUN JAU

THE INSTIGATOR  Joshua King — The beard is unmistakable. So is the category-busting work. The University of North Texas grad first got noticed for his edgy photographs, which often incorporate mixed-media elements. But he exploded onto the art scene in 2010 when he joined forces with artist Shane Pennington and arts advocate Veletta Forsythe Lill to produce the inaugural Aurora, a night of site-specific installations of light, sound, performance and projection art, held throughout the Dallas Arts District, all free to the public. The blockbuster event mashed up both emerging and established artists from around the country. Now he’s working on Aurora 2013, slated for October 19. In fact, King never stops working. Behind the razor-wire fence of his studio in the Cedars district of South Dallas, we found him casting 52 well-water hand pumps out of urethane foam for a TEDxSMU exhibit Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at City Performance Hall. “It’s kind of a reappropriation of mass-produced materials and found objects,” he says, positioning one to dry beside a small heater. “Everything is composition — whether it’s a sculpture, a photograph or a painting.” Maybe even a life. —Christopher Wynn



THE CONNECTOR  Nicole Cullum Horn — A Dallas native with a bachelors of fine art in painting from the University of Kansas, Nicole Cullum Horn is on our art radar for 2013. She has worked on the boards of Art Conspiracy and La Reunion TX. She co-curates, with her husband Scott Horn, the tiny Magnolia Gallery inside the Magnolia movie theater in West Village. And she has also created public art projects and installations, such as the Möbius Bench, with Erik Glissmann, a gigantic loop of wood planks and metal that doubles as a DART stop on Fort Worth Avenue near Pittman Street. Nicole’s obsession is, indeed, helping Dallas connect with its local artists. Despite an abundance of publicly and privately displayed art, there is a lack of representation from within. Horn is helping put Dallas’ own creativity right before our very eyes. —Brittany Winter



THE SHAPE-SHIFTER  Robert N. Wohlfeld — At 6-foot-6, Robert N. Wohlfeld is a gentle giant in a dusty T-shirt. The metal artisan and furniture maker spends his days in a sprawling 1950s machine shop off Harry Hines Boulevard that was installed by his grandfather, a general contractor who Wohlfeld says built the downtown YMCA and several structures at Fair Park. It is a chaotic space filled with chemical fumes and bulky machines that noisily grind and polish metals such as steel, copper, bronze and brass, or saw rough walnut into planks. From these coarse environs emerge some of the city’s most exquisite tables and accessories commissioned by Dallas’ A-list designers — a polished nickel-and-acrylic coffee table, a modernist steel shelving unit, a walnut slab of a dining table, 23 feet long. Wohlfeld fell into furniture making after “the whole China thing” ate up his earlier industrial business. He raised his profile by building custom retail shelving for boutiques such as Prada. Now he dabbles in stonework, lighting, even chrome-plating and repurposing old hydraulic fracking pipes. And then there is his wild union with design apothecary Grange Hall. The details? Wohlfeld is plating the found skulls of creatures such as ducks, bobcats and coyotes in 24-karat gold. —Christopher Wynn



THE REVISIONIST  Wanda Dye — It takes a special person to be an urban pioneer. I’m not talking about real-estate developers, speculators or heroes of the financial class. I’m talking about Wanda Dye and others like her who have committed their talents, expertise and energy to build something in Dallas for the community. Dye is a designer and educator who can trace her conceptual lineage back to giants in the field such as Louis Kahn. It was Kahn, in the 1940s, who developed a do-it-yourself urban-design kit for neighborhood residents. The strikingly named RE gallery and studio is Dye’s new project space in the Cedars, renovated with the assistance of Mark Martinek. It builds on her previous work with Better Block, and with projects in collaboration with her students at the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Architecture. Its credo is revision, recycling, reclamation, repurposing and renewal. RE promises to become a unique melting pot for architects, designers and artists in Dallas. —Michael Corris



THE CREATOR  Max Brodén — At 23, Max Brodén, a Sweden-born Texan, has already synthesized the creative DNA of his photographer father and prop-stylist mother. Brodén studied filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and now, back home in Dallas, is using technology to push the envelope of visual storytelling. Brodén’s new startup,, produces computer animation. He’s especially excited about his new 3-D printer: The machine renders virtually anything you can draw into a physical model made of plastic. Brodén is producing everything from architectural drawings to cosmetics packaging. Oh, and those film projects? They are now more experimental and whimsical than ever. Ask him about the one with the submarine and the giant hydraulic claws. —Ashley Robinson



THE ENABLER  Kyle Hobratschk — With his boyish face, polite manners and preppy Top-Siders, Kyle Hobratschk is not the typical archetype of craftsman and artist. His rustic studio inside Oak Cliff’s Oil and Cotton creative exchange is more revealing. The Southern Methodist University grad is a prolific creator of handsome, intricate wood chairs. His paintings and etchings, mostly of architectural subjects, adorn the walls. And he uses a vintage steel press for printmaking and teaches workshops on the subject. But last year, Hobratschk did something really crazy: He bought a building. More specifically, he purchased a reasonably priced former Odd Fellows club building, circa 1898, in downtown Corsicana. Hobratschk is working to restore and renovate the classical three-story brick edifice with help and sweat equity from several artist friends. The vision? A Bauhaus-style artists’ residency, studio and exhibition space, just one hour south of Dallas. “At the end of the day, or at the end of the decade,” he says, “this building is going to be a work of its own — not just of mine, but of people I find along the way who want to come and share this space.” —Christopher Wynn



THE ARRANGER  Uel White — Uel White is the sort of person who makes you stop and wonder about what he’s wearing. One look at the 29-year-old and you know there was intention behind his chosen garb of the day. “I dress in eras,” he says. “Every season, I pick a decade.” (Dressed in a mix of plaids layered on top of camo on the day we met for an interview, he was definitely having a ’90s moment.) After years of taking mental notes at jobs with Gap and Urban Outfitters, the Fort Worth–born fashion stylist has finally found a place to put his unique sartorial strategy to good use: creative director for a new Dallas-based menswear magazine, The Style Manual. With content ranging from fashion trends to music to art, the bimonthly publication offers some serious schooling in upping one’s style. Even its web address is a lesson: “My job,” White says, “is to be there first, to show people something they’ve never seen before.” —Bradley Agather



THE TASTEMAKER  Omar Flores — His stock in trade may be halibut cheeks and octopus tentacles, but Omar Flores, executive chef at Driftwood, the terrific little Oak Cliff seafood restaurant, has talent that goes way beyond fish. Superb handmade pasta, bacon-wrapped rabbit loin, crisp-skinned milk-poached chicken, vegetable garnishes that rock, even swoon-worthy desserts — Flores turns them all out with creativity, technical mastery and style. In this, his first-ever executive chef position, the 32-year-old earned a spot on The Dallas Morning News best-chefs list this year, as well as a four-star review. He’s one of the most promising young culinary artists to emerge on the Dallas scene in some time. —Leslie Brenner



THE PERFECTIONIST  Jessica Stewart Lendvay — Simplicity and integrity rule Jessica Stewart Lendvay’s life and her one-woman architecture firm. She doesn’t believe in fussy or unnecessary adornment, not in her personal style or in her projects. “I like working with natural materials that are timeless,” she says at her Deep Ellum studio. “I like wood that has quieter grain patterns, I prefer matte finishes over shiny. I even prefer white marble when it’s honed, not polished, so you can really feel the powdery softness.” She is obsessed with details, right down to the perfect miter edge. Lendvay cut her teeth with acclaimed Dallas firm Bodron + Fruit. Her renovation with interior designer Emily Summers of the circa-1968 circular house in Colorado landed the February 2010 issue of Architectural Digest — and its cover. Today, she’s juggling a handful of renovation projects and is about to finish her first new build, the contemporary-rustic Montana retreat of Dallas artist Andrea Rosenberg. Lendvay may be a small player, but she is accomplishing big things, brick by brick. —Christopher Wynn



THE OBSERVER  Molly Dickson — If you visit Molly Dickson’s website, you’ll get a glimpse of the talented photographer’s whimsical style: Click on Fashion and run your mouse over the images to see a crown tilt on a model’s head or a rabbit mask suddenly disappear then reappear on another model. Click on About and you’ll find a sliced-up self-portrait of the 29-year-old, with amusing self-revealing sayings such as “Life is a total disaster. Way more than a boob job could ever fix.” A Lake Highlands native, Dickson received her bachelor of fine arts in photography from the University of North Texas and, after assisting Dallas fashion photographer Thom Jackson, whom she considers a mentor and friend, began shooting models on her own. She prefers shooting them one-on-one, and often works without a stylist or a makeup artist. Dickson now counts Forty Five Ten, Aidan Gray Home and the Dallas Cowboys as clients. A retired horsewoman — she spent 17 years competing in eventing and jumpers — her current studio is at an equestrian center in Irving. “I do love having my studio at the center,” she says. “It’s familiar to me and I find that it amuses clients.” —Tammy Theis



THE VOICE  Paul Kroeger — He was born in Flower Mound 21 years ago — in the wrong century altogether. He doesn’t blog. He doesn’t tweet. But give him the libretto to Don Giovanni and watch the theater curtains flap and flutter. The 6-foot-6 tenor is wrapping up his voice-performance degree at Southern Methodist University, under the esteemed Virginia Dupuy, while simultaneously auditioning for six of the finest master’s programs in the country, the Juilliard School among them. In May, he landed a small solo in Fidelio with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a leap and a bound from a college auditorium. “Paul has the brain of a scholar,” says Dupuy, but “the imagination of a performer.” Come this February, before he packs up for one of those choice schools, he’s appearing at SMU one final time, in a comic opera about a boy’s launch into adulthood. (Coincidental?) It is Albert Herring, by Kroeger’s favorite composer, Benjamin Britten. What role is he singing? Albert Herring. And though the story of a society outsider is funny, the music is decidedly demanding, with harrowing twists and turns. Dupuy isn’t worried about the tall tenor at all: “[Paul] rises above the ‘trap’ of being perfect,” she says, “choosing rather to be better.” —Rob Brinkley



THE TRANSFORMER  Justin Locklear — Atlanta native Justin Locklear, a 24-year-old alumnus of the Baylor University theater program, is a Shakespeare-trained actor, musician, puppeteer, costume designer and writer/director of his own multidisciplinary play, I Met You and I Screamed, presented this summer at the Festival of Independent Theatres in Dallas. A cast member of the acclaimed group of actors at the Ochre House in Fair Park, run by artistic director and founder Matthew Posey, Locklear appreciates the daring methods that theater employs. In addition, he has collaborated with visual artists, dancers and filmmakers and in 2011 was recognized as the most dynamic emerging artist by The Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum. You can see Locklear in action through Dec. 22 in (w)Hole, a karmic love story and performance installation presented by the Dallas-based group Dead White Zombies. Locklear’s part? Catherine the Great. —Nan Coulter



THE BLENDER  DJ Sober — If you’ve been to the Beauty Bar on a Thursday night in the last year, you’ve probably been treated to the sounds of one of Dallas’ hottest DJs, DJ Sober. The Fort Worth native — his real name is Will Rhoten — started spinning when he was 16, influenced by his idols, The Beastie Boys. The “Sober” moniker came from working warehouse parties when he was young and couldn’t drink. In addition to the Beauty Bar, DJ Sober spins at Dallas Cowboys home games and at shows with his group A.Dd+. He also works “one offs,” or private events — he recently played Dirk Nowitzki’s wedding. (“I’m a big fan,” Rhoten says.) Other memorable gigs include Erykah Badu’s birthday party, rocking with Jazzy Jeff and opening for the Flaming Lips. A trademark of Sober’s style is seamless blending. When asked his secrets, he says, “I am definitely focused while spinning. There are lots of things I have to pay attention to.” He knows, though, that all the effort can make or break a mood. “To me,” he says, “a DJ is a tastemaker.” —Tammy Theis




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