Arts & Letters Live

Arts & Letters Live is a literary and performing arts series for all ages that features award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. The series is recognized for its creative multidisciplinary programming—combining literature with visual arts, music, and film—and for commissioning new work from musicians, dancers, and poets, inspired by works of art in the Museum's collection and special exhibitions.


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Upcoming Events

Format: 2/8/16

Dominic Smith: Dutch Masters & Deceit

Tuesday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.

In Dominic Smith’s new novel, The Last Painting of Sarah De Vos, one 17th-century painting changes the course of three lives: the woman who paints it, the lawyer who inherits it, and the art history student who forges it. Author Ben Fountain and DMA Chief Conservator Mark Leonard will join Smith on-stage in conversation. The author of three previous novels and the recipient of Dobie Paisano and Michener fellowships, Smith grew up in Australia and now lives in Austin.  Also recommended: Skip Hollandsworth.


Padma Lakshmi: Food & Family

Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m.

Before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we eat is an extension of how we love, how we comfort, how we forge a sense of home, and how we taste the world as we navigate our way through it. A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, that is punctuated with recipes, Love, Loss and What We Ate traces Lakshmi’s journey from her grandmother’s kitchen in South India to the judges’ table of the Emmy Award-winning Bravo series Top Chef and beyond.


Daniel James Brown: Guts & Glory

Tuesday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.

Daniel James Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat has been called the “Chariots of Fire with oars.” Winner of the 2014 Nonfiction Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association, it chronicles the journey of the 1936 University of Washington men’s crew team – beating their California rivals, defeating the Ivy League’s top oarsmen, and ultimately stunning the world and upstaging Hitler at the Berlin Olympics. These nine boys – sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers – reaffirmed the American notion that merit, in the end, trumps birthright. 


Skip Hollandsworth: The Hunt for America's First Serial Killer

Tuesday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.

Skip Hollandsworth, executive editor for Texas Monthly and screenwriter of the acclaimed film Bernie, can now add author to his résumé. This event celebrates the release of his first book, The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer. Set in 1884, the book follows a vicious killer who stalked the streets of Austin for an entire year, striking on moonlight nights and attacking women from every race and class. The Midnight Assassin is a scrupulously researched, riveting depiction of one of the most chilling and little-known events in Texas history. Also recommended: Justin Cronin and Emily St. John Mandel


David Sedaris: Belly Laughs

Wednesday-Friday, April 27-29, 7:30 p.m.

Beloved satirist David Sedaris returns to Dallas for the seventh consecutive year to read new and unpublished material. Sedaris has become one of America’s preeminent humor writers, with bestselling books and collections of personal essays, including Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. Sedaris’s pieces appear regularly in the New Yorker and on the public radio show This American Life. Seven million copies of his books are in print, and they have been translated into twenty-nine languages. Also recommended: Dacher Keltner.


Curtis Sittenfeld: Jane Austen Remixed

Saturday, April 30, 2:00 p.m.

In Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel, Eligible, Lizzy Bennett is a high-powered magazine editor in New York. When her father falls ill, she and her sister Jane return to the home in Ohio that they thought they’d left behind forever. At once familiar and utterly surprising, Sittenfeld delivers a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. She is the bestselling author of several novels including Prep and The Man of My Dreams. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and on Public Radio’s This American Life.


Dave Isay: Purpose & Passion

Tuesday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.

StoryCorps founder Dave Isay presents unforgettable new stories from people doing what they love in his forthcoming book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work. Some are paid well for their work, others not at all; some found their paths at a very young age, others later in life; many overcame great odds or upturned their lives in order to pursue what matters to them. Together these stories demonstrate how work can be about much more than just making a living; it is an inspiring tribute to rewarding work and the American pursuit of happiness. Also recommended: Elizabeth Gilbert.


Elizabeth Gilbert: Creative Living

Tuesday, May 10, 7:30 p.m.

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s #1 New York Times bestseller Big Magic, she shares her wisdom and a unique perspective on creativity. She offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration, illustrating how to embrace curiosity and how to tackle what we most love while facing down what we most fear. Whether you’re looking to write a book, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse everyday life with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder. Gilbert is also the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love


Kate Tempest: Musical Poet & Prophet

Friday, May 13, 7:30 p.m.

Award-winning poet and hip-hop artist Kate Tempest’s electrifying debut novel, The Bricks That Built the Houses, portrays the beating heart of London in a multi-generational tale of drugs, desire, and belonging. Tempest won the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry in 2013 for her poem Brand New Ancients which was conceived as a performance piece. Her album Everybody Down was a 2014 Mercury Prize finalist, with each track corresponding to a chapter in The Bricks That Built the Houses.


Amy Stewart: Crime-Fighting Sisters

Tuesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.

Amy Stewart’s novel is based on the true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs, Constance Kopp, and her two sisters. In Girl Waits with Gun, the three sisters get into a car accident and conflict arises while discussing payment for the damages. They were tormented for almost a year until the sheriff enlists Constance’s help in convicting the man. The first book in a new series, Stewart begins in 1914 and will tell the entire life story of Constance, including her intelligence work during World War I, and later starting her own detective agency.