I was on a panel this past weekend sponsored by the Dallas Art Dealers' Association. It hadthe unpromising and curiously punctuated title, How Important Are We: Dallas Fort Worth: The Next New York City? I think all the participants had at one point considered just answering, “No,” and letting everyone go home early. But the thirty or some people there had paid $30 apiece to attend, and so we tried to give them their three hours worth of discussion. (The money was a contribution to the Edith Baker Art Scholarship Fund.)
The were actually two panels. The morning session focused on institutions, and, after a break for lunch, the afternoon panel featured three critics, myself, Janet Kutner, and Clarissa Terranova. The institutional types did a good job of explaining how their various organizations fit into the Dallas scene. William Rudolph, Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art the Dallas Museum of Art, really shone. As might be expected, the DMA came in for some drubbing from the audience, one woman reporting that artists feel “shut out” from the museum. His responses were gracious, realistic, and evenhanded.
The critics' panel was asked to comment on what makes the Dallas art scene take the shapeit does. I suspect that Janet and I responded the way we have responded to that question on similar panels for the pat twenty years. Clarissa, being relative newcomer, had livelier responses and fresher perspectives. She made the case for more discourse on art, and took us all somewhat to task for focusing our responses almost totally on the business of art rather than the theoretical issues involved. Of course, personally I love the business of art. I guess that is my retail background showing through. And Dallas is a very business-oriented city, with commercial galleries taking the lead in exhibiting contemporary art.
I am never sure what comes out of these kinds of events. If nothing else, it was a good chance to talk among ourselves. I think DADA would do well in the future to lower the bar on the admittance fee. I can't imagine that this is a major source of funding for the Edith Baker Scholarship. And it seems it would be better to have 100+ people there paying $5, rather than thirty paying $30.