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My friend James Cope over at the Goss Michael Foundation was kind enough to invite me over to the space for lunch and a talk by the artist
James White, who is their current specimen of triumphant Brit art success. white_image_8.jpg
He
paints black and white photo-based work, often of rock accoutrement and
other sorts of trashy stuff that one wouldn't normally think of as
art-worthy; but of course now most art is really either about trash or
actually made of it. And that's an interesting discussion in itself. Or
maybe it's not – just "Most art has trash in it now." "Indeed, doesn't
it?" The End.
I went with Stephen Lapthisophon, who if you don't know his work, is one of the most interesting
artists around. After 30 years in Chicago, he's just moved back to
Texas, where he was raised (and received a BFA at UT.) He has a show at
Conduit next month. Don't miss it. Anyway, I thought he'd be good
company. His actual physical vision's not great, but his nose for
bullshit is honed, and his eye for real talent or insight sharp as a
tack.
I've been known to give Kenny Goss kind of a hard
time about his gallery. Just in print, as until today I'd never met the
man. I've just found it often to be heavy on hype, light on texture –
like eating lemon meringue pie without any crust. You have to cut all
the sweetness, fluff, and goo.
Stephen and I had settled onto a window ledge, waiting to be directed
toward the sandwiches, or toward some hidden room with actual chairs to hear
the promised talk by the artist. I figured I got invited since I write,
a press preview kind of thing. Kenny literally burst in, introducing
himself all around, and apologizing for the artist being late, again
(I guess Tracey Emin recently kept the hoi polloi waiting for an hour
or more at her closing.) He's like a Tasmanian devil of energy, this
guy, burlier than I expected, but looking very fit and stylish, in
jeans and t-shirt with the GQ tuck and hair mussed just so. Like
everyone I suppose, I thought, George Michael's husband – wow, that's
cool. He seems like a very nice fellow – if not really inspiring one
with particularly deep vibrations about life or art.
A bit later, this shaved-headed, very British-looking
dude comes in, tall, in expensive shades, white t-shirt, dark jeans,
and mint-green Chuck Taylors. A photographer starts taking pictures,
and the guy looked like a real rock star, totally blase and over it. I
figured it was the artist.
White, we were told in Italian accented english by the director, is
"too shy" to give a talk, but if we wished we could be introduced
personally and he would be happy to chat with us about our specific
burning questions. I looked to Stephen, half-way through his roast beef
sandwich at this point, and said "Well, you ready to head out? I'll get a glass of
wine and we'll polish these sandwiches off." I didn't blame the artist
for not wanting to talk. He no doubt felt like he was slumming. The
crowd consisted of about a dozen women, none under 50 or especially
hip, none of them press to my knowledge, and then me and Steven (I was
at least sporting my best
Luccheses
,
doing Texas proud.) We finished, and I grabbed some cookies for the
road.
Sympathetically, I went over to thank and say goodbye to the guy.
Well, tellingly in today's world, the art/rock star was none other than
Max Wigram,
the hottest dealer in London at the moment, and purveyor of James
White's art, not its producer. We chatted a few minutes about Dallas,
measuring its future possibilities against its current liabilities. He
said that in some ways it reminds him of London in the 80's, before
there was much of anything happening, but with a few talented people
(this has long been transplant Richard Patterson's
mantra, that it just takes a few good folks to make a scene.) It's an
overly generous comparison really – I mean, London still is London;
even if the art world was recently small and sad it had historically
produced Hockney and Freud and Bacon and Gilbert & George, to
barely scratch the much-storied surface. And importantly, it had the
schools that ended up graduating all the YBA's who Goss is now
importing for our edification.

What Dallas does have going for it is being a fundamentally grotesque
sort of place that makes you just want to do something about it. No
laurels to rest upon. Plus, its cheap. Goss is at least doing something, if a little
eratically and with some correctable gaffs (get some more people who
know something about art in there Kenny!) If London took a 1000 years
to finally become the art capitol of the world, in the rapidly
decentralised nature of culture and increased pace of (d)evolution,
maybe Dallas in just a couple decades can streak brightly, however
relatively briefly, across the art firmament. There certainly is some
work to be done in the meantime, I can tell you that much.

also by Titus OBrien
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1 Response

  1. le bon ernest de terri et tori

    thank you titus for this funny lil piece. wigram might not have been old enough to fully witness the arts as they happened in london from the late 70s into the mid-80s. let’s say… you could walk out of the jesus

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