Dallas Days 2-3

OK, here’s what I saw during the rest of my DFW trip:

The Design District
In the past few years, no fewer than seven Dallas galleries have moved to this area just northwest of downtown. The spaces in the converted warehouses are great, but the Design District (a.k.a. "Dragon Street," named after the main drag) is similar to Chelsea in New York: it’s hell to visit. You’re exposed to the elements, the streets feel barren… in wet weather, it’s miserable; in sweltering heat, it’s decidedly unpleasant. With the exception of a few lone trees scrabbling an existence amid all the concrete, you can forget about shady parking.

And yet, the galleries themselves *are* very nice. Of note from this trip:

Conduit
Bless Nancy Whitenack and Danette Dufilho for taking the slowest month of the year and hosting an ambitious video program as part of the Dallas Video Festival. Curated by DVF’s Carolyn Sortor and writer Charles Dee Mitchell, "The Program" featured Ryan Trecartin‘s A Family Finds Entertainment (a cross between PeeWee’s Playhouse and Youtube star Chris "leave Britney alone" Crocker); a couple of Second Life projects that I struggled to get interested in; and Matthew Barney’s black and white MacArthur video from his Drawing Restraint series. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: they’ve hosted dozens of other videos and had weekly screenings. All that, and just keeping all those computers and DVD players working… hats way off.



Still from Ryan Trecartin’s A Family Finds Entertainment

 



Not video: I liked this Joe Mancuso outside the gallery

 

Marty Walker
Walker had the group summer show up… there were odds and ends scattered around that I really liked:

Archie Scott Gobber‘s work was new to me. I have a weakness for art with funny word play, and I liked this piece, and this, below:

Funny.

 



We had sniffed, in his exhibit listing from last December, that Beau Comeaux was "one of the photographers playing with
ultra-shallow depth of focus to create photographs of real buildings
that look like models." It’s true — he’s not the only one doing this thing — but his photographs are extremely compelling, nonetheless. A nice one was also featured in the New American Talent show that just closed at Arthouse. 

 



Berlin photographer Marc Lüders is painting on photographs — shadow and all — in an apparent homage to his countryman Gerhard Richter.

 

There are some artist studios behind Walker’s gallery, and I popped in on Ted Kincaid, whose new stuff is a fairly radical departure from what he’s been doing: less pretty, less dreamy, and a little more sinister:


 


Light & Sie

I’d heard from several people how good the guest-curated show at Light & Sie was, and though the works in it were all solid and respectable, and it looked handsome in their spectacular gallery, I failed to see how the show’s title/theme, Sehnsucht (Aspiration) applied, really. Oh, well: it was a good-looking show, and hopefully portends of more good things to come from this flamboyantly grand space. 

Speaking of video, I spent some time watching the two they had in the back: Joseph Dadoune‘s Sion was hamfisted and dull from a narrative perspective (beautiful young woman, representing Jerusalem, wanders forlornly around the Louvre visiting all the cultures that have ravished her over the centuries, and winds up in a voluptuous Christian Lacroix gown looking distraught… NEXT!)  More compelling, and far more minimal, was Kimsooja‘s An Album: Havana.  



The glamorous interior of Light & Sie

 



Still from Kimsooja’s video An Album: Havana

 

 
Holly Johnson had these beautiful goauche and pencil drawings by Theresa Chong on view. The pictures don’t really do them justice:

 

I also stopped into Photographs Do Not Bend and Craighead Green, whose new space I hadn’t seen. They had their annual open show of Texas artists, and I thought Paul Abbott’s moody pixellated photographs were attractive:


 

 

Last in the Design District was the new Gerald Peters Gallery, which looked like Gerald Peters has finally gotten pretty much what he has in Santa Fe: a cavernous space broken into a rabbit warren of themed microgalleries, with a sales staff that gave off the laughing, edgy, determined whiff of a car dealership. 

 

Deep Ellum

Road Agent had their group show up. I really liked the following:



Celia Eberle‘s doing carved bone pieces. I’ve admired her work for years, ever since I first encountered it at Houston’s now-defunct James Gallery. She takes serious risks with materials, she’s always pushing what she’s doing, and it’s just witty, smart work.  She’s WAY overdue for a museum show. [OK, I just checked her CV and maybe's she's not WAY overdue -- it's just time now.] I loved this carved bone castle titled The Highest Window (the snapshot doesn’t do it justice — the wall came out in better focus than the sculpture…)

 

M, the Fort Worth-based artist who used to be in the Good/Bad Art Collective, had this wonderful Tiny Death up:



It really is tiny: maybe a few inches long, not counting the paint drips on the wall.




Richard Patterson‘s assemblage/maquette Abstrazione — I got the feeling this was a little window on his process.

 



"All right, all right, all right."

 

Centraltrak
The new residency program down on Exposition is just getting off its feet after launching in April. They’ve got a nice gallery and about 12 studios, some for UTD MFA students, and the others for roving artists. Applications are open and rolling, and studios can be made available for anywhere from 5 days to a year.

The exterior amenities are super nice — fancy metal fencing, enclosed patios, a bang-up intercom system and nice landscaping all create the impression that Centraltrak has a big budget (an impression that director Charissa Terranova assured  me was inaccurate). 

They were hanging the current show ("Geomorph: Rethinking Landscape") when I stopped by, and what I was able to see looked good. I didn’t get to see Mark Schatz’s work, however, which was a disappointment. Schatz first came to attention in Texas in the 2002 AMOA exhibit 22 to Watch. He’s shown consistently since then and his work gets better and better. I’m looking forward to his show in the Houston Arts Alliance gallery this fall.

There’s a bit of a sense of bumpiness around Centraltrak — there was some local competition around the directorship, and both within and without the newly minted organization there’s something of a combative, let’s-see-how-this-thing-turns-out vibe. I assume that with time the situation will mellow and everyone in Dallas will get used to the space. Let us hope that’s the case, because Dallas could use a good residency program, and Terranova’s curatorial efforts seem solid so far (as do assistant director Mary Benedicto’s).



Peter Ligon’s big drawing in the landscape show



Fancy patio grill (with some crummy, hippy living pod from Buring Man).

 

Barry Whistler had already taken down Robert Wilhite’s bomb sculpture, which several people mentioned had looked great. I also missed Brian Gibb, director of The Public Trust, when I stopped by, but their online store/blog Art Prostitute is looking good. I’ve still never figured out the difference between Public Trust and Art Prostitute… guess that will have to wait until my next visit. 

 

That’s about it.

 

Finally, some random thoughts:
- Neither the Kimbell nor the Nasher has found a new director, which seems ominous. Of course, the same is true for the CAM and Blaffer in Houston and the Blanton in Austin — every museum wants an administrative genius and an art historical scholar (or at least a great curator), and there just aren’t that many of those to go around. But something’s gotta give…Linda Shearer has agreed to extended her interim directorship at CAM through the end of the year…


- With their big new educational effort, the DMA is in transition. Though things have settled somewhat since the departure of former director Jack Lane, one still gets a sense of upheaval over there. (Everyone in town is whingeing about the Tut show, which the DMA is already flogging heavily, even though it doesn’t open until Oct. 3 — but I told them to consider the MFAH’s record of baseball, the Houston Texans, and Star Wars if they were looking to hold their noses over crass populism. I mean, at least the Tut things are legitimate artifacts…) The DMA’s new educational effort strikes me as totally inane — I think they actually invite adults to come draw and touch things in their new Center for Creative Connections, a sort of children’s museum for adults (and children). Still, it’s a great building and was bustling with visitors, as always, when I was there. The Olafur Eliasson show, which makes a stop there this November, should be spectacular.

- Dallas is getting an art fair!!!! Chris Byrne, who was involved with Turner before Turner became Turner and Runyon and then went off the grid (this is ancient ’90s history for many of you kids), is doing a fair (titled Dallas Art Fair) in February, and get this: Houston’s Texas Gallery and Meredith Long are participating!! It’s true, I confirmed it. Also apparently involved are Dunn & Brown, Lora Reynolds, Valley House and James Kelly from Santa Fe. I got the sense that Byrne stiff-armed CADD (Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas), preferring to selectively invite Dallas spaces. I hope CADD gets all wildcatter on Byrne’s ass and does their own thing simultaneously — perhaps Byrne hopes this as well, since satellite fairs tend to help the main attraction. Question: will collectors travel to Dallas to buy art in February, or will the local art-buying populace will be enough to sustain this idea? Only time will tell… 

- Speaking of CADD, they’re really doing cool stuff: they’ve produced a nifty guidebook featuring their members, they do a little art fair in the summer and now they’re opening a project space for exhibits. Houston galleries need to take a look at this, get their acts together and get some collective energy going on. Craziness is no excuse. Everyone’s crazy — or at least, everyone’s got crazies. Get with it, Houston galleries.

 

 

also by Rainey Knudson

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