Dallas’ institutional brotherhood weighs in on Dallas’ art scene at DMA State of the Arts

Last night, the DMA hosted its latest State of the Arts panel, on the topic of contemporary art in Dallas. The panel was made up of a brotherhood of institutional leaders and curators: Jeffrey Grove, the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; Dr. Michael Corris, Chair of Studio Art at SMU; Peter Doroshenko, Executive Director of the Dallas Contemporary; and Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center. The discussion, steered by KERA producer and host, Jeff Wittington, went more or less as I imagined it would – the gentlemen, all of which have been here for about two or three years, are feeling positive about Dallas cultural and artistic energy.  They had between them only a few sticking points when it came to the arts scene here, though certain members of the audience, as evidenced in the awkward and volatile Q & A session that followed the panel discussion, had other axes to grind. I’ll get to that.

Here are the key highlights of the evening.

On their impression of the Dallas art scene upon arriving in town to fulfill their respective positions:

Jeffrey Grove: found the scene “escalating increasingly within the last three years… much more richness than I suspected at first.”

Peter Doroshenko: found it “more complicated, more layered” than on his previous visits to the city in the 80s and 90s.

Jeremy Strick: the scene reminded him of LA in scale and sense of possibility; he found there to be a high level of self-criticism among members of the Dallas arts, as best evidenced by Christina Rees’ now seminal essays published here on Glasstire nearly three years ago; remarked that that sort of self-criticism was very rare in any city, anywhere.

Michael Corris: found the city “enthusiastic, open, and optimistic about the future;” understood that the university (SMU) has a sense of civic responsibility.

On Civic Responsibility

JG: the museum’s role is to create “an exchange that leads to a desire for more” in its visitors.

JS: the Nasher’s looks to artists to determine and discern the quality of what the Nasher is doing.

PD: responsibility to get “people to talk about things.”

MC: since SMU is in the odd “organelle” of the Park Cities, he found his greatest responsibility to be steering students and faculty to take their own initiatives toward showing work and creating discourse, which has a wider, civic effect.

On Their Individual Curatorial Approach

JG: “expanding the scope of programs so it [the DMA] looks like the culture in which we live.”

JS: “The plan is pretty selfish really… We show the work I want to see.” [laughter and clapping ensues]

PD: The contemporary is 100% focused on the artist’s idea and getting “outside the building;” “creating context… access;” the Contemporary wants to highlight contemporary culture, not just art.

On Where Dallas Could Improve

MC: Dallas could use more casual social gatherings that encourage community; needs more interlocutors that work as conduits in helping understand how creativity can develop; and artists need to think outside the conventions of the market, i.e. gallery representation by an early age. Artists need to take and make initiatives.

JS: Dallas is full of a rhetoric of achievement: world-class city, etc., but it loses sight of the three key points he thinks are most essential to vibrant arts culture: presentation of art, which falls on the institutions; consumption of art, which falls on the collectors; and production of art, which falls on the artists. All three categories nurture a thriving community of artists. He suggested that the best way to create this nurturing environment was to open an art school with world-class teachers, which would encourage artists to come to Dallas and then, perhaps, to stay.

PD: explained that an art career is a lifelong pursuit; agreed that art schools would help.

JG: agreed that schools, especially post-graduate programs, hold talent together, but he countered that art schools can create a false sense of talent and expectation. Said that artists coming together to declare space and seek solutions was the best way for a scene to foment.

MC: Dallas is poorly served in terms of education and that there needs to be more cooperation between art schools. City needs to rethink how it approaches development, and realize that only a small package of funds do a tremendous amount of good.

Wish Lists for Improving Dallas Scene

MC: 4-5 artist residency programs

JS: the patron community to be as focused on funding programs as they are on buildings. [again, clapping]

JG: an increase in alternative art spaces

PD: Dallas needs to market itself better

On the City’s Responsibility to the Arts

JS: Needs to focus on talent, not buildings, arts districts, etc.

PD: city needs to implement a cultural tax

JG: city needs to focus on talent and artistic community; promote city by highlighting smaller art cultures

On What a City’s Artistic Success Looks Like

MC: should look something like London I the 1990s, when artists cultivated the scene and collectors like Charles Saatchi helped foster it by buying into it.

JS: if artists start to stay and foster dialogue.

PD: if the scene keeps rising and doesn’t get satisfied with itself.

[full stop]

So, then, when the room opened up to questions, a handful of artists wanted to know how to get their own work in front of guys like them, who run museums and stuff. Er… well. One of the artists said he’d been preaching his art on the streets of Dallas for years, and that his art was going to change the world. His art, which he described while Wittington tried to gently steer the conversation back to topic, had something to do with an answering machine embedded in the body of painting that, when you use your cell phone to call the painting, plays a song that describes the painting. There were chuckles in the audience, but I think mostly because it actually sounded kind of cool. I think I saw Michael Corris’ eyebrow rise, puckishly.

Another audience member took an unsuspecting Jeffrey Grove to task both for the long-dead DMA art school never having been reinstated and for the removal of Claes Oldenburg’s spike from the barrel vault (removed long before Grove came to the DMA). It was a pointless and mean-spirited moment, though Grove was a gentleman about it.

Of course, I was struck by the lack of discussion about the role of the media in the arts. Except for Strick mentioning Rees’ essays, no one suggested that writers and critics play any role in the shape and health of an arts community. (So, naturally, all night long I dreamed that I was standing up in the auditorium asking that question.) I know the men on the panel believe strongly in the role of cultural commentators, and not mentioning it may have been an oversight, and perhaps not as pressing an issue as the others on the bill,  but it does seem to me that in order for art cultures to become strong, there have to be writers that champion the artists, curators and other art folks that deserve it, and take to task the things that don’t work. Somebody’s got to be sifting through all this stuff and putting it out there. Disseminating information (and preference) is one of the best ways to build energy.

also by Lucia Simek

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70 responses to “Dallas’ institutional brotherhood weighs in on Dallas’ art scene at DMA State of the Arts”

  1. Thank you for your last statements Lucia. I couldn’t agree with you more. A common discussion I’ve been having since I’ve moved back is over the lack of criticism in this city. Who is taking up the gauntlet to actually criticize? It’s no suprise when the major sources to read about art shows are Papercity or D Magazine. Even the Observer can’t be bothered to write about a show that doesn’t reiterate the press release that was sent to them. A cultural scene can’t have a sense of identity until we gauge what is “good” and what is “bad” or “bad-good” or “good-bad”… Open up that dialog and you have a discussion. It educates non-artists and holds working artists more responsible.

    1. There are 5 abstract components of an art “world”. Museums, Galleries, Collectors, Writers and Artists. There is no program or endowment for working arts writers in Dallas, nor are there even two publications that are allowed to rival one another. Arts writing that is vital and theoretically current takes a great deal of reading as well as an independent, well read editor, as well as a publication that can sustain by advertising or patronage. Getting paid $75 dollars for days of work on an article is ridiculous as well as offensive.

      I have been amazed to sit and listen to likes of Rick Brettell brag that he was going to get people to write about art in Dallas “for free, why pay them?”. He also admitted without a bit of irony that, “he had stopped reading theoretical texts in about 1970″. I say ironic because Brettell’s own significant projects with regards to Gauguin are completely informed by texts produced in France after 1970 and valorize his approach to uncovering the relationship between the master and the masterwork. If he would only come out of this hiding place and engage himself with the present.

      I have been further amazed when I was told by Rainy Knudson that she, “was too lazy to read theory anymore” and at the same time when I submitted my first piece to GlassTire I was told I could not put any phrase or word in quotes despite this being a significant method derived from valid theories still vital in the world today i.e Deconstruction, Archeology and Geneology. She didn’t find enough personal entertainment value in post-modern theories about texts, so why bother. Asked why I could not put any phase or word in parenthetical quotes, I was told that she would not allow it. “Her” readers did not like that kind of thing. She said she “did not buy it”. It was an “affectation” that she deemed inappropriate. As if someone was picking out shoes. The confusion of taste with sophistication.

      Dallas needs a vital, well read, up to date, philosophically minded group of at minimum 30 full time writers who are independent of institutions and yet aware of current theoretical concerns in a wide variety of areas to lead the minds of those who form the body of this art “world”. This will take at least as many institutionally independent editors who can manage these writers and cultivate new approaches. It will further take at least 5 competing publications to invent a ground that grows the kind of sophistication that can earn the title “world class”.

      Instead we get Texas’s only independent arts journal ArtLies shuttered, good editors fired, and all that is left is an online ghost of past articles. Now Glasstire has a monopoly on thought about art. This is neither healthy nor is it desirable. It is an invitation to corruption in more than one sense of the word.

      I am currently writing a genealogy and archeology of the relationship between what I call “salon culture” and the “growth of sophistication” that attempts to tease out and connect the dots of a new picture of how the arts community produces significant objects. It has a up to date, philosophically based definitions of creativity, newness, taste, sophistication, majoritarian, minoritarian and authoritarian concepts. It uses as examples the Cone Sisters in Baltimore, The Stein Salon, The New York School of poets v the Warhol Salon as well as examples of marginalized salons in Dallas past and present that go unrecognized because there is no central intelligence for aesthetics in Dallas that knows they exist.

      Dallas drives away sophisticated independent talent both in theoretical writing and vital curation and independence with regards to collecting. Bret McCabe, Marc Sercy, David Quadrini, Paul Slocum, and myself left Dallas in disgust after beating our hearts and minds against the wall of the power locked houses in Dallas. We could not see a way forward given the climate of majoritarian rhetoric and the timid practice of collectors as decorators, as well as the institution’s (both curatorial and academic) attitude toward valorizing them.

      That is largely due, in my theoretical opinion, to a confusion between sophistication and taste as well as a lack of central intelligence about what is going on unnoticed at the margins of the herd of artists producing objects, as well as independent collectors and groups committed to minoritarian thought that redefines and revitalizes majoritarian rhetoric.

      Working writers need 5 things to exist and produce. Shelter, Food, Transportation, Communication and Health Care. It is not prohibitively expensive to provide these to individuals given the vast hordes of under utilized capital in Dallas. We have all the monumental architecture in place. Let’s break ground on theoretical structures that have in the past produced vital ground from which these significant objects grow.

      1. There are two distinct concepts under the term “simularca”. One is from Baudrillard, which I do not agree with at all. It is a negative term that is essentially a form of nostalgia. The other is from Deleuze, which is a positive term.

        There is no “true” nature. I do not admit it. You are speaking in exactly the marjoritarian terms that block any positive move in the direction of greater multiplicty. I am self educated. I did not go to art school. I have a degree in computer science. I re-invented myself as an artist and a writer. I was not educated by an institution. I read vociferously. I interact with others who read things I can’t read myself as I’m only one person. Read Claire Colebrook’s Very Short Introduction on Deleuze. She is as clear and brilliant as any teacher that exists. It is compact. It contains a compass. Deleuze is just starting to be taught here in the U.S. Deleuze has answered and corrected Hegel on every significant concept. Polemics is all we have now. What we have here is what Heidegger called “chatter”. We need a vital writing that is a critique, which is positive. Critics voice their taste. I don’t care about anyone’s taste unless it changes. Then I want them to be able to communicate to me how and why that was so. Then I want to compare this to others who’s “taste” changes. There is a reason that people talk about good/bad taste so much in Dallas. Either/Or. The interesting thing about the so called Good/Bad Art Collective as a title is the decision to associate the concept Good/Bad with the word Art Or Collective. What is a Good/Bad Collective.

        Sophistication is a continuum. More/Less. A vital community of writers in Dallas would increase the sophistication of everything. My list of 5 things was addressed to the ruling class that might be reading this. The 5 things are the ground on which something grows. A Salon is where there are many interesting conversations amongst friends and an openness to change. A group of makers. A good collective is one oriented towards constant change.

        I’m going to look up all of my friend Christina’s article’s now and read them, so that I can have a conversation with her. There’s a reason she’s in Ft Worth now. I wish I’d been at the lecture. But this piece of reportage did the job of making me explain my position. Some of the panelists seemed to be getting it right. I want to assist them by giving clearer concepts that are productive.

    2. Sorry Mark, it sounds like you’ve got about as much education as I have. But I have to disagree, look what has happened on this forum board- how much more post-modern do you want it to be?
      I’m very pleased with this semi-anonymous conversation that has grown out of an event half of the people posting (including me) didn’t attend. You have to admit that that’s the true nature of simulacra.
      It may seem that I’m advocating the “for free, why pay them?”. But, that’s missing the point. I was asking that someone take on the mantel to voice a polemical side to the arts in Dallas in order to spark a conversation.
      I do agree with you that it is hard work to be a writer- I’m a painter, so I don’t envy it- but I think your demands are too high. I paint regardless of at least 3 of your 5 needs to produce- I think it would be easy to figure out which two are necessary.

  2. @Eli: I’m not sure what you mean by “no surprise,” but I can only assume by your comments about D Magazine and moving back to the city that you have missed that D Magazine IS doing the heavy lifting, or running the gauntlet, as you put it, in terms of art criticism in Dallas. Just go here . . . often:

    http://frontrow.dmagazine.com/category/visual-arts/

    I wish there was more. I wish we had more resources. I wish the DMN had a actual art critic (I mean, seriously, you want to talk “state of the arts” and there’s no art critic at the daily paper?!). But we’re doing what we can and are always trying to do more.

  3. Lucia is correct: it was an oversight not to have talked about the media and its role in the Dallas art world. What readers of this column should know is that many of the “brotherhood” had participated in an initiative, spearheaded by Rick Brettell and the Dallas Morning News, to recruit an art and architecture critic. We put forward three candidates and not one of them accepted the offer. I guess that after 18 months on that roundabout it sort of, er, dropped out of my consciousness. Make no mistake about the circumstances and appearance of the panel discussion: it’s a good idea and I hope KERA figures out a way to take it forward. Believe me, I was just as self-conscious as my panel-mates about the fact that we were, er, four white, fairly mature, men . . . another panel, many other panels, need to follow: to address that, to open up the discussion, to have others take the stage, to respond and reflect . . . let me add an ongoing forum on Dallas/Ft Worth and the arts to that wish list!

    And, yes, that guy going on about his work almost lost me . . . until he mentioned the answerphone music message.

    1. I can only speculate as to the ID of the three candidates, and this search cannot have been an easy task. I can, however throw out some ideas for discussion as to why they did not accept the job.

      Serious art criticism requires a highly specialized knowledge of the topic, often backed up with one or two advanced degrees. Modern art is an incredibly complex subject, and it’s a braver man than I who would attempt to foist it, at however elementary a level, on the readership of the DMN.

      It also requires superb writing skills. Few can give it its due.

      Heck, even restaurant criticism, seemingly a dream job (eating at fancy restaurants every night, freely editorializing on the experience, and then being paid for it!), has become a rarified specialty requiring a stint at the Culinary Institute. (I exaggerate. Slightly. )

      There is also the matter of the state of print media: a declining, if not somnolent readership, increasingly drawn into the depths of celebrity scandal, etc etc. just to keep its circulation figures above water. Only in Dallas would yesterday’s football scores be given front-page top-right coverage, trumping politics, war or any sort of hard news coverage.

      I believe it is public knowledge that The Dallas Morning News is in dire financial straits, and job security is precarious. I know that if I had spent the better part of my youth in college classrooms and research libraries in search of knowledge on a topic close to my heart, I would think long and hard before casting my net upon such a shallow pond.

    2. The most troubling aspect of the lack of diversity on the panel has yet to be mentioned: there were no artists up there.

      If you had a panel about surgery, would you only include hospital administrators and drug manufacturers, and no surgeons?

      1. Welcome to the Dallas “art scene” Rainey.
        Come and spend some time here.

        1. This isn’t unique to Dallas. People rarely think to include artists on these things: not in Houston, not in LA, not in NYC.

      2. You have a valid point, but to be fair, it’s not necessarily the mission of a major museum director to nurture local talent. His/her job is to bring nationally and internationally acclaimed artworks to the city and to build a collection that is worthy of its time and for future generations.

        1. Gary, are local/regional artists “worthy” of its time or do they need to move to LA/NY/Europe and become successful there first to be recognized by their local major museum director?

          1. Most decidedly not, and I apologize if my brief remark has left that impression on my readers.

            If I may re-write and correct that sentence:

            His/her job is to expose the local public to quality pieces of artworks that might not otherwise be available to them by mining national and international resources, including the best of the best works from our own city and region.

            Thank you for bringing this to my attention, although it is a truism that you have to “make it” elsewhere before you’re appreciated in your own home town. (See the “I Love Lucy” episode in which Ethel makes a triumphant return to Albuquerque for a hilarious if somewhat surreal send-up of this phenomenon.)

            Also see my (much) longer no.2 post to Michael Morris below for my extended thoughts on the matter.

  4. This is great. The discussion happening here. And Peter, Frontrow is a good source, your link was already a tab that I have set on my browser. And I remember it having a fair criticism on Tony Craig. I used D Magazine because when I was writing it was one of the few magazines that readily came to mind. My lament is that few criticisms have teeth in them, so the question is: are writers living under the shadow of trying to keep the scene market friendly? Why would someone turn down a sole position like that?

  5. Lucia, I applaud your POV. The state of the arts in Dallas is…awful. The members of this panel seem almost willfully ignorant of the forces needed to support an arts community. They tiptoe around the most salient issue like it’s a rattlesnake ready to strike: money and the manner in which it is distributed.

    The day Dallas lost its ballet company for lack of funding should live in infamy and be included in art history textbooks as an example of insane greed. The fact that one has to drive to Fort Worth to locate a first-rate museum or performance is shameful.

    Local private galleries, heroically struggling agains all odds, are limping along–a sad row of warehouses on Dragon Street. Is that the best we can do?

    The key point mentioned, so obvious I’m surprised anyone even brought it up, is that funding should prioritized and skewed toward talent first and then the venues. A downtown crammed with ego-driven Pritzker Prize winning architecture is a sham without the additional monies needed to fund the performances they were built to house. IMO the whole “Arts District” could be cordoned off and presented to tourists as a monument to madness; and few Dallas citizens would even notice.

    Charles Saatchi, indeed. We are to take him as our example? Dallas has collectors. The Nashers, the Rorchovskys, et al are here. And they have wisely kept their private collections out of the clutches of the soulless tomb that is the DMA, which if you’ve ever been there you know it is more of an underground parking garage than a museum. Not only is it ugly; it is the root cause of the ugly cityscape that surrounds it.

    All of which drives artists away from Dallas. Why would they choose to live here?

    Ultimately, of course, we can’t forever blame the donors. It is the artists themselves who must make their voices heard, form alliances, come out of hiding and move into action. We’ve made it too easy for them to simply abandon the city, either to the coastal cities or to far-flung locales such as Marfa or Mexico where they can walk down the street and not be ridiculed by a conservative elite.

    And yes, SMU is indeed an odd organelle. Very odd. Its central mission is to educate Methodist ministers, not artists. Situated as it is in the art-barren Park Cities, and soon to be occluded by a Presidential library whose mission is to document the achievements of an administration which had no achievements, it is too much to hope for any support there. Although…SMU did give us Kathy Bates, and the museum it built for its donated collection of Spanish (what the…? How did that happen?) does have a nice cafe.

    1. Maybe we’ve all become so entrenched in ideas of grandiosity (for or against), we’ve lost our senses.The organelle of the organelle, the Free Museum of Dallas, located at SMU, is a place to become re-acquainted with the greatness of smallness.

      I’m no stranger to falling in the trenches of entrenched paradigms, but every once in a while, it’s necessary to come to our senses—in the fullest possible ways—and give recognition to what is occurring that is positive.

      The cross-currents happening here and on FrontRow are good examples of what is possible when we’re willing to mix it up.

      1. There are two Dallases.

        One Dallas is a Sunday afternoon spent lolling in the splendor of the grass alongside Turtle Creek Boulevard in the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dallas Theatre Center.

        The other Dallas is the seedy reality of Harry Hines and (neé) Industrial Boulevard.

        Dallas has always had an unacknowledged demimonde–Jack Ruby, Candy Barr, World Wide Wrestling champs, the old original Deep Ellum where white men feared to tread, the cheesy local TV news shows, the State Fair Midway with its alligator women sideshows, a stone’s throw from the early pretensions of the art deco structures thrown up around it, evidence of a city gone mad with visions of grandiosity without content.

        They stand there still, fascinating, spooky. Relics. Surrounded for miles around by crumbling mansions whose original residents fled the scene as soon as reality set in.

        Willie Morris wrote that Dallas is a city of “banks and choirs.” He may as well have written that we live in a hall of mirrors, nothing is what it seems. Hypocrisy is the word that hangs over the Dallas skyline; it’s written in the clouds.

        A seer, he could have predicted the eventuality of the current arts district, where dirty money and overblown taste have merged to create yet another set of weird, trend-driven architectural figments of the imagination which will stand, like Fair Park, for a hundred years.

        What I wish, and what I’m sure every artist in Dallas wishes, is that we let Dallas be Dallas. There are things we do well. Tollways, for instance. The Dallas North Tollway is almost sculptural, with its gentle dips and curves. We are very good at building freeways. Central Expressway is an example of the art of modern engineering. The High-Five, as we call it, is one of the marvels of mankind.

        The best building in Dallas is a mall, Northpark. We know how to retail. We know how to sell things. Northpark may be the best art museum in Dallas. Who but Neiman-Marcus would include a sculpture garden, below grade level, in its original plan? Is there another shopping mall anywhere that has incorporated a green space into its most valuable real estate, right in the middle of the scene?

        What Dallas does not do well is politics. The dis-integration of the races is all too apparent. Whites to the north. People of color to the east and south. Who knows what goes on in the west side. Rumor has it that there’s an airport out there. God bless the child who makes his flight on time.

        All art is political. Artists cannot function in a city as politically charged as Dallas.

        And perhaps that is as it should be. Perhaps Dallas will never be a home for the best of the best. Perhaps Willie was right. Let the banks draw interest; let the church choirs sing.

        Perhaps Andy Warhol said it best:

        “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

        Entrenched in grandiosity? Yes we are. Lost our senses? Right again. And that’s too bad. But Dallas is what it is. Money is its art. Candace Barr, in my opinion the purest artist ever to have arisen from this big wicked city, knew that, as surely as Stanley Marcus knew the value of an emerald satin gown. The art is not the gown. The art is in the zipper.

        1. I wish that Dallas would find a way to get over Andy Warhol. I so appreciate what Michael Corris said about looking into alternatives to market driven forms of consumption of art. We can have that if we want it.

          Let’s trade Andy in for Christian Marclay, the Cinema of Transgression, John Cage, Harrell Fletcher, Fluxus, whoever/whatever.

          1. I don’t think it’s possible to “get over” Andy Warhol, in Dallas or anywhere else around the world. John Cage, possibly. Fluxus, done.

            I wasn’t aware that Dallas is overly enthusiastic about Andy Warhol. From what I know and hear, he’s vilified as well as completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Is there some secret cult of which I am unaware?

          2. @ Gary,

            Perhaps it’s a little unfair of me to pick Andy out of your post when it was a very small part of the larger point you were making. I’m also projecting a little bit and associating some tendencies I observe broadly in Dallas with certain aspects of Warhol’s legacy. In my mind those are manifested in an obsession with fame, glamor, and a certain kind of success. Maybe it’s also unfair to peg that just on Dallas, since it’s also a broad tendency in the culture that gathers around art, but I feel like it comes to a certain focus here that I don’t see other places.

            I guess what I was trying to get at is that I think Dallas could benefit from a little more transgression or subversion. Certainly Warhol had his transgressive side, but if we as artists feel we are in a position where the majority of venues don’t seem to be accessible to us or they don’t provide the kind of contexts that we want to see our work in, we ought to create those contexts ourselves. Perhaps using the phrase “get over” in regard to Warhol was clumsy, but I think we could use a different model of cultural production, even if that means focusing on Warhol the underground filmmaker, or Warhol the ironist, rather than the painter of celebrities. (The more I’m thinking this through, the more my previous statement is unraveling…oh well.) Nonetheless, I think art in Dallas could use a more punk rock and DIY attitude while maintaining a rigorous criticality to offset these other tendencies.

            And…you know…there very well may be an Andy cult in town. His shrine is probably at the top of the W.

            As an aside, I very much appreciate your citing of Candy Barr as a Dallas icon. She could put all the stars in the “Factory” to shame.

          3. The “cult” would be art school. And a more predominate appearance outside of the bubble institutions of Dallas would make that more evident.
            Warhol remains elusive because his legacy continues to spark the topic of debate. Discussion and criticism are the great forces to come out of collegiate environments. But where off of Henderson Ave could a passer-by overhear that conversation? Am I even going too far to say they could around the college campuses?

            Good lord! Where is the round table discussion that can get all of these people on this Comment Board together?

        2. @Michael, first, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

          And secondly, how old are you? You should know Andy Warhol was the most provocative and controversial artist in the world during his early days, the 50’s and early 60’s. His work was rejected even in New York, and his first major show in 1961, the one that catapulted him to national fame, the soup cans, was in a little-known private gallery in Las Angeles.

          Don’t forget, at least one person tried to assassinate him. He suffered mightily for his art.

          He was the first to break away from and reject the abstractionists, Pollock, de Kooning, Hofman, et al, who had dominated the New York “school” throughout the 1950’s. He was nothing if not subversive. The punk rock era aesthetic, a persona, really, more than an art movement–all of it was an act–of the late seventies was in fact a renaissance of many of Warhol’s original ideas, not something that sprang fully born from Patti Smith’s head. He was the original punk. (Rimbaud was the original punk some would say, but that’s a completely different thread.)

          He ushered a new way of seeing and believing into the world and dominated the art world until the next new great movement of the modern era, conceptualism, came into being, I often think the words “Pop” and “ironic” do him an injustice. What he was is camp, which slants its intellectual point of view slightly left and above its subject matter, questioning the mundane while elevating it as something to be re-considered. The real became the surreal. He was also a speed freak. How much of his work was driven by his drug habit is a question mark, and yet another subversive act. (Although the abstract artists were, for the most part, rollicking-good-time heavy-duty alcoholics, which surely tempered their considerations as much as the laudenum of say, the writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge.)

          He did not reach commercial and finanicial success until relatively late in his career, something that is overlooked in the popular opinion of his work today. And his mid-career society portraits were, indeed, as he freely admitted, a purely commercial venture, a money-making machine and the ultimate status symbol at $30,000 a pop. (He was terrified by poverty, which haunted him.) Like the subjects of Barbara Walters’ prime-time TV interviews or making the cover of Time magazine, you where nobody till Andy (or his un-paid assistants) silk-screened you.

          Yet, the portraits stand as an important element of his oeuvre, a study in technique, a technique that often over-powered his message. Silk-screening, a low-brow printing process before he made it his own, adds yet another layer of meaning to his work..

          Well. I should have know better than to pull Andy Warhol into all this. It’s almost absurd that his work remains a hot-button issue at this late date. What I wish Dallas and the rest of the world would get over, and what I think you’re trying to get at, is its self-generated image as a pinnacle of high style and fashion. It’s a false notion, highly inflated.

          Yes, there are perhaps 500-1000 people in Dallas who know a little bit about fashion and are adept at getting their picture in the latest issue of certain local magazines. The reality is we’re a blue-collar city of decaying suburbs butted up against erzats spec-built over-sized, uglified new-money mini-mansions occupied by a population that, by choice or by circumstance, stand little to gain from an interest in the arts.

          With no significant institutions of higher learning and a leadership structure built around real-estate development and the quick dollar, art is a difficult fit for Dallas. There are those who try, may their tribe increase; and there are those who mistake ego-gratification for philanthropy.

          I fear that you have fallen victim to this falsified image of Dallas as a snobbish mecca for social climbers and big blondes. What we really are is just good country people come to the big city from the surrounding small towns mixed in with a good-sized influx from our border states–Oklahama, Arkansas and Louisiana–all looking for a better, easier life for ourselves and our families.

          If I were looking to be a serious artist, Dallas would not make the short list of my destinations to set up a studio. But the artists, like me, are here. What we must do, as I and others have mentioned, is make Dallas our own, own what diversity there is and mine the resources we
          have.

          No serious artist picks up a brush and squeezes out that first tube of cadmium blue with the intent of making money off of it or manufacturing an image (or worse, a “brand”). He does it out of a need for self-exploration and expression and as an outlet for his emotions. If he comes across others like him and thus begins a dialog, wonderful. Many cities the size of Dallas have formed cooperative ventures among themselves. Fluxus, as you mentioned, is one. Lawndale in Houston is another. Marfa, yet another. But many of history’s best artists worked their entire lives in a splendorous solitude.

          Andy Warhol didn’t wait around for the The Museum of Modern Art to crown him master of the universe (altho Henry Geldzahler was a close friend) before he began making art.

          And you are wrong in assuming he is not at the center of the point of my previous post. Andy Warhol would have absolutely adored Dallas, as much as Robert Frost loved his New England walls of fallen stones. In fact, I have a large museum print of his rendition of Jacqueline Kennedy’s post-assassination Dallas press photos hanging above my desk, framed in gilt. I find new layers of meaning–and beauty–in it every day.

          You may view it on page 2 of my blog, nedhawkes.tumblr.com.

          If you have an interest in Candy Barr, Texas Monthly published a long-form article about her several years back that you could look up. At the time, having fled Dallas in a hurry after the Kennedy assassination–her Cadillac, her furs, and a fist full of mob dollars her only assets– she had returned to Texas and was living in a mobile home in a small south Texas town.

          1. Gary,

            I appreciate your post, but frankly the tone is a bit condescending. I know who Warhol was and I know who Dallasites are. While I’ve lived elsewhere and returned in the last year or so, I am a native of Dallas proper. That said, I don’t know that There’s much i can add to the conversation, so I’ll bow out at this point.

  6. […] on Glasstire, Lucia Simek has already used the term ‘brotherhood’ to describe this group, although […]

  7. On the topic of media, one of my favorite developments is that internet comment sections, specifically the ones here, at FrontRow and elsewhere, make a dialogue out of what used to be the critic’s monologue.

    Isn’t the Half-Price Books mothership on Northwest Highway a pretty good bookstore? And Recycled Books in Denton?

  8. Fantastic comment stream, Dallas. It’s been really interesting to follow.

    Lucia, any idea who was ranting about the removal of the Claes Oldenburg spike? I believe that’s one of Chapman Kelley’s hobbyhorses…

  9. While I’m glad this event was packed to capacity, I was surprised at the faces I didn’t see. I sat with Art & Seek’s Anne Bothwell and after Doroshenko’s comment about the city not marketing itself well, I mentioned that I didn’t see (Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District) Veletta Lill. Also notably absent (though maybe I didn’t see them) were “Ask Me About Art” (Vice Chair of City Arts Commission) Gail Sachson, Dallas Visitor & Convention Bureau’s Phillip Jones, Dallas Public Art Program Manager Kay Kallos, and Downtown Dallas Inc’s John Crawford & Kourtny Garrett. I did see Marion and Nash Flores, but didn’t see any other local collectors/patrons like the Rachofsky’s, Stoffel’s, Questrom’s, Marguerite Hoffman, Deedee Rose, or (Dallas Contemporary Board President) Patrick Collins. There was no Joan Davidow or Dee Mitchell or Janet Kutner. Although there were several gallerists, artists, and students, there were not many educators like Charissa Terranova, CentralTrak’s Heyd Fontenot, Greg Metz, or John Pomara.

    I did see Christina Rees in her cute new fauxhawk and was glad she got a shout-out for her essays on the Dallas’ art scene.

    My point I previously made in response to Creative Time’s study of our art scene is that most of the people that comment negatively on the Dallas’s State of the Arts aren’t really involved it in it. I easily attend a couple dozen art openings and museum events a month–sometimes 8-10 a night. I volunteer or sit on boards or committees with over a dozen arts organizations. So I know who’s also out there. If a gallery has an opening the same night as other galleries, the gallerist is not able to attend the other openings and gauge the public’s response. And subsequently when they complain about their gallery being empty the rest of the week or other galleries being empty during non-reception hours, s/he has a warped perception of the art scene. I cannot even come close to count the number of times I’ve asked a gallerist if they’ve seen a particular show at another gallery or museum and been told no.

    Yes, Doroshenko was right in his comment that the city is badly marketing itself. While I am a bit turned off at the LA-style mega-openings the Contemporary has been having since he took the helm, I am glad that at least people are showing up. (I don’t agree with the members only getting a $5 discount to the Shepard Fairey DJ party either, but whatever.)

    It was also ironic that Strick said more money needs to be spent on programming than on buildings when The Nasher has historically charged extra for education that other institutions include free with their membership. During the Chinese New Year celebration on Flora Street, The Nasher behind it was closed and dark. His comments were made while crowds were protesting down the street at DISD’s voting to close 11 schools. Yeah, Dallas has its priorities all wrong.

    La Reunion and CentralTrak were mentioned, but no mention of Booker T. Washington, Big Thought, the Creative Arts Center of Dallas, or even any of the City’s Cultural Centers.

    There was also no mention of the Ross Avenue Gateway to the Arts District public art project that seems to have nothing done in the eight months since the finalists were selected.

    There was no mention in the panel discussion about how the City hotel bypassed the Public Art Program when it commissioned thousands of pieces of local art that can only be seen from inside even though I was told by city officials there would be a website devoted to it. Apparently there is a computer in the lobby where you can access information about it, but that’s not really the same thing. The entire transaction was unseemly and did nothing to help the art community or Dallas’ status as an art destination.

    I repeat: Dallas has a very vibrant albeit disconnected arts scene. Thank goodness for the internet and social media (and the 900+ folks on my Facebook “ArtDorks” list). The people who complain about the state of it aren’t involved enough. I have never seen any of this Brotherhood (and really, not many of their predecessors either) outside of their respective institutions and I’m out there a lot. Showing your face in a gallery or alternative space does wonders for the esteem of an emerging artist or gallerist. Giving feedback, even better. Hell, why don’t they buy some local art while they’re at it? I know I do.

    And thank you Glasstire for all you do. Sometime maybe I’ll see this Lucia chick I read so much about….

    1. @Douglas: Actually Patrick Collins was there, as was Kenny Goss, so you might want to update your attendance log. As for other things not covered, you’ve left out the cattle statues downtown, the lettering on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar, and the picture my daughter drew this morning.

      1. Ha ha. Touché. I wanna see your daughter’s drawing… I’m dorky that way.

    2. Oh my lord in heaven. Is this the level of conversation we are to expect from the local arts community? It’s no wonder these projects you mention seem “to have nothing done.”

      Anyone who attends 10 (ten!) openings in one night is, to put it mildly, a bit “undone” in my opinion. What an insult to an artist–spending what, 10 minutes at his event before running off somewhere else. But you sure do know a lot of names! Which, of course, is what your post is all about. I’m sure the Rachovskys missed you as much as you missed them.

      While I’m ranting, (and I’m sure you’re a nice person and all that) can we put this word “Brotherhood” with a capital “B” aside? It’s fulsome, bad form.

      @Lucia: Bullseye, chicky-poo.

      1. Yes, some openings don’t get as much time as the artists would like, but several get a second viewing where I spend more time there without the crowd. My point was that a lot of people that can effect the state of the arts were not at the State of the Arts. And yes, bring the brotherhood back down to lower case…

        1. Well, I think UNT has a trick or two up it’s sleeve (I’m pretty excited about some of the work coming out of the new media program), but UTD has really been setting a great example as far as real engagement with the community by curating challenging shows and keeping things moving. Keep an eye on the (Denton-ward) horizon.

          1. Whoops! That was supposed to go below regarding the response to Greg Metz’ post. Again proving that UNT is a little too far north of the target…

    3. Also absent and so far unmentioned: Vicki Meek of the South Dallas Cultural Center. Anyway, I think that Dallas’ problem all along has been too much scene and not enough community. And Dallas hardly is alone in that respect. As art and artists become creative capital, perceived value becomes more important than intrinsic value.

  10. Please spread the words mentioned above. “We need 4-5 good artists residency programs.” I just moved here from Austin to paint full-time and have researched residencies nationally. As an artist, I’ll move wherever to chase a funded residency. Artists are flexible people and Dallas is a cool city once you get here– Bishop Arts, Henderson, Denton, downtown, Design District all have enormous potential if patrons will endow some residency programs.

  11. Lucia. Thanks for the recap, regrettably I was unable to attend this event, but based on what you have posted I would say the “Brotherhood” are in the ballpark regarding the state of the arts in Dallas.

    The support for emerging talent in Dallas could definitely use some propping up. Debut solo shows (regardless of the scale) yield far more pats on the back than sales these days. Prior to the floor falling out on all of us in the fall of 2008, these shows were almost always a success. This was encouraging for the artists and kept them working, progressing and reaching for career milestones.

    I feel like the economy has rebounded enough for this to pick back up again, so it would be great to see its return. Bottom line…No good work priced at or below the cost of an iPhone 4S should ever make it past opening night.

    1. So true Brian. I often comment at yours and other galleries that some art is actually UNDER-priced.

      I know you work your ass off and it doesn’t go without notice and appreciation. By the way, I still need to come by and pick up my paintings…

      Here’s to a prosperous new year for you my friend!

  12. interesting ‘healthy’ feedback! certainly more ‘good’ writing needs an exclamation mark. alot happens here that is missed or undocumented in a very scattered, fragmented scene, though lots of pockets happening. John Pomara was there and wish i did not have commitments but glad Michael Corris brought up the university’s responsibilities for their products which has long been in denial! artists as well must take some responsibility for their own fate and i think they are figuring this out- yet self-advocacy as community is quite latent here. those mechanisms need to be a part of the education process which can be encouraged or in partnered alliances with the institutions through programming and collaborative incentives. Artist putting their fate in the hands of institutions will get just what you expect…artist need to create their own institutions which is now (as always) been the way. Michael Corris reminds us of this (with residency programs the new model) and innovative programming of art service investment in culture and politic. The histories of the arts were not created by institutions but by artists organizing in groups, movements and media incited by reaction to their conditions/humanity.
    this conversation should be happening with artists doing their own brotherhood event and perhaps the elite would come see what’s up. if artists make it happen the institutions will come as they are wanting to engage the scene and be a part of what is happening. the rest is fate and as we know- alot of rhetoric.

    1. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it cuz you do such fantastic work. Glad Pomara was there. UTD has been kicking UNT’s ass for a while now in the arts scene and you should be commended for it. The kids that are coming out of UTD right now are going to shape a lot of the local scene and you’ve got to accept some responsibility for it…

  13. Congratulations, Dallas. Due to this recent display of open discourse, you have earned enough points to advance your scene to Level 2 status!!

    1. I’m just looking for the “Like” button on this one.

  14. Well, the commentary is certainly varied. I’d certainly like to have an extended conversation with any of you. This may happen, if my plans for the future of the Free Museum of Dallas are realized this coming April. At this point, I am fascinated by the map of the terrain of art that is being constructed. And I realize that the exaggerated positions, the rather borish sarcasm, the willful displays of bad faith and blatant misinformation are indicative of how the culture of art demands of the artist that he or she adopt most extreme form of self-identification as a prerequisite for being . . . an artist. No one is buying the wolf ticket.

  15. After reading all the responses to the DMA event, which I regretfully missed because of another arts event…the Symphony, I feel somewhat depressed.
    The reason why is that there was no mention of the importance of art galleries during the panel discussion (as I am told) and very little in this diatribe.
    As a gallerist in Dallas for 16 years now, I have watched the art community grow and grow. My job has been to educate and inspire patrons and collectors. It has been a wild roller coaster ride, but I love my job. I just wish that more people valued our part of the visual arts “circle”. We all feed each other.
    I don’t think one can exist without the other.
    And yes, I very much agree that we need educated art criticism. There are universities that offer special programs for this. And I know that SMU has offered courses in the past. Perhaps SMU can find an endowment for this and possibly breed some local art critics that may enhance our Dallas arts scene.
    Much discussion must continue. The Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas is planning to move on this thought provoking subject.
    And finally, while it is good to have constructive criticism about the Dallas Arts Scene, I find it disheartening to read so much angst driven dialogue. Be happy for what we have. We always strive for better. And I have seen improvement in 16 years. Much improvement. We are not New York!

  16. Excellent points from Rainey, Brian and Missy:

    1. Rainey: It is rare that artists are ever included in the dialogue, even about their own work.

    2. Brian: Debut shows by promising young artists used to be the stomping ground for earnest young collectors. Now most of them have fallen to the “twinks with dough and a consultant” aesthetic that permeates Miami and many other collector orgies.

    3. Missy: I, too am tired of the kvetching about what’s wrong with the Dallas community. There is a lot to be said for the art scene here… and while the past few years have wreaked havoc on the gallery scene, there is still a core group of dedicated individuals (dealers and artists especially) who continue to define a pretty vibrant and relevant population.

  17. It is a rare person indeed who is able to resist deformation and irrelevance at the hands of fame. Mike Kelley was one such person.

    It’s touching to read the obituaries and the tributes.

    It there is something to be recovered from Kelley’s sad, untimely death I hope it is a sense of purpose to be gathered from the retellings of the underground scene that was his world.

    It’s only struck me now, after having read those testimonials to that punkish LA artist, that one of the great threats to any art network — call it a scene, a world, whatever — is the threat of suburbanization. By that I mean: making the rough “smooth”, the unpalatable “chic”, the homeless “homey”.

    One writes this with gritted teeth framed by a wry smile. It seems both real and unreal to conjur up the spirit of something as corny as the “avant-garde”. So let’s leave that behind. Why would you want a string of hangers-on to dog your every move?

    No answers, no grand plans here. Outrun the suburbs. Dig in and fight for your turf. By fighting for it, you are building it.

    Recognition is cool. Exploitation is never far behind. And there will always be those who mourn the fact that they are not being exploited enough.

  18. I’d like to see how the local arts scene would change if galleries started closing on Monday and opening on Sunday like they do in other major art markets. With proper marketing (and hopefully press), I think more people that work 9-5 shifts might explore art outside of the institutions represented on the panel. Maybe put some student interns behind the desks. I often go to the MAC and 500X on Sundays, but I think Ro2 maybe the only gallery open Sundays….

  19. Some galleries are open on Monday – Saturdays. Most are open Tuesday – Saturdays. I think you will find that most art galleries are closed Sunday/Mondays across the country. I know that some New York City galleries are open Monday – Friday in the summer. But I do not think you will get any Art Galleries to stay open on Sundays. It is just not the standard. Most everyone knows, or will know if they have interest in gallery hopping.

    1. NYC has several I’ve visited on Sunday: “The Return of Art on Sunday” http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/41835/

  20. It is certainly one of the better comments dialogues in a while. It is nice to read the fallout of a gesture as simple as recounting the highlights of a panel discussion. This also lends credit to the argument that those of us in the art world will go running to defend our positions if the signs of any faltering in our system are highlighted. As for the calls for more art writing, residencies, etc., those are things you have to do yourself. Get some people together and start a residency–do it at your house, apply for grants, hit up the wealthy sympathizers. Also, the thought that a daily paper anywhere would be in any position to offer substantial arts coverage is a worn out idea that needs to die. If you see a need for more art writing than do it. It’s just like working as a visual artist, it is not a position that is hired–it is a job you make for yourself. Expend some of that energy you’ve spent posting comments on Glasstire (for FREE) and write about your scene (for FREE). Don’t sit in your basement yelling at the wall about not being heard, make your own panel discussion and invite the powers-that-be. Oh great, now I’m lecturing myself again.

    PS. Gallerists should keep the hours they want. And no, unpaid interns should not work the desk on a Sunday (or any day) so a handful of sweaty, looky-loos can stop in.

  21. […] The State of the Arts series of conversations with artists and arts newsmakers has been going on for three seasons now.  But the last installment, featuring visual arts leaders from the Dallas Contemporary, SMU, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, probably takes the ribbon for generating the most interest – and the most discussion. […]

  22. Great overview of an event that has sparked some very interesting discourse.

    Nice to see that the Dallas Art Scene (is that what we’re calling it?) won’t go down without a a fight.

    I believe that we’ll be able to claim Dallas as a viable “art city” in due time… and this sort of healthy debate among supporters give me hope that we’re moving forward as a community.

  23. […] 7, Part 8, Part 9. A post on the roundtable by Art and Seek’s Jerome Weeks Glasstire’s post on the event Interview: The Amon Carter – Romance Maker: The Watercolors of Charles M. […]

  24. CentralTrak is hosting a panel discussion to continue the dialogue started by the DMA’s “brotherhood”. Check it out on our facebook page event: https://www.facebook.com/events/344660132243793/
    Thursday, March 29 at 6:30PM at CentralTrak (800 Exposition Avenue)

  25. alift

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