Jeremy Biggers: Unspoken Burdens at South Dallas Cultural Center, July 2–August 14, 2021
The figures avoid our gaze in Jeremy Biggers’ solo exhibition of paintings and drawing at South Dallas Cultural Center. The panels are illustrated in low lighting, illuminated by an iridescent stream that borders in between the blank abyss and the painter’s subjects. Alongside his portrait painting, a practice that Biggers has developed over years of his shows and murals in the Dallas area, are smaller drawings of the same models. As a multi-hyphenate creative talent, Biggers takes his honed craft back to basics for a moment: “The drawings for this exhibition were created specifically for the sake of revisiting a medium I haven’t used in my work in decades,” states the artist. “My art journey began with graphite and paper, and I have unintentionally abandoned it in the years since.”
Additionally, Biggers’ solitary video work Harvest plays in the rear gallery. The piece is bare cinema, and follows some of Biggers’ tendencies for conducting portraiture, but here we see living people rather than the studies of them that the artist mediates by hand. Biggers says, “Harvest is a film about how ‘Blackness’ is harvested by every other culture, while simultaneously attempting to exclude Black people from the origination narrative.”
Francisco Moreno: DEMONS at OFG.XXX, Dallas, July 10–September 4, 2021
Demons, in my mind, are symbols of transgression. They’re parables for the sharp parts of reality that need a little illustrative flourish to stomach. Francisco Moreno, in this inaugural show of OFG’s resurrected presence in Dallas, has painted them here as house pets or exotic, trained animals. Their goofy evil is a little too cute to worry about.
SUMMER 2021 at Erin Cluley Gallery, July 10–August 21, 2021
Erin Cluley Gallery’s summer show is, as with all of its group shows, a rowdy bunch of some of the freshest formal work in town. Chivas Clem’s Cajun on a Fainting Couch, Night is a matte print of a sleepy evening, intimate and austere. Hidenori Ishii’s paintings are paired on the wall, crackling and shining in tandem. Will Murchison’s prismatic drawing reminds me of Pedro Velez’s wall work, tuned to a different frequency.
Jon Flaming: Wrangler, April 11–July 11, 2021; and From First and Last Lines, to The River Ouse: Works by Linda Ridgway, June 4–August 29, 2021, both at Tyler Museum of Art
The two main gallery spaces at the Tyler Museum of Art, tall gray boxes, showcase work by established Texas artists in these summer exhibitions.
Jon Flaming’s work here spans several series, and among them are some as-of-yet unseen paintings in his Modern Cowboy series. Flaming fashions himself as a steward of the wrangler’s lifestyle. The work involves a palette of cadmiums, blues and ochres, sometimes tinged with greenery. The naturalistic depiction of rural life is pared down to the blocky figures which emblemize Flaming’s vision of a cowboy: a fashionable symbol, posing in situ for a handsome photo spread. The artist ran his own successful design firm in Richardson starting in 1993, and for the majority of his career, painting was an extracurricular activity. The resulting mass of work from all those nights and weekends is on display here.
Linda Ridgway’s show is grounded by graphite prints, made by dusting textiles with the drawing material and then running them through a press. The process creates a strikingly precise impression onto the paper, which the artist later draws on top of, augmenting certain aspects and enriching the sharpness of the message. Ridgway has translated classic literature into corporeal forms. On select pieces, calligraphic details by Andrea Tosten of Dallas can be pored over, much to my delight.
Not Responsible for Lost Socks at Cedars Union, Dallas, July 9–August 20, 2021
The Cedars Union’s mission for arts incubation is ever-evolving, which makes the non-profit of interest to artists creating in Dallas. The space offers community memberships, which allows for perks like booking fabrication and design resources through their studios. It’s an 18-month cohort of studio artist memberships. The Cedars Union has set out to create a structure for artists to conduct their practice alongside each other.
The cohort is decided through a jury composed of creative community members such as Jordan Roth of Ro2 Art, Rachel Rogerson of the MAC, Dr. Lauren Cross, Sarah Blagden, and Leslie Moody Castro. Artists apply with the understanding that they should prioritize their time in the space. As a recent viewing of the current group of artist’s work shows, the one-roof model is much needed right now.
The studios, which are open-air cubicles that allow for a generous line of sight as well as borders for concentration, are in Cedars Union’s main building at 1219 South Ervay Street in Dallas. Artists agree to rent spaces ranging from 8’ x 8’ to 10’ x 20′ at $1.50 per square foot, monthly, for the duration of the term.
One studio has been made into an exhibition space for member contributions. “If you were to go through an artist’s drawer, it’s kind of like lost socks. Not super-official, done-deal stuff,” says Adrienne Lichliter-Hines, Cedars Union’s Marketing and Programs Manager.
After the revolving door of artist-run collectives that gave Dallas a name for exciting artistic experiments in the 2010s, there is a glimmer that the non-profit scene can come up with solutions that are subject to less volatility as the city continues to grow.
To get a snapshot of what this year’s cohort is thinking about, I asked a few artists to give a quick statement:
“These are all family members, close friends. We all have a relationship with a camera now anyway. I like the relatability of that moment. We’ve all be in some general situation that doesn’t require anyone to have a personal relationship with my subjects. I lean on the history of portraiture pretty heavily.”
“I’m answering some of the questions I couldn’t answer with paint.”
“My work is about the layers of our humanity. So often we’re pigeonholed into being one thing and none of us are. I’ve been working less with humans… I work with buildings and objects.”
“It’s cliche to say but we all have our own path. We’re literally not the same person. Essentially my work is about a few different topics. Mental health, my own mental health. It kind of deals with the topic of mental compartmentalizations. With that, I see the process of creating this work as acting out the process of mental compartmentalizations. I like experimenting with containment in that sense. I found control in my work. I was getting burnt out, and I needed to balance that out and let loose. Let myself be vulnerable. It’s essentially about being okay with not being okay’.
“Among the stately, prismatic paintings in Jessica Baldivieso’s studio, she showcases an outlier: an easel which she has coated with canvas, rendering it non-functional. ‘I’m done with this way of thinking, of painting’, she states. ‘It’s a sculpture[;] it’s not a painting anymore.'”
Mark Flood & Preston Douglas: Stretcher Barbeque at PRP, Dallas, July 10–July 31, 2021
Brooklyn artist (Houston native) Preston Douglas has moved on from canvas. Only fashion fabrics will do for his crucibles that leave little to the imagination. Douglas seems to live in an eternal springtime; he always has a slick pitch for whatever the hell he’s got going on. This was the case for the July 10 opening reception at PRP, which was about as packed as a night could be. My availability, in particular, was limited to the final moments of Stretcher Barbecue’s reception. What a fool I was to believe that a few minutes would be enough time to get to the bottom of it all. Topping off the experience was the impersonator recruited and directed by the artist to field any and all questions about the art.
For some answers, I followed up with Douglas to learn how his work has shifted since relocating to New York:
“I came to the realization while living and working in New York that canvas and linen are fabric at the end of the day, and why am I just limiting myself to these fabrics when I have an extensive knowledge, understanding, relationship, personal history, attachment, etc. to all of these other fabrics I had been using in my previous fashion life?
“Mark [Flood} ended up letting me and Brandon Araujo use one of his studios to paint in when we both didn’t have anywhere to work out of, and Mark gave me some stretcher bars. He introduced me to aluminum stretchers, and it’s been downhill ever since.”
MEN OF CHANGE: POWER. TRIUMPH.TRUTH. at the African American Museum of Dallas, June 26 – September 12, 2021
“We never get anything in the paper about some of the good things these young people are doing,” says the show’s guest curator Phillip E. Collins, referring to the lack of reporting on the positive contributions of young Black people. It was this reasoning that led him, during his tenure as Chief Curator at the African American Museum of Dallas in the early ‘90s, to create an exhibition program for young Black artists. “The name of the exhibition series was Fresh Beginnings. The purpose/mission of the exhibition program was to identify young artists who had potential to become serious professional artists. Fresh out of college, I realized these young artists had very little opportunity for exhibition exposure.” Collins says that even after school has finished, the art graduate may have a portfolio, but no patron to support their work. The museum recognized its responsibility to offer young artists exhibition opportunities and exposure to a larger audience.
Men of Change is a group show designed by the Smithsonian in D.C., and features the work of Black artists who pay homage to other notable Black figures throughout history. This grouping contains a special connection to the Museum and to Dallas. Houston native Robert Pruitt became the first Fresh Beginnings exhibiting artist, and he returns here with work in reference to American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
VISIBLE: Asian and AAPI Artists in America at Ro2 Art Downtown, Dallas, July 3–July 31, 2021
Narong Tintamusik took his splashy paintings and crumpled them into floor sculptures, adding wiry features in his show at 500X in Dallas earlier this year. Here, the artist has added more movement to these pieces. On view are three flexible sculptures which border on being wearable: Berry Twisted Urchin Necklace describes itself perfectly. Tintamusik’s pieces are always textural, and seem to congeal in your presence. Making functional objects is about user experience, and I don’t see these being suitable to throw on for a quick grocery store run. Rather, Tintamusik is making pieces that can encounter the body. But that alone is not the only thing to consider when asking where Tintamusik is going.