The Dallas Art Fair is an incredible, if not at times overwhelming, place to view art. With local, regional, national, and international galleries featuring a wide variety of work, there is most definitely something for everyone.
I had just a few hours to devote to the fair on its opening day, so opted to take a quick pass when I first arrived, and then a slower stroll through, taking my time to really note which works were not just catching, but keeping my attention. And it was on this second walk-through that I realized that many of the works I came back to featured fabric either as their medium or their main subject matter.
There were sculptural pieces like Thaw by Rusty Scruby and Renovated by Adrian Esparza, which in many ways feel like opposites of each other. Where Scruby has constructed an intricate, interlocking sculpture and knitted a slip over it, Esparza has created space with his structural form and deconstructed a sarape within it, effectively isolating the textile’s various colors.
Another subset was painterly threadworks. By this I mean two-dimensional works that use thread or yarn to create mostly flat images. And though Gabriel Rico’s The Second cause is meant to be an explanation of the first (Páramo, The reunion I) and Erick Medel’s Paletero Caminando both fall into this category, they are incredibly different works. Rico has coated his yarn with beeswax, giving it a glossy finish, and has meticulously adhered it to a wooden board. His images feel like isolated thoughts floating against a silver backdrop, whereas Medel’s work is much more cohesive. Medel’s street scene is sewn onto denim and has a sense of layered perspective like you might see in a documentary-style street photograph.
And while Jamal Cyrus also uses denim, his treatment of the material is starkly different from Medel’s approach. His abstract works speak to a long history of using fabric scraps in quilt-making processes.
Angela Anh Nguyen’s Bball Beef, drew me in part because of the surprise of seeing cartoon-like depictions of basketball players collaged through a tufted rug process. I can honestly say nothing else at the fair was like it.
Many of the other works that captivated me also featured fabric as the subject matter. In hyperrealistic oil paintings and more stylized mixed media works, the familiarity and tension of the fabrics we use in our daily lives was a major theme.