Deep Breaths and Experimental Film: Recent Exhibitions in Dallas and McAllen

by William Sarradet February 7, 2023
Work by Bartosz Beda on view at Ro2 Art's Tin District Location

Works by Bartosz Beda on view at Ro2 Art’s Tin District Location

Ro2 Art’s Tin District Grand Opening, Dallas, January 21, 2023

Ro2 Art’s new location in West Dallas demonstrates the gallery’s expanded potential. Compared to their compact former flagship space on 1502 South Ervay Street, their white cube gallery at 2606 Bataan Street emboldens exhibits featuring large-scale artwork.

One work by Julie Libersat, Mall Mandala (2018), hung on one of the many towering walls of the space, serves as a great reminder of what Ro2 has accomplished since it opened in 2010. I could easily imagine Libersat’s sculpture adorning the wall of a bank or a hospital. The piece is a medallion of infrastructure, speaking to Texas’ size.

Works by artist ​​Bartosz Beda, who is currently using the gallery’s South Ervay Street location as a studio, are seen alongside Yuni Lee’s solo exhibition, Mindscapes. Large portraits by Yasuyo Maruyama are also on display. Seeing this much work — a full cross section of Ro2’s range — feels like taking a deep breath after moving into a bigger apartment. It’s exciting to think of what is to come, now that the gallery’s program has room to stretch its legs.


4DWN main entrance in Dallas

4DWN’s main entrance in Dallas

Work by SooMi Han on view at 4DWN

A work by SooMi Han, on view at 4DWN

Work by Brooke-Lynne Clark on view at 4DWN

A video work by Brooke-Lynne Clark, on view at 4DWN

Frontside/Backside at 4DWN, Dallas, January 21 – February 25, 2023

4DWN, a skate park and gallery space at the verge of South Dallas, hosted skateboarders and art viewers on Saturday, January 21. Those riding on their boards were making ample use of the smooth curves and varied topography of the ramps inside the space’s main structure, as well as the park outside towards the parking lot. The energy of the two crowds was electric.

After circling the collection of prints, installations, and video works, by some of the most exciting emerging artists in Dallas, I asked exhibition co-coordinator Liz Trosper how the show came to be:

“[Fernando Alvarez] asked me [to organize a show] and I was like, I am super interested in something that interacts with the architecture and the action happening here. What spaces do you know that have this kind of curve? What a weird interaction of types of activities in space. It became a certain magical opportunity to have [curved walls for an art show]. Also, they have a new media space.”


Monica Chang, Mirror of My Heart, 2011

Monica Chang, “Mirror of My Heart,” 2011

Monica Chang, Sleeping Beauty, 2021

Monica Chang, “Sleeping Beauty,” 2021

Mónica Chang: The Whole World Is a Garden at the International Museum of Art & Science, McAllen, January 14 – April 30, 2023

Mexican painter Monica Chang’s self-portraits at the International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen showcase the artist’s ability to render figures with delicate variations in tone. The exhibition’s self-portraits capture the artist’s inner peace and tranquility as she explores her relationship with nature.

The figures are of various ages and are rarely paired with another figure in each composition. Small details like the petals of flowers or highlights within eyes are applied with either thick impasto or are blended softly, depending on the direction Chang wishes for the final work. Her color palette ranges from somber, impressionistic cool blues to bold, bright Mexican golds and reds. The figures here are almost always embraced by flowers on all sides, and the works’ lush garden setting echoes the exterior garden walkway connecting the museum’s main building with its contemporary galleries. 

Chang has created an inspiring collection of artwork that celebrates the beauty of nature and encourages viewers to find their own inner peace. Her self-portrait works also align with the museum’s mission to present international work to a South Texas audience.


"Skinamarink," Directed by Kyle Edward Ball

“Skinamarink,” Directed by Kyle Edward Ball

SKINAMARINK, directed by Kyle Edward Ball. Viewable on IFC Midnight and Shudder

Skinamarink, Kyle Edward Ball’s 2022 horror film, which follows two small children as something strange happens to their parents, is awash in bubbling watery noises that have been added digitally. The film is repeatedly described as “experimental” by reviewers, which is an acceptable shorthand when a work’s cinematography deviates severely from convention. In The Blair Witch Project (2001), the film relies on the conceit that the audience is watching found footage captured on a handheld camcorder, as compared to a high-fidelity camera on a soundstage. Similarly, in Skinamarink, the entire film is shot with the camera sitting not at eye-level, but rather at floor-level. This buck of convention keeps the viewer on their toes, as we cannot anticipate how logic operates in a film so disorienting.

The duration of the film is visually consistent: blue-black shots of deep night in the interior of a home, illuminated only by streetlamps and stars. Sound and light struggle to carve out space and dimension; for what little dialogue there is, subtitles are shown to decipher the characters’ whispers. Towards the film’s conclusion, I began to feel as if my retinas had atrophied and that I could no longer discern fine detail. Skinamarink contains so little material to observe, the horror within it exists in a kind of limbo. We are unable to see the faces of the characters due to the darkness they inhabit, and the mother and father are rarely seen on screen at all. It is as minimal as one can make a story, but it haunts in the way urban legends do. It is unfalsifiable in its simplicity.  

Skinamarink is a good example of a threadbare film. It was an enigmatic experience that fought explanation where I sought it, yet rendered a fresh take on the horror genre.


William Sarradet is the Assistant Editor for Glasstire.

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