Rooms Within Rooms: Recent Exhibitions in Dallas, Lubbock, and Corpus Christi

by William Sarradet March 3, 2023
Exhibitin Artist Preston Douglas (Left), and Gallerist John Cavallo (Right)

Artist Preston Douglas (Left) and Gallerist John Cavallo (Right)

Work by Preston Douglas on view at Seventh Space in Dallas

A work by Preston Douglas, on view at Seventh Space in Dallas

Preston Douglas: UNDER MY ARMOUR at Seventh Space, Dallas, February 10 – March 18, 2023

Preston Douglas has created a “room within the gallery” for this exhibition at a residential space in downtown Dallas. Fashion fabrics like ganza billow against their aluminum frames, a formal style that Douglas has worked with extensively since relocating to New York. Seventh Space is a new home gallery by John Cavallo, who met Douglas in Houston. The interior of the gallery consists of what appears to be a defunct elevator — sliding metal doors are stuck open, which give entry to a small concrete room hung with Douglas’s most recent works. 

Also on view are videos, which exemplify a similar approach; Douglas looms around a cubicle draped in his typical dye-sublimated fabrics. He conducts an ambient music piece which loops, melodically, giving ambience to his gauzy surroundings. At the show’s reception, Cavallo wore a pastel blue seersucker suit, which was a part of Douglas’s third fashion collection. To see a Texas art lover and collector extend his home to artists to show work elevates the space into that of the most illustrious galleries.


Kim Ables, "Hope Chest," on view at SP/N Gallery in Richardson

Kim Ables, “Hope Chest,” on view at SP/N Gallery in Richardson

Stephanie Rothenberg, "Aquadisia," on view at SP/N Gallery in Richardson

Stephanie Rothenberg, “Aquadisia,” on view at SP/N Gallery in Richardson

ART AS SOCIAL PRACTICE – Technologies for Change at SP/N Gallery, Richardson, January 20 – February 25, 2023

Art as Social Practice, the exhibition, is actually an adaptation of a journal by the same name. UTD Professor Xtine Burrough, along with Judy Walgren, edited the volume, examining established artists working in the realm of social practice. “I wanted to animate the book in the gallery,” Burrough tells me. The book project began in 2020 — an opportune time to work on writing, less so for showing work under lockdown. Both the book and the exhibition turned out to be a practice of curation for Burrough.

For me, the through line of the exhibition is an imagining of different possible social orders. Stephanie Rothenberg’s Aquadisia is a multimedia installation which imagines a commercial beverage product, with accompanying marketing, that solves major climatic upheaval. In this presentation, an advertisement explains that a liquid substance can be captured from genetically engineered Mollusca ostreidae, or oysters. When ingested, it will enable “humans and possibly other species to experience aquadisia,” a sensation that is meant to bring utopia; its exact effects are not delineated here. The work is reminiscent of the techniques employed by the genre of speculative fiction, except that the video here is merely a vignette of a hypothetical product rather than a complete literary work.

Kim Ables built a “hope chest,” which is also the work’s title. It is a reprocessing of all the waste that she generated over the course of a month. Chips and strips of plastic and paper are plaited into a rectangular basket, and two smaller vessels hold worms and plants for organic processes of natural decomposition. The object feels like a rejection of morose attitudes towards our difficult position: that we produce more than we can recycle responsibly.

The project of compiling a journal of artistic strategies and then exhibiting it in the gallery is probably best suited for an academic space like SP/N Gallery, but I would like to see other curators or collectives pursue the practice as well. An exhibition catalog is inviting in its glossiness and heavy weight, but a journal starts the conversation just as well.


A visual score by Sidney Pink, on view at Co-Opt Research and Projects

A visual score by Sidney Pink, on view at Co-Opt Research and Projects

Post-Score at Co-Opt Research and Projects, Lubbock, January 13 – February 19, 2023

This exhibition was a clever play on a presentation of mail art. Curated by Andrew Weathers and Heather Warren-Crow, a selection of musicians and artist colleagues across the country were invited to submit visual scores on 6 x 9-inch cards. The works are presented on three walls of the gallery, with the graphic score facing towards the viewer. Picking them up and turning them over revealed the artist’s name and origin.

Aside from being an innovative way of leaning on the curator’s musical practices for a visual art exhibition, the format of the show lends itself to creative interpretation by design. Demonstrations and performances were planned, in which Weather and Warren-Crow performed the works alongside others.

“This one was really interesting,” Co-Opt member Natalie Hegert told me while pointing to a submission by Audra Wolowiec. The card featured text from the first page of Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves, with all of the conjunctions and prepositional words removed and left as blank space. The pacing of the remaining text is meant to inform the performer how to place their breath, and was performed at the opening by co-curator Warren-Crow and Co-Opt member Seth Warren-Crow. The collaborative quality of the exhibition was endlessly interesting, and I would be elated if it becomes a regular part of Co-Opt’s program.


Blow Up II: Inflatable Contemporary Art On View at the Art Museum of South Texas

Blow Up II: Inflatable Contemporary Art On View at the Art Museum of South Texas

Blow Up II: Inflatable Contemporary Art, at the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, January 20 – April 9, 2023

As part of a recent explorative trip to South Texas, I visited Blow Up II at the Art Museum of South Texas, in part because it seemed like such an unlikely show for a major museum sitting on the Gulf of Mexico. Much of that region focuses on plein air paintings of flora and fauna, whereas inflatable art is a realm of sculpture which requires some textile design, a little engineering, and a whole lot of hot air.

Friendswithyou, the Los Angeles-based artist duo who have had repeated success exhibiting in Texas museums like dallas contemporary and the Amarillo Museum of Art, show a work that is so rainbow-filled I originally mistook it for a piece by Takashi Murakami. There are no bulbous eyes to lock onto, but the globular shape will seem familiar to those who visited the dance at the aforementioned dallas contemporary in the winter of 2020. It is a delightful experience to view this specific niche of contemporary work alongside some of the Museum’s more historic collections of pre-Columbian artifacts and regional art heroes. 


William Sarradet is the Assistant Editor for Glasstire.

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