500X Gallery Evicted from Tin District Location; Opens New 500 Annex

by Jessica Fuentes May 30, 2024

Last month, the artist-run 500X Gallery in Dallas was evicted from its Tin District location, and within the last week, the organization has announced the opening of an Annex location in Irving and exhibitions featuring 500X members.

A photograph of the original location of the artist-run gallery 500X.

Exterior view of 500X Gallery, from the “20×500” exhibition catalogue on the 500X’s 20th anniversary

Established in 1978, 500X is one of Texas’ oldest artist-run cooperative galleries. It was developed by Will Hipps, a Massachusetts native who moved to Dallas to teach, and Richard Childers, a painter. The artists’ intention was to create a space for artists to showcase their work without the influences and constraints of traditional commercial galleries. 

Originally located at 500 Exposition Avenue near Dallas’ Fair Park, east of downtown, 500X lost its long-time space in April 2020 when its landlord, The Gibson Company, terminated its lease. The termination came on the heels of a controversial exhibition, Queer Me Now, which the landlord demanded be taken down. At the time, the exhibition galleries were housed in a shared public space between residential lofts managed by The Gibson Company. While some saw this move as censorship, others, like Glasstire’s William Sarradet, noted the nuances of the situation in that the exhibition did not contain warnings about graphic content, including “scenes of anal penetration and anthropomorphic devils gagging their subjects.”

In June 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, 500X announced its move to a new gallery location in Dallas’ Tin District, an area west of downtown that is home to various galleries and artist studios. Kasey Short, who was a 500X member from 2019-2021, told Glasstire that the transition was “arduous,” as the members had to come to agreements about how to simultaneously preserve the history of 500X and move into a new space. Along with moving, the pandemic brought restrictions related to the size of gatherings the organization could host. Ultimately, Short noted that the transition to the space, coupled with the pandemic, affected the organization’s financial situation. 

In a “financial transparency statement” posted the 500X website in 2021, the organization said, “While we have gained a total of 12 current members and increased our monthly dues to $60 per month, we are still unable to cover the monthly rent, utilities, and other operational costs which includes email marketing subscriptions, internet services, and home improvement supplies.”

Michelle Cortez Gonzales, who was a member from 2021 to 2022 and served as the Special Exhibitions Manager and the 500X Gallery representative for the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD), told Glasstire that the relocation to West Dallas came with “a significant rent increase,” which paired with a decrease in membership due to the pandemic resulted in the organization’s decision to publish the statement. 

A photograph of an event at 500X Gallery's Tin District location in August 2022.

500X Gallery, August 2022

For nearly four years the gallery held exhibitions and events at its 516 Fabrication Street location, where 500X had a space within a building that also houses seven to eight other artist studios. Then, at the end of April, 500X members gathered to move out of the location following the organization’s eviction. The gallery has not made public comments about the events leading to the move. Ashley Whitt, the current President of the organization, declined to answer specific questions about the financial state of the organization, the recent eviction from 516 Fabrication, or allegations made via social media about minors being served alcohol at events held at 500X. She told Glasstire, “We would like to focus on our upcoming show and moving forward as an organization and our bright future.” 

In a Facebook post from December 12, 2023, Jessie Moncrief, an artist who has maintained a studio in the Tin District since 2015, alleged that 500X had sold alcohol to minors and sublet the building to host “unsupervised raves,” some of which she says lasted until 8 a.m. She told Glasstire that during the first of these types of events, held in October 2023, 500X members were not present for the duration of the event and ultimately she stayed to lock up the space. She brought up concerns about inebriated young people, trash that was dumped outside of the designated areas leading to the loss of a nearby dumpster, and a general lack of engagement with the surrounding community.

Larry “Butch” McGregor, a managing partner at West Dallas Investments, which has invested in properties in the area since the early 2000s, spoke with Glasstire about 500X’s eviction. While he did not provide details about what led to the eviction, Mr. McGregor stated, “I think that the mission of [500X] is great. I hate that we had to do that, but I just didn’t have a choice. I don’t want to bad mouth anybody… I had warned them several times… they were using the space for things that we did not have a permit from the city to use it for.”

Three weeks ago via its social media platforms, 500X noted it would be launching a new mission statement, an updated website, and announcing new projects. Since then, the organization has made a series of posts leading up to a larger announcement that is as of this story still forthcoming. In the meantime, about a week ago, the gallery announced that it has a new project space, the 500 Annex, and on May 28, it announced that it will present a one-time exhibition at its original location (500 Exposition Ave.).

The 500 Annex is located at 136 S. Main Street, Suite 108, in Irving. The inaugural show is an open call seeking artworks that are 10-by-10-inches or smaller and ready to hang. Artworks in all media will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Participants will pay $10 per artwork and should bring their work to the Annex on Saturday, June 8 from noon to 4 p.m. or Sunday, June 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition, Voyager-2, will take place on Saturday, June 15, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Artwork pick-up will be the following day. 

Concurrently, The Eclectika, an experimental art space located at 711 N. Britain Road in Irving, will host Voyager-1, a 500X members group show to welcome the organization to the area. 

Jordan Roth, co-founder and Director of Ro2 Art Gallery, which was founded in 2010 and opened a second location in the Tin District in 2022, told Glasstire that he was happy to learn of the upcoming show at 500 Exposition.  He noted, “This marks a pivotal moment for the visual arts group to rediscover their essence and renew their commitment to their primary mission of showcasing cutting-edge visual art by emerging artists. While the recent deviation with the raves and overall ‘everyone’s an artist’ group show was a regrettable departure from their founding and ongoing principles, it’s clear that 500X has made strides in recent years to actively engage with a more diverse range of artists and audiences, enriching the visual arts community in Dallas, and I hope the emphasis on diversity continues.”

He added, “This return to their roots presents a unique opportunity for 500x to rekindle their pioneering spirit and uphold their legacy as a proving ground for emerging Texas artists. As they approach their 50th anniversary, this moment can serve as a catalyst for them to continue nurturing creativity and innovation in the visual arts scene for years to come.”

The exhibition at 500 Exposition, LAZARUS, will run from June 29 to July 14 and will feature 500X members. Ms. Whitt told Glasstire that the organization will be sharing additional information on its website and social media soon. 

Disclosure: Jessica Fuentes was a member of 500X Gallery from 2014-2015.

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