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Art Con 7
Every artwork in this story is copyright 2011 by the originating artist. No reproduction or approximation of these works
may be created in any medium for any commercial or nonprofit use without specific written permission from the artist.
ArtCon7 Piano Auction
The con is the art, most of which was not the best, though some was superb, but the ART CON 7 auction event and party definitely was top-notch. It was well-organized, mobbed with people of a lot of different ages, families, even little kids and babies. Interesting and fun, it had to have raised a gob of money for a good cause. The music was excellent, the auctions were loud but inviting, and the large space was nearly filled with people having a good time.
There was even plenty of parking space, especially if you didn't mind parking a mile away on Singleton Boulevard, then trekking in on a shuttle bus, when the closer, walking-distance lot on West Commerce — just over the bridge from downtown Dallas and into West Dallas — was officially filled up [even though there was plenty of space from people who'd already left]. We didn't get onsite till 9-something and were concerned about the bus ride, but it was pleasant, comfortable and fun. And we never had to wait for a shuttle.
What-am-I bid for this? - artist Chris Panatier
We were two hours late, but there was still lots of art to be auctioned (minimum bid $20) to support Musical Angels, an organization that provides free, weekly piano lessons to children at Children's Medical Center and Baylor Hospital. Art Con gets a new beneficiary each year, usually smallish organizations or institutions in the Dallas community. Places that would truly benefit from an initial influx of donations.
Signing In at Art Checkout
Instead of inviting Dallas' best artists to donate work, like EASL does for their big fund-raisers, Art Conspiracy invites anyone who thinks they are an artist, by lottery to come to their space, on the Friday before the event and make a piece of art in four hours. They provide either a primed or unprimed board, artists bring their own supplies.
As shown in our story of a previous Art Con, though in a different and better lighted and more comfortable space, lottery winners created their work. The four-hour limit is not exactly a guarantor of quality fine art, but many participating artists planned ahead, brought pieces or plans to construct or photographs to cut down to size. The rules seemed pretty loose.
Auctions were held at specific, pre-announced times in separate parts of the building, so there was always time between excitements to catch up on payments, etc. The procedure seemed quick, efficient and not overly crowded.
Robb Conover (Artists' names courtesy Art Con 7)
This is some of the better good art and most visually interesting bad art we saw there, and if you don't care — like most of the people who either bought works at the auctions in three spaces in the huge, hangar-like building or were just there to party and enjoy the spectacle — you may not care which was which, but regular DallasArtsRevue readers might.
Tramaine Townsend dancing in space
Everybody who made art — most of which was scheduled for earlier this week, in shifts, in this same building — got four hours to make art happen on an 18 x 18-inch board, so most of the sizes were the same, although there was some fudging.
Sean Fitzgerald owl attack
Like this piece — my photo of which may look a little better than the real thing — neatly extending each wing out onto another board. Other than the quick-scan tags identifying each piece, there was no immediate visual notice of who did what, except some people sign their work. I don't have (or want) a cell phone, so I couldn't scan or check the info.
I think I've seen this artist's work before, and though this specific piece is more about the glory of the colors, tones and textures than great fine art, it is fascinating and shows that dreaded art word that artists usually cringe at, potential.
Ashley Brightwell cobot rowboy
Not only were artists not identified, neither were titles or mediums, although this one's are obvious. I suppose it's possible it was thrown together in three hours, but it sure looks like there was prior planning, and that's usually a good thing.
I didn't get a full shot of this piano that was octopus-painted and auctioned off in a special bidding war from the bandstand. But I shot it as it was rolled out the big door onto the standing lot. (Hundreds of us standing out there in the cool November breeze, seeing and being seen and eating and drinking and having fun) to be whisked off for whomever bought it. I had to shoot quick.
It was not, perhaps, the finest quality artwork on the octo-piano, but it was an attention-getting instrument, and indicative of the quality of most of the work there, which is not shown on this page, because I didn't even want to look at all that dreck.
Art Persons at Work
A few stragglers were still making "art" as late as 9:30 that night, though they were too late for the auction. Nobody's work was turned down. Everything must go. I'm sure this woman's cute rabbit fit right in.
The one other major Dallas art auction that may be confused with this one, because both involve a large number of Dallas artists, and they have remarkably similar names, is the Emergency Artists Support League (EASL) that raises money to help are area artists in financial or medical distress. EASL has been calling its annual art auctions Art Heist longer than Art Con has been calling theirs, Art Conspiracy, and there's more, older and better-known fine artists involved in the EASL event.
But EASL could learn a few things from Art Con, including how to attract such a large, diverse and young, money-spending audience; how to make it a party not just an auction; and how to feed attendees on attendee's own dime by inviting food trucks to park in the big fenced-in standing lot.
The one lesson Art Con could learn from EASL has to do with the quality of the art. But I think most of those who attend Art Con don't know or care much about that.
Rapidly running out of art I'd want to save on my memory card, I began to notice that a visually fascinating fashion parade was swirling all around.
I'd recently seen a movie about a photographer who documented what people actually wear in real life as well as on fashion runways, mostly in New York, but in Paris and around the world for The New York Times. The flick, called Bill Cunningham New York, was a joy to watch someone doing what he truly loved doing, and soon after thinking that, I was happily engaged in photographing the faces, fashions, common and uncommon couture of Dallas, Texas' biggest art fete.
Many of those present to support Art Con's latest beneficiary (There's a new one every year.) sported individualist looks and senses of style. Finding them was as easy as standing at one of the big bay doors and waiting for someone wearing something stylish to come along, then evaluating their outfits quickly enough to capture them.
Friends who know me might never guess I could get off photographing these people and what they were wearing, but it was grand fun and kept my attention most of the rest of the evening. And I even thought about putting a few odd clothing elements together next time I go out in public.
Luckily, I'd brought my little Lumix G2 that I could shoot and manipulate with just one hand. I doubt many of the people I chose to photograph even knew what I was up to as they exited the building, going from dark out into the bright lights, cool breeze and emptying food trucks.
Enough people in orange T-shirts and jeans to classify them as uniforms. They were Art Com's many workers.
Hat and Scarf
The standing lot was a wild diversity of styles …
High-top and Pink Sneakers, Hat and Green Purse
… and colors.
From the extravagantly conspicuous …
Gray and Blue
… to deceptively simple everyday tones and hues.
In camaraderie …
… and impromptu picnics on the concrete,
everybody and their friend showed their own senses of style …
I think maybe these guys were onto me.
… from splatters of stripes and little riots of scallops and color …
… to combos of the simplest, monochromatic tones, with a few, spare flourishes …
Orange, Brown and Blue
uptown, downtown and on the block looks,
Hat and Sash
… that set some outfits apart.
Arm in Arm
Everybody's got style, but some are more overt about it.
See also my much-earlier photo story about making art for Art Con 3.
hits since November 14 2011