Centers Do Not Hold

Change Chamber Studios' Change, with Katherine Baronet, Don Bodine, Jim Bowman, Eliseo Garcia, Neil McNeill, Mel Ristau, Zed Roumaya, T Stone and Scot Finch is up for awhile, I'm guessing through November 30 or so.

I didn't know why I was excited about this show, even before I saw it, but it turned out, I was a lot more excited than I thought. Essentially an exhibition to thank some of Zad Roumaya's friends, shown in his office / studio space in near downtown Dallas, the show featured some outstanding work.

More importantly, it answered the question that had been running through my mind lately. Can any art center serve Dallas artists? The answer, of course, is a resounding No way ! And we who thought an art center would be essential to Dallas artists were off our rockers.

Neither The MAC nor DVAC provides an alternative exhibition space or solo show opportunities. Oh, if you're ethnic or the once-annual Legend awardee, you can wrangle a solo show at DVAC. And a small, short-term show by individuals might get crammed into The MAC's New Works space.


Eliseo Garcia - Sea Patterns, 2000, limestone, patina copper, 24 x 12 x 7.5 inches and Jeff A Green - Daisy, 2000, wood, found objects, 30 x 12 x 5 inches. JRC photos.

But none of the innovative local, group exhibitions envisioned by the founders of DARE ( now The MAC ) ever happend — or are likely to — at either space. Serious, local artists have long supported the notion that some independent art center will — eventually — present significant showings of their work. But unless you move away and make it big — or both, it's not gonna happen.


Although both institutions rely on our financial contributions, neither offers Dallas artists any serious participation in their direction. Are there any artists on either center's boards or staff? Is it even possible to submit a proposal to them?

Both have the obligatory annual, unjuried membership show and one juried exhibition possibility, where we might get to hang one of our pieces. But if we want a significant showing, we have to go to the private sector.

Which is no real tragedy. Indeed, it may represent the best of all possible worlds.

Art can not be divorced from commerce. DVAC and The MAC prove that every day. Centers do not hold. A community is its participants, not some benevolent agency dependent upon "public" funding with quirky and bizzare notions of what they have to do to get it.

   image on Change's invitation

Zad invited some of his friends to show their work in his building near downtown. He chose well. And he invited the visual art community to come enjoy themselves, his friends' art and some live music.

The space was colorful. The music was loud; the band took long breaks, and the place was packed. It felt like community. And, of course, it was.

There was no way I could render Mel Ristau's exquisite, "pigmented ink on extreme gamut satine" prints with my low-res digital camera. The pristine works were scattered throughout the dynamic, visually exciting, contiguous open spaces, and each visually portrayed in simple, stylized, direct line drawings and spot colors some abstract concept, like Prayer, Obstacle and After Dreaming is Done The thought provoking works were, clean, serene, gorgeous and popular — many had already acquired red dots.

Nor was I able to catch the two subtle, thoughtful pieces by installation artist Mary Hood. Her Second Glance comprised a string matrix suspending a series of color photographs of two eyes and intervening nose bridges. They stared out at us staring in at them. The completely dissimilar Conflict comprised a shoulder level series of white, burning candles inside transparent, acrylic boxes, each of which was etched with contrasting concepts, like "reason / irrationality."

Zad's father-in-law, Neil McNeill's large ink jet and silver bromide, black and white photographs from around the world were strongly composed, tonally sophisticated and obviously the work of a mature artist.

Beautiful, carved limestone sculptures by Eliseo Garcia added to the serious quality of the evening's showing, and Jeff A Green's found object assemblages provided a colorful, often comedic relief. -JRC


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