Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA

Home  Index   Calendar   Opportunities   ThEdblog   Resources   Feedback   Reviews   Google this Site
Art by Members   How to Join   Send Us Stuff   Artists with Websites   Visual Art Groups   Contact Us 

This is a work in progress. Many changes, edits and additions will be made.
See also The Squeaky Wheel: Making a Noise that Won't Go Away by Tahlia Marmo

An Herstoric Timeline:
From Artists Coalition of Texas
To D-Art & The Contemp

2917 Swiss Avenue

Former Address for D-ART An Art Center for Dallas at 2917 Swiss Avenue   in March 2010

Special thanks to everyone who helped with this timeline, and if anyone has photos of early D-Art history, we'd love to use them — credited and copyrighted to you, if you like. As always, we're open to other interpretations of herstory, but this timeline requires documents to prove facts.

Compiled by J R Compton

Gray text indicates personal opinion by J R Compton, who compiled this timeline in early 2001 and late winter 2010. Please email me if you have document-based facts to add or subtract from this ongoing document. Find my latest email via the Contact Us link at the top of this page.

On Thursday, March 3, 1977, an article entitled "Goals for Dallas" published on page 37-A of The Dallas Morning News cited several references to area arts growth possibilities.

March 17-19, 1977  ART: Marketing - Business - Professionalism Seminar, sponsored by Texas Fine Art Association and coordinated by Mary D Albrecht at UTD

April 20, 1977  Seminar Follow-up letter mailed to participants includes the-first time mention of an Art Center for Dallas.

May 21, 1977  Follow-up meeting to Seminar at UTD
Special Guest: Rubin L. Gorewitz, Artists Rights Today, NY,NY.
Provisional officers chosen (by vote of those present) : President - Mary Albrecht
Name of Organization chosen (by vote of those present): Artists Coalition of Texas (ACT)

May 26, 1977  Follow-up Newsletter: Announced Formation of Artists Coalition of Texas
Board Members Elected:
Mary Albrecht, President;
Terrisa Mabrey, First Vice President/ Membership;
Oscar McNary, 2nd Vice President/ Programs;
Grace Johnson, Treasurer; Ellen Holt, Secretary.

Four Main Goals Announced: Education, Communication, An Art Center, An Arts Council

May  August 1977  ACT Officers — Mary Albrecht, Grace Johnson and Terrisa Mabrey — made in-State and out-of-State trips to visit Museums and Art Centers. Appointments were made with the directors of these organizations for interviews regarding the how and how-to run a public organization for the arts. Some of the organizations include: Waco Art Center, Ft. Worth Museum of Art, Amon Carter Museum, Houston Contemporary Art Museum, SECCA Center for Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, Virginia. These trips were made at personal expense.

June 27, 1977   First Meeting of ACT - Arlington Hall, Lee Park
Special Attention given to Art Center Design and an Arts Council.
It was decided by the Board that all meetings would be held in City-owned facilities if possible, on the fourth Monday of every month.

July 25, 1977  Second Meeting of ACT - Fretz Park Recreation Center - Newsletter
Newsletter goes out to announce committee chairs.
Mary Albrecht chosen Chair of Art Center Committee.
Grace Johnson chosen Chair of Art Council Committee.

August 22, 1977   Third Meeting of ACT - Walnut Hill Recreation Center - Newsletter
Report on NEA Workshop
Richard Huff, Report

Beginning in September 1977, the Board voted on format of monthly newsletter in new format. Each month’s front cover would FOCUS on a person instrumental in helping ACT achieve the goal of an Art Center for Dallas. These newsletters and the monthly meetings were to further two of the four goals of ACT — Education and Communication of artists and audience.

September 1977  Volume 1, No 1, Newsletter.
FOCUS on ... Mary Albrecht, President of ACT
Mary speaks on need for Art Center as expressed by art community and as one of four goals established by poll at Seminar in March 1977.

September Meeting: IRS and the Artist, Fretz Park, Dallas
IRS Rep. Sheila Whilhite.

Richard Huff excerpt from ACT Newsletter

Photograph by Mary Albrecht

October 1977  Volume 1, No 2, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Richard Huff, Dallas City Arts Program Coordinator.
October Meeting: NEA and Artists. Lynch Hall, University of Dallas
Panel: Harry S Parker, DMA, Frances Poteet, NEA Regional Coordinator, Betty Marcus, Dallas Museum Board, Dr. Harry Robinson, Special Assist to the President and Director of Museum and Library at Bishop College.

Inside under "and more scoop:" Thanks to Jay Vogelson, one of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, who helped us with the writing and filing of our Articles of Incorporation, ACT was chartered with the State of Texas on September 21, 1977 .... Jay is now working on the By-Laws and the application to IRS for our tax exempt status...."

Incorporators and initial directors

Initial Directors and Incorporators on the Articles of Incorporation
chartered with the State of Texas on September 21, 1977
addresses digitally obscured by the editor in 2010

November 1977  Volume 1, No 3, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Dallas City Councilman, Bill Nicol, Chair of Arts & Beautification Committee.
Discourse on how an Art Center proposal would be made, and to whom , and who finally decides. Answer: City Council
November Meeting: Artists Speak, Fretz Park
David McCullough, Oura, Inc; Arthello Beck Jr., Arthello’s Gallery; Linnea Glatt, D.W
Co-op Gallery

December 1977  no meeting, no newsletter

January 1978  Volume 1, No 4, Newsletter
FOCUS ... the announcement that a building had been found for an Art Center!!!
Formal Bid for Lease sent out by City of Dallas
ACT Proposal submitted
ACT sends questionnaire to members and arts organizations to determine space requirements.

January Meeting: Doug Handel — The Artist Presentation (Photography) - Fretz Park
How to photograph your art.

January 1978   Internal Revenue Service grants tax exemption from Federal income tax under section to Artists Coalition of Texas under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. See also June 25 1982.

February 1978  Volume 1, No 5, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Harry Parker, Director of Dallas Museum of Art.
Interview centers on needs for BOTH an Art Center AND a Museum.
ACT announced new office, 7th Floor, Republic Financial Services Inc., Turtle Creek.
Announced paid staff member through a CETA grant from City of Dallas
ACT received notice of Non Profit Status with IRS as a 501(c) 3.
February Meeting: Meet the Art Organizations, Fretz Park

February 13 1978  Letter from the Internal Revenue Service to Artists Coalition of Texas, stating that ACT would be treated as an organization which is not a private foundation within the meaning of section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code until the expiration of your advance ruling period. That letter is referred to in a subsequent letter after the official waiting period. [below]

March 1978  Volume 1, No 6, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Janet Kutner, Art Critic for Dallas Morning News
March Meeting: The Priorities of Art Education in the Public Schools, Arts Magnet School
Panel Moderator: Art Fogg; Consultant: Dan Neal; Coordinator: Oscar McNary
Panel Members: Dr. G Ann McGee, Mr. L.G. Foster Jr, Dr. Donal Jak Davis, Mrs. Mary Lois Sweatt, Mrs. Margaret Hull.

April 1978  Volume 1, No 7, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Raymond Nasher, Art Collector and Developer
Discussion on collaboration between private and public investors in “Art”
Art is Good for Business.
April Meeting: Art-In-Architecture - Slide/Narrative Presentation by Mrs. Georgia Peavier, Fine Arts Officer, U.S. General Services Administration, Region 7

May 1978  Volume 1, No 8, Newsletter
FOCUS on A Visual Art Center!
Review of questions asked by representatives of business and management about how an Art Center benefits the community.
May Meeting: The Future of Art in Texas, Dr. Amy Freeman Lee, City Hall

June 1978 Clipping from the Dallas Morning News

Thursday, June 15, 1978 Editorial in The Dallas Morning News

June 1978  Volume 1, No 9, Newsletter.
FOCUS on ... Business and Art.
How does business is supporting and Art Center with their advise and money.
Dallas Morning News Editorial in support of an Art Center Proposal by ACT.
June Meeting: ACT Picnic at Bachman Lake

July 1978  Volume 1, No 10, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... Dallas City Manager George Schrader
Why Dallas Cultural Facilities proposal on the bond election failed. ….lack of education and Communication
Will the City support an Art Center? “We’re working with ACT to achieve a balanced resolution.
July Meeting: Dallas City Hall for business meeting. Art Center Proposal Up-Date

Art Center Editorial in the Dallas Times Herald - August 1978

Sunday August 6, 1978 Editorial in the Dallas Times Herald
Save this image document to read it full size

August 1978   Volume 1, No 11, Newsletter
FOCUS on ... First year of ACT
Has it worked? — Dallas Times Herald Editorial with mention of ACT’s proposal for an Art Center.

NOTE: In the end, and after almost two years of hard work, ACT’s Proposal to the City of Dallas for an Art Center failed, as did the City’s Cultural Bond Proposal. The City of Dallas began anew to educate the citizens on the value of the Arts.

ACT began to recruit new members, elected a new Board, and searched for new ways to pursue the achievement of an Art Center for Dallas and a way to communicate to the arts community.

September 1978  ACT began a new year somewhat defeated after losing our bid with the City of Dallas for an Art Center facility. Education of Artist continued a primary goal. Monthly programs were initiated to Educate artists through a Film Series. Communication remained another top priority. ACT New officers were elected: Mary Albrecht, President; Denise Hunley, 2nd Vice President (Programs), Mem Cunningham, 1st Vice President (Membership), Janelle Lindley, Secretary; Grace Johnson, Treas

March 1979  President Mary D Albrecht resigns.

July 1979  Nominations for new Board selected

August 27 1879  New board members elected at the ACT Annual Meeting in the Graphic Arts Center of the Olmsted-Kirk Paper Company at 7:30 p.m:
Gene Amend - President,
Mem Cunningham - First Vice President and Membership Chair,
Jeanine Thompson - Second Vice President and Program Director,
Janet Stanger - Secretary, and
Ellen Soderquist-Bergman - Treasurer

August 1979  Annual Meeting - New officers resume duties. A new office for ACT is to be located.

September 1979   Dallas Times Herald publishes Special Features Visual Art Supplement in cooperation with Artists Coalition of Texas. This was to be a big push for public awareness of the arts in Dallas - communicating their needs along with their contribution to the community.

Texas Arts Revue # 1
Texas Arts Revue #1

October 1979   ACT negotiated with J R Compton to publish Dallas Arts Revue, which ACT insisted he change to Texas Arts Revue — a bimonthly publication alternating with a bimonthly Newsletter.

About this time (January 1980) Mary Albrecht and Terrisa Mabrey met Mary Wachowiac-Ward for the first time at the downtown Dallas Library's opening of Wachowiac-Ward's ”Polish Posters.”

In discussion about ACT about its goal of an Art Center, Mary Ward expressed her previous desire for such a facility in Dallas, and said she would like to share her ideas with ACT. She was invited to the ACT offices and accepted the invitation. She brought with her written documents outlining what she believed an Art Center should include and who it would serve. Over the next month or so, ways were discussed to work together to achieve our mutual goals through ACT.

April 2 1980   Received letter from the Internal Revenue Service District Director stating:

"This modifies our letter of the above date [February 13 1978] in which we state that you would be treated as an organization which is not a private foundation until the expiration of your advance ruling period. Based on the information you submitted, we have determined that you are not a private foundation within the meaning of section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, because you are an organization of the type described in section 170(b) (1) (A) (vi). Your exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the code is still in effect. Grantors and contributors may rely on this determination until the Internal Revenue Service publishes notice to the contrary." — Signed A. W. McCanless

May 16 1980   Meeting of ACT Board discussing Mary Ward’s proposal for an Art Center. Agreed to have an invitation sent out for another meeting — inviting all interested parties to attend. Mary Ward was named Project Coordinator for an Art Center.

June 1 1980   Mary Ward's invitation on Artists Coalition of Texas letterhead to participants present at The First Meeting on May 16 1980, inviting them to attend and participate in the second meeting in a series to continue discussion of the proposed Visual Arts Center. This letter is reproduced in full on the Documents Pertaining to D-ART's Founder Mary Ward page on this site.

June 16 1980   Second meeting held for further discussions on an Art Center for Dallas. All agreed to continue with the project and the search for a building and money to support it. Mary W. Ward remained Project Coordinator with the ACT organization.
A newly established office of ACT was opened in the 500 Exposition Gallery, Dallas, Texas.

September 1 1980 - the first date associated with the new name, Visual Arts Center Project, led by Project Director Mary Wachoviak Ward

September 1 1980 - A document, dated 9/1/80 - 8/31/81 in Mary Ward's strongly cursive hand, is titled, "Our Income Statement for last year." Its total for income and support is $71,057.79 and its expense is $67,151,82.

September 15 1980 – in a letter typed on Visual Arts Center Project stationary with Mary Wachowiak-Ward, Project Coordinator letterhead with her address and phone number, she wrote a press release announcing the 500 Exposition Avenue reception for the Visual Arts Center Project. 

In September 1980, The Artists Coalition of Texas voted for a name change to "D'Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas." Under new leadership, the quest for a center continued. Several sites were explored. All had drawbacks.

September 26 1980 - at 7 pm, Five Hundred Exposition Gallery hosted a public reception for the Visual Arts Center Project.

November 22 1980 – In a single-page document comprising a Financial Statement dated November 22, 1980, a "Dallas Visual Arts Center Project," listed at 500 Exposition, indicates $378.66 "total cash resources" after a September 1, 1980 balance of $876.13, Total Revenue, Resources & Support of $1,162.24 and Total Disbursements of $783.58. At the bottom, "NOTE: Unfurnished office space (rent waived) has been given D'ART." That page is signed by Grace E. Johnson, Treasurer. More of this document is quoted on Archivist's History of D-Art.

December 8 1980 - Typewritten on plain paper — no letterhead — headed with "D'ART—A Visual Arts Center for Dallas, 500A Exposition, Dallas, Texas 75226," and dated December 8, 1980, under the title "D'ART Fact Sheet," an announcement prepared by Mary Ward prematurely announced the opening of a building "in Dallas' historic Warehouse area at 703 McKinney at Houston, Just north of Woodall Rogers and the West End Historic District. A former brewery / warehouse bordered on the north by Woodall Rogers freeway and on the west by Stemmons Freeway. Access is available to all of Dallas.

Affiliation: The D'ART project is open to membership / participation / support by all artists living and working in the North Texas area. Most professional organizations in Dallas are aware of and support the concept of a centralized visual arts center. Several arts-related professionals (graphic artists, photographers architects, space planners, etc.) have expressed an intent to occupy space, providing an interesting mix of artists in an exciting setting.

Attached to the above, three-page document is one additional page, a form for name, address, and phone lines and two columns of boxes to complete the statement "I shall assist a Visual Art Center for Dallas in the category indicated:" from $15 Artist to $1,000 Corporate. The address the form was to be mailed to: D'ART, A Visual Art Center for Dallas, 4122 Hall St., Dallas, Tex. 75219.

Additional information from this announcement is on An Archivist's History.

January 12 1981 - Official "Letters of Support" from various Art Community persons — including DMA Director Harry Parker, Dallas Mayor Jack Evans, Developer Tramell Crow, Curtis Meadows, Richard Huff, Ellen Soderquist, Ann Stautberg and F.X. Tolbert 2, and written to D-Art staff, including Patricia Meadows, Judy Smith Hearst (one identifying her as President, D'Art; one not, Mary Wachowiak-Ward (one as Executive Director, one no title) were written throughout 1981. Full dated listing on An Archivist's History of D-Art.

February 28 1981 – "A 12-Month Statement of Support and Expenditures (March 1, 1980 thru February 28, 1981)" lists the address as 500 A Exposition Avenue. Total Revenue and Support is listed as $21,963.29 and the Fund balance as if February 28, 1981 is $314.59."

June 1981  Neither Patricia Meadows' nor Judy Smith-Hearst's name appears on any ACT membership mailing label list from 1979 through June 1981, when ACT changed its name to D-ART An Art Center for Dallas.

August 1981  a facility was found at 2917 Swiss Avenue. Badly in need of repair, the former pill factory was priced to rent for $2 per sq. ft. "With the help of volunteers and donated materials, donated services, and cash support, the facility is being converted into the actualization of the arts center so long hoped for.

Volunteers Cleaning 2917 Swill Ave.

Volunteers Cleaning 2917 Swiss Avenue   halftone from "The Manilla Document"
photographer unknown and uncredited - image from D-Art Newsletter

August 14 1981  "The Center Is Open! - Bare Bones Party ... The first workshops begin October 1 [1981]" — from The Manilla Document.

August 31, 1981  The next page lists income and expense for D'Art (September 1, 1980 through August 31, 1981) and D-Art (September 1, 1981 through February 26, 1982) in underlined subhead paragraphs at the top of the horizontal page.) "It is for this long-awaited center that funding is requested," concludes the document.

August 31 1981  under the heading, D'Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas," dated 9/1/80 - 8/31/81, is a Grant from the City Arts Program for a consultation fee for Mary Ward, totaling $4,900

Autumn 1981   Texas Arts Revue #7 publishes story, "An Experiment," by Mary Wachowiak-Ward.   

Planned Space Use for 2917 Swiss Avenue - prepared by

Proposed Space Usage for the 2917 Swiss Avenue Building in October 1981
Prepared by John Sholeen   click image to view full-size image file.

October 26 1981  A Press Release: D'ART, A Visual Arts Center, cordially invites you to attend a ceremony and art auction celebrating the grand opening of the art center, Thursday November 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at the center location, 2917 Swiss Avenue.

"Mayor Jack Evans will open the ribbon cutting ceremony at 6:15 PM.

The purpose of the event is to raise money and pledges for the operating budget of D'ART, a non-profit organization and Dallas' FIRST Visual Arts Center, providing serious artists and arts organizations with a place to work, exhibit, educate and meet in a renovated factory space with 20,000 square (sic) feet.

The auction will showcase a broad range of art works representing area artists who support D'ART. Donations of art work for the auction are now being accepted at the D'ART location and are greatly appreciated.

Tickets are $15 and all proceeds will go toward keeping D'Art's doors open. Wine and cheese will be provided and a cash bar will be open for the evening. A Chamber music group from SMU...

Members of the press are invited to join us for the festivities and to take a tour of this exciting arts facility. See you there!"

November 1981 invitation

November 5 1981 - The printed invitation for the Ribbon-cutting by Dallas Mayor Mayor Jack Evans and opening of the new D-Art Art Center at 2917 Swiss Avenue. This document is also on the Mary Ward Documents page. This is the first-known listing of Patricia B. Meadows's name in any official D-Art publication.

November 30 1981  In a Balance Sheet dated November 30, 1981, Total Assets and Liabilities and Fund Balances are listed as $27,903.32

December 4 1981  In a list of "Expenses from November 20 through December 4 [1981] is the notation "Salary: Mary Ward $500.00" Below the list is typed, "If we spend no more money this month and our bills are no higher than these, we will have enough money to last until Feb. 2, 1982." It is signed in ink, "From: Patricia To: Mary & Judy."

December 21 1981  the first of two nearly identical letters from Curtis W. Meadows, Jr. on identical Meadows Foundation Incorporated letterhead. The first is to Ms. Mary Wachowiak-Ward, Executive Director, D-Art, 2917 Swiss Avenue, stating, "The Meadows Foundation is pleased to have played a part in helping the artists of Dallas obtain a visual art center. We are delighted that you will be our neighbors at the Wilson Block Property on Swiss Avenue, as we believe the Art Center will add an important dimension to our effort to promote a cultural and charitable center in the shadow of downtown Dallas."

Both letters, above and below, are reproduced on "An Archivist's History of D-Art: D'Art Letter(s) of Recommendation." page on this site, where their single-space typed letters are just large enough to read. The second letter, apparently after Ward was fired, is below.

January 4 1982  The Red Horse Flying Show, an exhibition organized by Alison Kraft and Robert Trammell, opened at D-Art at 2917 Swiss Avenue.

January 31 1982  Mary Ward is listed as having been paid $1,000.

Cutaway Drawing of 2917 Swiss Avenue - bound into the green document

Cutaway Drawing of the Building at 2917 Swiss Avenue
plastic spiral bound into "the Green Document"

February 1982  Included in the Resources and Personnel section of the multi-page document titled in all capital letters "D-ART General Support" and "General Support Plan / Prepared for D-ART / by Keith M. Livingston," a black-plastic-spiral bound document comprising 54 letter-size pages in a green cover, known to this archivist as "The Green Document," are two resumes, typewritten and formatted differently from each other and from other pages in the document, so they appear to have come from the individuals:

The first resume is titled "Judy Smith Hearst" (no hyphen) with her address and phone number, listing herself after the heading, "ART" as "Co-Director for D-ART Visual Art Center for Dallas, 2917 Swiss Avenue, 1980-82" and after "Coordinating Experience", "1980-82: Multiple projects as D-ART President." There is no other mention of D-ART on the page.

The next page in the document is titled "Resume of Patricia B. Meadows - Program Director for D-ART." After "Art Boards:" near the top of the page, she lists "Artists and Craftsmen of Dallas - 4 years / (1981 - President Elect) / (1982 - President)." There is no other mention of D-ART nor any other dates on the page.

A few pages under the "Job Description" section of The Green Document have the notation "2/82" at the bottom of the page. No other date found in the document is later than that.

March 10 1982  the second of two nearly identical letters from Curtis W. Meadows, Jr. on Meadows Foundation Incorporated letterhead. This one is addressed to Ms. Judy Smith-Hearst, President, D-Art, 2917 Swiss Avenue, with the exact same words as the first such letter above" with otherwise only slight spacing differences between the two letters.

Spring 1982  D-Art announces that within one year D-Art would be self-sufficient...

"D-ART is requesting funds to assist in the general support of the project and organization. The duration of support would be for one year, which would give D-Art the time necessary to establish a financial support base in the community."

June 1982  The second D-Art event was Businessmen / Businesswomen in the Arts

June 25 1982  an Internal Revenue Service letter to D'Art states "Our records show that D'Art A Visual Arts Center for Dallas is exempt from Federal income tax under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. This exemption was granted January 1978 and remains in full force and effect."

Summer/Fall 1982  According to a story © 1982 by Julia Frazier that was published in Texas Arts Revue #9:

"The building, at 2917 Swiss Avenue, has all the atmosphere of a federally subsidized clinic..." and "Dallas artists involved with The Red Horse Flying Show, ( January 4-30, 1982 ), said they found D-Art painfully unsupportive, uncooperative and unprofessional... "in the end it seemed like they were just women who wanted to hang out with artists," said one contributor.

"Among the myriad problems encountered by Pegasus organizers Alison Kraft and Robert Trammell, an uninsured wooden sculpture by Wayne Amerine was damaged by an animated visitor. D-Art had taken out insurance on the show, but it expired before the show was opened. D-Art is taking no responsibility for damages beyond offering the artist $500 for a work valued at $2,500, Kraft said."

Wayne Amerine - Sheik

Wayne Amerine   Sheik
painted wood   head approximately life-size

The Winter 1982 issue of Texas Arts Revue covered both of the Pegasus shows organized by Robert Trammell and Allison Kraft: The Flying Red Horse Show at Dallas City Hall and D-arts' enlarged 1982 version, The Red Horse Flying Show, where Wayne Amerine's piece, Sheik was damaged, and the artist threatened to — but ultimately did not — sue D-arts. That back cover story, including a picture of Amerine's piece and others, is reproduced here.

February 26 1982  A two-page, letter-sized document with three columns of text, apparently created on or after February 26, 1982, for the purpose of raising funds, tells of the transition between The Artists Coalition of Texas and D-Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas. income and expense figures are listed at the top of each page. On the bottom is an unsigned, personable, short history of the two organizations, which is reproduced on J R's An Archivist's History of D-Art:

"The Artists Coalition of Texas was formed in 1977. Its goals were to be a clearing house for Texas artists, to be an advocate for artists, and to have a visual arts center in Dallas. It was successful in that it was the first coming together of area artists in a common goal. It made the Dallas community aware of the lack of city support for local artists.

It worked for several changes in the law about artists' rights. Because the artists wanted a visual arts center that they could use, and because that was the most difficult goal to obtain, both the leadership and the artists grew weary.

The problem of getting an arts center was twofold. It was a financial problem — raising the money to purchase or having a building donated. Neither were immediately available.

The Directors changed, but the dream lived on. Fortunately, not everyone tired at the same time to kill it entirely.

The second problem was the factions in the art community itself. Should there be private studio space? If so, who would be chosen to use them?

Was the art center to focus on the experimental art or traditional art? Could they ever exist together in harmony? Who would finance the center? The artists? The Dallas community? Thorough grants? Through taxes? Rent? Membership?

Too many questions. Too many answers. It looked as if the dream would die."

June 1982  D-Art's second event — Businessmen/Businesswomen in the Arts.

June 25 1982  In a letter from the Internal Revenue Service dated June 25 1982, "Gentlemen (sic): Our records show that D'Art A Visual Arts Center for Dallas is exempt from Federal Income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This exemption was granted January 1978 and remains in full force and effect." The letter is signed Sue Yates, EOMF Examiner.

Although they may indicate the center's latest name, these IRS documents are apparently sent on June 25 every year.

First Anniversary of Swiss Avenue Building

July 29 1982  D-Art's Facility is One Year Old! said the July - August 1982 edition of the D-Art newsletter. The story inside: "Celebrate with us on Thursday July 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. — a birthday party for D-Art and you are invited!"

Summer / Fall 1982  Texas Arts Revue #9 published D-Art vs. the Bathhouse & Other Dallas Art Organization Stories including an Interview with Mary Ward by Julia Frazier, which includes the statement that

Among the myriad problems encountered by Pegasus organizers Alison Kraft and Robert Trammell, an uninsured wooden sculpture by Wayne Amerine was damaged by an animated visitor. D-Art had taken out insurance on the show, but it expired before the show was opened. D-Art is taking no responsibility for damages beyond offering the artist $500 for a work valued at $2,500, Kraft said."

Read the Texas Arts Revue interview with Mary Ward published shortly after the incident.

April 6 1983  Included in the minutes of the D-Art Board of Directors meeting at 2917 Swiss Avenue on a typewritten document titled, "D-ART Corporate / Individual Contributions" dated July, 1982 - April, 1983, under "Contributions / Grants:

Grants: Meadows Foundation (Matching)    $18,000.00
Mr. Robert Taylor of Republic Bank Dallas - East   $1,000.00
Artists and Craftsmen Associated   $1,900.00

November, 1982

Fund Raising Art Auction (Art Auction and Ticket Sales)

Also discussed:

A Right to Purchase option agreement between D-Art and Interfirst Bank Trust Department was discussed. John Latta moved that the Board accept bob Stoller's version of the agreement. Judy Hearst seconded. Bob Stoller will write up he agreement that will be presented to Interfirst.

In the Report to Funders and Members, on a page titled "Statement of Needs": "As of June 1983, D-art received the right of first refusal to purchase the building. Currently, the building is not for sale and is held in trust by Interfirst Bank Dallas. Should the bank place the building on the market, D-Art has initiated a building purchase fund. This fund is separate from the operating account. While the focus of D-Art is on the artists and not "bricks and mortar," facility improvement and eventual purchase is necessary to insure the program efforts.

June 1983  In a "Report to Funders and Members," on a page titled "Statement of Needs" in "The Manilla Document": "As of June 1983, D-art received the right of first refusal to purchase the building [at 2917 Swiss Avenue]. Currently, the building is not for sale and is held in trust by Interfirst Bank Dallas. Should the bank place the building on the market, D-Art has initiated a building purchase fund. This fund is separate from the operating account. While the focus of D-Art is on the artists and not "bricks and mortar," facility improvement and eventual purchase is necessary to insure the program efforts."

Gerald Burns - Compton Risks Lunch at D-ART

Gerald Burns   Compton Risks Lunch at D-ART   undated
ink and non-reproducible blue pencil on paper 

I remember making fun of D-Art in the pages of Dallas Arts Revue, after they added the fru-fru apostrophe, and Patricia Meadows invited me to lunch there, but they didn't have any food.

Instead, she, Sherry Mick and two other staffers taking turns in the room, harangued me for more than an hour for writing ill of their aesthetic choices, insisting that I trust them. The late Poet / artist / cartoonist Gerald Burns made this "Great Moments in Dallas Art" drawing of the event, though he was not present. He would have loved to see one of his drawings this big.

July 21 1983  D-Art celebrated the second birthday of the 2917 Swiss Avenue building with a party.

It has been a long year, a growing year, and an interesting year. Going from dreams to reality is always a challenge. Thanks to our funders, members and volunteers, D-Art is getting stronger. Read the Facility STatement and the Program Statement for further information about D-ARt's first year in a facility"

July 1983  Handwritten notes updating a page headed "Results and Benefits," state "In 1983-84 there were 82 exhibitions representing the art work of over 2500 Dallas artists. Their work was enjoyed by approx. [sic] fifteen [crossed out] 30,000 visitors.

July 1984  On a page headed, "Program Statement - July 1984,"D-Art opened its doors in September, 1981 with almost no notification or publicity about finding a facility. [three lines of text scratched out] Only in the early months of its existence did D-Art have an "quiet weeks. Events began to be booked on a regular basis in early 2982.

August 1985  "the 1985 Budget Analysis cites a Rent Expense total of $48,000 ($4,000 a month). The Meadows kept trying to buy it outright, but the owner, Lillian Davis, and later the Lillian S. Davis Trust, would only lease it — first for three years, later on a ten year basis."

D-Art seemed to be grasping at straws when it stated that: "2917 Swiss Avenue... is an ideal location for an emerging art center due to its proximity to the developing downtown Dallas Arts District, Arts Magnet High School, the new Fox and Jacobs Bryan Street townhouse development and the Wilson Block Historical Restoration Project."

January 24 and 26, 1986  According to four documents reporting from the D-Art Visual Art Center / Benefit Gala — "La Rive Gauche", January 24 & 26, 1986, D-Art spent $41,555 on such items as: Casino, Fortune Tellers, Food, Liquor, Carparkers, Security, Printing, Postage and Artists' Commissions to net $51,439, a 56% of Gross Income, down 39% from the similar 1986 event.

May 21 1986  D-Art Board President John Latta entered into a legal Option Agreement, to be effective July 1, 1987, with the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue's owner, the Lillian S. Davis Trust, whereby, if Davis ever intended to sell the property, D-Art would have the first option to purchase it outright.

July 1988  In a dire, three-page letter to D-Art members, signed by D-Art Board President S.P. "Bud" Mandell and Board Member Patricia B. Meadows, and referred to as "The Dire Letter" reported in detail on the An Anarchist's History of D-Art: Rumors were flying about D-Art's financial crisis and future plans. Among questionable historic dates, Meadows emphatically claimed, "IF D-ART HAD NOT MADE CHANGES, THE DOORS WOULD HAVE CLOSED FOREVER ON JULY 31, 1988. [emphasis theirs]

Then Executive Director Vicki Meek was laid off. Sherry Mick and Karen Thompson were to "run the Center." The janitor would only be there one, instead of three days a week. The "police officers would no longer be booked for regular duty."

"Program Changes: No new programs will be planned for the fall season.All programs that were on the schedule will proceed as planned. The Critic's Choice has been underwritten so that D-Art can use the artist entry fees to pay the light bill. All meetings and exhibitions will go on as planned this fall.

The Board voted to close the Center on December 1 to get out from under the burden of operating a facility and program while the future of D-Art is being decided ... December 1 is the closing date because that is when the money runs out again."

December 1 1988  D-Art closes its facility on Swiss Avenue.

June 1989  "Dallas artists Greg Metz, Tracy Hicks and a few others met informally for conversations concerning Dick Armey, the NEA censorship flap, artists' role in society, and the plight of the serious artist in Dallas." — from A Short History of DARE.

These conversations led to a public meeting at the Dallas Museum of Art on November 4, 1989 and the formation of a nonprofit organization called DARE, whose nonprofit status The MAC still uses.

See also The Short, Sad History of How DARE Became The MAC and Abdicated Its Mandate to Support and Exhibit Lesser Known Dallas Artists Part I and Part Two.

October 1989  Katherine Wagner began as director of D-Art in the old building at 2917 Swiss Avenue and later the new building a couple blocks closer to downtown, also on Swiss Avenue. Wagner continued there through the second week in January 2001. She says of that time, "Good years, good people, good values."

March 2001  Dallas Visual Arts Center (DVAC, formerly D-arts) board president Laura Boeckman wrote in a letter to DVAC members announcing Joan Davidow as the upcoming DVAC director, that "D-Art was founded by Patricia Meadows," although no documentation was shown.

August 11 2001  Dallas Visual Arts Center (formerly D-Art) celebrated it's "20th Anniversary" at least somewhat late — possibly because they confused the first anniversary of using the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue [above] with the organization's first birthday.

Counting from the date ACT changed their name to "D-ART, An Art Center for Dallas" in September 1980 — to 2001, they should have celebrated their 21st Anniversary. If they'd counted from the founding of the organization originally named ACT, whose tax-exempt status they still use, and which was created on May 26, 1977, it would have been past their 24th Anniversary.


It should be noted that

During the late 1970s and all through the 80s, many Dallas artists — as well as artists all around the country — were striving for a place to show their work. The idea of an urban art center was never just one artist's dream. It was all of ours. It still is. Irving has one. Plano has one. Fort Worth has a great one. Dallas has none.

Unfortunately few of the resulting organizations still fulfill their early goals. The Contemp certainly does not. The MAC sometimes seems to, but artists only get solo or small-group shows in the main galleries when they are sponsored by a commercial gallery.

Few local art centers do the job we wanted them to do. Even the Dallas Museum of Art was originally organized to show work by Dallas artists. Some how or other, the dream always gets dissipated.

Questions Remaining

When was the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue torn down? Did anybody get any photographs?
Exactly when did D-Art or DVAC move into the new building down the street from there?
Exactly when — I need at least the month and year for entries on this timeline — was Vicki Meek director of ACT?
How long was D-Art closed after December 1988? When did it reopen?
What of any importance happened from October 1989 through March 2001 and from August 2001 till now?


See also The Squeaky Wheel: Making a Noise that Won't Go Away by Tahlia Marmo


All Contents of this site are Copyright 2008 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.