originally written in 2001 and sporadically rewritten
and added to since
egos and outright lies
revisionist history and
an uncertain future
Dallas art center.
J R Compton
Since Joan Davidow
has been the director, D-Art has turned from a friendly, community-serving,
alternative art space into a much-discussed, generally un-understood,
and unusually incommunicative contemporary art museum.
has publicly declared two people who were not, as The Founder,
then celebrated its "20th Anniversary" on the eve
of its 21st year — neatly sidestepping the year its actual
founder ran the
Now, after sending out
baffling invitations to its new show under its new name without
bothering to notify its membership, the organization has finally
begun to inform its membership and publicize the changes.
the current building in the shadow of downtown
In a letter cosigned by
the junior league board's new president in spring of 2001, a
former ad person experienced with putting a spin on "facts," the
director assures DVAC members that "Our
mission to encourage and promote the art and artists of Texas remains
A giant change in direction
is that the exhibition focus is now on Texas, not Dallas artists. I and other Dallas artists who joined
DVAC because it was the last best place where we had more than
one chance every year to show our art, now feel abandoned.
"Many of the important
programs that have been vital to our efforts will continue,"
says the letter — "such as Mosaics, Business of Art Seminars,
Art Resource Room, Opportunity Wall, studio art classes, Art
Movie Night, affinity groups and the annual membership exhibition."
Never mind that Mosaics had become
a racist joke and is now called Mix. That in her short
tenure, Davidow turned the existing Art
Resource Room into an ill-lighted
magnetic bulletin board hung in a back hallway, repainted the
white and ripped
up a colorful tape mosaic floor piece by
a popular Dallas artist — just to appeal
to collectors — the hell with artists.
Art Movie Night didn't meet
for two months, and its founding director quit, and DCCA now charges
participants for Affinity Group meetings that aren't even held
in the leased Meadows Foundation Building.
Gone without notice are
the popular Critic's
Choice show and well-liked
artist ombudswoman and official Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara West.
The letter to DVAC members
continues, promising "new
directions as well,
such as the semi-annual Articles newsletter," which is so
incredibly inept — though well designed, for a change — that
it reported events that never happened and claimed DVAC was founded
by... Well, you get the idea. The letter was just public-relations-happy
In the accompanying
press release, they say the center "began 20 (sic)
years ago as D'Art (sic) in a Swiss Avenue warehouse
(sic) under the leadership of Patricia Meadows (an
oft-repeated lie, which Mrs Meadows has acknowledged in public — but
not in her publicity).
began 21 years ago (in 1980) in a room at 4122 Hall Street,
and the concept was originated and the group founded by Mary
who was D-ART's first director (not D'Art — that
came later, under the actual leadership of Ms Meadows.)
Patricia. Meadows was D-Art's second director, and the one who
made it popular.
Ms. Ward was shoved out of the
group's history — and many official documents — before
D–ART even made its first name change.
The letter continues its "new directions," including
an outdoor sculpture program that has yet to materialize.
The new director and new board president may not know it, but the
once-rich, outdoor sculpture garden has had, at most, one artist
represented since the new director took over.
The official press release
announcing the new name, says "the group recently
moved into the city's premier art space on Swiss Avenue in the Wilson
Historic District..." I guess when you can fudge 21 years
history into 20, two years is "still recent."
"There is a
fresh approach to installations, including the Linda
White Flowers exhibition." It was
a lovely, spare show, but it continued a long tradition of annual
Award solo shows. It was not a new direction.
Never mind that
the Wilson Historic District is pseudo-history, recreated by
the real estate developing Meadows Foundation to enhance property
values. Meadows owns the land all around, and the building D-Art
is leasing for eight more years, before it has to raise megabucks
for, build and then move to its
own digs. Or that Doc Wilson
never lived in the neighborhood, supposedly named after him.
The letter describes the
Post-Modernist Swiss Avenue castle as a hip place
in the heart of the urban loft scene north of Deep Ellum."
Sure enough, it actually
is north of Deep Elm. But
there are no urban lofts in the vicinity, only remanufactured "historic," gingerbread
gothic houses and nonprofit office buildings.
In a fit of me-too
bravado disguised as innovation, the letter assures us that — too
much like its primary competition for the last dozen years — DARE's
McKinney Avenue Contemporary across town, "Dallas Center for Contemporary
Art will also be
known as The Contemporary."
Gosh, how original.
What it has
actually become known as, is 'The Contempt.' And no, I did not
originate that name. It's just easier to say than DCCA or the