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Continued from Visiting the Shamrock Hotels
and continued on Continental Gin Page 2

Visiting the Continental Gin Building, Again

Story & Photographs by J R Compton

Open Studios are an opportunity to see how and with what art is made.
The photographs in this story are in chronological order.

I had a weird feeling about our visit to the Continental Gin Building while we were walking across the parking lots toward the big front porch/loading dock on that sunny spring afternoon April 16. Suddenly, I didn't want to go. I didn't know why. Five people who studio in that ancient building had recently joined DallasArtsRevue as Supporting Members, and I'd been there and back several times in the weeks prior.

I like the place, and most of the people in it, and I love seeing where artists make their magic. So why didn't I want to go in? We went in, arbitrarily choosing to start at the top right facing, and go down the halls, then down the stairs, then down the porch and down more halls. It seemed reasonable.

Our first visit was with a photographer whose great, wide space showed off everything. Where she lived, where she worked and what she did. Even the tools on the wall. Her art was nudes of women with big breasts. We weren't impressed with that but loved the wide open space, a natural for a photographer in a warehouse.

Next stop down the hall had a compelling display of very ordinary stuff, which I took in quickly, then stepped toward the opened curtain to see the studio part, got yelled at, and left, shaken, not stirred. The next few minutes are a blur. But I kept shooting, maybe on automatic pilot.

partial bridge with view of parking lot and downtown

I've enjoyed this bridge before. Only it used to be longer. The gentrification of the front building, has taken up about 2/3 of it, long cherished by Gin residents. What was left was nice enough, but not much there. It was a good place to calm down.

gallery in Erica Felicella's studio

My next photo was in new DARts Member Erica Felicella's studio, all glossy and smooth, with many colors on white. I tend to like informal galleries better than the real things, and this was both, and a treat to see so much of her work all gathered together, so I could see her progression. Nice.

Karla Leaphart's door

I thought I'd thoroughly covered Karla Leaphart's studio in a visit page but apparently walked right by this door, a great idea in what had been a big anonymous place without this bit of identifying color.

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sink between studio spaces

We fouind many of the spaces between studios more interesting this Open Studio, with mini installations on otherwise blank and boring walls, livening up the immensity of space, much of which has been dark, uninteresting and even a little spookily intimidating on previous opens. Great idea.

Both Anna (below with the big steel door) and I liked this sink, which another tour-ist said was an original 1920 Sears & Robuck. We thought the floor also looked original, appreciated the installation of what is probably a practical element, though surreally placed.

All through the tour, we were impressed by the building itself and its obvious history, visually manifested in giant elevators, doors and abstracty unidentifiables on the walls, patterns of brick and wood and great, wide and tall spaces, only some of which were enclosed as studios.

looking down at the elevator/storage

I especially liked the hand-scribbled signs on the elevators, at rest downstairs, filled with large hunks of junk. It said that the elevators were not for storage, although obviously they were.

Not sure where all we were or what, if anything, we missed. But we went in every opened door, noshed whatever of that was available — great selections throughout — and enjoyed every studio space we were allowed in and most of the people.

But I still felt disarmed by that one where I was yelled at. It knocked me off my game of capturing the souls of art, Instead, I found myself capturing the soul of the building.

This scale, still inset into the front of the building, along the great, long loading dock, with its marvelous, sometimes narrow stairways that I've always appreciated, sometimes more than the art inside.

Those are, after all, practical in a limited, often difficult to ascend or descend sort of way, yet so oddly constructed as to approach the status of art, or at least sculpture. Then there were the huge, industrial pipes standing like pre-modern, industrial 3-D in many of the studio spaces.

red pipe in Fannie Brito's studio —
As she said, “We are connected.”

 

Continued on Continental Gin Tour page 2
and from Visiting the Shamrock Hotel

 

Information about helping to support DallasArtsRevue —
including a new, Easy Guide to Joining DARts,
is on the DARts Member Page Index.

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