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Soon as I woke the afternoon of this week's DADA Art Walk, I knew my promises to hit every one of the gazillion galleries on the tour was not gonna happen. I'm over, I think, the art ennui [Franch pronunced on-we] I got from brain fry burn-out after our The Winter Show extravaganza, and I was looking forward to seeing interesting art, art and other spaces.
And we did, and it was a good thing, but what
I remember most are the people we talked with along the way, a few great
stops, some which were not on DADA, a red-flashing encounter with
the Secret Service in the middle of the street I wanted to turn onto downtown,
two art cars, a squashed brown thing on Dragon Street and several bleeding
awful galleries full of me-too art that makes it make sense for the competing
Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) organization to exist and thrive.
But first the good stuff.
Peter Ligon Atlas Metal Works, 2009 ink on paper
Our first visit was The MAC (I only just now remembered that The Other Contemporary figured prominently in this week's DADA YADDA. For a change I was not invited, did not ask for a press pass, nor did I attend, so will not say much about the why-are-there-always-two pre-show events before the walky walk walk. The first was a panel. The second an Antique-Road-Show wannabe-alike for monetarily nominizing art.)
Sheila and Anna at The MAC
At The MAC we picked up the geographic list of galleries, and somewhere else along the tour we got a map, which we had been told did not exist but we mostly ignored anyway. There in the Max main gallery we saw friend and long-time DARts Member Sheila Cunningham, who told us about Pamela Nelson's opening at her downtown space and the mention in THE Magazine, which I ripped out and stuck in my pocket so we'd remember the address after The Afterimage.
The Pamela Nelson stop later proved a high enough point of the day we listened and heeded every time else anyone told us where to go on or off the tour. So instead of following an imaginary unmap, we followed people and their recommendations, a much more human way to tour a tour.
Etty Horowitz United We Stare in The MAC's New Works Space
The show at The MAC was an SMU faculty show, and I
was excited to find Peter Ligon's work that I've followed for more than a
decade now there. As crazy as I am for art by Dallas artists, Dallas
artists arting Dallas thrills me more, as does the notion of him teaching
there. Actual drawing drawers are hard to come by and worth treasuring.
I always enjoy stopping at Ben Breard's Afterimage
where I just feel at home among the black & white and color photographs
I could spend days watching. I've been going to the Afterimage longer than
any other gallery in Dallas because I was a photographer way before I was
a much of anything else, and Ben's always been friendly, but at that time
early in the tour I thought we were still a little pressed for time. I
had hoped to start our tour there for old time's sake, but The MAC was closer.
Pamela Nelson Beaumont, 2008 mixed media on wood 18 inches diameter
Next stop was Pamela Nelson's place downtown. We had a booger of a time getting there even though I'd been before and just after our last wrong turn runaround when we'd found our way right at the corner going left to where Pamela's place stands, what I thought were two big black condo wagons were flashing red lights and stopping in the middle of the intersection like evil storm chasers (from the movie Twister) scaring me half out of my wits thinking the cops were raiding an art opening, so I kept going past the right way down the wrong street and had to circle the square again.
Somewhere lost along that way we realized what we'd witnessed must have been not cops running amok but the Secret Service, who else would drive like that except folks who own the place, and we were eager to get back while Laura Bush, who's maybe Pamela's best friend, was still there.
We still didn't find street parking when we finally got back but I parked illegally, later asked Pamela about that, she said pay the quarter on the street or I'd get my car booted and it'd cost $100 but first I'd have to find them on a Satty afternoon, so I heeded the human again and found a meter that gave me more than an hour for 30 cents.
Louise Applebome, Pamela Nelson and Laura Bush in Spirited Conversation
Inside, we found a big bright daylight party art opening scene with many old friends, decent snacks and lots of fascinating and fun and colorful art and conversation.
Pamela had been set to have her big show at Gerald Peters on Dragon Street but when that hallowed space went under and she had all this work she'd been making for months and years and needed to get it before the public, this was her show and gala informal party going on in her extensive digs downtown.
Pamela Nelson chopsticks tabletop
I kept wanting to get a photo of Laura Bush but being shy about taking it, so I wasn't paying near enough attention to everybody's expression and caught her in what photogs call a 'between expressions expression,' so I don't like how I caught her in my photo, but I got everybody's sprinted conversation great, except we can't see Pamela, but it's the best I got.
I used to be a news photographer, and I should know better, but I'm out of practice and was in awe of the former first lady, who was really human and nice and happy to talk art with anyone who would.
Anna told her welcome back to Dallas, and Mrs. Bush replied she was really happy to be back. No airs, just a nice lady. Not surprising, since she's a friend of Pamela's.
Pamela Nelson Dallas, 2008 mixed media on wood 36 inches diameter
I haven't written about Pamela's work in awhile, so this should be fun, if brief. She got famous in the 1980s for fun and food art that was interesting and expressive of the Pamela Nelson (called Pam then) I knew and liked — she was on the founding Board at DARE (which later did not become The MAC) with me, and I still remember driving to Canton's First Monday once and watching her select pieces like table legs and chairs and the texture bits she still works into her art.
Dallas Fabric Artist Sue Benner Holding Sewn
Designs for Distance View by a Friend
After a bright, lighthearted and commercially very successful contemporary folk art period, it's almost as if Pamela got embarrassed by the silliness and dipped down deep into gloomy patterned abstraction, then stayed stuck there years too long, only gradually, eventually at long last climbing back into the fun and vivid colors and stylish patterns her work now again manifests. First disguised as games several years ago with more gloomy abstractions, then gradually letting loose and proclaiming her vivid imagination with colors and textures to match.
Pamela's Designs Sewed by Honduran Craftswomen
During her 80s fame Pamela learned to deal with the media. That skill has helped her ride this second wave being who she is and expressing both Folk and the often tongue-in-cheek serious work many of us can identify — and laugh along — with. Again. Glad to see her back.
More about the Honduran and other projects is on Pamela's website.
Visions from the Urban Jungle
This scene not far from Pamela's place downtown. Somewhere along our way today we realized one of the important functions of art tours is to get us out of our usual environments and into strange and amazing neighborhoods wheres we might never otherwise venture.
We also photographed CADD's downtown space while speeding down Main Street, but we didn't stop, even though they were open. Other CADD art spaces were closed for the afternoon. Probably a really good idea to have competing gallery organizations. DADA has drifted in the recent few years from top quality and contemporary, but we may have to wait for a CADD Tour.
Curtis Jeré untitled, 2009 81
mixed media metal squares
148 x 148 x 3 inches $12,500 including local installation
Next stop was Gallery 2910 in Deep Elm. New space for us who still remember well before Dragon erupted after Conduit moved near there from Deeper Elm, back when the Ellum looked like it might become the near-downtown art gathering place galleries could actually be walked to and from.
But that only slightly happened with but a spare few bona fide fine art galleries in the area that once might have been called SoBay (South of Baylor, a reference to NY's SoHo south of Houston (pronounced How-ston), and now Deeper Elm seems an odd place to start a gallery, time maybe for some more urban renewal and turn it again into a less scary neighborhood.
We wandered around many long minutes and took other pictures, but the pieces I liked seemed oddly placed jumbled on low shelves and in the front window where I always forget the scene outside the glass.
Alex Donaghy Soon My Beloved oil NFS
We found this at El Centro College's gallery after we convinced the guy inside with the key to open up and let us not only come in but photograph pieces in the show for this story a few minutes after closing at 4. It was an uphill struggle to get to shoot selected work, but he finally gave in after I told him I'd done it there before and I used to go to school there. Back in the early 70s on the GI Bill. I even taught photography there a few semesters in the early 80s.
Much as I talk about being able to walk fast through any exhibition to find the winners, I would have liked more time in the student show, but the gallery guy was visibly anxious we leave.
The Beauty That Is Dragon Street — a blue car nation
I still prefer calling our next visited area Dragon Street but the name on the DADA flyers is The Design District, and there's very compelling reasons to still call it that.
Although the Trinity Industrial Area nomer still has some charm, also. It was the one place where we actually saw people walking from gallery to gallery. The weather was cool but swealtery, and AC-ed art spaces were more than welcome after a bit of vigorous walking.
Why They Call It The Design District
I got chased out of the Thornwood, where I was trying to photograph a really egregious example of me-too art in thick pastel colors that I sort of liked anyway, when the lady who had been airing her dog while Anna and I talked with friends out front about what an awful place it was, ran me off demanding I get official permission to the shoot in there, which I didn't want to do, because I was so embarrassed even being in that place.
Jacques Lamy title unknown
So I was sneaky when I shot this delicious little painting in the gallery of originals next door. Now I've got it up, I see gallery proprietor Jacques Lamy's signature lower left. His gallery at 1607 Dragon always includes a delightful mix of periods, styles, forms and artists from everywhere, and here I've discovered a piece probably painted in his studio back of the gallery.
Vivid in broad placements of Southwest pastels, it looks influenced by Georgia O'Keefe and her early last century painting pals though much more recent. Post Postmodern if you will, and I might.
Sign of the Times photo by Anna Palmer
We walked up Dragon to Craighead Green, passing what was Gerald Peters 'new' space now become yet another Dead Dallas Gallery on whose front door next to Craighead Green Anna photographed this note. Smink is Autumn, whose high-end design, luxury furnishings, fine art, photography and accessories store is moving from Lover's Lane to the barely used former Gerald Peters space on Dragon. The previous GP space on uptown Fairmount is still big and empty and fading.
Isaac Smith Birds in a Open Storeroom at Craighead Green
After noticing that Kenda North, whom we've written about often on these pages, has emerged from the depths of her swimming pool with water still an important element in the picture, what we both noticed and independently photographed nearly identically were Isaac Smith's birds.
Isaac Smith Louisiana Swamp Alligator
carved and painted wood 9 x 9 x 42 inches
I was also very impressed by his swamp alligator out front. According to Yardog.com of Austin and Marfa, Texas, The Dallas artist was born in Louisiana and as a child played in swamps learning local fauna first-hand. In the mid-70s he taught himself to free his animals from the wood he finds them in with a hatchet, then apply color.
Marla Ziegler at CG title unknown
Photo by Anna Palmer
Another piece Anna liked enough to photograph is this wall of crawling ceramic shapes at Craighead Green by Dallas artist Marla Ziegler, whose show at Gerald Peters on Dragon last year mightily impressed, and there's a bigger pic of an Isaac Smith bird on that page, too.
Smashed Chocolate Easter Bunny on the
Concrete Near Craighead Green Gallery
It took us — Anna solved the puzzle, of course — a long time to figure out what this smashed and melted brown and gold wrapped blob on Dragon Street was. I pointed it out to Anna, thinking she'd like it, too. And we busied ourselves photographing it for several minutes as passers by — Art Walkers — wondered.
At PDNB, who isn't on the DADA list but was open, I was wowed by the Texas photographer's dream-like black & white photographs in Keith Carter: A Certain Alchemy, although much of the other work there seems like it's been there awhile. Early, middle and late Carter photographs are featured on the Photographs Do Not Bend website.
Somebody said there was a fourth, new photography gallery (Photographic Archives on Lovers Lane rarely shows anything anymore.) in Dallas but I don't remember its name or location. I do remember walking around in PanAmericanProjects, but I don't remember anything in there but some stark-looking furniture that's always there.
After I posted this, Ben Breard of Afterimage emailed that the new photo gallery is Sun to Moon in the Design District and they primarily show landscapes.
Familiar Shape? The Yarn Car's Trunk
These though, were memorable. We'd seen the Yarn car at an opening at the five hundred ekks sometime last year and went all gaga about it. Did again today, when it was joined by the Brickmobile, according to a four-up flyer in the back window, by Mark Monroe and Austin College students. Maybe so is the Yarn Car. We're fans.
The Brickmobile by Mark Monroe and Austin College Students
Sculptor Mark Monroe, who like many artists now recycles found objects and material, is getting his name and art out there lately. We encountered him at the barely populated Dallas Contemporary's celebration of his and Natali Leduc's To Paint a Bird's Portrait that's hung on an otherwise conservative brick building, but the space is soon to be reborn as the Dallas Contemp. See pix on Art Here Lately's main page till May, after that it'll be linked as ArtHereLately-004.
Monroe and Sherry Owens (and others, more info in our Arts Calendar) are in Art of the Everyday curated by Marilyn Waligore at UTD, where Sherry's elaborate installation Every Breath You Take, about air quality is also featured and, she says, "Mark has a great tree made of trash cans and canoes!"
Rock 'n Roll Motorcycle Art in Victory Park
Artist unknown, although that's a motorcycle
and a trombone and maybe even a clock.
A few more colorful neighborhoods to drive through, and we were off to our last stop. By which time we were tired of art walking, driving and other people's notions of art caged and boxed up as commercial property, when we all know that magical stuff is everywhere always.
Luckily there was lots of beautiful, intelligent, original and thought-provoking work at the charming and colorful Geometric MADI museum up the hill from Lee Park in Upper Oak Lawn. The MADI is one of Dallas' prize treasures, entirely dedicated to an intellectual conceit developed in the 1940s by Uruguayan artist Caramel Quin Aren breaking from the figurative tradition.
Volf Roitman Model for a MADI Building, 1997
commissioned by Bill and Dorothy Masterson
laser-cut metal, Plexiglas, wood and cardboard
4 x 3 x 2 feet
Here's a model they hope will be built someday. This piece was unveiled at the MADI show at the the Reina Sofia museum in Spain during 1997. Volf Roitman designed the fanciful facade for the current MADI Geometric Museum, which is at least as joyous and playful as the collection it contains.
MADI Porch Reflections
Previous DADA Art Walk stories
Dollar Days at Art Walk '86 - pictureless from the archives
DADA Gallery Walk 2001 & DADA Do Benefit Bash from when web pix were small
Running the DADA Art Walk in 2002
Winter Dada Doodah in February 2003
Walking DADA in 2005
2007 DADA Autumn Walk a doo wacka do
Raynette & Vernon Do DADA
of Art Tour Stories on DallasArtsRevue