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The Great Fort Worth Art Dealers Association Fall Gallery Night Extravaganza

Story + Photographs by JR Compton

Fort Worthis a strange and exotic place some 40 miles west of Dallas, Texas, USA. It's not a place we visit often, and many qualities there are unknown. But what we do know about Our Sister City to the West is that its clouds are cloudier, its weather weatherier, and all of Dallas' best museums are over there.

At last year's FWADA tour, we attempted to sample every site, visit every where and talk to all the people involved. This year we dawdled long at Art in the Metroplex show, where Kathy had placed a painting and eventually, as the day wore on, won an award.
 While she ate cold cuts and cookies at the exclusive, Special Official Art in the Metroplex Winners Luncheon and Lecture (about how wonderful the new museum was gonna be) at TCU and their Moudy Building (above), I killed time touring the city.

My first stop was my favorite Fort Worth museum, the recently updated and expanded Amon Carter, which was showing off its fabulous photography collection, drawings and prints by Stuart Davis, a floating, Calder in a corner and some wonderful cowboy and indian art, all of which I found fascinating for nearly an hour.
 

 
I wandered maplessly to the still under construction Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, which was easy to find but steamily ordinary, even though they'd just filled the pond (above). I expected magnificence and glory. I suppose grass and trees will help, but frankly, the Mexican restaurant across the street and the blue bull (below) at Jerry's were more interesting.
 
 

 

I managed to turn the wrong way on University, ending up south on highways out of town, retraced my route back into the Historic Stockyard area and, eventually, back up the hill to TCU. Where participating artists were still milling around. Gradually, eventually, the gathering migrated to the auditorium for a very specific lecture by juror Deborah Williams Remington (left) — introduced by art department head Ron Watson (left) — citing exactly what she liked about the pieces she judged into the show.

We'd planned to split early, but Kathy said the juror would speak about her painting, so we stayed through the long, detailed lecture. Remington had prepared remarks about all 35 pieces .Though she cited many movements, the juror never once mentioned the dreaded P M words (Post Modernism), although she spoke extensively about Dada, which she found instances in many works .Finally, the awards were awarded. And Kathy was shocked and amazed to get a check for $100, although they mangled pronunciation of her last name, calling her Miss Delet-o-street-o.The $2,000 top prize went to Fort Worth artist Carol Benson's large, soft, oil on steel painting, Afloat (below). Other people won the other prizes, including one from the Raucous Science Club for $105.48 to Joe Self for his tongue-in-cheek monument proposal, Tomb+Ritual.

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Carol Benson - Afloat
oil on steel, 60 x 36 inches
More AiM pieces are in JR's AiM Prevue
 
Five hours into the FWADA ordeal, we were tired and hungry. We'd vaguely planned to visit more galleries, but somehow it didn't matter by then. We roamed around the city, noticing that Fort Worth seemed so much more amenable to art than Dallas. When I stood in the middle of a fairly busy street taking the photo at the top of this page, nobody honked, jeered or tried to run me over.
 
 
 
Seems like everywhere we'd look, we'd see more public art in its natural habitat. We stumbled on these gems (below) while just riding around the city, more watching clouds than directions to far flung galleries. Kathy hated the Borofsky we stumbled on in a downtown park. The Michelangelo was somewhere near the museums, I think.
 
Jonathan Borofsky
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I'd wanted to see Celia Munoz's show at UTA, but it closed early, was too far away, and we were already late in the day. We sought out Carol Henderson Gallery, because she'd gone out of her way to deliver a floppy disk of info about her FWADA show (never mind that my Mac doesn't use floppies...), but we were greeted by another one of those stupid steers (below), and we didn't even want to get out of the car.We guessed that while Dallas was being pestilenced by pegasii, Fort Worth was buried in bull.

We did wend our way to the far side of town to see Sherry Owen's latest opus at Four Walls, which didn't look like any gallery we'd ever encountered. Outside, under a small tent, were card tables and a mister pudding long drips of what we hoped was water into the thirsty soil. This was the front door.
 

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Sherry Owens - Bearing Witness:
in Response to September 11

Inside was cool, dark and oddly jangly, like too many concepts competing, and not enough obvious. Sherry was right there explaining every object, every nuance. Answering all questions.

We know monuments' dark columns of names, and the power they sometimes convey. During the 1984 Republican National Convention protest in Dallas, names of people murdered in El Salvador were scrawled on crossed flat sticks, which were bent into the link fence around the delegates' meetings. The names and cross shape created immediate recognition and provided an emotional jolt.

Here, the forms are abstruse, nebulous, the concepts competitive, the tension between the forms, like their meanings, loose in the darkened room.
 


 

A faintly clouded, light absorbing, indigo night sky covers four walls. The ceiling is dark. Bright upended trees float on the gray floor, stealing our attentions from the jumbled wall on the left.

Three large, glaring white, tan and natural, chopped crepe myrtle branch "brooms," Sherry told us they were, floated upended, like wraiths in the dark sweep of the room, away from but not balancing the jumbled wall. Something wrong. Trees growing down. Roots uprooted.

Gradually, lost among the branches, our attentions turn to the shadowy wall of gray with spare splatters of red. The dis-integrated mass of it forming a round-topped mound — Kathy thought it was an explosion suspended — the splay of elements. A mishmash wall of tiny, slender, bone-like sticks held out from the wall with twisted, exoskeleton wires.
 


 

On each of the more than three thousand sticks the name of someone who was murdered in the Trade Center towers was punched into the surface. More than a hundred area artists participated in their creation, project collaborator Art Shirer told us. They'd finished the last 70 or so at ten o'clock that morning. Art was still wired, manic from sleeplessness.
 


 

Around the bottom edge of the room, extinguished candles had each been burned differently. All about the broom branches, intriguing bits of buttons sparkled, again symbolizing all the different souls snuffed that day. The sum of the various components and their shadows were elegant, simple and mysterious. The effect somber.
 

 
 
We'd started the day fatigued. I slept most of the way over, and the AiM show experience was long and arduous. Wandering around without my usual navigatrix was wearing, and a nap would have suited us both. Instead...
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Nancy Bush - Evening Storm - oil on board - 9 x 12 inches
 

We dutifully visited a couple galleries near the museum district back on the other side of town, and were amply rewarded for minimal effort. At Evelyn Siegel's labyrinthine space, we discovered a lush little Nancy Bush landscape (above).
 

 
And our search for more, new Melodee Martin Ramirezes in the same space we'd originally spied her splendid works (See Melodee's DARts Supporting Member page), a whole year ago, was rewarded with two, glowing cloudscapes (above).
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We also discovered a trio of works by Rene Alvarado and hoped he was from around here, although it hardly mattered. His Eve (Expulsion from Paradise) oil on canvas (above) was stunning — colorful, complexly organized and lushly layered with intriguing detail. It captured our attention and imagination. Two other Alvarados on the same wall closer to the front door were similarly textured and composed, but were comparatively simple with a much narrower palette.

 
Finally sated with art but otherwise starving, we started searching for Mex, when I remembered parking in Dos Gringos' lot to shoot the new museum. We ate sumptuously there, then stuporishly bloated home, stopping only to photograph more wonderful clouds
 

 

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