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Visiting Art Spaces I'd Never Been to Before

Art Spaces on this page   Light & Sie    SOTA    Haley-Henman    El Centro    Art is Art

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

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Light & Sie Main Gallery

The grandest space and weirdest experience from today's tour was the new — opening November 15 — Light and Sie gallery at 129 Leslie between the Trinity levy and Dragon Street. As you can see, it's large, mostly white and spacious with a contemporary element of startling orange.

Light & Sie's Orange Window - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Orange Window From Inside

When I parked out front, the only doors with the address I sought — not the fancy black glass setup you see above — were open, so I walked in hoping I could find the right place in there somewhere. I saw the blinding orange hall and followed it, not at all sure where was the correct path. When I came upon the giant gallery, I finally knew I was in the right place, but maybe not quite in the right circumstance.

Light & Sie's Floor - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Show Title and Artists' Names on the Floor

No people in sight. In the hall. In the gallery. No workers. No gallerists. Zero human presence. No voices echoing from the rooms down hallways. Large, square, expensive art — not a single one from Dallas — so, yes, clearly I was in the right place. I took 13 photographs, then went back down the orange hall, passing an old guy talking on a cell phone near the door out. He looked at me. I looked at him and walked out toward my car, passed it, stood in the street to take this last shot of the orange windows from the outside and started to get in my car.

Outside Orange - photo Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Outside Orange and Gray

That was the first time he asked, "Who are you?" without identifying himself in any way, I wasn't even sure he was talking to me. I ignored him. When he asked louder as I sat down in my car, I drove away, thinking they probably should work on their security.

 

I'd like to pretend I drove from one to the next of these new-to-me places in a geographically logical way today, but I was literally all over the map. I got all the way downtown, remembered I hadn't seen El Centro in a long time, checked it out and forgot all about Light & Sie.

At one point, a sudden gust of wind blew my list of names and addresses, splat! out of my car. A split second later, it flew back in to the back seat, but I didn't find that out till well after I'd stopped the car, parked illegally and looked around on the ground for my list and several hours later nearly completed the tour. Luckily I remembered street names from tracking them down on MapQuest the night before. These visits are not in chronological or geographical order.

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SOTA

Sculpture Outside SOTA - no identification - photo Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wrapped Rock Sculpture Outside SOTA
No identification on this older piece by Frances Bagley that is
settling heavily, destroying the lines that made it slender
Its former lyrical elegance suffers from a bad case of gravity.
A drawing of it on the flyer has less clunky grace. I like the leaf
in the knee. But age and neglect is wrecking this once-elegant work.

Leaf in Sculpture - photo Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Detail of Left Knee of Unidentified
aging sculpture by Frances Bagley?

Every time I've listed a SOTA event in the Calendar, I had in mind it in a whole different part of the city. I knew the address on Routh Street, but I didn't know where the address was till I finally got there, having forgot Routh is a dotted line. I knew SOTA was in a church. I didn't realize City Gallery was the same thing as SOTA, which apparently is the same thing as the [now public] private art collection of Herschel Alan Weisfield, who doesn't seem to be conserving it very well.

Part of Untitled Triptych by Susan Miller

I was likewise not ready for either the breadth and depth of the collection of art there nor their obvious disrespect for it. There are many number identifications press-typed to the wall, but several of the pieces I photographed — like Frances Bagley's wired-caged sculpture outside (whose most sallient feature is now a leaf held by wire against the blue rocks) and this next piece, a carved wood sculpture of a person holding two cats, in its own alcove inside, are neither identified nor numbered.

unidetified wood sculpture - photo Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

unidentified and unnumbered

Shooting some pieces — like the two, long-familiar Wayne Amerines, I had to use flash, because they are informally arranged along a long, dark and hallway. No light directly on them. Difficult to see. All the identifications here came from a brochure whose text is reasonably large, but the list of pieces is tiny and completely unreadable in that dark hallway.

Julie Speed -

Julie Speed - The Lost Boy

The list does not include mediums, sizes (Nobody includes sizes. We try to, because dimensions are meaningful.) or dates. Pieces are jumbled together on small shelves. The brochure calls it "a European-style viewing gallery setting," describing the work as "works from regional artists, both well-known and up-and-coming." That latter especially could use dates, since many of the work by the "up-and-comers" I saw were long ago, and several of those never did make it, although others certainly did. Collecting is always hit and miss. As is brochure hype.

Wayne Amerine - Ostrich   Wayne Amerine - no title, no attribution

Wayne Amerine - Ostrich and Princess Tex (with spare part
just lying there) — circa 1980 (photographed in darkness)

SOTA stands for State Of The Art, identified on a front porch plaque, "Working Environment." Another sign, in the yard away from the front door calls it "City Church." I didn't go deep enough to see the big room that looked like a church nave, because there was a quiet meeting going on in there. In other rooms I saw people apparently working. I couldn't see doing what. I also did not see the entire collection, but maybe next time I'm in Oak Lawn, I'll see more.

According to the brochure, "Dallas real estate developer Herschel Alan Weisfield has passions for both collecting art and taking vintage Dallas buildings scheduled for demolition and revitalizing them. He has recently combined the two to form S.O.T.A. — "State-Of-The-Art" — a hybrid work environment within a private art museum, ... formerly [one of] the Dallas County Mental Health Mental Retardation office[s]."

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Haley-Henman

Haley - Henman at 2335 Hardwick Street in Oak Cliff

The most fun and personable time I had on today's tour was at Haley-Henman, snuggled into a very green, light industrial neighborhood at 2335 Hardwick Street, off Fort Worth Avenue just south of the Trinity River. In fact, during Prohibition, a nearby building on the same street used to be an illegal alcohol and betting establishment with a view of the bridge, so they could tell when a police raid was coming from downtown, I remembered from visiting painter Francis X. Tollbert, III and his wife, photographer Ann Stautberg's studio there more than a decade ago.

Big Painting at HH - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mark Lesser - Untitled #06, 2007
oil on canvas - 40 x 40 inches
Julie Stephenson - Pure Abstraction, 2005
oil on canvas - approximately 8 x 10 feet
Doesn't it look like a horse race?

Local history and art history were some of wide-ranging conversations, I, gallery director John Marcucci and Laray Polk (married to "Oak Cliff Four" artist Jack Mims; they recently celebrated their 15th anniversary.), who was meeting with John in the next room when I wandered in with my camera. "Okay if I take photographs?" I'd asked soon as we saw each other, before introductions. "Yes." His answer quick. I warmed immediately.

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Julie Stephenson - Stones of Lascaux, number 3, 1998
mixed media monoprint - 10.75 x 11 inches

Looks like a pastel, but it's a monoprint.

Within a few minutes after formal introductions all-round, we were deep in spirited conversation. Certainly an off-the-beaten-track art place but lively and very friendly. The art was interesting, also. As I thought I was leaving, John showed me a whole other room of art I'd thought was just an office. It was lined with lush, colorful prints that looked like pastels. It was behind glass, but I shot it anyway. It was too gorgeous to pass up.

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El Centro

El Centro Collge Gallery - photo Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I actually have been to the El Centro College Gallery before, although it looked a lot different that only time I'd ever been to this new space just inside the big entrance on Main Street right by the newish, green rolling hill of the downtown Dallas community college campus — in what had to have once been a hallway to somewhere. It's a tall space with lots of daylight streaming in the big front window and doors. But it is also narrow.

Outside ECC Gallery - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

And this show made not very much use of all that height or width. Some cloud paintings that wrapped around their unframed canvases, a clay bust sculpture with a dog-tag like necklace, one gray bowl, and some colorful paintings did almost nothing to fill the giant verticality, making it a not particularly good show for that strange space. Speaking of security, there was a woman gallery-sitting near the front of the space, where she could not possibly see almost all of the gallery.

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Art is Art

Art is Art - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Maybe Art is Art, but is Art is Art an Art Gallery?

The last space on today's tour has been appearing in the DallasArtsRevue Calendar as if it were actually an art gallery, but now that I have seen it and know that it's really another ego-inflated decor consignment place with a art theme and not particularly good taste in the art part, I'm wondering whether I can justify continue to list it there.

Its sign outside on Henderson claims "Hip, local, original art, furniture and complements ... for right-brain stimulation," but the "art" (cringe) was — except the one piece in the whole smallish shop that excited me there for a moment — identified on a simple, straight-forward, attached tag. The monochrome brown on bisque bowl that I actually fondled to see if it was real, had no tag, leading me to believe it was, alas, mass produced. Or by an artist unworthy of a tag.
 

 

There are, of course, many more art galleries and spaces in Dallas I have never been to, and I look forward to exploring more in the coming weeks and months. I doubt I'll ever catch up with the proliferation, but it's worth a try. Norman Kary, who used to contribute photographs for a continuing feature of DallasArtsRevue when it was offset printed on paper in the late 80s and early 90s, and I have been discussing a continuation of that series of Dead Dallas Galleries. Places that still exist but are no longer enclosing art.


Thanks to John Marcucci for additional information.

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2007 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.

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