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The Cedars Open Studios (Tour) '05
Story + Photographs by J R Compton
ur first stop was what we called, three years ago — before there even was a Cedars Tour — the Tin Art Ranch (and before that, Bowman Studios). I expected and was happy to find a lot of artists in close proximity — high density art by a very different artists, some of whom I've known for years.
Art in its natural habitat, busy and cluttered studios with lots of activities, music, food, drink and ideas bouncing around that warm, noisy autumn day.
We both loved looking at the Bowman work, but since DalalsArtsRevue has written and photographed them extensively twice before, we enjoyed their splendid work and bounteous table (yum, Brie), watched in fascinated awe as glass got blown, then shock, when it exploded. Then wandered off to see what else we could see in that popularly populated art ranch.
As often is, these photos are in the chronological order of our touring. We got going late with zero chance of hitting every stop, so we started with my old friends and down the street neighbors, then let serendipity guide us on. Good choice, as it turned out. She led well.
There's always an excitement seeing new work struggling or birthing, not just on the drawing board or in the hopeful word and thoughts of an artist, but right there in as close to three-dimensional reality as one can get, a busy artist's busy art studio.
This (title unknown to me, yet) white wood piece mimicking in some ways the arc of work I've come to know as Rick Maxwell's — rough-cut wood not pretending to be anything but, starkly 3-D and unconsciously wood, and in other ways — strung from the ceiling, turning unevenly in clunky arc subtending circles, awkward, bounding off in another new direction.
Parting, I shot this busy whirling gig in front of the studios and bands and cooking and all sorts of bustling activities going on inside the fence around the ranch. As diverse with shapes and color as the crowds of dozens of dozens of people all around, all around.
I should have investigated its author...
The Gulf Cone Building was a whole other environment. Large, old but hardly ancient, brick, several storied building whose tall windows I first thought were open to the neighborhood, which I've always believed high crime. In whose nearby Cedars DARTS station the DO, in its snarky wisdom, termed "Lock & Load."
I wanted to walk up the window in, but demurred instead through the door in the corner of the partially fenced, tar blotched lot. When we exited our quick tour there, we walked out the window, stepping wood chunks a lofty, freeing feeling.
Closer inspection showed raw wood shutters, all opened that could have, on a day the kind of cool we expected, shivered. We wondered aloud how artists could work with all the windows wide on any cold day.
The structure, a former police station, with institutional green doors still labeled "Holding Area - Authorized Personnel Only" and "INTERROGATION," a peep hole below, seemed huge, but we assumed, cheap.
We especially admired the elegant dining set in the raw foyer — rich in the rough texture of old uneven bricks and slatted floor — crumbling inside just as rough a nearly abandoned jumble of neighborhood over I-30's canyon" from crumbling downtown.
In the best of circumstance I have no directional sense, but following Serendip's lead, we tagged along with other walkers up a wide corridor through buildings slanted by the late afternoon sun to the next stop, wondering what it might be.
At Jeff Hogan's studio — "The Woodworks" it says on the business card he handed me when I told him how much I liked his sculptures, I see he also lists Antique Restoration, Custom Furniture and Custom Finishes.
But there and then all I could see or think or photograph were the lovely, liquid like sculptures that remind me of Bowman glass somehow cross melded in time with Raymond Lowey streamline and something floating in from the future.
Staring at it now, I see simple quicksilver lines as if a single silver thread, drifting elegantly out, doubling back and around, whirling, soaring, exploring, then exploding like monochromat firework into three, four strands of lithe, windblown tubular space.
Eloquent structures in a giant, graying green space.
While Anna paged through his furniture and restoration book, I kept chatting up a silver-haired guy in all-artist's black who looked like he should be the artist Jeff. Though gently gregarious, that guy was not, explaining he sold insurance. As if one could not do both.
Nearby, another mind meld of metal and glass, this glowing blue and silver spiraling, wrapping around itself, higher and higher.
Along the way we met old and dear friends moving through those variedly massive and Saturday dead but elsetimes noisy neighborhoods. It was a fun and friendly tour.
The first time we saw the hay wagon, we thought it was a float escaped its parade. Next time it was a hay ride. By the third, though, we knew it was the way to travel this tour, and next time we were gonna explore it the easy way, instead of tracking a map and odd parking spaces.
At the Sherbarth's studio (Read Jim Dolan's extensive interview with Bert and Ann Scherbarth for pictures and verse) we finally snapped to the bargain beauty of the tour's official T-shirt. Then we had to double back to Tour Headquarters to try to find the right size in green.
We'd passed the parking lot HQ when we'd passed Lee Harvey's cater cross the street, the first time through the hood, thinking the former was just a parking lot and not hardly anybody's studio and therefore unlikely to have anybody's original art (wrong again!) and the latter might be fun some later time.
While Anna searched the stacks for a medium in green, I again admired Ann's chicken and other paintings eloquently exhibited on the hood of a pink hulk of fading automotive glory.
By the end of our tour, we were ready for something cool and filling and sat at one of the short picnic tables in the yard at Harvey's for too long gathering our breath and energy before realizing we were unlikely to ever be served. We'll go back some time when there's a few fewer patrons and warmer breeze.
We liked the tour and were wildly intrigued by the neighborhood, which we assume, now that artists are settling there in numbers, will become Dallas real estate's next big thing.
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