Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA

The 2003 Best & Worst of Dallas Art

The Last Couple of Years Worth of Noteworthy Art Wonders and Blunders in Categories selected by The Staff of DallasArtsRevue.com. This page originated more than a year ago and has undergone extensive kinding and gentling since then.

It is presented here, finally, to warm DARts readers to the concept of helping prepare a Best & Worst of Dallas Arts for 2004.

Send your nominations to DARts soon.

Food at Openings

Best: The late and lamented Boyd Gallery

Worst: The MAC’s Blue Yule Blue Punch


Art Talks

Best: Dave Hickey on Graduate Art Education, at UTD

Worst: Egyptian show at the Kimbell, chats any of the other press people at The Nasher — Nasher himself was wonderful.


Institutional PR

Best: Randall Garrett of Plush creates the most quoteworthy press releases in the North Central Texas area, maybe the art universe.... although lately they've been peating and repeating at Spam levels.

Worst The MAC ties with the CAC. The MAC changes PR persons as often as their socks and inundates websters with E-mails in big, bold, all cap letters with grammar and spelling errors intact. Then they get all upset when one asks them to slow it down some.

The CAC doesn't do (or respond to) E-mail and does not advertise.



Best: Valley House has quality type and image; Pan American's are consistently colorful and elegant,

Worst: Hands down winner is the Arlington Museum of Art. They still love their tiny, nearly illegible typefaces but lately have discovered grunge typography from the early 90s. Never mind finding a start or end date for their events, just reading these things is a headache.


Performance Art

Best: Robert Boland's Running Spiral at the Casket Factory by South Side on Lamar June 21, 2003

Worst — The woman at The Cedars "Art" tour in November who sat there and thought about art on her empty walls.


Gallery Closing

Most tragic: The Boyd

Least tragic: Florence or Gallery VIII


Museum Press Preview

Best: Nasher — great art in several dimensions. A bright sun box full of art.

Worst: Egyptian show at Kimbell — is this stuff art or archeology? A dark, dank tomb of dead art.


Press Preview Lunch

Best: The Kimbell

Worst: the DMA's tuna surprise with olives

Worst Runner Up: Nasher


Staff Intern

Best: CJ Davis, when he worked for Craighead Green

Worst: The tall blonde intern at The MAC who insisted that there had never been installation art in Dallas before Alex Coyle's.


Gallery Turnover

Best: When Edith Baker Gallery turned into Cidnee Patrick — and Edith still happily works there. The fare has transitioned slowly but noticeably while most of what made Edith Baker Gallery great is still in evidence.

Worst: Ted Pillsbury leaving Pillsbury Peters


Post Graduate 500X Art Spaces

Best: Gray Matters, Plush, The Casket Factory,


Art Consultants

Best: Katherine Wagner and Tom Adams at CAC — they left no stone unturned in their sincere critique of the dysfunctional private art school's way of doing business.

Worst: Richard Brettell for Southside on Lamar — he left no resident Dallas artist unevicted.


Suburban Art Center

Best: Irving Art Center

Runner up: Plano

Worst: Irving Art Center annex


Egregious PR Goofs

Most: When JR asked for the names of artists in a show at Craighead Green, they sent a list — complete with home addresses, phone numbers and Social Security Numbers.

When JR responded to warn them, they said, "Something many people do not know is that anyone can get your ss # on their own."

We're not citing the gallery, because we believe the goof really was an accident, despite their shocking response.

Least: Any of the growing number of galleries, schools, museums, art centers, etc. that refuse to list artists in their shows on their invitations, yet rely on artists' work to further their own.



Best: Pillsbury Peters when Ted Pillsbury was still there.

Worst: Name it and claim it.


New Gallery

Best: The Art House on Routh shows and sells only Dallas artists, and they're open late, giving a lie to The MAC's claim to be "the only place for art after dark."

Strangest Concept: The MADI Museum and Gallery at The Kilgore Law Center in Lower Oak Lawn. Dated mediocre international geometric art by nice, well-meaning folk.



Best: Fort Worth Modern or is it the Kimbell?

Worst: Dallas Museum of Art


Hypiest Hype

Worst: 100 Hours at the DMA, during which the permanent collection and the sculpture garden weren't open after dark.


Art Auction or Party

Best: EASL

Worst: CAC — so dark you couldn't see the art, which nobody — including the MC — was promoting.


Art School

Best: Brookhaven— fabulous faculty.

We aren't mentioning North Lake College here, because most of their faculty are Supporting Members of DallasArtsRevue, and that would be way too prejudiced of us, even though they're obviously the best bunch of art educators in the Greater Dallas area.

Worst: Well, you decide.

SMU's faculty show last year displayed a lot of talent and no small about of intellectual B.S., but most of all it displayed cold disregard for passion.

Then there's the Creative Arts Center's crumbling building; their Board President characterizing the faculty as "a bunch of children" — or their refusal — in the middle of a hot Texas summer — to buy a room air conditioner for one, stuffy, hot classroom, even though they had money in the bank and students were complaining bitterly.


Art Tour

Best: White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour — good artists and craftspersons  in a tour scatterd across the eastern middle parts of Dallas, often far from White Rock Lake's environs.

Worst: We don't know about the quality of art shown, because we don't visit art events that won't list participating artists — like The Junius Heights Artists Porch Sale, which refused to name the artists in the sale, even after we asked three times.


Web Site

Questionable: The DCCA site has style and elan, but it's almost never updated. Not uncommon in the gallery and art center world.


High School Art Show

Best: The Dallas Museum of Art's annual spring student show.

Worst: UTD. By the end of the show, UTD still had not labeled the work.



Best Name Change: Edith Baker to Cidnee Patrick, where Edith Baker still happily works

Worst Name Change: Originally, it was ACT (Artist's Coalition of Texas), then in a long, slow succession: D-ART, D'Art, D-Art, DVAC and now The Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, which we are told to call "The Comporary" but is also widely known as "The Contempt," (a name JR only wishes he had coined).

Dishonorable Mention: The Texas Fine Arts Association changed their venerable name to Art House, becoming the 423rd one of those we know about, so far. There were already two in Dallas.

Honorable Mention for Moving: Conduit Gallery slipping out of parking-starved Deep Elm highrise into The Trinity Industrial Area's Design District.


Ethnic Culture Center

Best: The outside of the Latino Culture Center. We’ve never been invited inside.

Worst: The White Cultural Center in North Dallas — because it never existed. We ran facetious listings of events on DARts calendars, but nobody ever caught the joke, although one reader wrote in for a clarification of the SUV show.


Art Center Director

Best: David Fisher of the Bath House Cultural Center — for including a wild variety of exhibitions accessible by a wild variety of Dallas artists of every conceivable category..


Membership Exhibition

Best: The last several years at The MAC

Worst: Dallas Center for Contemporary Arts. Supposedly unjuried, although somehow the DCCA managed to delete all the really bad artists (and most of the members) from the show.

See J R's alternate take.


Ecclectic Show Lineup

Most: The Bath House Cultural Center — all over the map, representing many cultural groups and many tastes

Least: Ice House — The Virgen and other religious shows flys in the face of the Separation of Church and State in City-run institutions.


Parking Facilities

Best: Valley House has valet (but if you hate valet, then it’s one of the worst, because you sometimes have to park a half mile down the street.)

Almost Worst: Craighead-Green/Cidnee Patrick, unless you get there early, you’ll have to park on the street or down the block. If you park in the adjacent lot, the lawyers will have you towed off.

Worst Worst: The MAC on any opening night involving local artists, which is — luckily, if you need to park close — becoming rare.


Gallery Event

Best: Vance Wingate’s wedding reception at Gray Matters


Dallas Art Critic

Best: Charles Dee Mitchell


Art Reviews in Print

Best: Carolyn Biederman in the Dallas Observer, except she doesn’t write for them anymore, or at least they don't publlish her — probably because galleries don’t buy ads. Her Pinhead Monet in Algiers review of that Dallas Museum of Art show was priceless.

Worst: Regurgitated press releases at The Dallas Morning News. For decades, publicity flacks have considered it a boon when DMN's Janet Kutner signed one of our carefully worded press releases and published them. Luckily, she goes out of town for most of their reviews these days.


Thank You Letter

Best — a letter from EASL with everybody on the Board of Director's signatures and greetings, hand-written on the back of an envelope — spontaneous, informal, and very much appreciated. JR pinned it on his Friend's Wall.

Worst — CAC’s Blue Plate Special letter thanking editor JR for contributing a DARts Membership and a DARts Subscription. The letter arrived two months after the auction, and CAC has still (as of October 2004, more than a year later — it never did.) not informed us who made the winning bids, so we could deliver the promised Membership and DARts Subscription.


Gallery Reception Attire

Best: Randall Garrett’s plastic naugahide suit and shoes with no socks


Art Show Sculpture Concept

Weirdest: Frances Bagley’s draped cows at Essential Space

Worst: Furniture shows at the DMA


Fellow Press Preview Attenders

Best: the French Architectural Magazine contributor / Houston architectural professor who chatted with us at the Nasher press preview

Worst: the ladies from SocialWhirl Dot Com who kept asking whether the Nasher would host weddings.


Public Art Installation

Best: Phillip Lamb & Susan Magilow's intricate, high tech installation at Love Field

Worst: All those sad sick "art" attempts redesigned and/or destroyed by the City committees set up to keep creativity out of Dallas City Parks and public buildings.


Wall Art

Best: Tunnel Vision

Worst: Yet Another uninspired Virgen of Guadalupe at The MAC or almost anywhere else.


Cultural Icons

Best: the pegasi on top of the Magnolia Building downtown

Worst: the plethora of badly decorated fiberglass pegasuses


Art Movies

Best: Frida, color, music, special effect paintings coming to vidio life

Worst: Max, supposedly telling the story of young Adolph Hitler's failed artistic efforts, even though it did spout great gobs of fascinating early 20th Century art philosophy.


Artsy Neighborhood

Best: Lakewood

Second Best: Southside/The Cedars before Richard Brettell

Worst: Deep Ellum

Second Worst: Southside on Lamar after Richard Brettell


Gallery Name

Best: Forbidden

Worst: anything "Contemporary"


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hits since September 19 2008, many years after the this story was completed hits


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