The Best of
Written + Photos
by J R Compton
with opinions by
Gallery at 407 North Tyler
MFA — Mighty
Fine Art, owned and directed by Dallas artist Steve Cruz
in Haute Cliffe.
Great name, thick
with irony and self-depricaing Masters of Fine Art
humor. Funky and diverse art, scope and architecture.
"Without a doubt, the best
new gallery and director are one — Mighty Fine Arts and
Steve Cruz," says Nancy
The amazing Fort
Worth Community Art Center, which puts
the community squarely in the big middle of a truly great
space devoted to
artists around here.
Dallas has nothing
like it — and we need one, since all the community art
centers either moved to the 'burbs, turned to showing
Art Guys from Out Of Town and/or turned their backs on Dallas
We used to have two — D-Art
and The MAC. Now we got none.
FWCAC is not all
roses. Their staff has yet to settle into full-time professionalism,
and their PR was so indifferent I couldn't open the press release
they sent for a recent show.
Meadows Museum was, until nearly the end of 2004, a shoe-in
for The Best Museum in Dallas. Does their recent Texas
Artists Snafu disqualify them? Or only prove their
Or was it The
Nasher all along?
Are All of Dallas'
Best Museums still in Fort Worth?
Gerald Peters. Certainly
the swankest digs, the most variety, though mostly in the high-dollar
range. I get upset at those silly suburban art centers calling
themselves museums, but GP is as close as it comes without actually
one. It has the look and feel.
Tanabe — superb
organizing talent, and a subtle eye for the avant. See Sphere
at the Bath House in summer 2004, and we hope more to
come, now that's she's got her green card.
Most Interesting New
Bones? — raw
and unexpected, selling art to pay for his tickets
here and in NYC. Most intriguing venue. True public art.
its fine Central and South American artists but added
Dallas, Texas and Estados
Unitos artists, too — making their span truly Pan.
Furthest Jump Backward
South Side Contemporary Gallery —
Like we need something else called “contemporary.”
They threw out
all the local Dallas artists and are now so very excited about
artists from anywhere else.
Thumbs way down.
Fort Worth artist Billy Hassell
while talking on
the phone at the Conduit 20th
20th anniversary Art-In,
when artists made the art for the anniversary show on site in
the weeks before the opening. Under-promoted, only a few came
to watch, but I was there every day, taking lots of photos, talking
with artists and watching the process of art by a fascinating
crew of artists.
It was about process,
and it was as fascinating to watch as getting to be there.
Had to be the humongous Quilt
Crawl that started in January and lasted through the spring.
There were shows all over the city, bus tours thither and yon.
I didn't attend any of it, but I should have.
James Crowe Retrospective & Sale at
Irving Arts Center in September had more art per
square inch of wall and gallery space than I’ve ever
Nothing was left
out. Fascinating show, nonetheless, but I spent four
hours photographing it before the opening, and there were
pieces I saw at the reception I'd never
As an artist, I'm relatively new
to the selling of fine art, but in the admittedly short six
years since I first began approaching galleries, I've met
a wide variety of directors. Still, I've never encountered
one who combined the charm, personableness and professionalism
of Nancy Whitenack, owner of Conduit Gallery.
Well, maybe there was one. Although
I didn't know her well, the highly revered Arlene Lewallen
of Santa Fe's Lewallen Contemporary may have matched at least
a little of Nancy's approachability. But Arlene passed away
a couple years ago, so long live the queen.
Being a dealer of contemporary
art places Nancy in a rarified atmosphere where cool is king
and where any personal warmth is usually a sign that you
must not be big yet. But I think many would agree that you
could jackhammer Conduit loose from its foundations in the
Design District, airlift it into SoHo or Chelsea or wherever
the New York art scene happens to be located this week, and
no one there would think anything was out of place.
A few years ago, before Nancy
knew me, my soon-to-be wife Alison and her mom dropped by
to see an exhibition at the new location. They were dressed
casually and did nothing to look like art buyers, but it
made no difference in how Nancy treated them: with gracious
hospitality and personal attention. (One might say that,
as an art dealer, that's her job. But you only have to visit
a handful of the top galleries in town to see that it's not
necessarily common practice.)
Last spring, when she gathered
Conduit's artists on a Sunday night to tell us how she wanted
to mark the gallery's 20th anniversary, she quickly outlined
her general idea: not to do the expected group show, but
to cover every wall of the gallery in heavy paper and allow
us to do whatever we wanted. Then, from that point on, she
made all of us part of the planning, encouraging us to offer
our own ideas and asking our opinions at every stage of preparation,
all the way through to opening night. She was open, flexible
and a whole lot of fun.
Nancy has created the kind of
gallery in which I always want my work to be found.
Plush owner Randall
Garrett is a Dallas treasure. His tastes are wildly diverse,
his PR excellent and his own art as weird and wonderful as it gets.
His PR is a joy to get and read and copy and paste into the DARts
view out the
Cidnee Patrick front window on gallery day
Gallery That's Not There Anymore
The Cidnee Pat. I'm really
gonna miss The
Cidnee Patrick Gallery. Always something fascinating
in there. If not in the front gallery, then on a back
wall or in that huge usually underlit closet (it really
was a closet) and — oh,
that wondrous, bouncy stairway up to the landing, which
was always a great place to watch the crowd or catch
bit of art or a cold AC draft on a summer day.
Best Sculpture Garden
House (Their garden is closed for renovations
till April 2005.), Hall
Office Park in Frisco, probably not the Dallas
Museum of Art downtown, but how lucky we are
to have so many, spread so geographically, to
If it were closer, I
I'd go for Valley House for the
real best of the bunch. There's a reverie for nature
and art there that's missing in those other places.
The Nasher is noisy downtown. Hall Office is nearly
to Nebraska north. Valley House's back yard is
the wildest of the bunch, too, with the most green
all around and the densest foliage.
Best Late Night Art Scene
Hands down, it's the Dallas
Museum of Art at Night. A mob scene,
good music, plenty of art, immense crowds of
people forty years younger than me. The MAC definitely
is not the only place for art after dark, but
then it never was.
Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour: They may well have
too many stops on the tour — even for a two-day event,
map is beautiful and easily followed. Next time, I'm going
on the tour, instead of being in it, but I'm sure somebody is
already in line for "my" spot. So, of course, I'm deeply
prejudiced in regard to the WRLAST, but there's not much news
I have zero faith in objectivity, anyway.
It only gets in the way.
That has to be
my dear friend Carol
Wilder who was murdered by a drunk driver in
Oak Cliff last February. I knew her 30 years, photographed two
weddings, and learned about painting from her.
Island of Lost Toys at
Gray Matters in January, or almost anything at Plush. Michael
Helsem wrote about it, but he probably didn't think it was that
Most Peculiar New
Irving Bible Church — See Strange
Art Night December 11, 2004
My vote for the WORST media coverage
for anything involving art whatsoever goes to The
Dallas Observer... What used to be an interesting
column that I'd look forward to, slowly got phased out and
regulated to a small printed afterthought.
Can you imagine The
Village Voice with similar coverage? Local artists
would storm the publication and commit unspeakable deeds
on the editors!!
Screw those bastards!!! (Do I
sound too bitter?)
The DMN writer [Tom
Sime] who ignored your BHCC show was a close second; I sent
him an E-Mail asking him to go by and look at the
show that you helped jury this summer, and you can see what happened
He's a useless tool also!!
By the way, Ramona and I loved
New Orleans restraunt photo from the "Contemporary" Member
show last year. But boy, those plastic bags of paint were
(Public Relations) Snafus
The only images
the publicity person for The North Dallas Artists Studio
sent to the press last year were her own.
at 2:30 pm to inform of an opening for his show set
for 6 that night, August 15.
the history and authenticity of the Cedars neighborhood, guests
are guaranteed to experience art and culture as never before.”
in official publicity for the
Cedars Open Studios (not a tour) in November
Then there's this
E-mail sent to my correct E-mail address — Please do not send E-mail
attahments to DallasArtsRevue!
Don't know how to reach you to ask permission to send an attachment
so here's one anyway. Thought you all might want to know about
this upcoming event. It's wildly successful and a great cause.
Thanks for your time,
And, of course,
Museum's bizarre handling
of Texas artists at the Barrett Collection in November.
Worst Dallas Gallery
It'd be hard to determine
the very worst. For one thing, I'd probably have to visit every
one. But Artists
be near the bottom. Michael
Helsem wrote eloquently about them, then I added my two cents
in Exceptions after
photographing for his
That's easy. Anything from the so-called
Longview Museum of Fine Arts in East Texas.
The latest booklet from them even has an ad for a lawyer
on the front — just like the
Yellow Pages. Tastelessness run amok in small-town Texas "culture."
I'd say The Cidnee Pat and Craighead-Green when
they opened together, but Valley
House has a smaller lot, is more crowded and a
longer walk, if you — like
this editor — don't appreciate valet "service."