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The MAC in Back
all for skipping this DADA (Dallas Art Dealers Association)
Art Walk altogether. Anna wanted to go to their Chat & Chew,
and if we were going to do that, why not see their sponsored
panel discussion on How
to Look At Art, too,
so we parked at the first slot
we found at the decrepit back end of The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
too early that Saturday ayem, and this was the first thing
I saw, so of course I had to photograph it immediately. I've
that building for years, but hadn't noticed how badly The
David Everett - Great Horned Owl, 2007
polychromed mahogany - 21 x 9 x 10.75 inches
Inside was art by, amazingly enough, all
Dallas artists —
as were the shows just before. I'm wondering whether they've changed
directions, couldn't get a traveling show or couldn't afford
a big time art guy (or gal) from out of town (The Dreaded BTAGSFOOT
Syndrome). Or mayhaps their ongoing deal with local galleries was working
out just fine. Whatever the cause, I'm pleased the organization I chose to
be a member of this year is actually showing art by Dallas artists. Not
hardly the struggling Dallas artists this organization (as opposed to the
big blue building itself) was founded to show, but closer than it looked
like for many years.
Maybe after they run out of galleried local artists, they'll
settle for a few who have not made it yet. I can dream.
David Everett - title unknown pelican
I've admired David Everett's exotic woods sculptures since
he did carousel horses, though the birds here constitute a wider variety
of shapes, so I was enthusiastic enough to tune in. Some readers may know
that in my other life I'm bonkers
for birds and have actually deconstructed
a Great Horned Owl and
take many detailed photographs of American White Pelicans when they're here
for six months every year, so I know just how anatomically incorrect some
of these objects are. Pelican peds are dainty small compared with their largish
bodies and elongated beaks.
If an artist goes to the craft and exactitude to install
a "nail" (not unlike a fingernail) on the tip of this pelican's upper
mandible (beak) and what bird expert supreme David Sibley calls a "fibrous
epidermal plate" that
looks like a sometimes rounded fin (indicating a breeding adult of
either sex), why not get the feet size right? I know, I know
— I know too much, and nobody cares.
The Edith Baker Table
Ever curious, I checked the main gallery, looking for art,
which was scrunched into the middle and edges of the room, not removed and
why I didn't photo David Dreyer's lilting sylphs of sculpture. The
salon was filled with bistro tables settings, each labeled with a known someone
in this art community's name and brief identification. Obviously where the
Chat & Chew
would be. I muttered something like, "That's
crazy," when I saw this tiny table with only three other chairs where Edith
Baker would hold her audience.
Someone behind me, turned out was Judith Garrett Segura,
whose much larger table in the opposite corner had at least eight additional
chairs, asked "What's crazy." Caught in the act of crit, I explained
that Edith Baker would probably be the most popular expert in the room because
of her bubbling personality and long and successful experience as gallery
owner here, but there were only three chairs at her table, and so many more
at others. Judith explained that it didn't matter, because lunchers
would be redirected to a new table every twenty minutes, so everyone would
get a chance at several. I shuddered at the notion of speed chatting
but kept my mouth shut for a change.
Unfortunately, nobody told anybody else that
plan until after the panel audience broke up, and we were ensconced in the
chat & chew
salon and had been for nearly an hour. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After waiting with others awhile outside the wrong room,
I finally figured out where the panel already was (no signs or arrows),
but all ten interlocking chairs in the two front rows were occupied. I studied
the room several minutes, checking angles and visibility,
and finally settled where I could see the slide projector and the large screen
better than anything but could shoot over the projector (second
image down) to the panel, which was dozens of feet away, angling away, with
the quietest panelist the farthest, hardly promoting interaction with the
audience, any subtle equalities or direct communication. More like a sit-down
An awkward seating arrangements in a black-out theater that
two separate attendees later called "gloomy," and that distance combined
into a remote panel experience. Took a lot of guessing to get the right exposure
in there. I'd brought my wide angle zoom thinking the panel would be close
to its audience in an intelligently intimate setting, but dark and far as
they were, I should have brought my image-stabilized telephoto instead. I
notched the "film
speed" way up and kept shooting.
Lisa Taylor, Margaret Robinette, Phillip Collins
and Ben Breard
Dallas Art Dealers Association
(DADA) Executive Director Lisa Taylor introduced panelists Margaret
Robinette, Phillip E. Collins, Ben Breard and Benito Huerta.
Robinette recently retired from her job since 1984 as the
Public Art Coordinator for the City of Dallas. But area artists
knew and greatly respect her as the human face of the bureaucratic machine.
If you had a question, Margaret was whom to ask. She not only knew its
business (Yes, it is a business.) inside and out, she explained it
intelligibly and in depth, making it possible for some actual humans to get
what they needed from the City Art Program.
Born in Dallas and recently retired as the African American
Museum's Chief Curator, Phillip
is now an independent curator. Also born here, Ben Breard established America's
first fine art photographic gallery, The
Afterimage, here in 1971. Benito Huerta is a longtime Texas
artist, curator, teacher and Editor of Art
Phillip, Ben, Benito, Flowers, Placards, Microphones
and Slide Projector
After Lisa's introductions, the
lights went out, then quickly back on so Margaret Robinette could read
her text, which was barely audible but cogent and complete from a City Arts
Program point of view, showing public art examples and explaining the community's
part in the creation of art for the Art in Public Places program, neatly
confusing as The City always does, the difference between a committee from
actual members of the community, who probably couldn't care less.
As informative and well-organized as her essay was, it had little to do with
how to look at
Freshly out of the hospital with just two days notice of
the panel, Ben Breard
spoke informally, without slides, about how
he looks at photographs — from the viewpoint of a conservator,
dealer and collector, emphasizing what we should look for in a collectible
photograph. He recommended looking at it in raking light, so
its surface flaws become obvious. Then look at it in bright light
to find dings, scratches and abrasions. Ben talked about the differences
between film and digital, walking us through the new digital
visual vocabulary of errors, emphasizing that whenever we had questions,
we should rely on the seller's knowledge and explanations. Which advice is
sound if we deal with an honest seller, forgetting that many are not.
Benito Huerta spoke about the conservation of works on paper,
which should always be framed and exhibited in low light to almost dark and
never in direct sunlight. Then he showed work of his and others — primarily
Latino artists — in
all media, stressing that the vocabulary of materials has opened up, and
artists are much more free now to use a variety of mediums and materials
to express their ideas.
Panel moderator Phillip Collins showed slides of three paintings
of the Crucifixion from different eras and traditions by artists with differing
intentions, styles and materials. Discussing paying attention
to the visual details of composition and texture while understanding the
story in the work itself, as well as how it makes us feel and our spiritual
connections to it, Collins executed a carefully paced, educational tour of
the three paintings, and by extension, anything else we might encounter in
art. He was the only panelist who stayed on target and on topic throghout.
Members of the Audience
34 people were in the dark theater first time I counted the
crowd, and their number had increased to 41 just before we broke for the
Chew. I recognized three artists among them but do not know if the audience
were mostly artists, collectors or just people interested in art. I wonder
whether they learned what they wanted to.
I pretty much already know how
to look at art. My first pass is a quick one, often walking fast along a
gallery's walls. If something — color, shape, idea, juxtaposition, composition,
material, texture, movement or rhythm catches my eye or mind, I stop and
pay more attention:
been known to dance to the rhythms
of a painting or the textures of anything, flat or 3-D. Thick
paint and brush strokes sets my mind to wandering.
My body sometimes following along. I was chair-dancing
with pent-up rock n roll energy, alternately bored
out of my mind or mind-meld engaged during the panel
talks. I had to stop, figure out how the chairs linked
and and lift mine free, so I didn't shake the whole
line of us.
Linnea Glatt - Harrow, 1992 - in Lubben Plaza across
Belo Building in downtown Dallas
my photo of Margaret Robinette's projected slide.
Everybody still has to walk all the way around sculpture,
if we can. I prefer to amble, crawl or shimmy through to
experience and engage the mass and form. Just looking is hardly ever
enough. We got to engage our mind and body. Sit on it. Touch it.
Smell it. Some sculptural materials leave an ambient taste in the
air, as does some paint.
There's sound in more art than you might
suspect; either it makes it itself or air over or through
it vibrates, clunks or reshapes the waves. Rhythm is more
than visual spacing, repeating shapes and patterns actually
in the work. Watch for shadows and reflections, glares and imperfections
in any dimension. And don't forget time; watch the light on it change. Acknowledge
the work of joins and connectors, hinges and axles, anything
that moves or shakes or rumbles.
Engage whatever you've got that wants to participate in what
art has to offer. I've danced to eminently flat, quiet paintings,
found tapping syncopations and counterpunctal synesthesias in abstract
and wholly realistic visions. Tapped and blown on mobiles, watched
and listened to the wind on or in or around art.
Black Box Ceiling Lights - Straight Up
Don't just look
at it, see it.
Go beyond seeing to feel it, and think about it later. Eyeing
art is a tiny portion of the spectrum of the art-human interface. To
be engaged by a piece of art is to be moved by it, but to
actually be physically moved by it is amazing.
Linnea's piece — shown above in one of Margaret Robinette's
slides projected on the blackout theater's big white screen — of
the slowly rolling 24-hour screw clock that has startled
homeless persons sleeping in the sandbox circle that contains
its ponderous motion, can usually only barely perceptibly be known by anyone
watching from those chairs. The circle tracks appear magically
in the sand every day, smoothing out footsteps from the day before.
haven't had conversation with it in decades, but at one time
it rumbled and squalled internally as it turned, my ear nudged
into its inching metal skin. Margaret talked about the motion
and its imperceptibility. If she knows about the
homeless, she didn't say.
Everything you've ever known or learned or
wondered about or felt or denied about art, artists, your self
and everybody else who's ever thought about it or looked at it
or wrote about it or talked about it or made garbled blobs of
it in the middle of the night is gobbed up together in your mind
and interaction with every piece of art and non art and whatever
the hell it is before you challenging and stewed up in it, every
single time you engage with art.
It's all in there all the time.
Art 101: How to Look At Art cost $10 before or $15
at the door. The Chat & Chew was $20 ahead or $30 at the door.
Funds raised go to the annual Edith Baker scholarship (More
and I got press passed in but paid retail ($6.99 each) for the boxed lunch,
our choice from stacks of vegetarian, turkey or chicken from Cafe Express.
I didn't count the chew crowd, but it was substantially smaller.
The food was good: a sandwich, bag of chips, fruit salad, stuffed
pasta and some new dry drink whose nutritional values were too tiny to see.
Anna chose rhubarb and I got lemongrass. Debora had tried those before and
asked for something else. I heard nor uttered any complaints about the food,
and the conversation was informal, ongoing and fun.
Debora Hunter in the foreground; Judith Segura
to her right
in the background with scattered sculptures by David Dreyer
I've known SMU Associate Professor of Photography Debora
Hunter for years, may have started by borrowing slides for an aborted
attempt to become KERA-TV's art critic. That harried producer called my
impressionistic story about her work at Delahunty Gallery "[expletive
hot day when the AC wasn't working on Wolf Street, so
I published it in glorious black and white in an early on-paper edition of
DallasArtsRevue. Later, I taught her Macintosh and often
see her bicycling along the White Rock Trail while I'm photographing birds.
So when I saw her
name on a table, we sat there, expecting
and getting amiable conversation with her and digital artist Jeanne
Sturdevant who joined us later. That chance meeting and me telling Debora
that I was an awful framer, led Jeanne to impart in one quick sentence info
that may revolutionize presentation of my work. So simple I never thought
I used to get away with showing work without
expensive mats. But not anymore, perhaps due to a cheapening change in Epson's
substrata, but more likely to my blithering hope that the issue
would go away. If I ignored it, couldn't everyone else? No. Of course
not. My images are good, but matlessly framed, glassed over or not, they
sag and wave and wrinkle like an amateur's. Very unprofessional.
Very embarrassing when you think about it,
though I've tried not to for years. Jeanne's simple suggestion might return
my exhibited work to a long-overdue semi-professional quality.
It probably has much to do with the fact that I rarely sell any work. I'd
so much rather just push-pin my photos to the wall.
La Reunion and Art Conspiracy organizer
Sarah Jane Semrad's
All of which comprise one of the several sorts
of info-imparting that scattering local art experts in an ersatz bistro for
lunch after an art panel was all about. I saw animated conversations
booming all around, but almost every time I aimed a camera at one, they'd
stop short, look directly at the camera and smile big into the sort of photographs
I hate and that pointedly do not help tell a story, so I snuck up
on these guys.
More than 20 minutes after we'd settled in at our table, the
organizers finally announced that ours was a Speed Chatting
& Chewing, then they immediately renegged, allowing more time till
they just couldn't any longer. They rang the bell annoyingly and insisted
we move to another table. We found an empty one and finished our lunch
Edith Baker, the very popular retired gallery owner after whom
the DADA annual scholarship to a Arts Magnet High School student is
named, did not arrive until well after the chewing and chatting.
I didn't see her, but I heard she was profusely apologetic. Her eponymous
scholarship usually goes to a graduating high school student who moves away
to college never to return here to practice art.
Mac Back Owl
Fed up and arted out, we walked out into the natural warmth
of sunshine and blue skies. We were comfy enough in the blackout theater,
although I welcomed the breeze each time they turned on the slide projector,
but it was unfathomably cold in the big gallery where we chatted and chewed.
I was looking at the extensively faded multicolor MAC sign around back where
we'd parked when I noticed these shadows and a rock steady owl, of the anatomically
correct enough variety to ward off pigeons who scat on roofs. Click.
Janice Breard Reading Book in the Afterimage
Thanks for the I.D from Peter J Blackburn
Our second official Art Walk stop was at Ben Breard's Afterimage
Gallery in the Quadrangle, where its precise location has bounced
around over the decades, but it's always in there somewhere, and parking has
always been a challenge, now even more difficult, although we eventually found
one spot we'd initially passed up because of its large "Reserved" sign
like the signs on every other empty slot all around the quad's lots,
but turned out it was reserved for Afterimage customers. Directly in front
of the gallery.
I didn't take pictures of the pictures there, though I could
have and maybe should have. We spent a long time slowly watching photographs
and books, gazing and paging. When I saw this woman — I don't know who
she is, why she was sitting there reading a book, what book she was reading,
or even why I felt need to take her picture, although I did so carefully
and surreptitiously. Then we left. Something about seeing all those amazing
photographs made it imperative I take one clean shot.
Totally Unidentified El Centro Student Art
Next stop in our carefully crafted subset of the
over-extensive Spring Art Walk was El Centro College's Student
Art Show, where we could not find a single identifying name or number. When
I asked for a list, the sitter said the hand-in sheets were so illegible
they didn't even try to make up one.
Except this, the only piece I felt need
to photograph, the
work was plainly Student Work, derivative and disappointing.
I've attended classes at El Centro mostly off but intermittently on
since the early 70s and have seen many good shows there, several notably
exciting, but this wasn't one.
Nor was I completely enamored of this extrapolated
card shuffle installation. But it stood out, and except for the goofy, cop-out
flat fingers, I mostly appreciated it and the more subtle portraits in each
card's suit symbols, though I had to wonder why two aces of spades, although
maybe that was the sly joke, if there was one — except that El Centro's
gallerist chose this show
to show off the glories of El Centro art and education.
Newer El Centro Circles
In the mid 70s I designed and produced a series of colorful
catalogs for the downtown Dallas community college
that most students never saw. One of the recurring graphic art games I played
on those pages were what I thought of as Circle Games, finding and photographically
exploring series of circline objects. One of those involved a film can, tape
reel and phone dial, dating that book considerably. This campus began
life as the Sanger Harris Department Store but has been architecturally extrapolated
up, down and out often since.
Indians on the Wall
Signature Illegible - Painted by Barbara Murell
High on a wall that has since become an inside corner, so
it probably can not be seen head-on from anywhere anymore, just outside
the door nearest the gallery was this mural honoring American Indians, now
so acutely angled and foreshortened it was difficult to read. I straightened
it out in Photoshop to get a less distorted view, though I may not
have rendered its exact proportions. More circles and another kind of
Loop Sculpture Just Outside El Centro (top
This circle loops around and rejoins like time and history
do. It's on the concrete that passes for ground downtown, overlooked by the
angled Indian wall and etched with symbols unknown, although
another of the GA games I played in those long-ago catalogs involved the
punches bus drivers clicked into bus passes. I doubt that's what
these are about or why the loop is such a slender strip, but I liked
thinking that briefly.
My shot of the whole object looked like it was overexposed,
with a large area of pure light bouncing off the concrete, so we're stuck
with this more eloquent detail view of the top. I looked for but did not
find any identification on it, a running theme now at El Centro.
Last-minute Art Hanging
When we arrived at the parking lot around the corner from
the sponsoring PDNB gallery on Dragon Street proper around 2 that afternoon,
UNT photo students were still hanging photographs, and many had no I.Ds.
The sign in the middle of the far wall above states "Save
$25. Return clean and avoid service charge."
We'd seen the group show at Craighead Green. Gerald Peters
was closed as it has been every time I've been near enough its new space
to want to go in. I've got Joel Cooner Gallery nearly
memorized, since I'm irregularly employed there doing web and photo work,
and we just didn't care enough about where else to park and go into.
We saw the University of North Texas photography students'
U-Haul show last year and definitely planned a camera-laden
revisit. The show's offical title, "UNT Annual Parrallax (sic) Gallery
was misspelled in large letters on the side of two 24' Household Mover
trucks and ersatz galleries, but we're suckers for student shows, count ourselves
as photographers and appreciate alternative exhibition sites, so it was a
Viewing the Gallery
There's any number of ways to look at art. Attached to clamp
clips linked to notebook rings around horizontal poles on the insides
of a U-Haul truck is a quick and cheap one. It was actually darker than it
appears in this photograph, but it's easy to see the work, although some
of it was still unidentified when we left. Sell one and replace the space.
The one person I knew whom I saw
in one of the trucks was long-time acquaintance and fellow art critic
(He's more formal about it, and much better at it.) Dee Mitchell.
I was so flustered at looking up and seeing him standing right next to me,
I called him Charles, which was ridiculous, though his formal name is Charles
Dee Mitchell. I've known Dee since the late 70s when we both worked on Texas
Jazz, so I
should have known better. I apologized.
Ahmi Lee - Barber Shop Series - archival inkjet
Anna liked these two, especially the one of the hair
in the brown sink on the left. I usually appreciate both The Mundane and
sculpted bathroom fixtures, but I wasn't wowed by this one. I don't know
what's going on in the image on the right — don't recognize the objects,
but it's nice that the colors are similar in a series.
Sunhwa Jung - Angel Falls - archival inkjet
I figured this one quick. The stringy visual slur
of falling snow, illuminated by low street lights in this time exposure
(But then aren't they all?) was reminiscent of the slow-shutter motions
in David Gibson's much larger black & white inkjets hanging
just as loosely in the other big gallery at The MAC.
I prefer this one in this context, because it was the
only there, not of a mob of similar shaped and composed and textured
grayscale prints like Gibson's. I don't know what photographer Sunhwa Jung
calls this piece, but the street name above the snow-stuck, dark red
stop octagon on the right is "Angel Falls," a gentle falling joke.
I watched this print for
minutes, enjoying the probably crunchy texture of pocked snow hardening
over lawn; the cold, windswept angel haired indigo sky; the fireplug's
sky-matching top and curved detail of chain; the nearly oblivioned street
beyond the curb; receding silhouettes of houses hulking down the dark street;
that high-contrast green snow-laden frozen tree; and the framing white-lined
gold-brown frozen sidewalk. Then I tracked down the artist's missing name.
The day was about seeing art and I spent my sweet time with
this one in an absent but observant reverie, never once thinking to ask
Toward the backs of the buildings lining the parking lot around
the corner from the UNT-show-sponsoring PDNB gallery, I saw a large red sculpture
and a small black bird, a close-up of which is here until
after April 08. I shot it at the telephoto end of my wide-angle zoom
here and at the much longer end of Anna's superzoom at the link. I'd
hoped it would be some more exotic species but is what
Americans call a European Starling, and Europeans call Asian. Common bird
on an uncommon branch.
HCG Off Dragon
After backing up Dragon and turning around and down a side
street to find this door, we realized that though this largish building is
on Dragon Street, HCG is not, though it's address — 1190
Dragon Street, Suite 190 — says it is. A couple other galleries have begun
behind the glass windows along the front porch of this building between HCG,
which is Kettle Art owner Frank Campagna's other, new space, and Dragon Street
proper. Now that the bulk of Dallas' fine art galleries have moved to the Design
District area collectively called Dragon Street, everybody wants to be known
as being there, even if they aren't quite.
The work there was slicker and much less primitive than at
the Kettle in Deepest Elm the other side of downtown. Neither this
art nor the space itself is funky.
Down Howell toward Slocum
More galleries not quite on Dragon Street?
Men In Stripes
After turning back toward downtown on Slocum Street, which
more or less parallels Dragon, Anna saw and pointed me at
this gaggle of guys in big bold untrendy stripes. Some of them saw us driving
by clicking. Local color with an attitude.
Unlike at The MAC's panel discussion table earlier, the sunflowers
in Dahlia Woods Gallery did not obscure, they revealed. Don't
think I'd seen a flower-decorated panel discussion table before. Out of place
and in the
way there. Nice flowers in both instances though. Exotic orchids on the chat
tables. I'm always a fan and love photographing
Peter Ligon - Big Jim's - ink and wash on paper
Another treat at Dahlia's is finding Peter Ligon's latest watercolors
of odd bits of grayscale local color in down but not out urban Dallas. Dahlia's
gallery was also showing work by Dahlia's father, Dahlia's daughter's and
Jesus Chairez's Back Stairs
Entirely unrelated to walking art, my friend and fellow writer
Jesus Chairez was selling everything and moving to Mexico City,
so we visited his rapidly emptying home, where all the colorful Mexican art
was gone early (to a restaurant), but I did manage to find two tourchiere
lamps and a dainty little copy of a copy of a copy of a small lamp dangly
with beads Made in China that I grabbed soon as I decided I had to have,
even though I much later discovered it didn't even have a cord. $5 each.
A woman collecting kitchen items saw it in my fist
and pouted "I wanted that." I told her "I did, too, which is
why I grabbed it." She actually teared up and wept, but though she probably
usually gets her way with the waterworks, I did not let go. Something to
remember Jesus with.
The sign on top of the back stairs in the photo above
"not an exit."
Children Playing with the Bath House Binocs
Anna wanted to go to the Spring Art Mart at the Bath
House Cultural Center, but I didn't because I always feel guilty
I never got it together to get into one of those bourses. I get my work in
competitive exhibitions but rarely sell, and it might
be that sitting in one of those booths in one of these shows might finally
let me sell work, albeit for much less than I'd like. So I avoid the occasion.
Too much thinking and too much guilt.
brought my telephoto lens thinking I'd find birds and heard plenty
in the trees above, but I saw few, and photographed
fewer. So I rested in a chair upright on the Bath House's back porch
and photographed children playing with the high-power binoculars, before
walking out past Linnea
Glatt's ultra-simple, concrete block semi and circular A
Place to Perform, finding an empty gridded metal picnic table and napping.
When I got up, there was a nasty jagged grid of bumps
etched into the back of my head.
Dallas Art Dealers Association Spring
Gallery Walk, Art Chat & Chew and Party. Saturday
April 19 No time given for the walk; panel discussion on How to Look
at Art: Art 101 and Art Chat and Chew, a lunch with professional
artists and art professionsals 10:30-2 at the MAC Panel
One 10:30-noon How to Look at Art with Benito Huerta,
Margaret Robinette, Phillip Collins and Ben Breard; Panel Two Art
Chat and Chew with Ben Breard, Phillip Collins, Benito Huerta, Eddy
Rawlinson, Margaret Robinette, Debora Hunter, Vicki Meeks, Karen
Garrett, Jose Vargas, Judith Garrett Segura, and Sarah Jane Semrad.
$10 for Art 101; $15 at the door; $20 for Art Chat & Chew includes lunch,
online or $30 at door. First come first served. Register at www.dallasartdealers.org
or leave a message at 214-943-1099. Edith Baker Art Scholarship Party
8-10 at Gables Villa Rosa, 2650 Cedar Springs, $25 at the door $20
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