The 12 Most Newsworthy Art Moments of 2012 for Dallas and Fort Worth

Photo by Jay Barker
This year brought with it a full-on art assault, and it was nice to see Dallas chumming up the headline waters. If, after this last year, you still think art is a gentle sport, where paintbrushes seductively caress canvases and everyone sips red wine, you weren't paying attention. Things got rambunctious. Exciting. And I'm pretty sure the wine was secretly replaced with Goldschläger.

Still, some shows, trends and special projects held our attention longer than others, and since we're nearing the end of the world year, it seems fitting to look back, if only to piece together all of those blacked-out nights.

12. Collectives
While not a specific event as much as a movement, it was interesting to watch our emerging artists unionize. Don't like the gallery scene or the spaces being offered for your kind of work? Fuck it, form a collective. Want to present an important medium that isn't immediately associated with monetary exchange, like video and performance art? Form a collective. Want friends to drink with while you build a conceptual installation in a boarded-up building, a swimming pool or public transportation vehicle? Yes, dears: Form a collective.

Viewing art became more fascinating as these creative street gangs emerged across the Metroplex. Some were gentle, pensive. Others got their rocks off by starting parties, rooted on interestingly designed curatorial concepts. Others, I'm fairly certain, slashed my tires. It happens. It's art.

11.) Kris Pierce's Red Telephones
Part of where is the power, a project curated for Fort Worth Contemporary Arts by Terri Thornton, was this freestanding piece of communication, told in three parts. Pierce positioned three red phone booths in geographically distant parts of Fort Worth and installed recording transistors in them.

We pocket ourselves into neighborhoods and cross willingly into similar ones, but for those unfamiliar zip codes and city blocks? Except dipping in to grab something unavailable on our own patch of earth, we rarely visit. Spending time in them to communicate with our neighbors is even less common.

Pierce decided to unify those fragmented voices via public (and totally legal) wiretapping. He placed one phone booth in Unity Park, where Feed by Grace services those without homes. Another went in front of a bar. The third was put in front of Fort Worth Contemporary Arts.

As people spoke into the phones, giving their thoughts, sass or confessions, they were knowingly recorded. We were then (and still can, just check archives) able to access the chatter and see that, really, we're all the same. Nobody knows what to say when put on the spot. Kids act crazy everywhere. We're all waiting for something to happen when we pick up that receiver.

10. Invisible Shell, by Erica Felicella
Adding to this year's strong showing of performance art was Felicella's 48 hours in Plexiglas lockup. She built a dunk tank-like prison, put on a catheter and sat inside, writing for two days.

She didn't eat. Guardians kept her awake. And she compulsively scribbled a mantra in order to connect with her most isolated emotions. By the end of the weekend, the papers had balled up around her and her legs were unstable, but the entire Oak Cliff community came out to show support and brace her as she walked. When the wads of stationary were flattened out, each read: "To see myself I went inside my own shell."

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Suhasini Yeeda
Suhasini Yeeda

Wow. These are the best Dallas art moments? Sad.

Justin 'Dub' Cook
Justin 'Dub' Cook

"Expanded Cinema" needs to happen at least twice a year. By far the coolest thing I saw all year.

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