Everything You Need to Know about XChange, the Nasher's Massive City-Wide Art Project

(Click and drag the map around to find each Xchange location and project.)

Dallas still faces a few hurdles before it can achieve its culture-hub destiny. The biggest of those are public perception and readiness: Until we want to be a city that engages with art, we'll continue courting an international audience rather than a unified local one. How do we do it? Increased accessibility. The Dallas Museum of Art's switch to free admission and Friends program is fundamental: It changes the culture, transforming the experience from a consumer-driven model to something we simply do.

The other way to increase arts awareness is by spurring casual dialogue. Most people are terrified to talk about art, and that can change. Public art is the perfect vehicle for that. When you encounter something new, like that giant eyeball sculpture, what do you do? You snap a photo of it. You filter it. You share it. You Tweet it, 'gram it or Facebook it. You start a conversation about art.

This weekend you can see more public art in two days in Dallas than you might in a month in New York or Chicago. On Friday night the Aurora Project returns to convert 68 acres of pedestrian-friendly art space into a multi-sensory awakening, where sculptures and performances glow, bend or make music.

On Saturday morning, Nasher Xchange is revealed, making Dallas the site of the largest public art offering ever funded by a museum. Ten commissioned works open around the city. You'll either download the guide app off iTunes and tour the things, or you'll encounter them secondhand on social media.

Familiarity is a big deal. Once your friends read a newsfeed about Lara Almarcegui's buried house, or see a Vine of you plunking a virtual coin into the fountain at NorthPark, they learn a little about it. When they encounter it, they guide their crew through it. Then they take their own pictures.

Soon, you have an entire city talking about and experiencing art together.

Nasher Xchange celebrates the sculpture center's 10-year anniversary with 10 pieces of public art positioned around the city. Some you'll need to experience on select days, while others you can visit at your leisure. Here's what you'll see, post and discuss by its closing.

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You'll find the baby scream pavilion in the Nasher Sculpture Center Garden
Alfredo Jaar, Music (Everything I know I learned the day my son was born) , at the Nasher
This sound piece by the Chilean installation artist targets what it means for an institution to age, grow and reflect on a decade within a community by doing something weird. Really weird. Jaar is recording the first cries of (participating) babies born between October 1, 2013, and February 1, 2014, at Dallas hospitals, then he's adapting those sounds into an evolving piece of music. The growing chorus will pipe through a pavilion at the Nasher allowing our city's newest residents to be both visitors and active participants.

In addition to focusing on Dallas' growth and continued renewal, all participating babies received a newly created Lifetime Nasher Membership -- which you gotta admit is pretty dope.

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Photo by Allison V. Smith
Rick Lowe's open-air markets unite the Vickery Meadow community
Rick Lowe, Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow
Houston's famous artist/activist, and the man responsible for rebuilding the area's Third Ward with his Project Row Houses, Lowe has been at work in our own entrenched melting pot, Vickery Meadow, a three-square-mile bend of roughly 100 apartment buildings where 27 languages converge. The area is known as much for its crime rates as its extensive cultural diversity, a combination that's kept neighbors from communicating with one another.

The project is grassroots distilled. Lowe's mission is to unite this culturally and verbally disparate neighborhood through arts education, food and sense of community, culminating in a series of five open-air public markets happening in Vickery Meadow on select Saturdays during the length of Xchange's run (October 19 to February 16).
The first of those events happens opening day. Months of labor resulted in crafted, painted and sculpted items to be sold, and the day also includes less commerce-driven offerings like dancing and music. It's a way for neighbors to honor their cultural legacies and for those who don't spend time in Vickery Meadow to learn more about the world through the experiences of its inhabitants.

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