10 Best Art Exhibitions of 2014

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Zhulong Gallery
Jeremy Couillard's "The Vicious Valley"

This year the Dallas art scene felt rebellious. While one museum exhibition paid homage to a wonderful Dallas-based painter, another had me wanting to commit acts of destruction. At galleries and other exhibitions, the work dripped with anarchy and frustration with the system -- a sentiment felt across the country, and one necessary for art to survive and thrive in a place. There were also a few compelling new media exhibitions (although still too few) in Dallas, and a gallery emerged dedicated to that contemporary art form. The energy of the underground art scene may seem patchy, with the slow collapse of Oliver Francis Galley, and the end of Deep Ellum Windows, and Ware:Wolf:Haus, but all in all it's easy to look back and see a pretty impressive year in review.


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Our Favorite Dallas Observer Covers of 2014

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Editor's Note: Throughout the year, Art Director Tracie Louck is hard at work creating the face of the paper. Her covers greet you at nearly every coffee shop, bar, restaurant or art space in town. They're all pretty damn good. But even she has favorites, so at the end of the year we ask her to round them up and tell us why she picked them.


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8 Things To Do In Dallas Now That Summer Finally Ended, And Winter Arrives

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Dallas Arboretum

This year, the oppressive Texas summer decided to stick around well into November. The temperatures have been high, but this week, we've skipped right from summer to winter. During the six preceding months, it hasn't exactly been easy for Dallasites to do outdoorsy things without worrying about losing half of their enitre body weight in sweat.

But now, finally (and mercifully) fall...errr, freezing temps... have arrived. Turn off the Netflix reruns of Gilmore Girls that you've been immersed in and get out and explore these eight non-summer activities.


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10 Best Places in Dallas To Check Out Art For Free

Categories: Best of Dallas

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If you didn't grow up frequenting museums or galleries, navigating the art world can be extremely intimidating. Thanks to the state of arts education, most of us have a very limited knowledge of art outside of recognizing the "Mona Lisa" or that Van Gogh painting of sunflowers that hung in your mom's kitchen. Plus, there's this long-held idea that viewing and learning about art is extremely expensive.

But that isn't really true, at least not in Dallas. Sure, there are special exhibitions and traveling pieces that require you to plunk down a little coin to view, but much of the city's art is accessible entirely for free, meaning that you have no excuse to continue ignoring Dallas' flourishing arts scene. Take an afternoon to check out these eight free art exhibitions, most of which look nothing like the boring old classics you remember from your college art appreciation class. Go forth with this new knowledge, and argue with those who (wrongly) claim that Dallas is devoid of culture.

Dallas Museum of Art
Last year, the Dallas Museum of Art made general admission to their permanent collection free. The DMA's permanent collection exceeds 22,000 items, and includes an impressive selection of works by recognizable figures like Salvador Dali and Piet Mondrian. There's plenty of historical art from cultures all over the world, and an assortment of oddities to keep things interesting, like a bunch of late 1800s silver from Tiffany and Co.

The African American Museum
Contrary to much of our education, not all art is created by crazy, old white dudes. The African American Museum in Fair Park has a self-described "small but rich" collection of art created both in Africa and the United States. The museum's collection of African masks and textiles is particularly notable, along with a collection of African-American folk art with works from greats like Clementine Hunter. The museum's program of special exhibitions is particularly varied, including a current exhibition on quilting as an art form.


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10 Best Dallas-based Etsy Shops

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Pepino Chick
Most of us would much rather buy something than make it, especially if it's hand-made by a much more creative and talented person. Fortunately, the rise of Etsy and the DIY trend has made it much easier to find unique goods crafted by individual artists and not sweatshop workers. No longer are crafty types and artists relegated to flea markets and gallery showings.

Even though Etsy is a global market place for artisans, that doesn't mean that it isn't possible to shop local when you're looking for handmade prints or vegan, gluten-free soaps. Add these ten Etsy sellers to your radar, and prepare to max out your credit card on their varied and excellently crafted wares. At least you'll be stimulating the local economy.

Pepino Chick
When she's not making music with the Polyphonic Spree, or stealing the show on stages across Dallas, Natalie Young is crafting up one-of-a-kind fiber art for her Etsy shop Pepino Chick. Young's minimalist dreamcatchers, "low-impact" wall hangings and jewelry are visually arresting and made with "magic, goodness, natural love." Whether or not Young's art will actually bring you good juju, your walls, or outfit, will certainly look better. If you're looking for a special gift or really unique piece of art, you can also commision Young to hand-draw a 3-D portrait of you in a super-cool flower crown.

Hurd & Honey
With a little reclaimed wood and infinite creativity, the minds behind Hurd & Honey create stunning, one-of-a-kind furniture and decor. Each piece is unique to its buyer, and painstakingly made to order after purchase. All things considered, their prices are also insanely reasonable. A snooty New York boutique would charge the price of most people's first home for a hand-made chevron end table made from reclaimed wood. At Hurd & Honey, this beauty is only $170.

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Five Random Arty Things That (Maybe) Deserve Best Ofs

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Jason Acton
Our Best of Dallas 2014 issue rolls out this week. While we can modestly say it's the greatest, most comprehensive city guide ever created, Dallas is a pretty big place that's filled to the brim with best-ness. To cover all the good stuff we might have left out, Mixmaster will offer some tips about the other best things in Dallas.
It's not that we forgot about these things. No, forgetting is not what happened. Assigning the right superlative was just difficult. Sometimes the language required for Best Ofs can be limiting. Certainly these things aren't the "best" things in the art world, but they are a meaningful part of the city's artistic growth and, we believe, an integral part of the future of Dallas art, in one way or another.


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Five Best Neighborhoods in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Greg Cella
The Patio at HG Sply Co, one of many Lower Greenville hangouts.
Our Best of Dallas 2014 issue rolls out this week. While we can modestly say it's the greatest, most comprehensive city guide ever created, Dallas is a pretty big place that's filled to the brim with best-ness. To cover all the good stuff we might have left out, Mixmaster will offer some tips about the other best things in Dallas.

There are plenty of places to live in Dallas, but when you're choosing where to park your pillow, there are lots of other things that go into it as well. Like, who your neighbors are and what you can do on the weekend without too much (or any!) driving. Sure, you could move to McKinney Avenue, but how about these places instead? Or when you're exploring your city -- whether new or old -- at least, you could stop by for a visit.

Lower Greenville
For years, the southernmost strip of Greenville Avenue had a reputation for underage drinking and drunken disagreements. Now it has a reputation for popsicles and poutine. In just a short time, these few blocks have become desirable real estate, welcoming in new tenants like Trader Joe's and the ever-popular Truck Yard. It's got everything you could want, from the early morning brews at Mudsmith to the late night beverages on the rooftop of HG Sply Co. Plus, you can fix your flats at Transit Bikes Co. or see at a show at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. We're one step closer to a walkable neighborhood, Dallas.


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10 Ways to Feel Like a Kid Again in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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The urge to hop in a time machine and head back to our youth is universal. Obviously, science hasn't resulted in a Back To The Future-style time travel option just yet, but that doesn't mean that it isn't possible to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

There are still plenty of relics from decades past sprinkled throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, and you won't even have to look that hard to find them. Don't worry about your long gone curfew and head out for one of these ten totally tubular (or whatever slang best fits your era) throwback experiences.

Galaxy Drive-In
Drive-In movies are almost as extinct as the woolly mammoth, but we've got a handful scattered throughout the metroplex. Our favorite is all the way out in Ennis, which is not a short drive. But load up the station wagon with Twizzlers and popcorn and hit the open road. There's something about watching a double-feature in the car with your best gal, some old-school movie popcorn, and a little heavy petting or necking to make yourself feel young again. At $7 for an adult double feature (no, not that kind), Galaxy Drive-In is also offering some pretty throwback prices.


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Five Best Affordable Women's Clothing Boutiques in Dallas

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Catherine Downes
Mimosas while you shop
Rio Ritz
2722 Routh St.
A well-run boutique needs a welcoming atmosphere, trendy clothes, and pristine changing rooms. Oh, and booze. Rio Ritz has all of this in spades. Earlier this year, Thais Moses opened the doors of her well-curated shop to the benefit of closets throughout Dallas. The store stocks all the latest trends, straight from Los Angeles at prices that rarely exceed $50. Plus, upon entering the door, you're greeted with a mimosa. Shopping doesn't get much better.

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10 Best Galleries to Start Looking at Art in Dallas

Categories: Best of Dallas

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Last year, Jerry Saltz bemoaned the death of the New York City gallery show. He was pointing to the emergence of an online art market that no longer required collectors to be present at opening night receptions. It deflated the communal conversations at such events, leaving him with fewer people to "blurt whatever I'm thinking about whatever we're looking at."

It is with much happiness that I can report variance in the current state of the visual art scene in Dallas. Certainly there are fewer galleries in our American art outpost, but opening receptions overflow with enthusiasts, patrons and artists. The spaces range from refurbished warehouses, repurposed homes, and remodeled storefronts, with gallerists slowly transforming Dallas into a citywide art bazaar. No neighborhood ignored; no artist unrepresented. At least, that's the direction it's going, which is why it's time you entered the scene. We've taken inventory of some of the best galleries to start your descent into the cavernous art world of Dallas.

To keep things balanced, there's a healthy mix of experimental and commercial. As you work your way through this list, you're sure to find new spaces along the way. When you do, we'd love for you stick your nose back into this blog and write a note with your newfound favorites.


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