I Should Have Been a Pop Star

Categories: Visual Art

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Clint Catalyst
Miley doesn't worry about money.

In this series of articles, Leslie Moody Castro takes on the role of journalist or interlocutor to explore the inequity in the creation, curation and exhibition of art. Read more here.
Telling my story
By Leslie Moody Castro
I have a longstanding inside joke that I bounce around regularly with a colleague and conspirator in the contemporary art world. One day in my last semester in graduate school I passed her a $50 bill, the same amount of money she and I had taken turns loaning each other over the course of months. It was my turn to pay it back. Granted, I was still a student, but by that point I had been working independently as an arts professional in some capacity for a number of years.

At that point specifically I was finishing a masters degree in Museum Education with a portfolio supplement in Museum Studies from UT Austin, I had lived abroad, I spoke two languages, had a fair amount of published articles in the world, and especially for my age I had some pretty great experience under my belt. But even with all this I was facing one of the most depressing and discouraging moments of my life: I simply could not find a job. I sent application after application, and was met with rejection after rejection. Let's be honest, no one likes rejection, not in personal life, or professional life, and after a while it just begins to chip away at you.

I had never second guessed myself so vehemently as I did at that point in my life.


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Leslie Moody Castro Isn't Curating an Art Exhibition at CentralTrak, At Least Not One with Art

Categories: Visual Art

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Hueso sin Huesito Productions, Jesus Garcia, and Armando Miguelez 2015
Leslie Moody Castro's blank canvas.

Leslie Moody Castro arrived in Dallas with an idea for an exhibition. Moody Castro, a curator based in Mexico City and Austin, is currently a resident at CentralTrak, the University of Texas at Dallas' artist residency program in Exposition Park. While there, she was planning to curate an exhibition filled with art. Of course, that's wildly different than the exhibition that she will open this weekend. The exhibition, I Should Have Been a Pop Star: Evaluating Value, will be empty.

After facing insurmountable budget challenges and realizing that shouldering the financial burden herself might not be valuable she decided to focus on the conversations that could be had about the realities of art creation and curation. Instead of displaying art, Moody Castro will take on the role of journalist or interlocutor, publishing a series of journalistic articles here on Mixmaster, as well as hosting discussions and workshops. We kick off the series today by chatting with Moody Castro about what happened to her original project and what she hopes to accomplish.


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5 Art Exhibitions to See This Weekend

Categories: Visual Art

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Courtesy Cydonia Gallery
Justyna Gorowska: FWJG
Photographer Francesca Woodman was fascinated by the female body. During the late 70's she shot black and white portraiture, often of women in the nude, playing with the camera to blur or smudge the image further submerging the subject into the medium. Woodman's photographic self-awareness, her sensitive portrayal of the female form, and a personal life marked with tragedy (she committed suicide in 1981 at 22 years old) have given contemporary artists many reasons to obsess over Woodman. One such artist is Polish performance artist Justyna Gorowska, whose first American solo exhibition, FWJG, marries her style with that of Woodman. For this exhibition, which opens at Cydonia Gallery (167 Payne St.) from 6-8 p.m. Friday night, Gorowska immerses herself into Woodman's work. Like Woodman before her, Growska takes an interest in blurring the boundaries between subject and work. The opening reception is free and open to the public and will include a performance. More information at cydoniagallery.com.

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To Thrive, Dallas Arts Need to be Less Elitist. The Populist ArtPrize Might Help.

Categories: Visual Art

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Dallas Contemporary
Anila Quayyam Agha's Winner of the Grand Rapids 2014 Artprize, currently on display at the Dallas Contemporary.

It's near the end of Thursday night's Dallas Art Fair gala and I'm wandering through the polished halls of the Fashion International Gallery when my companion asks a loaded question, "How many black people have you seen here tonight?" I thought for a second, and local artist and writer Darryl Ratcliff aside I could remember only one gallerist. I went on to count three or four, which is by no means scientific data. And it's also not a new point. The art world is exclusive, especially the visual art world, and especially when the main function of the event is an act of commerce.

But this idea still bothered me. It's not scientific, and it's less about race than about the way these events are advertised, and who they are meant to attract. And all of that is part of an equation. Because if you're looking at #DallasArtsWeek, the city-condoned pat-an-artist-on-the-back week, you see that one of the foundational building blocks upon which the staff at City Hall chose to rest this all-inclusive promotional week is a preexisting calendar of big, hoity-toity parties. In the past few days, there was Art Ball, MTV:REDEFINE, the Art Fair Gala and the Eye Ball. I was at two of those four events, and they are clear reminders of the way Dallas works.

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Take Lauren's Mini Virtual Tour of the Dallas Art Fair, 2015

Categories: Visual Art

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That's Jeff Gibbons' "Engagement Bear" on the right.

A smart gallerist wants the work they show to be in conversation with the contemporary international art market, but much of the year it's more likely you'll speak in Dallas terms. You'll compare one Dragon Street space to another. Perhaps this is why it's quite wonderful to wander the Dallas Art Fair every year and begin to see the local in a new, more valuable context. For the most part, the Dallas galleries are holding their own next to bigwig galleries like New York's Maccarone, Bortolami, or London's HUS Gallery.

To wander through the 90+ exhibitors is like breezing through an array of curated exhibitions. Some of them are impressive solo shows, like Barry Whistler's presentation of the Dallas-based artist Nathan Green, or Hales Gallery's Frank Bowling exhibition, whose map paintings you can currently see at the Dallas Museum of Art. There are also fascinating, and challenging group exhibitions, like two Dallas spaces, Zhulong Gallery, which exhibits artists including Mark Tribe and Renee Cox, and Conduit Gallery, which has a lovely Jeff Gibbons painting, along with Juan Fontanive's Ornithology P, which I recognized from a different booth last year. You'll also find hidden treasures, like a tiny Mark Rothko in the closet of a gallery (I'll have to go back today to find out which gallery this was...). It's a lovely adventure of artistic discovery, and hell, if you can afford it, you can take home a treasure at the end of the weekend.

Here's what I would buy with a bit lot more money in my wallet. It's by no means meant to measure the fair, these are just my favorites. There is so much more to see. (In other news, it looks like I'm finally overcoming my color fixation.)


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Here Are Your Non-Art Fair Art Events to Attend This Week

Categories: Visual Art

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500 X
Check out Brooklyn Ties at 500X Saturday night.

You're going to hear a lot of people telling you what #DallasArtsWeek and the Dallas Art Fair mean for the city this week. No matter what they say, roll your eyes, sip your champagne, and adopt the most blasé tone you can muster and say, "Vous sentez come le boeuf et le fromage." If it means what I think it means, that'll shut 'em up.

This weekend join in on the Dallas art world's adult spring break. Crash the party at the Art Fair during Young Professionals Day Friday (free passes with the code, DAFProfessional2015), then find your own ways to crash all the other fancy people parties if you're into that thing. Or just revel in the overflow.


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5 Art Exhibitions to See This Weekend, When Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

Categories: Visual Art

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Susan Barnett at Conduit Gallery

This weekend is an odd one in Dallas art land. With the Dallas Art Fair opening next weekend, quite a few galleries are squeezing in opening receptions so as not to lose patrons to the upcoming signature Fair events. And in a large number of this weekend's openings there's an emphasis on pulling out all stops, which apparently means bringing in lavish, gaudy art. For my taste, it's disappointing to see Erin Cluley Gallery replace the fabulous Kevin Todora show with the glitter vomit of Chivas Clem. C'est la Dallas?

One of the shows to take seriously this weekend is the Conduit Gallery exhibition featuring Susan Barnett, Jeff Baker, and Vincent Ramos. The Dallas-based Barnett is one of the most vivid painters in the city, combining technical geometry with abstract painting. For this exhibition, she's adopted the lens of particle physics to examine heady subjects like The Theory of Everything and unrecorded histories surrounding the building of the atom bomb. See her work alongside exhibitions of Baker and Ramos. Opening reception takes place from 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

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Zhulong Gallery Explores Mark Tribe's Unreal Natural Landscapes

Categories: Visual Art

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Zhulong Gallery
Mark Tribe creates landscapes you'll get lost in.

What is reality? How do we build the one we live in? Have you ever asked yourself this? How real are the places you visit? What about the places you haven't been? You'll never see all of the natural world, and you'll only really know the places you've been. The rest? Someone has made them up for you, relayed them back, with photographs, stories and maps.

The rain forests? The mountains? Are they there before you arrive? Are they different now that you've seen them? Will they be there tomorrow when you're gone? How will you remember them? Will they look different in your memory? Will your memory become your sketchbook? Your photographs? Your dreams?

When a tree falls, when the night comes, and you're not there to see it change, did it happen? Even in nature, what is real? In Mark Tribe: New Landscapes at Zhulong Gallery, these questions of authenticity seem at the forefront of an exhibition that attempts to "reframe the pictorial traditions of landscape art through contemporary technology."


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5 Art Exhibitions to See This Weekend

Categories: Visual Art

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Photo courtesy of Gray Matters

I've been slacking when it comes to seeing all the exhibitions happening in and around Dallas. I don't know if it's been the weather, or what you might call being in "a funk," but I'm slowly emerging from my shell to see everything out there. This list is a healthy mix of things I can promise are worth seeing from personal experience, as well as a few educated predictions for the weekend.


A Flexible Arrangement
Nathan Green has had a great year. This Dallas-based artist is showing throughout the city and the world, and is a name you need to know. This weekend, he flexes his curatorial muscles with a group exhibition that explores "the ways that a photograph can exaggerate, mask, and distort reality." He brings together the work of six artists, including Dallas-based Kevin Todora and several members of Austin-based collective Okay Mountain, of which Green is a member. See the work at Gray Matters (113 N. Haskell) during the opening reception 6-9 p.m. Saturday.

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John Alexander's Ridiculous, Sublime, and a Little Bit Creepy World at Meadows Museum

Categories: Visual Art

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Meadows Museum
John Alexander, "Sweet and Juicy," 2005

John Alexander nearly presses his nose against a charcoal image of a lobster and laughs when he says looking into the drawing's eyes reminds him of his dog. We're in the downstairs gallery where a series of drawings serve as a prelude to the exhibition at the Meadows Museum, Human/nature. The Ridiculous and Sublime: Recent Works by John Alexander. Alexander jokes in his rich Texan drawl that his assistant had to explain to him what "prelude" meant. Certainly these beautiful, mysterious charcoal drawings of deceptively simple subjects -- the lobster, an array of lily pads, a jellyfish and oyster shells -- set the tone for the paintings that follow.

If there's one thing to know about his exhibition at the Meadows Museum, it's that it's not a retrospective, although it smacks of one, with lovely details like the fact that Alexander worked at the Meadows during his graduate studies nearly 45 years ago when the museum was housed in the art school building. And it was in this very museum that he found lifelong inspiration from the masters, like Picasso and Goya. It may not be a survey of his career, but Human/nature gives an incisive look at a contemporary artist who uses his painterly technique to vivify fixations at once lucid and detached, hopeful and morbid. In these recent works he creates a dichotomous world of serene nature and turbulent humanity.


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