How to Improve the Arts in Dallas: The Best Lessons from Mayor Rawlings' Symposium

Categories: Visual Cues

"Instead of another [Klyde Warren Park], use that money to start the careers of 50 filmmakers," said the Texas Theater's Eric Steele.
At City Performance Hall last night, Mayor Mike Rawlings led a panel discussion about the future of the arts in Dallas, part of his #DallasArtsWeek initiative. All the panelists - Dallas Museum of Art director Maxwell L. Anderson, Dallas Theater Center artistic director Kevin Moriarty, filmmaker and Oak Cliff Film Festival co-founder Eric Steele, local record producer John Kirtland and Oliver Francis Gallery owner Kevin Ruben Jacobs - were white and male. So much for the future of women and minorities in the arts, said the awkward visual, which only Anderson acknowledged (to loud applause and whistles from the audience).

See also:
- These Large Keith Haring Murals Are Coming to the Dallas Art Fair
- #DallasArtsWeek Brings Branding, Non-Offensive Art and White Males

The purpose of the 75-minute chat, Rawlings said, was to talk about how Dallas can attract more artists -- the mayor called them "human capital," thus reducing them to something sounding like slave labor -- and convince them to stay. His solution was a typically business-oriented three-part plan: first, "build great edifices" (like the City Performance Hall, Wyly Theatre and Winspear); second, find good people to operate the big, new buildings; and third, finally get around to working on convincing those who make the art, the plays and the music to come to Dallas and create stuff.

It's the "if we build it, they will come" model. Which doesn't work with artists, who don't much like traveling in herds and don't get to work in those fancy "edifices" until they've been invited. Young or old, artists go where they can afford to live and make their art without starving.

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The Nasher's Sculptures Look Better Bathed in Snow Than in Sunshine and Controversy

Categories: Visual Cues

Photo by Julius Pickenpack at the Nasher. Via Twitter

Deep Ellum's Traveling Man Gets Pumped Up Kicks

Look who's got some brand spankin' new shoes. Like the rest of us, the Deep Ellum "Traveling Man" sculpture's been a little chilly this week. And being made of metal, can you imagine how much worse that must be? Finally, someone took pity on his big robot feet and sized him up for custom-made Converses and a big cozy scarf. Lookin' good.

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Conduit Gallery Offers a Fine Lookin' Trio of Exhibitions

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Jeremy Red's "Alex 1," 2011
While the rest of us are freaking out about what to buy Aunt Fern for the holidays, Conduit Gallery is basically blowing up with shows.

There's Jeremy Red's solo show of unconventional portraits, Catching Up -- his first here since he moved from Denton to Seatle, WA in 2003. There's a group show called from outside, in floats a music box, and then Tom Russotti is putting on a mock trial of sort under the show name Hatchjaw and Bassett LLP. The latter is clearly a commentary on overpriced attorneys and frivolous lawsuits. The former, well, they are an exciting mash-up that provides us a three-in-one of Fine Lookin' Pieces.

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Sedrick Huckaby's "The Day We Talked a New Talk" at Valley House

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Courtesy of Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden
Quilts have long been misunderstood. People have considered them craft, pretty blankets sewn by women with too much time on their hands. Although many quilts are quite beautiful, they are also incredibly powerful. Frontier women crafted them to shelter their families from the dangerous cold. Slaves created them as creative outlets in otherwise austere lives. And, some say, they designed them as road maps, pointing the way to freedom's door.

The paintings of Sedrick Huckaby raise quilts from craft to art in his incredible renderings of quilts alone and in groupings, with props and without, hanging and crumbled, revealing backs and fronts. They are masterfully tactile and strangely provocative.

Huckaby's piece "The Day We Talked a New Talk" is an exceptional example of his understanding of quilts as far more than pretty craft. The quilts in this piece are among graffiti, wood, and cardboard boxes. Perhaps they are what makes an alley a home, fills a dark space with the light of art, or provides warmth. Or, maybe they do all three.

In Alice Walker's famous short story, "Everyday Use" Walker challenges readers to consider the things we choose to surround ourselves with and how we use and respect (or disrespect) them. That is precisely what Huckaby's work does as well, creating conversations where before there was only ignorance and silence.

See the exhibition, Sedrick Huckaby: When Old People Talk to Young People, through December 3 at Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden. Huckaby will speak on his work Monday, November 14, at 7 p.m. also at the gallery.

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Another World: Nigel Cooke's Parallels and Allegories Transform Goss Michael Foundation

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Courtesy of Goss Michael Foundation
Nigel Cooke's "Experience," 2009
It felt a little dangerous and inappropriate to be viewing English-born artist Nigel Cooke's work, as if as viewers we had slipped inside his head to see insecurities, dark humor, questions and answers -- some of which it was difficult to feel as if we had the right to see.

Cooke lives only part-time in what most of us call reality. The rest of the time, well, let's just say he falls down the rabbit hole. "When I'm painting, it's like a trance," he says. "You have to be ultra sensitive to what's happening. My goal is always to introduce things I don't understand."

On the other end of that rabbit hole, is a series of characters and images and experiences that Cooke paints and sculpts.

When Cooke speaks -- as he did last Friday during a reception for his new eponymous exhibition at Goss Michael Foundation -- he refers to the figures in his work as if they exist, as if they have lives of their own: "They're trying to understand the world around them with creativity just as I'm doing."

What he's found and created in his fabricated other world are creatures who are making art and looking for meaning in a world where, much like ours, not a whole lot makes sense. It's a world where the abstract makes more sense than reality.

"The figures are melancholical and adrift just like a real life, laughing at the absurdity in their worries," he said. here's certainly inevitability to ruin. They're about looking for the answer and getting it and the painting completes it. They're about making a monument to their own creativity."

Bananas are anthropomorphized. Long-haired, drinking, monster truck-driving characters make art. "The characters are waiting for the painter to tell them what is to be done. They get distressed by the painting. The paint moves in on them."

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Eric Roberts and Clint Eastwood Lunchboxes, and Our 10 Favorite Brandon Bird Creations

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Rest assured, both designs are available in pink or black.
We're not gonna lie: We love the Los Angeles-based artist that is Brandon Bird and have for years now. We love that his favorite thing to eat is meals (followed closely by snacks)" and we ordered our first set of Law & Order valentines around five years ago.

When an email from Bird's site pops up, we get really excited. Like kids in a fucked-up, shifted reality art gallery that welcomes kids and doubles as a candy store.

Yesterday, we got the "Lunchbox Time!" email and well, we just couldn't be more thrilled. Bird used his patented approach to address the "not really all that relevant" pop culture topics of season-before-last Celebrity Rehabber Eric Roberts and 2008's Clint Eastwood vehicle Gran Torino. And then he attached them to the icons of childhood.

In the newsletter, Bird offers that "leathery people are really fun to paint btw" as well as another little tidbit about these lunchboxes that makes us geek out even more: "Both are made using genuine plastic Thermos lunchboxes. Which of course were completely discontinued a week after I got the idea to do lunchboxes, and like a good Ferengi, I had to call around and track down one of the last remaining supplies in America."

So, newly inspired by these honorable mentions, we now count down our 10 Favorite Brandon Bird Creations:

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Today in Antique/Thrift Store Paintings That Kind of Look Like Celebrities

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Olsen twin with sad kitty, other Olsen twin with sad puppy (both Lula B's West)
Create your own wall of fame with these fine, only marginally frightening works of art currently for sale at two of our favorite Dallas thrift stores.

As of yesterday afternoon, all of these paintings were still looking for homes. Most could be had for less than $60. We found them at Curiosities in Lakewood and Lula B's in the Dallas Design District.

Surely, any resemblance to famous people is strictly coincidental. But who's really to know?

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On John Wiley Price's Strange Land(mark) Dealings

iStockphoto/Alexander Flores/Dallas Observer
JWP's acquisition of Teddy's spot is decidedly not bully.
There's nothing more fun than putting people's faces in places where they don't belong.

Wait, let's rephrase that. Maybe it's more fun accumulating so much cars and cash that the FBI raids your offices and home. Or maybe obtaining some land in the most bizarre manner possible, with the help of a couple known crooks. You can read all about the weirdness regarding Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price in this week's cover story, by Jim Schutze.

As far as the cover goes, when it comes to the Federal gov, and when it comes to land, the first thing that came to mind was sculpter Gutzon Borglum's tribute to the first 150 years of the U.S.A in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Many regard it as one of the ultimate pieces of patriotic land in the country, while others felt it a pompous eyesore yielding in many deaths during its development. Enter John Wiley Price's visage; that slippery devil! We can also see that Wash, Tom and Abe are none too happy with their new neighbor. Apparently Teddy's big stick wasn't big enough to keep JWT from usurping that prime piece of real estate. We'll just have to wait and see what the FBI turns up.
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David Sena's Firecracker Art Rivals the Fair Park Display and Lasts Well Past the Fourth

Photos by Leslie Minora
David Sena creates firework art in the courtyard of Gallery Interiors.
Some of his pieces burst with a spectacle of vibrant color while others find their power in the absence of any hue at all. Burnt, swirled, carefully prodded and calculated with the precise hand of tattoo artist, David Sena's art pairs scientific measure with impulsive creativity. His mark-making instruments of choice include smoke bombs, fireworks and lighters -- all burning, coloring, singeing and crafting shapes and charred holes.

After 18 years in New York, the Brooklyn-based artist who started East Village tattoo shop, North Star Tattoo, is finally showcasing his honed talent in his old hometown of Dallas, and it's about damn time. His work will be on display at Gallery Interiors on Preston Road until July 31.

Walking into the shop full of plush beautiful furniture, it's easy to think you've made a mistake, but once you wind through the displays and into a room toward the back, you'll find a make-shift gallery that's a perfectly comfortable place to browse, both more homey and beautiful than the starkness you've become accustomed to.

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