MAKING [in] DALLAS
I’m not gonna say that Dallas has a “burgeoning art scene.” It’s been here and it’s full of artists who are not tied to a specific idea of what it is like to exist in a cultural mecca. There is a shit ton of space: warehouses are being flipped into DIY studios, abandoned buildings are being utilized for performances and pop up group shows and there is a re-introduction of artist run galleries and raw experimental spaces. Top notch venues such as Dallas’ Power Station and Forth Worth Contemporary Arts are bringing in international artists and sparking much needed conversations as well. Through a series of articles entitled MAKING [in] DALLAS, I will introduce you to key venues, artists, organizers and overall bad asses in an effort to familiarize you with the rebels of our community. We want to get to know you. - Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor
Volume I: Fort Worth Drawing Center
There is a painting show that is organized as a drawing show that is really a multimedia show that points back to drawings by a lot of painters. It’s not confusing. I just wrote it that way. For the inaugural exhibition Contemporary Drawing Today, Fort Worth Drawing Center, co-founder, director and New American Paintings alum Francisco Moreno set up shop in the front office space of his Fort Worth studio. On the creation of the FWDC, Moreno states, “Even though Dallas is the 9th largest city in the United States that has major museums, I found it interesting that we didn't have anything on a smaller scale that focused on drawings,”( I suppose I should note that Dallas and Fort Worth are sister cities. Looking at a map, they are two squares next to each other; Fort Worth on the left and Dallas on the right. I will not go into what defines each cities identity and I will only say that one city is like that kid in middle school who listened to Metallica and the other is like that kid in middle school who listened to Slayer.). Moreno and co-curator Kevin Jacobs present a salon-esque hanging of a mix of 20 national and Dallas based artists and their respective definition of “drawing.”
The gallery space is tight and offers an awkward perspective on ways of viewing the show. But let’s face it; some of the work in this show is awkward itself. One of the bigger names in the show is Josh Smith. For the show FWDC highlights a scribbled hammer and Smith’s “signature” signature in Moreno’s personal sketchbook. Smith adds an inspirational message to “keep on hammering.” Will do, buddy.
Also in the show is artist Judy Glantzman. Glantzman, who was a prominent figure in the LES, NY scene in the 80’s and who recently showed in PAINT at Betty Cunningham, has a tiny unassuming rendering of a macabre street scene (?) or an autopsy (?) or it could be lines put together to define a subconscious happening (?). Whatever it is, it is fucking weird and I love it. Dallas native and New York based artist Michelle Rawlings provides a small ink drawing that initially points towards the daily consumption of our mornings. Once we notice that the piece is entitled Mermaid our assumption is shifted to the fantastical, which may or may not be embedded in everyday objects.
Another highlight is artist Katie Bell’s brightly subdued piece that reads as painting but finds a foil in the nonchalant black line that is fumbly drawn around a centralized shape, activating a space of the work that is less Howard Hodgkin’s and more “I really just don’t wanna do what you ask.” Bell is currently in Paint Things: Beyond the Stretcher at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
On the opening of the FWDC, Kevin Jacobs notes, “It's exciting because of how unsuspecting the whole thing appears. It's basic but to the point. I wanted to get behind this project because of Francisco’s intention to create a small but stimulating and substantial art space.” Jacobs himself is founder and director of Dallas’ renegade Oliver Francis Gallery. Dallas based artist and Contemporary Drawing Today participant Eli Walker also opened Homeland Security, an art space/gallery that is run out of his house. This activity is a current energy in Dallas/Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Drawing Center furthers this “let’s get together and fuck shit up” attitude amongst artists and the larger arts community here in D/FW. FWDC, along with many other spaces, serves as an example that if you want to have something in your city that isn’t there, all you need to do is follow these 3 simple steps: find a space, hang some work, invite friends. Get to it!
Sedrick Huckaby | The 99%: Highland Hills Series, - De Actress -, 2012, Stablilo and colored pencil on mylar, 5 ½ x 11 ½ inches
This wall is on your left when you enter. What got cut out of this photo is that to the left of Rawlings’ Mermaid is a the face of a plug in air conditioning unit. It gets hot down here.
Francisco Moreno recently earned his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Outside of directing the Fort Worth Drawing Center, Moreno is currently in the process of curating 9 Artists, a show that will open in April at Blow Up Gallery in Dallas, TX.
Arthur Peña is an artist and professor currently living and working in Dallas, TX.
All photos by Olivia Themudo