Critical Mass: Dallas Artists Research and Exhibition, the visual arts planning arm of the recently established McKinney Avenue Contemporary, presents a show of 14 sculptures created by 14 different artists and curated by New York sculptor Charles Long. "Critical Mass" is the name of this collection of conceptual sculptures; they have the ability to make a cynic laugh and a believer nod in reverent agreement. The title is borrowed from the phrase that indicates the point at which a cell divides; applied to a sculpture exhibition, "critical mass" means the point at which shapeless raw material, through the coaxing of an artist, assumes identity. It is, of course, a different point for everyone. "Critical Mass" opens with a reception for the curator January 20, 6-8 pm. The show is free and continues through February 11 at the Mc-Kinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave at Bowen. For more information call 953-1212.
Power of Love: The idea of a symbolic ring that seals a sacred covenant can be traced a long way back to myths from many parts of the world. And ever since the 5th century, diamonds have been the rock of choice--much to the delight of miners and organizations like the Diamond Information Center, a New York-based organization of folks who represent the interests of diamond merchants hither and yon. They present a show at Bachendorf's in the Galleria entitled "The Power of Love"--really just an excuse for plain folk to browse in an ultra-monitored, blue velvet-couched diamond shop. So what are you waiting for? There are replicas and originals of wedding rings dating all the way back to the 15th century and originating from Germany, Russia, and England. For anyone who's ever imagined fingering the big fat diamonds you see in spy thrillers or medieval romances, this is a get-close-but-don't-touch thrill. "The Power of Love" is on display through January 26 at Bachendorf's Fine Jewelry in the Galleria. It's free, of course. For more information call 720-1910.
Angels of the Andes and Masterpieces of Bolivian Colonial Art From the 17th and 18th Century: Two different Dallas art institutions benefit from a recent cultural offering from Bolivia's National Secretary of Culture, Alberto Bailey Gutierrez. The first, The Meadows Museum of Southern Methodist University, hosts a traveling collection of 23 oil paintings created between the 16th and 18th centuries by European and South American artists. Masterpieces of Bolivian Colonial Art represents the efforts by Spanish colonial officials to convert natives of the Andes to the Christian faith. Once they discovered traditional Biblical images were too alien or upsetting to the locals, missionary officials began to enlist the efforts of sympathetic locals as well as European artists to incorporate pre-Columbian figures and events into the canvases. In conjunction with Masterpieces of Bolivian Colonial Art, the Biblical Arts Center presents Angels of the Andes, an exhibition of 14 17th- and 18th-century paintings from the collection of Bolivian admirer Mario Mercadeo Vaca Guzman. The subjects of these pictures are archangels (think of them as the generals of the celestial order), and they reflect the extremely personal images the subject of angels has always inspired. Masterpieces of Bolivian Colonial Art is open January 21-February 19 at the Meadows Museum in SMU. Angels of the Andes is open January 21-February 19 at the Biblical Arts Center, 7500 Park Lane at Boedeker. Both are free.
South Asian Art: Devoted Dallas Museum of Art patrons might find a few works they recognize in the Museum's new exhibition in the Concourse. South Asian Art includes many sculptural pieces on display from 1994's East Meets West: Sculpture from the David T. Owsley Collection. Mixed in with those are works from the Museum's permanent collection of Indic works. Owsley has arranged for many of the pieces to remain on long-term loan to the Museum (can a posthumous collection, housed in a new showroom designed to look like the benefactor's house, be far behind?). For a Dallasite to exhibit these works is downright heroic, considering how their ancient influences contradict the money-grubbing ethos of Dallas success--you can buy all the culture you'll ever need. In deliberate protest to such sentiments, you'll find a Gandharan Buddha head, relief etchings of the supreme Goddess Shiva and Uma, and metalworks, stone carvings, and various adornments. This is a rag-tag assemblage from various Western collectors of Eastern art--with that in mind, look for some of the prejudices that may have created a common theme linking their choices. South Asian Art is on display January 21-April 9 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free. Call 922-1200.