By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Rees in pieces
I knew there was a reason that I kept an archive of old Dallas Observer articles, and Christina Rees' last one on the Exposition Park galleries must have been that reason ["Critics' choice," Framed, May 20]. I know that this is my second letter to you on this subject, and I know that my wife and some of the other gallery owners have written you as well, but I felt so strongly about this issue that I felt obligated to write this second time.
Something I might have failed to mention in my previous letter is Christina's incompetence. By her own admission in her column that ran in the December 31 issue, she is "a relative rookie" at covering the visual arts, and is "still getting my feet wet, or rather, by this time my knees." That was only a few months ago, and now she tries to write about art as though she has been covering art for countless years. I know that she is trying to put her student years behind her, but perhaps when she asked her question: "What is it with the new kid? Why can't he tell the difference between the good and the bad?" she was merely referring to her own admitted lack of knowledge.
Also, she started her ranting with a comparison of the Dallas art scene with that of other major cities in the world, and yet scarcely a few months ago she said, "So let's put the 'how do we compare to other cities' art scenes?' thing to rest." Which is it, Christina?
In that December 31 article, you were a lot closer to what is really going on in Dallas--things like, "rather than ugly competition, you find encouragement" (except from you) and "rather than complacency, you find a collective rage against the machine." That is what we in Expo Park are doing. If you have a grudge against one gallery in the midst, then I guess you have a grudge against us all, as you have so shown. Please know that "these bastard stepchildren know how to both stick together and stick it to a city that tries to ignore them." You can also add to that: We know how to put art out there that people want to see, buy, and display in their homes. I guess over the last few months you have let yourself get "so tangled in local political red tape and in-club shmoozing that [you]can't see the big picture for the haze."
We also know that you said, "I won't pretend that I'm intimate with...the local artistic community. For various reasons, from political to personal, I skip plenty; the handful of galleries I didn't set foot in this year is a heavy one." The question here is, how can you do your job, without having seen what you are reviewing?! Young lady, I suggest that you polish off your "shiny, suspect shoes" and get out there to some galleries if you ever hope to salvage what is left of your integrity, not to mention your credibility.
I would like to thank Christina Rees for taking her valuable time to come down to Exposition Park and take a very quick look at some of the galleries on May 14--a trip she obviously would rather not have made. She also devoted three-fourths of her column to Exposition Park, how wonderful. It's a shame she felt the need to destroy.
Whatever her background or experience, Ms. Rees has missed one very important point: No matter how good or bad the work may be, the artist frequently must and should be required to justify or defend it. No artist, however, should ever be forced to defend his or her right to make and show it. Even such an important person as a critic should support that right. Yes, these young people are the "new kids," they make mistakes, and maybe they need to be more discriminating, but they work hard and they learn from their mistakes and experience. They need to be allowed to grow. Why didn't she give them a critique instead of a hatchet job?
Personally, I feel sorry for Ms. Rees if she is so narrow or so elitist that she thinks Dallas only has room for art venues that meet her approval. Hey! Even those millions of bluebonnet paintings have a right to be shown. Please thank Ms. Rees for telling people about Exposition Park, because we all know that a bad review is better than no review. People will come down to check us out.
Richard L. Bean Sr.
Former owner of 823 Gallery
In response to Christina Rees' theories, I would like to offer the following opposing points. For starters, it's not uncommon for Ms. Rees to speak with authority on subjects she clearly knows nothing about. In general, our real enemy is the loquacious, spineless system that made her as condescending as she is. It is quite common today to hear people express themselves as follows: "This theme has been struck before." When I was little, my father would sometimes pick me up, put me on his knee, and say, "This serves as a reminder that there is no excuse for uncouth prophets of extremism." It is hard to decide what is stronger in Ms. Rees: her incredible stupidity as far as any real knowledge or ability is concerned, or the contemptuous insolence of her behavior.