When Kristi Chapman-Hopkins' State Street Gallery closed in March 1999, Cynthia Mulcahy was one of the last art gallery owners to stick it out in Dallas' historic State-Thomas district. Mulcahy opened State-Thomas Gallery in 1994 in the uptown area that, in the last two years, has been rapidly transformed by developers into an upscale condo- and apartments-dwellers' neighborhood. Mulcahy's restored Victorian house on Thomas St., renamed Mulcahy Modern in 1998, was one of the last reasonably priced commercial rentals in the area. Mulcahy says she's seen the writing on the wall, and has moved to new digs in increasingly artful Oak Cliff. She says she's partly following Dallas artists, who have moved to Oak Cliff from Dallas neighborhoods like Deep Ellum in search of more affordable studio space. And, partly, she says, she's found a more gallery-friendly neighborhood where she can afford three times the gallery space she had in State-Thomas. "What I like about Oak Cliff is the city is putting in $2 million in street improvements, sidewalks, and landscaping," Mulcahy says. A lot of the work is going on just outside her gallery at 408 W. Eighth. "They're making a huge effort to retain this area's historic character."
There's a lot more foot traffic outside Mulcahy Modern's floor-to-ceiling storefront windows, and Mulcahy says she believes the neighborhood will become a bustling cultural district over time. "There are no bars and no night life," she says. When her new landlord, David Spence, completely renovated the Bishop Arts Building last year, she snapped up the new space. "There is so much more room," she says. Mulcahy's currently wrapping up a show of quirky, naive drawings by Corbin Doyle, which will be followed by the May 13 opening of a show by one of Mulcahy's longtime artists and best-sellers, Gary Retherford of Houston.
Mulcahy says her gallery is keeping its focus on Texas artists and hip, contemporary art despite losing four former gallery artists to Pillsbury-Peters Fine Art in the wake of the trouble between Gerald Peters and Talley Dunn. When Dunn opened Dunn Brown Contemporarylast fall, many Gerald Peters artists went with her. Pillsbury-Peters has been working to build up its stable of gallery artists ever since. Galveston's Francis X. Tolbert, Houston's Richard Stout, and Dallas-based David McManaway and Bill Komodore, all formerly represented or shown by Mulcahy Modern, have begun a relationship with Pillsbury-Peters since last November.