Expect the Unexpected

Frisk David Quadrini for his hidden stash of sleaze or schmooze, and you'll come up empty-handed. He's a dealer, all right, but strictly legit, and he couldn't make a blatant sales pitch to save his life. Quadrini deals in high-concept art, and he's part idea-monger, part talent scout, part visionary and part mentor to visual artists. Mostly, he's an influence peddler in the art universe. He may be centered in Dallas, but he moves easily in and out of rippling, concentric circles of artists, art patrons, art collectors, art scholars and art fans from Australia to Europe and back again.

Quadrini owns and operates Angstrom Gallery, an art-filled anchor to a wedge-shaped strip of historic storefronts at the intersection of Exposition and Parry avenues. He chose the name in deference to science--the angstrom is the smallest unit of measurement in theoretical physics. "I'm really interested in the similarity between science and art," Quadrini says. "Most of the great scientists of the 20th century had intuitive minds." Fresh out of the University of North Texas with a bachelor of fine arts in painting and drawing, Quadrini tested his idea and opened the gallery in 1996. Like all solid science and most conceptual art, it began as an experiment. "I didn't want to own a gallery," Quadrini says. "I was headed to Cal Arts for graduate school, and I was looking for something to keep my sanity until then." On a whim, he signed a six-month lease at 3609 Parry Ave. and slammed some paintings on the bare white walls.

At the time, he says, it was hard to find anything exciting in Dallas galleries. "I looked for what wasn't being shown for Angstrom," Quadrini says. "Every show was really for my benefit. I found great artists who weren't being shown but who were making the stuff I wanted to see and live with." Everything Angstrom showed sold well from the start, and was favorably reviewed in art media, so Quadrini says he renewed his lease for another six months. "I've made a career in six-month increments," he says.

Over the past six years, Quadrini has shaken up the Dallas art world, showing talented nontraditional artists. He's made Angstrom Gallery into a safe, high-profile world for artists he may find as nearby as Dallas or as far away as Cologne, Germany. "I look for art that violates your expectations," he says. "Art is generally not about the object itself when it's really good. Art becomes an all-consuming relic of a process or experience the artist went through when making it. I'm interested in the hiccup--the unexpected--or the gray area."

Quadrini travels often to Los Angeles and New York, looking for new artists, new work, new clients among patrons and collectors. He's comfortable working with people--influencing, discussing, arguing, digesting--and eager for innovative input and creative energy. "It becomes clear, when you look at as much art as I look at, that some artists are really inventing something. They are really creating a dialogue or an image system that hasn't existed previously. There's always something problematic about that kind of work. It's always a little bit hard to look at."

Heading into the new art season this fall, Quadrini has scheduled Angstrom exhibitions for Peter Zimmerman, whom he found in Cologne, and Mark Flood, who lives in Houston. "This will be my third show with Mark," he says. "His paintings are like heirloom lace that is shredded and floating away. He's created a hybrid process of painting and printmaking. And he used to be the lead singer for Culture Side." Hyper-optic paintings by Suzy Rosmarin, Robin O'Neil's odd drawings of dinosaurs and boats, new work by local fave Erick Swenson and the blue-chip art stylings of Jeff Elrod, Jack Pearson and Brad Tucker will enliven the gallery this year. "Brad understands the space between the way things look and the way things sound," Quadrini says of Tucker's sculptures that would be music. "He is very much about the barrier between you and the object." Tucker casts old vinyl records, creating imprecise grooves that convey interesting, warped information and can be played on a turntable. "It's the textbook definition of an artist," Quadrini says. "He is dissatisfied with the world and has to remake it. He has to fix it."

Some months, Quadrini spends as few as 10 days at home in Dallas. He's here mainly to plan and install every monthlong exhibition at Angstrom, then he's off again in search of the next new thing. If you can catch up with him, you're in for some good, and decidedly intellectual, conversation about art and music, philosophy, science. The best scene, he says, is his neighborhood, unless the State Fair is on. "There are the greatest bars around here," he says. "Double Wide, New Amsterdam, Meridian Room, minc. Ours is the only block that is really interesting in the whole city. There are always musicians, writers and artists around. I love the bars and good conversation. But during the fair, we all leave."

 
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