Fighting fire

It's been quiet -- too quiet -- since Talley Dunn filed her lawsuit against former employer Gerald Peters in August. The scandal-curious were beginning to believe that a settlement must be in the works, since the dueling gallerists were quietly conducting business as usual. Dunn opened Dunn Brown Contemporary, and Peters sold half his interest in Gerald Peters Gallery to former Kimbell Art Museum director Ted Pillsbury. Not so, says Dunn's lead attorney Dan Hartsfield to the settlement speculation. In fact, Hartsfield says, his office was notified that Peters filed a countersuit February 11 in federal court. "Peters sued Talley for breach of contract and filed it as a counterclaim against her," Hartsfield says.

According to the suit, Peters, who did not return calls for comment, made two claims. He seeks unspecified damages in the breach-of-contract action, on the grounds that Dunn opened an art business in Dallas in flagrant disregard for the noncompetition clause in the employment agreement she signed with him in 1993. Peters also sued Dunn for an accounting of what artwork she has sold to date in her new gallery; to whom she sold it; how much she paid for it; and how much she sold it for.

"He wants to recover the spread between what she paid and what she sold at the new gallery of any works by former Gerald Peters artists," Hartsfield says.

Hartsfield says he was surprised -- again -- that Peters' counterclaim didn't ask for a restraining order against Dunn and her competing gallery. In Peters' short answer to the original suit, he denied all of Dunn's allegations, but didn't seek to stop her from opening her own gallery. (Dunn alleged that her employment agreement with Peters was too broad and claimed that he owed her commissions.) "That's still an interesting angle," Hartsfield says. "With the lawsuit he filed against Talley, he isn't seeking injunctive relief against her."

Drive, don't walk

Dallas Art Dealers Association members claim they're just trying to rally the art-going public and create a "community thing" that will bring people together, but you could easily accuse them of beating a good "thing" to death with yet another "Gallery Walk" scheduled for February 19. DADA spokesperson Cidnee Patrick says the first "Winter Gallery Walk" is more casual than the blockbuster event held each September to open the visual-art season. See "Gallery Listings" for the 17 participating galleries.

Annabelle Massey Helber

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