Still Think Dallas Has No Culture? Look Underground.

Still Think Dallas Has No Culture? Look Underground.
Ponchaveli Design Group

Man, I still get the same old tired line: Oh, you write for the Culture section? In Dallas? What Culture.

Yes, yes. We know. Dallas is no New York. Or, Paris. Or, hell, even Austin. I was just the same when I left here in back in 2006 with both barrels blazing and two middle fingers waving. But, then I realized something. Cities like Dallas, and you know what I mean, tend to foment rebellion. Her manicured nails and sky-high coif -- reaching gloriously to the heavens like a tribute to Reunion Tower -- inspire folks of a recalcitrant nature, giving us something to buck against. When I was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was just another pinko lefty nerd drowning anonymously in a sea of my own kind. Back here, I'm that obnoxious pinko lefty asshole nerd, and if you're reading the Mixmaster, something tells me you might catch my drift.

But, for those still spitting jokes about the City sans Culture, after Saturday night, I've got to think that maybe you're just not paying attention. Underground 4, a mashup of everything art by 2011 MasterMinds finalist ArtLoveMagic, went down at the Janette Kennedy Gallery at South Side on Lamar, and it was worth every penny of the $15 cover charge. DJs were spinnin', artists were creatin' and patrons were drinkin'. It was loud, busy, bright and alive, and it was Dallas at her finest.

A yearly event, Underground presents emerging and established local artists working live, all to the tune of live bands, musicians and DJs, as well as spoken-word poets, dancers, and performance artists like the always-entertaining Circus Freaks. Our intrepid photog Taryn Walker snagged shots that are worth a thousand words, but if you've got time for about 500, we've got some observations of our own.

I don't roll on Shabbos.
I don't roll on Shabbos.

Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here! Underground was crowwwded. Which is a great thing. And, the abundance of hot bodies in fabulous outfits, made for primo people-watching. From the gorgeous ladies in pin-up corsets to the gent in the burnt orange suit -- replete with the plaid undershirt -- the fly denizens of Underground were not the side of Dallas typically observed in West Village or along Knox-Henderson. And, they were having a blast. The only things missing were White Russians.

Shit, I need more cash. I've got a big yen for local art on my walls, but turning tricks for my beloved Mixmaster will, in fact, not likely get me in Forbes. But a lot of the art available for sale last night was affordable, which is not always the case for such high-quality goods. Hey man, artists gotta eat. I totally support the price-point, intellectually, if not financially.

There were a few damned fine items that even I could take home last night, and among them, my personal favorite was a $20 coaster of a graphic painting of Amy Winehouse by popArtist Robb Conover. Check out more of his bright and bold (and NSFW) work here.

Do not feed the artists. As I stood, mouth gaping and crudely snapping shots with my iPhone, the evening evoked a subtle sense of ... school children at the zoo. I gawked impotently as the brilliant artists before me worked, laser focused on their respective tasks at hand and entirely oblivious -- or so it seemed - to the all-encompassing chaos abounding. High heels stamping dangerously close to $300 canvas paintings and oversized butts (mine, specifically) swinging clumsily toward breathtaking sculptures, it is totally unclear how so many artists kept their cool and continued working throughout the shenanigans.

But, they did, and two of my favorites were Theo Ponchaveli of Ponchaveli Design Group and Jaime Navarro. Poncaveli was working ceaselessly on a killer painting of J.R. and Bobby Ewing (Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy) from TV's Dallas with insane cut-outs that added dimension to the city's skyline. His glitzy, massive homage to the Purple One, also made the kind of glorious, gender-ambiguous statement that would make a dove cry.

Jaime Navarro is all-business through the bacchanalia.
Jaime Navarro is all-business through the bacchanalia.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jaime Navarro sketched among his Southwest sculptures, including a Native American chief and all-too-sexy feminine figures (one of which he likes to call the "J.Lo"), that are constructed of drywall plates and thin set finished metal. Because Navarro was so hard at work, I chatted with his brother-in-law who said that this was the artist's first time showing his incredible work.You can find more here.

Did you miss it? Mark it down, dude! On your calendar, for next year, I mean. Underground is living proof that there's more to Dallas than meets the eye. See some of your work here, un-credited? Let us know, so we can get your name up here where it belongs.

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