If you write about the visual arts long enough in this town, you start getting a little respect and a lot of perks. You get gifts in the mail--funky candles from Sock Monkey, death masks from Eddie Ruiz at Expo 825, and invitations to chichi dos, such as the Dallas Visual Arts Center's Legend Awards Dinner at the Fairmont, no less. You get asked to pontificate on the occasional arts panel, and you start to feel fairly confident--even appreciated. You get the big head, a little, and have days when you're so full of yourself that nausea sets in. You believe people read what you write and sort of enjoy it or like to argue about it, and you feel included--a part of the whole dazzling art scene, a member of some club that might actually want you as its member.
Not today, though. Today, they're dissing me down at the Dallas Museum of Art. Shunning the smart-ass girl, spurning the worthless freelancer scum, and picking everyone else for his or her little game of "Critics Choice Gallery Talks." It's not so much that they haven't called me; it's an ongoing series of art talks, and maybe they'll eventually be so desperate they will call. Until now, I've had a good relationship with the folks at the DMA. They bend over backward when I'm working on a story about one of their exhibitions. They let me in free to see the art, let me park free, and they don't make me pay for the exhibition catalog, even if it's a hardback. They give me access to their staff (although I'm still waiting for an interview with their big-dog director Jack Lane, now that I think of it.)
So, how hurt am I when I see the new slate of speakers for the noon art talks at the DMA? Damned hurt. I mean, they asked Bret McCabe, editor of The Met. Sure, he's smart and opinionated and all that, but, my God, have they ever heard him speak? No offense, but I sat around at the Wednesday morning editorial meeting table with Bret for nearly two years at The Met and, for all his boundless writing ability and varied interests, including art, the man sounds like a cross between South Park's Cartman and William F. Buckley Jr. I mean, in a typical conversation with Bret, he talks and you say, "WHAT?" I'd put my ability to enunciate up against his any time. Plus, I can run a slide projector as well as he can. And he may sleep with an art lover, but I'm married to an artist. And I could be convinced to stop using "fucking" as an all-purpose adjective if I had advance notice. So there, dammit, you reckless speaker-pickers at the dowager DMA. DAMN IT.
Bret McCabe and his rapid-fire mumblings will be featured on September 20, as he presents "Rene Magritte's 'The Light of Coincidences.'" If you read this too late, then check out The Dallas Morning News' Tom Sime, who writes more theater than visual arts but is a working and showing artist, on "The Exodus of 'Genesis': A Mosaic's Journey" on September 27. Each art talk is free, 12:15 p.m.-1 p.m. The DMA is at 1717 N. Harwood St. at St. Paul Avenue. (214) 922-1200.
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Even though I obviously won't be there--just too darned busy--you should go. You'll probably learn something and you can see what I mean about Bret firsthand. Plus, you'll stand out alongside the blue-hairs and housewives they usually get during the week. Hell, I might go just to say hey to Bret and see if the DMA's staff avoids eye contact. That would be fun.