Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
If you drove past The Basement Gallery during the day, you might not know it was there. But if you're a young artist in Dallas looking for a place to have your work shown, there are few places as friendly as Daniel Yanez's little corner of paradise.
For the past two years The Basement has acted as a laboratory of sorts, allowing artists to experiment and push the boundaries of their craft in an environment that adapts to their vision. But it took quite a bit of elbow grease and luck for the gallery to become what it is today.
After scouring Craigslist for months on end, Yanez finally found a space to call his own. "It was kind of jacked up, but I was like 'let's go check it out, see what it's about,'" he says. "I called up the building owner who is Chris Anderson a really great guy, I met with him and he showed me the basement."
The space had been unused for years. Spider webs, forgotten boxes of refuse, garish wallpaper and dirty floors would probably best describe the contents of the gallery as it stood when Yanez first saw it.
"(Anderson) had shown it to a few other people, but they didn't want the space." Yanez says about his first impressions of his gallery. "When I came down here I was like 'Wow!' I saw the potential and was like man, this could be a really great spot ... and the price was right."
About a month and a half later, The Basement had its first show, and it's only gotten better since then.
"It's still continuing to blossom, the possibilities are endless," Yanez says. Let's hope for our sake he is right, because The Basement is truly one of the coolest spots in Dallas' underground art scene.
What was your original vision for the Basement Gallery? To be honest, my first vision of opening this place was really just to create a world of my own. During the beginning stages of being an artist I received rejection and a lot of laughing [at me]. So my dream for a long time was to open a space that I could call my own, [where] I could actually be accepted no matter what. By the time I got to opening up The Basement, my intention was to create a space where all artists can be accepted and all artists can have that first step - that little push- to continue the art game.
What was it like to transition from being an artist to being a curator? I've always been the type of person, who if somebody has a question, I'll try to find the answer for them. Once I was in the art game and people started to see that I wasn't going away, that I was continuing to push my art and push my style, more and more people began to ask me questions. It was kind of a slow transition, but the longer I was doing it, the more people wanted help from me, the more they saw me successfully selling art and successfully doing things, people wanted to jump on board more and more. I'm very happy to help. It doesn't hold me back at all, if anything it helps me grow - helps me become a better artist.
What makes the basement gallery different from a traditional gallery environment? I guess what makes it different is that everybody feels comfortable here. I accept everybody down here, there's not really anyone I would push away. People feel comfortable because they know for sure that I'll have a show at some point that they'll fit into. I don't know, I feel like people feel more comfortable down here. Maybe it is because it's "low brow." But if an artist wants to put a mural up, put a mural up; if they want to build some kind of installation that takes up the whole gallery, the possibilities are endless. When you walk in here I want people to see the endless boundaries. It's always a new experience. I love to create, and I love to see peoples' ideas come to life.
What do you like about the Dallas art scene? I think that right now is probably the best time, ever, to be an artist in Dallas. People are finally getting it, you know what I'm saying? They understand that art beautifies, and actually helps build neighborhoods. What I see happening here in Dallas is what happened in New York in the '80s and early '90s. I'm seeing that happen right now, and it's so exciting for me to be fortunate and blessed that I'm one of the artists at this time, right when it's full steam ahead and going like 100 miles an hour and I'm on that train because I caught it right at the right time.
What inspires you to create? Really it's my kids. In the beginning, before I had my kids, the idea of me being an artist was never there, but after I wanted to show my kids that they could follow their dreams - they could make anything happen. They can create anything from nothing and that they didn't have to be stuck in a lifestyle that they weren't happy with. I just wanted to continue to push and let it be known, for my kids that they don't have to accept being poor, they don't have to accept living in the hood where we grew up. And I feel like I'm accomplishing that every time I work on an art piece, every time I push a show or an idea, I keep that in mind. Ultimately it's about my kids, man. I know for a fact, I wouldn't be where I'm at today without them, without that push of inspiration. 100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah
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