Art Conspiracy is by far the biggest annual art party in Dallas every year. Bigger may not always be better, but in this case it's an indication of an event's ever-increasing popularity; a sign of something grown from the ground up in Dallas; and proof that it's just a fun night. If you already know it's the place to be, then we'll see you at 7 p.m. Saturday. If you're on the fence about whether or not to attend this year's edition of the auction/party/concert, consider these 11 reasons.
The Event's History
The very first Art Con event was held at the Texas Theatre in 2005, before it was cleaned up and re-opened as a movie theater. The event was originally conceived as a way for artists to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief. It evolved into a way for artists to come together and pay it forward to an arts organization in the community. And it grows organically every year, usually taking place in a new location.
Last year, Art Con raised $25,000 to support Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, an organization dedicated to the preservation of and instruction in traditional Mexican dance. This year, the money raised will go to support Make Art With Purpose (MAP), which is committed to artist-led projects that promote social change. Previous projects include Spanish-language guides to the Dallas Museum of Art, a farming project in Oak Cliff, a take-out food kitchen that only served food from countries the United States was in conflict with at the time, and so many others.
The Sheer Amount of Art
More than 150 artists participate in Art Con, ranging from emerging to more established names. Each artist is given an 18x18 board he or she can paint, sculpt, collage or build upon. With so many different perspectives represented by the event, the room becomes an overwhelming display of creativity. Amongst it all, it's impossible not to find pieces you'll love.
The centerpiece of the event is the three energetic auctions. The bids all start at $20, which sounds affordable, but dedicated attendees know to get the piece you really want, you'll have to stake it out and bid aggressively. If you go back year after year, you'll start to recognize the faces of the auctioneers, who return annually and are often staples of Dallas culture (for example: Rawlins Gilliland; actor Rob McCollum; and Art Con founder, Sarah Jane Semrad).
It's a sign of a good event when everyone involved — from the organizers to the artists to the attendees — return every year. Come Saturday night, it will be the place you'll run into the entire swath of the culterati, from dedicated arts patrons to newcomers to philanthropists to artists to musicians. It's one of the friendliest nights of the year.
When scouting for a new location, the organizers seek a place that's big enough to fit the crowds, but also off the beaten path. Most years, they venture into a new, up-and-coming neighborhood. They were in the Design District in its early days, and West Dallas before Trinity Groves became the restaurant empire that it is today, and this year the event will be in The Cedars at 1450 Browder St. There will be some street parking, but otherwise it's a short walk from the DART station and there will be parking available at Gilley's. Just look for the big red warehouse that says Nichols along the roof.
Did we mention there will be bands?! When you're not bidding, you will be boogieing. This year, sonic entertainment will be provided by The Cush and Cliffs of Insanity, as well as two DJs, DJ Christy Ray and Blue, The Misfit.
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The Dress Code
There isn't one. But Saturday night will be rainy and chilly, so bundle up. Last year there was Bailey's and hot chocolate at the bar.
Tickets are $10. That's cheaper than a craft cocktail at a fancy bar.
The VIP Event
If you don't feel like waiting until Saturday to see the art or hang out with the cool cats, there is a VIP party Thursday night. There will be music from local band Bethan, drinks and an Art Con goodie bag. Tickets are $150.
You'll Be Cooler When You Leave
Your FOMO will be waylaid, your art collection might be bigger, you might have a little more faith in the arts, or you might just be a little starry-eyed from the cash bar. Either way, it's rare in Dallas that you'll attend an event as diverse, as fun and as do-goody as Art Con.
For more information and tickets (which are likely to sell out), visit artconspiracy.org.