Acceleration at Dallas Contemporary's Alive for 35 Spans Generations

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Life is relatively spacious out west of downtown these days, since the Dallas Contemporary moved to what is in gallery terms a gargantuan exhibition space from its cozier (though still not bad) location in East Dallas. The exhibition Acceleration was part of the Contemporary's 35th anniversary celebration. Taking a cue from the Dallas Museum of Art's 100-hour-straight celebration on the occasion of the DMA's centennial, the Contemporary was open for 35 straight hours last weekend, plump with traditional artist talks and curators tours and this very good art show, which has closed by the time you read this. Acceleration has work from 35 generation-spanning artists, including the legendary local hero, Vernon Fisher.

Entering the primary exhibition space for Acceleration (some was outside), Trent Straughan's Blur X flickered in the corner of your eye, drawing you to make a sharp left into its own intimate space. It was basically a camera projection onto a close wall, manipulated by software and starring you. Think of the security camera capturing you at your worst when you run to Target for dog toys, then imagine that unfortunate image magically transforming into a flattering psychedelic spotlight as you trot in front of it like a show pony thinking, "I really do have incredible legs." Projection of viewer has been done before, of course, but it never made me photogenic. (How can I write about this piece without sounding like a self-absorbed asshole, and how can I not write about this piece after it made me into a Chanel commercial? And is this work for sale?)

Another stand-out was Morehshin Allahyari's #pig#gun, a 3D print(!) of a dark crystalline pig with a gun emerging from between its shoulders. It would fit in the palm of your hand. Read into it politically if you like (I sure do), but it just adds to my suspicion that Allahyari is truly brilliant.

Also inside were two works by an artist I have not seen before named Bradly Brown. On the back of a self-standing wall was a math compass moving on and into that self-standing wall, repetitively carving a deep scar. Called Escape Plan, it broke what theater geeks call "the fourth wall" by messing with your expectation of what wall-mounted art should be. Brown's other piece, Diamond Crash, placed little plastic airplanes around the room, anchoring helium-filled balloons. The best perspective was to stand close and look down on the plane from the "clouds" and feel like a god. It was awesome, though most of the clusters were so close to other works that few people would approach them so intimately. While I was there, one plane/balloon cluster went rogue and flew around the room.

Outside were Trey Wright's bright, ad-inspired collages (masking the gallery windows) that took me back to my '80s love of Interview Magazine, and SCABhenge, an installation of cinder blocks and blocks of ice that stood about as tall as me (5 feet 8 inches). I viewed SCABhenge at night, when the ice was forming hairline cracks under a parking light's glare. There were seven blocks (and seven members of the collective), and yes, the ice will melt over time and the work will be gone. Which is what you could say about any of us. And ice, well, ain't that the original time-based medium if there ever was one? Since I was at the artist talk with that collective, all of its members were standing inside the installation with a youthful vigor, but working in a most ancient material. It was a heavy moment -- time, age, passage, demise -- the exact opposite of my shiny Blur X experience at the entrance.

The 35 Acceleration artists are Morehshin Allahyari, Jesse Morgan Barnett, Dru Bias, Andrew Blanton, Bradly Brown, Will Card, Cassandra Emswiler, Vernon Fisher, James Gilbert, Sally Glass, Nathan Green, Timothy Harding, Judy Hearst, Nevada Hill, Quin Mathews, Margaret Meehan, Francisco Moreno, Michael A. Morris, Lisa Nersesova, Arthur Pena, Morton Rachofsky, Brittany Ransom, Michelle Rawlings, Trent Straughan, George Tobolowsky, Jason Willaford, Chesley Williams, Trey Wright, and S.C.A.B.: Frank Darko, Alexander DiJulio, Lucy Kirkman, Kelly Kroener, Samantha McCurdy, Joshua von Ammon, and Eli Walker.

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