Dallas, this Saturday night we experience an embarrassment of riches as nearly every gallery in town opens a new, post-holiday show. From Expo Park to Uptown and throughout the Design District, there are exhibitions that deserve your attention, and you should visit them during their runs. Some, like the MAC, are more time-sensitive and should be viewed during the opening so you can get those little extras (there's a live orchestral accompaniment to short films, and artist talks). Others are just intriguing enough to make you sprint over, like the glacier-inspired LED sculptures at Cris Worley's gallery. And still others, like Travis LaMothe's show at the Reading Room, come with the promise of a dick joke, so you're not passing that up either.
You get what I'm saying here: You're screwed. You've got to navigate the whole city in about three hours. Here's the rundown on what's happening and where, along with the reception times.
You could blow your entire time budget at the MAC if you're not careful. The nonprofit art space opens three new shows on Saturday, with Suzanne Anker's While Darkness Sleeps taking over the Large Gallery. The show's description is pretty great: "From microscopes to video animations to time-lapse photography to rapid prototype sculpture, While Darkness Sleeps, is an ode to nature's delicacy and decay." Uh, that sounds amazing. In this show Anker magnifies the intrinsic beauty of science, right down to the most splendid diorama of all: the petri dish. Go early and hear Anker discuss her work during a 4:30 p.m. art talk.
Aqua-Culture, a group show curated by Henry G. Sanchez, fills the Square Gallery with work by Brenda Perry, Zach Moser, Eric Leshinsky, Irene J. Klaver and Sanchez. All participating are engaged in water-use, water-centric projects that address global issues with how we're abusing the stuff. The Moser/Leshinsky team is actually collecting drinking water donations, which they'll pour into Galveston Bay at the exhibition's close.
Finally, you'll want to see Paul Bryon's first solo Dallas show, Believe It Anyway!, a collection of silent short films based on Old Testament stories -- you know, the wrathful angry God stuff that's so much fun. See them with live orchestral accompaniment at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. The reception runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at 3120 McKinney Ave., but check out the-mac.org for satellite programming details.
The Reading Room The Reading Room's creator, curator and general wise owl Karen Weiner told me there's a dick joke buried in Travis LaMothe's Crass: reflections on the necessities of commodification, so I'm actually waiting outside the door of her Expo Park art space right now, tapping my toe until the room opens for its 6 to 9 p.m. reception. The SMU grad's work was shown recently at the Texas Biennial, and he's scheduled for an exhibition at RE gallery this April. See him get frisky with commodification, text and schlong zingers on Saturday at 3715 Perry Ave. Visit thereadingroom-dallas.blogspot.com.
Red Arrow Contemporary I don't have any idea what's going on at Negative Capability, the group show curated by renegade art collective Apophenia Underground happening from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Seriously. I've read the curator statement three times and it's equal parts incredibly vague and very specific. But that's kind of how Apophenia rolls: They enjoy being sneaky pranksters, and they'd never reveal too much, too soon. What we do know is this: Artists Jared Holt, Pierre Krause and H. Schenck will repurpose everyday objects to better explore, meditate on and pick apart this thing we consider reality. Plus, it looks cool, so go to 1130 Dragon St., Suite 110 and check it out. Visit redarrowcontemporary.com.
Galleri Urbane, Dallas If you resolved to try more new things in 2014, Galleri Urbane can get you off on the right foot with Art To Go!, which celebrates new work, new artists and a new year. You'll get recent series evolutions from the existing Urbane talent stable, like Irby Pace and his beautiful smoke monster explosions, Kate Carr's impeccably jointed organic materials, and others. You'll also see something I'm excited about, acrylic pieces by Urbane's new artist, Leah Rosenberg from San Francisco. She layers slabs of color into wax-like heaps that resemble all kinds of stuff. Some of her past work has been more focused in realism, showing layered desserts like cakes and terrines. In this show she lets loose, allowing the pigment slices to stack and melt, like the pages of a wax catalog left in a hot car. It runs from 5 to 9 p.m., so hit this 2277 Monitor St. location early. Visit galleriurbane.com.
Cris Worley Fine Arts The night's sexiest show, hands down, is happening at Cris Worley, where new-media artist Adela Andea injects ancient land formations with fresh technology. In Zero Degrees Celsius Andea takes inspiration from transitioning glacier formations, then creates phenomenal arctic-esque sculptures through LEDs, plastics, bulb lights, magnifying lenses and neon. They're wrapped up womb-like and glow brighter than aurora borealis. (No neon polar bears were harmed in the making of this art.) The reception at 1415 Slocum St., #104 runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit crisworley.com.
Photographs Do Not Bend Get swept up in a more stylized time when PDNB opens New York City, a group show of iconic black and whites (and a bit of color) mostly from the '50s, '60s and '70s, shot by the talented hands of John Albok, Morris Engel, Harold Feinstein, Ruth Orkin and Neal Slavin. From roller coasters on Coney Island to noir-lit city streets, this all-photography exhibition is loaded with swagger. The reception runs from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1202 Dragon St., Suite 103, so hit it early. Visit pdnbgallery.com.
Holly Johnson Gallery Abandon your id and explore perilous bliss in Wanderings, Anna Bogatin's new series of paintings and works on paper. As meditative as they are consuming, these meticulously lined pages pull you in to a sensitive place, where tiny variations of hue and tone can be aptly explored, appreciated and wrestled with. While there, get a dose of logical juxtaposition in Jon Adelman's carry-over show, One of Two. Where Bogatin's marks open up the paper's space, Adelman's structured method brings it back to center, readying it for mental processing. It runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1411 Dragon St. Visit hollyjohnsongallery.com.
Conduit Past work by Conduit artist Justin Quinn has resembled everything from explorations in typeset to magical treasure maps and highly stylized cave drawings -- that's a rabidly diverse palette considering Quinn was using just one letter, "E," as his protagonist. For his new exhibition, Some Things Are Not Possible, he goes off the rails incorporating electrifying layers of color with text in hard-edged collages. He plays with watermarked memory through lithography. He abandons known mapped coordinates with mixed media. Hell, he even lets the rest of the alphabet back in. You'll also see Houseplants by Michael Mazurek, a show explained solely by a photo of a very common-looking potted plant. In the Project Room visit Bret Stewart's frankensteined sculpture works, The Toy Factory. Conduit's reception runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1626 C Hi Line Drive. Visit conduitgallery.com.
Gallery 500X You'll get four shows in one stop at our favorite artist-run co-op space at 500 Exposition Blvd., and each carries its own colorful thumbprint. Downstairs you'll visit photographer Diane Durant's newest show, She Wore Red, and while little information's been revealed about this particular exhibition, we fell in love with Durant's July offering at CentralTrak, Between Here and Cool. There, the artist and writer hit the gas, chugging through a rural road trip to and from Cool, Texas, documenting all the while. It was splendid. And the opening art for She Wore Red, Union Pacific 7355, Cool TX., seems cut from a similar threadworn cloth.
Saturate your eyes with Southern charm, then get weird with UNT adjunct Bernardo Cantu's Menudotron Surf Report from Lamborghini Beach dTX. These sculptural paintings blend political tensions from the Mexican/American border, pop culture imagery and a pivoted view of this space we all occupy, as told through geographically organized, painted textiles.
Upstairs is a group show by TWU grad students, and the project space offers Two Pad Stack, the tag-team work of Timothy Harding and Devon Nowlin. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m., so hit it last. Visit 500X.org.