Arts & Culture News

Dallas' Newest Gallery, The Safe Room, Puts Art in the Arthouse

Imagine you're chillin in the Cliff, strolling down Jefferson street, sucking face with a paleta. You got margaritas to your left, tapas to your right, and European sci-fi trash showing at the Texas Theatre. You're about that life, huh? I mean, what more could you want?

How about a little art? The Oak Cliff Cultural Center always has something interesting and vibrant to add to the rich Latin heritage of the neighborhood. But what if you're looking for something, I don't know, kooky?

Like an art gallery above a movie theatre?

Gallery owner Lauren Gray was looking to make her newest art venture, the Safe Room, different. Off-beat. Chimeral.

"The decision to ask the guys about using the space at Texas Theatre came about one day when I was driving on Jefferson Ave. and wondered how much it would be to rent a little store front window," she said. "Then it just hit me, the Texas Theatre has art up, and has space, and I might be able to convince them to let me curate some shows."

And so it begins.

Gray, who lives in Oak Cliff and co-founded the former And/Or Gallery with Paul Slocum in 2006 (which closed in '09 after Slocum moved to NYC), decided to name the space after the white elephant in the room, "a giant old safe in the space that can't be moved."

Gray is looking to resurrect the "fun" spirit of And/Or in Oak Cliff by showing art that embodies the energy and diversity of the neighborhood.

The first exhibit, "Canticles of Praise," by Oak Cliff resident and artist, Cassandra Emswiler, planned for this weekend but postponed to mid-April due to a personal matter, will showcase "custom made tiles with an Oak Cliff theme, in addition to a sound element." The work was made specifically for The Safe Room's first show. Gray is excited for the dynamic the gallery will create with the theatre. She hopes the gallery will work with the theater to give the neighborhood exposure as a cultural hub for Dallas creatives.

"I like that it will be open while the Theatre is open, so the gallery hours are the Theatre hours," she said. "It's just great exposure that I wouldn't get if I'd opened a space somewhere else."

Gray said the next show will feature Raychael Stine and her husband Titus O'Brien, opening May 25. In the meantime, feel free to visit cocktail cowboy and all-around demigod, George Quartz behind the bar, and the rest of the good folks at Texas Theatre before April's opening.

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Lee Escobedo