Arts & Culture News

Eight Ways to Improve The Arts in Dallas

If you're looking for a panel discussion on the current eco-balance of the arts in Dallas, no problem: Art panels are like AA meetings, another one starts somewhere in about 15 minutes.

Unlike AA meetings, nobody chain smokes or reaches a grand realization at an arts panel. Implementable ideas are deemed highly dangerous.

Screw that. Here's eight ideas for improving things. Go ahead, take 'em. It's the holidays.

1. Make Programming the Omni A Paying Gig, Hire a Local Talent It's easy to forget that the Omni Dallas Hotels's programming is handled by a part-time volunteer. While I'm impressed that Pat Anderson's taken it upon himself to keep those screens from fully polluting our skyline and believe he's done a great job, I also think it's time to consider the purpose of those light-up walls, and their potential.

The Omni supports local art, evidenced by the interior collection Jeff West and Jack Matthews helped build. It should extend that mission further and hire a local video artist to create programs for, and control the content of, its massive screens. We're all viewers -- like it or not -- and that giant canvas should be curated. Currently it's both an underused asset and an overused billboard.

Just imagine if programming the OmnI was a full-time job put into talented hands. The walls would tell stories, play off their surrounding architecture and do more than just be a big screen saver. It would anchor our skyline with tech-rich art. (h/t Bart Weiss)


2. Shake Down Dallas' Cultural Affairs Commission to Financially Support Individual Art Projects We're in a boom. Art is being produced and consumed here at an unprecedented rate, and one thing everyone seems to agree on is that many of our artists would like to stick around and follow this stride forward. We should incentivize that. Some of the most effective communal and public art is also the least commercial, meaning it needs a funding source. The CAC should consider proposals from individuals and collectives as well as the nonprofits it already works with.

This idea isn't mine, it's one that artists Sara Mokuria, Danielle Georgiou, Jessica Martinez and Darryl Ratcliff took to the CAC earlier this year. They were denied and told to look into Kickstarter and other crowd-sourcing tools. I think that's a mistake. Sure, it would require restructuring legal contracts -- and possibly also the board and the pace it operates at, but I think those would be positive changes.

You know what really kills a vibrant public art idea? Putting it through the meat grinder of a City Council-appointed arts board, then taffy-tugging it though the red tape of the nonprofit sector. Congratulations. You're living in a beige and concrete city.

3. Punch Museum Tower in the Super Shiny Nuts Museum Tower has become the comical movie villain of commercial real estate -- twirling its mustache while throwing tantrums and assuming false commenter identities to spread propaganda -- all while slowly poisoning a beloved local museum through its reflective radiation. Worst of all, we're allowing them to pout while art withers.

The financial mistakes leading up to this junction were made. Now, it's time to fix what is fixable: the tower's menacing laser beams. I also think the solution is cheaper and easier than everyone's making it out to be. I vote we call up Oak Cliff's best auto shops and have 'em slap a tint on that glass. $64.95. Boom. Done.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jamie Laughlin
Contact: Jamie Laughlin