The idea of inviting strangers into their home is not new to Lily Taylor and Sean Miller. When the artistic couple lived in Denton, they participated in the (International) Home Theater Festival, a movement to take performance out of the theaters and use house venues. Recently, they became Dallas residents and the musician/video artist couple decided to open up their live/work studio to the public as Midway Gallery, a space dedicated to video art.
For years, artists have been trickling into Expo Park, filling it with oddities like Confetti Eddie's magic and burlesque show, Ochre House Theater's intimate theatrical productions, Central Trak's live/work gallery space, Beefhaus' progressive art space, and 500x Gallery - Texas' oldest artist-run space. More recently, Cohn Drennan Contemporary moved its gallery space to the shady block on Commerce St. It's this milieu that attracts artists like Taylor and Miller to live here in the first place and its proximity to Fair Park that inspired the gallery's name.
"We named it Midway referring to the populist form of exhibition and amusement first introduced in The World's Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1983," Taylor explains. "And we're excited that the timing works out to present Dallas-based artist Thor Johnson's historical collection of State Fair photos as our first exhibition."
When Taylor and Miller saw the spacious windows on their new home they knew they had to turn them into projection screens. They hope to keep the windows lit up most nights for anyone passing by the studio on Parry Avenue to enjoy. Plus, with Miller's own video art, they have an endless supply of work to display.
"We're both pretty busy people," says Taylor, who recently released a new album The Ride, on local label Pour le Corps. "But we're excited to get this project going."
A staple in the local arts scene, Johnson documented the State Fair of Texas from 2004-2008 and in keeping with Midway Gallery's focus, the photos will be displayed as window projections. His photos serve as a portrait of the Fair, waffling between whimsical portraits of the kaleidoscope of fair-goers and more poignant snapshots of the humanity on display.
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Additionally, from 8-10 p.m. Friday, September 19, some of Johnson's animations will be on display inside the gallery. Much of Johnson's work in graphic design, animation and sculpture is eye-catchingly grotesque, taking cues from video game violence to make larger statements about international, sociopolitical issues of violence.
"We're really excited to have Thor as our first artist in the space," says Taylor. "A lot of his work shows that there are many different ways to see beauty, tradition, and patriotism."
The opening for the exhibition takes place the week before the Fair to avoid parking entanglements, but the projections will stay up on the windows during much of October. All Taylor says she has left to worry about is where she will put her cats.
Midway Gallery is located at 3809 Parry Ave #107. See Thor Johnson: Photos from the State Fair 2004-2008 in its opening from 8-10 p.m.