The first time I met Kenny Goss, he wanted to show me his art collection. We were meeting for an article about the annual fundraiser, MTV:ReDefine, but first, would I like to see his Damien Hirst?
While famously associated with the pop singer George Michael, the Goss-Michael Foundation is more or less the brain child of Goss and for years Michael's whispers are all but absent. But as it turns out, the art space deserves its own kind of celebrity. Behind the doors to the square, white building on Turtle Creek, you'll not only find imported British art, but local programming that charts new waters.
"We've always been committed to bringing in young British artists, but we wanted to come up with a way to get local artists involved," says Goss. "People know us for our British art, but we're also doing a lot more than that."
Earlier this year, GMF launched its (FEATURE) program, which puts to sea the work of a local up-and-coming artist. With Nathan Green as the first example of how (FEATURE) will work, it's difficult to tell if GMF buoyed him to the surface or if the timing was fortuitous and Green was just moments from emerging as the city's next big thing. But his experience proves promising, as not only did he earn local accolades and international attention, he will now exhibit with London's HUS Gallery.
While Goss helms GMF -- with his sister-in-law Joyce Goss as executive director -- he's also built a superior crew for the space. Behind the scenes, you can see the fingerprints of assistant curator Kevin Ruben Jacobs and associate director Ariel Saldivar, who are two of the city's more progressive art minds. While some may speculate that the selection of Michelle Rawlings as second (FEATURE) artist was a direct result of Jacobs' advocacy for her career, Goss' interest in her work was tantamount.
"I haven't been this excited about a female artist since Tracy Emin," says Goss. "In her work, you can actually see how Michelle Rawlings felt at the time she was painting."
The exhibition of Rawlings work opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 4, alongside British artist Adam Ball's solo show The Space Between.
But the innovations at GMF don't end with this mingling of local and international art; the space also ventures into educational, charitable and community engagement. The annual MTV:ReDefine has become one of the art world's most buzzed-about fundraisers, thanks to the efforts of GMF, which established the auction in 2011 and continues to host it in Dallas. There are also educational initiatives throughout the year that invite local school groups into the space. For a few years, GMF has made efforts to invite progressive artistic ventures into the space, like semigloss. magazine and (wo)manorial, but recently, GMF announced new programming elements that invite the general public to engage with the art in a more meaningful way.
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In September, GMF will begin hosting semi-regular lunches with the feature artist and the current British artist in residence. The first one happens at 11:30 a.m. September 5, with a menu from Green House Market and guests Rawlings and Adam Ball.
"The hope is to get more people into the space during the week," Goss says. "I think people don't realize we're open every day."
Other things on the itinerary for this trailblazing art foundation are an exclusive preview of the new season of ART:21, the PBS series that surveys and documents contemporary art. The free screening takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 18 at the Texas Theatre and will be followed by a Q&A with Susan Sollins, executive director and curator of ART:21. Often, this is the kind of event that skips Dallas for Los Angeles and New York City.
This new wave of programming takes GMF in a new, promising direction, and Goss isn't just interested in showing his art to journalists and collectors. He's inviting all of Dallas on board for what looks like the kind of artistic adventure this city needs.