Lee Escobedo is a strong voice in Dallas' music and art scenes. Most recently he's been working as editor-in-chief of Artist Uprising, a new annual publication that profiles Dallas' creative talent.
This weekend Artist Uprising is sponsoring a lineup of Dallas musicians at the Dallas Art Fair, which will put them in front of an international audience. We met up with Escobedo at Nova in Oak Cliff to talk about what Artist Uprising is exactly, and what's in store at the show on Friday.
Dallas Observer: How is Artist Uprising different from other publications?
Escobedo: Well, I think [founder Merrick Porcheddu] is smart. One, she is not monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly … where I think a lot of publications fail because they promise their readers a timeline when it’s almost impossible to keep that timeline. This is annual; she’s got 12 months to finish a project. ... People want a collector's edition of something. That’s where she is ahead of the curve. ... It’s the only publication that’s an annual that celebrates Dallas creatives in that format.
What are your goals with Artist Uprising?
To create a network of artists and patrons that are more aware of what the other one is doing; a way to have more support for one another, by knowing what shows are happening, knowing the story behind the artist, and ways to showcase peoples' craft. The long-term goal is to expand to other cities.
What should we expect from the show on Friday?
A year ago I saw that the Outfit, TX was playing Art Basel Miami, and -topic was in Sundance in Utah. Why doesn’t a Dallas entity showcase Dallas musicians?
The Dallas Art Fair is the only event that brings international galleries and national galleries with the best reputations together. This year the best in the world, the Gagosian Gallery, is showing at the art fair, and that’s incredible. So I wanted to bring the prestige of the fair and combine that with a music showcase that is all Dallas talent.
I didn’t want to bring an Austin headliner, or New York headliner; I want a Dallas person to be the headliner. I want all the accompanying acts to be Dallas local as well. So when people are here they don’t have to travel to Deep Ellum or Lower Greenville to hear Dallas music. It’s right there in front of them. Here’s what we have to offer. ...
The people I pick view music as a business, and not in the 9-to-5, suit-and-tie [way], but they see it as their profession and take it very seriously. They’re not on Facebook whining about not getting an opportunity, or sending 2 a.m. emails with their mixtapes or new single. From Sam Lao to Cygnus, they just do their job.
They’ve all toured extensively as well. ... Both regionally and nationally. I thought about a lot of things: Who works well on an outside stage? Who works well daytime? Who’d work well at an art fair? I came down to these five bands, plus DJ Picnictyme.
Then I thought, who represents the tapestry of Dallas as well the richness of each of their genres? Bobby [Sessions] is the best lyricist, Sam Lao is the best all around artist, Sealion is the best punk band, Party Static has the best female front of any band, and Cygnus probably the best pure musician.
This needs to be something special, because for the first time Dallas bands will have the opportunity to play in front of a complete international audience who are there to see what Dallas is all about.
How do you think the Dallas arts community can help further its sister scene in music?
There needs to absolutely be more music shows in art galleries. I don’t understand why that doesn’t happen. If you had -topic, Sealion and Bare Mountain at Conduit Gallery, now all those musicians and people who go to that show know about Conduit Gallery. They realize that gallery is cool, not stuffy, high end; it’s not all old rich white people. Anyone can be there. It opens a door for possible return.
Museums [should also fill] that gap that fire marshals created by shutting down galleries and shows. The Nasher is doing it with their Artist Circle events [which Escobedo has co-directed], but it can’t end there.
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The Dallas Museum of Art had a great opportunity for Latin-themed bands to play the opening of the Mexico art exhibit; that would have been amazing. Now people that were there see Dallas’ musical tapestry in the Spanish language. More collaboration is needed, essentially.
How much is this event Friday?
It’s free. That’s crazy too. ... This is all the best bands in Dallas in one place for free, and for three hours. It’s on the lawn of Henry C. Bellow Jr. Park, which is the outside terrace area of F.I.G. where we are located. You can just walk across Ross, bring a lawn chair, set up and watch it. No charge for anything.
Any other insider tips?
It’s also professional’s day on Friday. When you go online to the Dallas Art Fair you can type in the professional code "professional17" so you can go to the fair for free too.
The Dallas Music Experience, 4 p.m. Friday, April 7, F.I.G. Gallery, 1807 Ross. Ave., free. The ninth annual Dallas Art Fair runs Friday, April 7, through Sunday, April 9. For more information, visit dallasartfair.com. To keep up with Artist Uprising and to order their first issue, which will also be for sale at F.I.G., visit artistuprising.com.