Seven Art Exhibitions to Catch this Spring

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Spring has arrived. With it, galleries across the city fling open their doors to present new work to curious souls fresh out of hibernation. In keeping with the season, here our freshly picked recommendations for your art-going pleasure.

Ongoing: Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World at the Dallas Museum of Art This is a real treat. Rarely seen at all, a first for the U.S., the DMA is the first venue outside of Europe to host this collection of Islamic art. Organized by Focus-Abengoa Foundation from Seville, Spain, the collection is comprised of 150 precious artifacts and objects. It's a chance to become intimate with art from a religion that America knows little about and for which, we carry repercussive political fear. The show's themes are rooted in enlightenment, which serves as the perfect conduit to explore this gorgeous collection. Mounted in the Chilton II Gallery through June 29.

April 5: The Paintings of *George W. Bush Opening the same day as Dubya's first public art exhibition at his presidential library and museum CentralTrak will enter in dialogue with the 42nd show of recreated paintings of the former president's work. Two of today's thoughtful and intelligent artists working in Dallas, Morehshin Allahyari and Julie McKendrick teamed up with CentralTrak's sketch club, "Children of Artemis - Sketch Cult" to employ local artists to present takes on Bush's self-portraits and doggy paintings. This exhibit offers humor in droves, without being overly didactic. Maybe we laugh here so we don't cry. Opens at CentralTrak April 5, 7-10 p.m.

April 11: Josh Smith/Jose Lerma, part of DB14: Dallas Biennial

A landmark for Oliver Francis Gallery, and Dallas, a collection of work by two important modern painters visits for the Dallas Biennial. It's one of those, "if ya ain't know, now ya know" type a things. While others are taking the city's pulse with two fingers, the boys of Dallas Biennial (Michael Mazurek and Jesse Morgan Barnett) have their foot on the neck of limitation, showing the urgency for Dallas to see another one of our own in the Whitney Biennial. DB has taken a huge step forward this year, bringing in a internationally recognized artist leaves no doubt that this is becoming an established showcase of far-reaching talent. The opening reception takes place 8-10 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at Oliver Francis Gallery, 209 S. Peak St.

April 11: Francisco Moreno Open Studio (WCD Preview and Painting Debt Premier) Two years in the making, Moreno's ambitious WCD project is getting closer to its premier. Moreno is a recent recipient of the DMA's Kimbrough Award, highlighting the recent interest in the project both locally and nationally. Moreno recently visited NYC, to view the painting which inspired the WCD project, "Washington Crossing the Delaware," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is recreating the image on the car and on a large-scale backdrop painting, where he will then film himself doing donuts in front of the painting as a performance piece. Moreno played this project close to the heart, employing his two brothers to assist him on rebuilding the car's engine. Also on view are his "Debt Paintings," a project of small scale paintings for sale at reasonable prices, to fund paying back his loans. To quote Moreno, "Painting got me into debt. Technically it should also get me out." Swing by his studios, 211 S Peak St. from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.

April 11: Julian Schnabel's An Artist Has A Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails) 15 Paintings Over The Last Decade There haven't been many opportunities in the U.S. to see Schanbel's work in person, as he has exhibited only in Europe for the last decade. Whatever your opinions on the provocative artist, his work is coming to Texas, the state where he grew up. A Brownsville native, he cut his teeth as a surfer and first started practicing the art that led to his current heavyweight status in the painting world. His retrospective last year at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center served a primer for this solo exhibition, his first at a U.S. museum since the 80's. Whether you care for Schnabel and his work or not, this is one of the biggest shows of the year and a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the late 20th century masters. At Dallas Contemporary April 11- August 10.

April 19: Thor Johnson's Trigger Warning

Robberies, stabbings, murder. Welcome to Thor Johnson's world. One of the most visually talented artists in Dallas has a solo show at Ware:Wolf:Haus. Thor said he chose the day of the show because of the historical context of April 19. A few of the events that have occurred on April 19: Waco/Branch Davidian raid by FBI, Oklahoma City Bombing, Start of Revolutionary War and start of Civil War. Johnson wants to tap into these pathos to put on a show that will haunt those that attend, not on cheap thrills, but the existential dread that he hopes to conjure with his work. Mounts at Ware:Wolf:Haus, 425 Bedford St, April 19, 8-11 p.m.

May 10: Arthur Peña/TBD at Deep Ellum Windows

Jeff Gibbons and Justin Ginsberg's Deep Ellum Windows experiment continues with another host of intriguing happenings. Ware:Wolf:Haus director and painter, Art Peña headlines. According to Peña , the show, "Nothing Lasts" will take over an abandoned dance club, resurrecting the ghosts of a forgotten time. The Windows project has a history of using the environment of the spaces to tap into our subconscious, forcing our abandonment of the safety of white walls and wine-blurred eyes to discover something worth searching for. This is one of the most ambitious projects Dallas has seen to date, freeing artists from constriction and allowing for organic curatorial intrigue.

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