In the Dallas art scene, the name Frank Campagna is nearly synonymous with Deep Ellum. He's known as much for playing cheerleader to local talent as he is for his own work: painting the ads for the late Gypsy Tea Room, projects like the now-defunct 200-artist Good Latimer tunnel project and even its replacement, The Deep Ellum Dart station, all sport his work. His daughter, Amber Campagna, grew up with quite a vantage point. Now she's ready to step out of her father's shadow and begin her own legacy in the Dallas art scene by curating her first show, "The Ripple Effect" at Kettle this Saturday.
The Campagna's paths diverge in intention; while Frank's art has largely centered on Deep Ellum life and the culture of the community, Amber prefers to focus on another untamed area: the deep sea. It is that love of the ocean and its inhabitants that drives her inaugural, multi-artist show "The Ripple Effect."
"He has always told me he is proud of me because I didn't try to be him," said Amber when reflecting on her father and her's distinctly different styles of work. She developed her intense passion for the ocean, sharks specifically, at the age of five after seeing Jaws. She was terrified and quickly set out to research the menacing creatures and obliterate them, if deemed necessary. The more she learned, her opinion shifted. Since then, sharks have become a sort of totem animal for Amber. Even her first publicly painted mural at the late Sol's Taco Lounge on Commerce Street reflected her passion. Her humorous and lovely neighborhood contribution -- a shark and a mermaid watching television -- greeted all who passed by.
Since landlocked Dallas isn't privy to underwater exploration, local artists might need to get extra creative for "The Ripple Effect." This, says Amber, is by design. By challenging local artists to work outside their comfort zones, she hopes to challenge and stretch their inventiveness. "I want to see what local artists can do," she said. "I thought 'Let's see what Corey Godfrey can do with her yarn.' "
Amber has been tight-lipped about her involvement in the art itself. "I know people are expecting me to do something," she said. "But I want to leave that as a surprise."
Even at Kettle, the little gallery her dad helped build, Amber stands or falls on her own this Saturday -- an exciting opportunity that the younger Campagna has spent a lifetime preparing for. "I've always been known as 'Frank's daughter'," she said. "But now I am breaking into my own thing. Now, he is starting to be called 'Amber's dad.'