The MasterMinds Finalists: Part One

Winnowing down Dallas' growing, dynamic community of artists to three MasterMinds involved some tough choices. The process was like lining up at a vast buffet prepared by an outstanding chef: too many wonderful selections and too little room on our plates. On the way to naming the winners, our judges narrowed down the original list of 45 entrants to 10 tasty finalists.

Each day until the three MasterMinds winners are announced via our next issue Thursday, we're featuring those finalists (in no particular order) right here on the Mixmaster. Today, we're kicking off with four after the jump.

Frank Campagna Dynamic muralist, gallery owner, studio artist A MasterMinds finalist for the second year in a row, Campagna is definitively Dallas, but not in way the city is typically understood. For many, Deep Ellum conjures images of the now-demolished Good Latimer tunnel, a gateway into the mysterious dimension of Dallas that is not all Hermes-and-Mercedes, but instead purple-haze-and-serious-guitar. Campagna, 55, acted as art director for that project -- the Tunnelvisions Muralalist project -- in 2002, and while those tunnels no longer stand, they remain imprinted in the minds of those who slipped away from home for that first taste of late-night freedom and grinding rock and roll. From 1997-2008, Campagna worked with full artistic freedom as the muralist for the Gypsy Tea Room, gracing its red brick walls with hundreds of ever-evolving 12-by-8-foot paintings, many of which are memorialized in photos on franksart.net. "Prolific" does not do Campagna justice; he paints as if his life depends on it, and it may well. But, today, much of his focus is turned toward Kettle Art gallery, which he co-founded in 2005, located on Elm Street in Deep Ellum. The Kettle is a nonprofit gallery space featuring primarily local and emerging artists, many of whom who have never shown work in a formal setting. The Kettle's walls are where you will find Dallas' newest and greatest up-and-coming talent, and Campagna is the man who makes it possible.

Katie Toohil Dancer, performance artist and freelance go-getter Katie Toohil wasn't born or raised in Dallas, but she got here as quickly as she could, happily establishing an Oak-Cliff-kinda-life and taking in all that the burgeoning neighborhood has to offer. The self-described "freelance go-getter" loves feeling like she's on the ground floor of an arts revolution here in Dallas, and with a lifelong background in dance and performance art, the charmingly alternative Toohil -- with her long sandy dreadlocks and stretched earlobes -- has all of the ingredients for serious artistic alchemy. Blogging for our "Director's Notes" series on the Mixmaster, Toohil graciously let us in on all of the intimate frustrations and victories of putting on an original dance program, as she took the helm this fall as both creative director and logistical manager for her first production, Grieve. Inspired by the tragic death of her father, Grieve incorporated choreographed steps and ecstatic movements set to an indie rock playlist that, in theme, loosely followed the Kubler-Ross model of bereavement. Toohil credits Grieve for infusing a needed dose of positive energy into her life during one of her most difficult periods, and she says that it was humbling to see how such a universal experience could bring together people of all levels and styles to produce something beautiful and empowering. Toohil may still be a new kid in town, but we are glad she chose our city to start what we think will be a dynamic career.

ArtLoveMagic Arts community organizer The brainchild of Michael Lagocki, Justin Nygren, and David Rodriguez, ArtLoveMagic was founded in 2007 with a mind toward creative development. Focusing on emerging artists, ArtLoveMagic's mission is to foster an artistic community and increase opportunities for young and unknown artists to show their works and perform. With innovators from virtually every field -- from ceramics to poetry, filmmaking and DJing -- ArtLoveMagic's "catalog" of performers is stacked deep, and ArtLoveMagic events are interactive whirlwinds of creativity, an amalgamation of creative people making art happen in the moment. In addition to live art events, ArtLoveMagic moves its magicians up and out of the studio and into the greater community, teaching workshops at schools, libraries and hospitals such as Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and Children's Medical Center.

Check back on the Mixmaster tomorrow for the next set of featured MasterMinds finalists.

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