When Claude Albritton led a tour of his new space in the Cedars on October 2, 2014, he called the monstrous space, "Claudey world." Certainly, the man at the helm of the bright blue building on McKinney Avenue has bought himself a veritable playground for the arts.
Over on Art & Seek, Jerome Weeks laid out the history of the three-building warehouse space Albritton purchased with his family, reporting that this Ervay-facing building started as Franklin Automobile showroom and repair shop in 1914. And it's a kickass space that the likes of Kevin Ruben Jacobs and the Deep Ellum Windows crew might drool over. Huge ramps lead from concrete garage space into a quiet gallery space (which was covered in bird feathers and shit upon my first visit), that Albritton hopes to turn into office space (third Common Desk location?). Below that there is a cavernous space that he plans to turn into the gallery space for the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, as well as gallery space for Ro2 Art, which plans to move from its downtown space in the Kirby Building to the Cedars upon the building's completion.
At this point the rest of the space is in flux. Albritton hopes to lure Kitchen Dog Theater to a separate, detached building on the property, but that's still in negotiation. He also hopes to attract a big name gallery that he's not yet ready to announce, and a restaurant with patio dining. He even mentioned a coffee shop. It's the most wonderful project we've seen on paper in Dallas in decades. And, with construction not yet underway, it might just be art venue window shopping, albeit rather public window shopping. He's throwing a shindig at the property this Friday night called "Cedars Fever."
Now, what he's describing doesn't sound much like the MAC we've all come to know -- the sleepy gallery and theater space in Uptown. This sounds like progressive, creative spaces we've in other cities, like Canopy in Austin, or Crane Arts in Philadelphia. Add in the Bowdon Family Foundation space down the street, plus a few galleries and studios in the surrounding blocks, and the Cedars has the Dallas art world (apart from Dragon and Flora Streets) on lock. Perhaps this will be the unofficial Dallas arts district, a beautiful complement to the Dallas Arts District? (Note the capitalization that signifies something's official.)
Even though board member Sally Francis tells The Dallas Morning News the space plans to keep its name, I can't see why. If everything happens the way that Albritton envisions it, this will be even bigger than the MAC ever was. At this point, opening dates like December 2015 or January 2016 are being dreamed up. We can't wait to see "Claudey World" enter reality.
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