What Should You See at the Dallas Art Fair? | Dallas Observer

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A Week of Art Is on the Horizon At the 15th Edition of the Dallas Art Fair

The Eyeball is offering a lot to look at as one of the hosting sites of this year's Art Fair.
The Eyeball is offering a lot to look at as one of the hosting sites of this year's Art Fair. Dan Padgett
The Dallas Art Fair and its surrounding events are always a welcome harbinger of the season. With visiting gallerists, private tours and swellegant soirées, it’s a kind of spring break for moneyed art aficionados. But the beauty of the experience is that the fair can be a choose-your-own-adventure experience. There’s something for everyone, from serious collectors to exhausted parents just looking for artful kiddie entertainment.

Yes, you can splash out for Thursday’s fancy Foundation Preview Benefit. You can also just opt for a $25 general admission ticket and view work from the best local spaces (12.26, Conduit Gallery, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Erin Cluley Gallery, Galleri Urbane, Keijsers Koning, Meliksetian Briggs, Peter Augustus, Valley House and Various Small Fires), along with galleries from Berlin, New York, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami and São Paulo (to name but a few). There are also an abundance of free events surrounding the fair and public works of art mounted for its duration, so there’s no reason not to get your art on this weekend — whatever your taste or budget.

Art Fair director Kelly Cornell says she’s already seen a plethora of female-focused art, portraits, self-portraits and abstraction this year, as well as booths devoted to works on paper. In the past, many galleries have gone for a bigger-is-better approach (no doubt anticipating all that expansive Texan wall space), but things have evolved to include more experimental work.

“That just wasn’t brought five years ago,” says Cornell of this year’s envelope-pushing pieces. “People were like, ‘I’m going to bring a big painting for one big wall.’ Once a gallery comes here and really understands our scene, you see more sculptures and more tech-based work. I’m excited Galerie Max Heltzer is coming (from Berlin, Paris and London). They recently opened a space in Marfa, which is their first space in the States.”

Cornell has also seen a recent focus on 20th-century and contemporary design, such as the booth the local boutique Sputnik Modern has run over the last few years.

“I have hopes and aspirations to continue to expand on that segment, but I feel like it’s always nice to have elements of it mixed into the fair," she says. "Art and design exist together and can amplify each other. It’s my belief elevated design only continues to elevate your art, and it’s really important to expose our audience to both — and it’s even more convenient under one roof.”

With 90 participating galleries and an 80% return rate, the 15-year-old fair has almost outgrown its long-term environs of the Fashion Industry Gallery. Still, Cornell says she’s looking closely at her collectors' evolution before changing its size.

“We’re very conscious of it and want to grow when the time is right — but I don’t want to double our size; I want to make sure our audience can support it,” she says. “But the audience has grown significantly, and with collectors coming from both coasts, they’re bringing their taste with them. We see what they’re loving and collecting, and we’re seeing tastes change a little bit. You’re seeing things that were maybe harder to place a few years ago. The collector who would have bought [work] years ago is changing as the dynamic of the city changes, and we expand.”

Cornell's tip for experienced and beginner collectors is simple: "You just have got to come and see what you respond to. I always say, ‘Buy what you like, don’t buy for investment.’ [The Art Fair] is a great place to get your feet wet and start collecting art that informs your personal space. Just experience it and ask questions. It’s one of the friendliest fairs you’re going to find, and the galleries are ready to engage.”

Here are a few highlights you shouldn’t miss:

Wednesday, April 18

Cerámica Suro: A Story of Collaboration, Production, and Collecting in the Contemporary Arts at the Dallas Contemporary, 161 Glass St.

Anyone who has popped by José on Lovers Lane for a taco and margarita has probably noticed the painted tile that adorns the patio. Crafted by Cerámica Suro, the tile is the tip of the iceberg for the Guadalajara, Mexico-based studio’s output. Having produced ceramic pieces for a who’s-who of artists and designers, Cerámica Suro gets its due with the first comprehensive presentation of the studio’s work. In addition, the museum is mounting a show from Mexican-American artist Eduardo Sarabia that blends traditional folklore with issues such as drug violence and the border crisis.

The VIP preview kicks off at 6 p.m. for ticket holders, but the public can pop by starting at 7 p.m. with a free Eventbrite ticket.

Through a Thin Wall, Giangiacomo Rossetti, and Asian Clam, Amy Yao, at the Power Station, 3816 Commerce St.

A remix of the Italian painter’s oeuvre, Rossetti’s Through a Thin Wall is the first institutional exhibition in the U.S. With work ranging from fantastical self-portraiture to paintings based on Renaissance frescos, the show lends a frisson of surrealism to the Station's industrial space.

Also on view is the continuation of the quirky artist-run pop-up Picnic Curatorial Projects in the Station’s garden annex. Launched in February as a chic, limited-edition boutique, Picnic is now highlighting the work of artist Amy Yao. Using collected corbicula fluminea (Asian clam) shells, Yao references the perception of migrating species, globalization and climate change.

The Station will also keep open hours throughout the fair.
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Zanele Muholi's "Fisani, Parktown" is one of the excellent works on display at the African American Museum.
Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson, New York
If You Look Hard Enough, You Can See Our Future, various artists, at the African American Museum, 3536 Grand Ave.

A former contemporary art curator for New York’s Museum of African Art, the Dallas-based writer/curator Laurie Farrell has been working on this ambitious show for Fair Park’s African American Museum since 2019. The South African restaurant chain Nando’s (opening soon in Addison) has one of the largest collections of contemporary South African work. Farrell highlights a large selection in If You Look Hard Enough, You Can See Our Future.

“They have over 25k objects, and they gave me access to the database,” she says. “During lockdown, I was going through the collection and saw a lot of themes were emerging — strong portraiture, amazing abstractions, and inventive ways of looking at place, landscape, and city space.”

Opening on April 26 (South Africa's "Freedom Day"), the show includes dynamic and diverse work from talent in MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art collections. A rare opportunity to learn about amazing young artists rarely seen in America, it will continue to be on view to the public through Aug. 13.
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One of the works you'll find at the Morán Morán book gallery exhibition.
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Friday, April 21

Talk of the Town, NorthPark Center, 8687 North Central Expressway

One of the best parts of Dallas is that our central shopping mall also serves as a museum. The Art Fair is solidifying this status with its Talk of the Town events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Level 2, between Nordstrom and Macy’s.

Curated by Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck (the Dallas Museum of Art Hoffman family senior curator of contemporary art) to coincide with the 15th edition of the Dallas Art Fair, Talk of the Town will celebrate and explore the diversity of womanhood via a wide range of artistic perspectives.

Morán Morán book launch, The Joule, 1530 Main St.

Los Angeles and Mexico City-based art gallery Morán Morán offers a classically cool pop-up at the Joule, 5–7 p.m. Focusing on the work of John Giorno, Chelsea Culprit, Raul de Nieves, Borna Sammak and Cauleen Smith in the hotel’s common spaces, the event celebrates the launch of the late Giorno’s catalog for his first solo show in L.A., Cherry Blossoms are Razor Blades. Giorno, in particular, deserves this focus, as the American poet (and former Andy Warhol paramour) presaged our modern era with his clever "Dial-a-Poem" initiative in the late 1960s. Visitors will be able to get their fill of verse from the likes of Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson on an old-fashioned phone in the lobby.

O Noble Viridity, by Caitlin Lonegan, Various Small Fires, 1511 Commerce St.

The Dallas/LA/Seoul space Various Small Fires always lends a freewheeling spirit to its openings, and as plenty of exhibitors and collectors stay at the Joule, its latest is guaranteed to be a good time.

Focusing on the work of L.A.'s Caitlin Lonegan, the 6–8 p.m. event will offer street tacos and frozen margaritas along with her splashy rainbow abstracts.

Aurora at Pegasus Plaza, 1500 Main St.

Aurora, the local art and technology organization known for its immersive exhibitions, will launch its newest video art night (aka “Van”), a free event transforming Pegasus Plaza with projections by regional and national artists including Kristin Lucas, Christopher Meerdo, Diana Rojas, Zak Loyd, Nick Bontrager, Chris Wicker, Ella and Cedric Steed, and Eduardo Garcia.

The free event kicks off at 6 p.m. with DJ Blake Ward, jazz artist Len Barnett and refreshments from Pegasus City Brewing before the imagery is unveiled at 8 p.m. Register at the Aurora website to attend.
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The Eyeboretum event is inspired by Lewis Carroll-like fantasy.
The Eyeboretum at the Joule, 1601 Main St.

The Fair’s splashiest party is always held under the steady gaze of Headington Companies’ giant eyeball. This year, instead of a curated crew of local creatives and visiting gallerists, organizers are shaking things up with a three-day event that recalls 2019’s accidental daytime garden party. A flash storm rained out the Saturday night soirée that year, so organizers pivoted and made it a more family-friendly afternoon for adults and littles alike. Running through Sunday, April 23, the all-day “Eyeboretum” experience promises to deliver a similar Alice in Wonderland energy at the price of just $10 per ticket (12 and under are free). The fee also allows partygoers a discount at Sassetta or CBD Provisions.

“We’re never satisfied with doing what’s expected," says Michelle Padgett, Headington Companies’ senior director of brand strategy and creative. "Instead of iterations of the same party, we wanted to try something new. Everyone loved the daytime tea-party affair we had in 2019, so we thought, ‘Let’s intentionally capture the best parts of that event and use them as the jumping ground for this new format. It may just be the beginning of a new tradition!”

Saturday, April 22

The Dallas Invitational at the Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard St.

And Now gallerist James Cope always has something interesting up his sleeve — in this case, it's the inaugural Dallas Invitational at the Fairmont Hotel. Held Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., this free fair is the perfect amuse bouche (or dessert, if you prefer) to the main course across the street. Participating galleries in the hotel’s “relaxed and intimate setting” include spaces from London, Los Angeles, Paris, New York and Vienna, including And Now, Commonwealth and Council, Edouard Montassut, Emalin, Felix Gaudlitz, Francois Ghebaly, Hannah Hoffman, Kristina Kite, Lomex, Project Native Informant, Simone Subal, Soft Opening and Stars.

The Dallas Art Fair will run April 20–23 at the Fashion Industry Gallery, 1807 Ross Ave.
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