"The biggest dick in the world ... and not in a good way," says Kevin Rubén Jacobs, of the eponymous gallery owner. Jacobs is laughing before he even finishes the sentence.
The truth is, "Oliver Francis" may or may not be a figment of Jacobs' brilliantly diabolical imagination. Or, he might be a hoity-toity financier with a golden foreskin, acting as benefactor to Jacobs' nitty-gritty gallery dreams. Either way, it's a name to watch in the Dallas arts scene, even as the gallery stands so decidedly and adamantly outside of that established culture.
"This just isn't a place where you'll walk around with your glass of wine and stilettos," Jacobs says. "Dallas has that. We're different. We're doing things that will piss people off. They'll hate it. But, five years later, they'll think, damn, that installation was amazing."
Trained as a philosopher and artist, Jacobs' gallery is a conceptual project, in and of itself, relying on a strong sense of irony and counter-cultural perspective. While studying under 2011 MasterMinds finalist, Stephen Lapthisophon, at the University of Texas at Arlington, Jacobs decided to "see what [he] can get away with," or more accurately, how far he can make it as a 23 year old gallery owner with the whole world in front of him. His vision entails providing a needed space in Dallas for perspectives that are not yet given equal time and opportunity and bringing in ideas inspired by galleries and artists like New York's Reena Spaulings.
Open since July, the Oliver Francis Gallery sets its sights ahead of the curve, challenging Dallas to see beyond the Arts District by showing primarily cutting-edge multimedia, such as "Cheeseburger Nebula Part I," a poetry reading by William Seward Bonnie (aka Andrew Boeglin) via Skype, projected onto a wall. Accordingly, the gallery's stark white walls are ever-evolving with real movement and sound, providing a backdrop to pieces by a wide collection of emerging artists and sometimes even becoming a "canvas," themselves. Before each exhibition, the gallery is open to its contributing artists for a full week, occasionally becoming as much a collaborative studio space as a commercial one.
Usually open for viewing by appointment only, the gallery is open this week from noon until 9:00 p.m. every day through the 23rd and from noon until 5:00 p.m. on the 24th, as part of the brief exhibition, "Now! That's What I Call Art Vol. I, The Best Contemporary Hits of 2011." Each featured artist will donate a portion of their sales to UNICEF, and all work will be available online at oliverfrancisgallery.com. But, don't just take our word for it. And, don't buy art from a website. Drop by the gallery to get a feel of an amazing space, tucked away behind a rustic wrought iron door on a dilapidated section of Peak Street. It's an installation in its own right.
A word from 'Oliver Francis':
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