With Roots in Fort Worth, Art Tooth Bridges the Divide Between DFW Art Scenes

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For some, suiting up for a day at the office or fashioning the perfect latte in a crowded cafe is simply a means to fund what they really love: creating intimate works of art that transcend any old college student’s "art appreciation" project. It’s not easy stepping into a real-world art scene, even after receiving an MFA – especially in a city already brimming with virtuosos in paint, mixed media, large installation work and many other components of fine art.

Art Tooth, a roving art project founded by members of Fort Worth art collectives Bobby on Drums and Exhibitionists, knows the pangs of a struggling artist all too well. In fact, the six core members of Art Tooth are creators themselves. 
“Our purpose was to partner with other galleries that had established spaces to bring in established artists from Fort Worth,” says Shasta Haubrich, communications and special events coordinator of Art Tooth. And since August, they've given some of Fort Worth’s up-and-coming artists a leg up in the scene by showcasing their work in various pop-up shows.

For the collective’s fourth show, they made their debut in Dallas this month, teaming up with Ro2 Art for an exhibit featuring over 60 artists, many of whom are showing in Dallas for the first time. On Dec. 23, Art Tooth held a “Gift Grab” reception with artists in tow and a special DJ set by Dallas-based visual artist, musician and singer-songwriter Ronnie Heart.

The event was a means for collectors and shoppers alike to support local art without overspending. “We have a lot of diverse artists here. A lot of our artists are female, women of color. And that’s really unusual in a commercial gallery,” Dee Lara, Art Tooth’s co-director, says.

One of these women is Lael Burns, a mother who’s been an artist in Dallas for “decades” and works out of her studio at home. She explains her art as “a sort of a mishmash of things that are alive and healthy and things that are rotting and dying at the same time. It’s just this dichotomy between life and death and I’m interested in where the spiritual and material aspects of things collide – thinking about the poetics of that.” 

Another of the artists whose work currently embellishes the walls of Ro2 Art is Ray-Mel Cornelius, faculty in visual communications at Brookhaven College. His paintings are reminiscent of time he’s spent across the Southwest, parts of Mexico and the Hill Country. Growing up in a rural environment, he says he took inspiration from nature for the pieces currently on display.

Check out many pieces on display, ranging from three dimensional to mathematical, at Ro2 Art (1501 S. Ervay St.) through Dec. 31.

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