Dallas' sprawl is often seen as a weakness, especially when it comes to creating community. But sometimes a little distance is useful. It allows for distinctive pockets of artistic personalities to emerge, and when those pieces click together, as should happen on Saturday, our city's many influences become visible, tangible and, at times, interactive.
To witness that panoramic view, break away from your usual stomping grounds, update your mapping app and pack your car with friends. Also, bring snacks. If you want the complete tour of Dallas art this Saturday, you'll need to maintain for 12 hours straight.
Oak Cliff Oak Cliff's Visual Speedbump Tour (noon to 6 p.m.) You might know it by its more aggressive former title, the Oak Cliff Drive-by. Either way, it returns to bait you inside the homes and studios of seven artists and six galleries. Let's look at what you'll find at each address:
Teresa Gomez-Martorell (1202 Kings Hwy #1) Barcelona-turned-Dallas printmaker Gomez-Martorell summons power from totem spirits. Her body of transferred etchings honors the wild beasts associated with the feminine and masculine ideals, and uses them to illustrate the ongoing dialog of gender-specific power politics in society.
Chuck and George (516 South Marlborough Ave.) Beloved co-collaborators, Dallas Observer Mastermind award-winners and long-time Oak Cliff weirdos Brian K. Jones and Brian K. Scott are a mandatory stop. Their home, a shrine of eccentric immersion, is as much a gallery as it is a residence, and it will give you some background on the team before you see their newest Table Scrappin' 1.5 exhibition, opening later that night in Conduit Gallery's Project Room. In 'Scrappin, the boys have built and decorated a life-sized diorama of their home's interior.
In past years the Brians hosted group shows at their bump stop; this year they'll present work by only one other artist: painter and friend Ken Craft, whose newest collection (on display in the Dining Gallery) is based on the life and legacy of Charles Darwin.
Bryan Gooding (312 N. Rosemont Ave.) To gander at the collages of self-taught artist Bryan Gooding, you'll need to pop into the garage. There, you'll find his world of conflicting wonders, where religion, mysticism and primal passions intertwine.
Charley Mitcherson (1214 Pioneer Dr.) Mitcherson is a professional freelance photographer whose spare time is used snapping life's more traditional points of beauty.
Ray-Mel Cornelius (1526 Elmwood Blvd.) A bright and curious community mainstay, Cornelius' artwork focuses on the quirky side of nature, but does so through a fine art execution.
Clay Stinnett (1240 Hollywood Ave.) I imagine the path to outsider artist Clay Stinnett's studio is littered with baboon skulls, discarded cans of Jolt! Cola and a feisty legion of trained rattlesnakes, but this premonition will remain unconfirmed until Saturday. Stinnett paints wrong-eyed souls in the rightest way possible, filling canvases with saggy-titted biker bitches, heroic manbeasts, hard-weathered musicians and assorted slack-jawed sinners. Praise be, and pass the Lone Star.
Gretchen Goetz (422 S Marlborough) It's a group show at the Goetz bump, where you'll find a blend of Gretchen's lady-centric illustrations, watercolors by Scott Winterrowd and the theatrical world of large-scale art by painter Gillian Bradshaw-Smith.
Galleries and collectives of the tour include: Mighty Fine Art; The Safe Room (the new gallery inside Texas Theatre); Oil and Cotton; Sour Grapes Studio; The Kessler; and Davis Foundry Gallery. Map it out at chuckandgeorge.net/visualspeedbump.
Next up: The Design District, East Dallas and South Dallas.
Design District It's the final push before Dallas' collectors jet off to summer residences, and in preparation of the pending commerce drought, our galleries barrel ahead to a strong round of opening nights. Here are the highlights; most run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Red Arrow Contemporary (1130 Dragon, Suite 110) Blow Up, by Anne Ferrer -- Destined to be RAC's most memorable show of 2013, this exhibition by Parisian fabric sculptor Anne Ferrer offers pure beauty, inflated. Sewn out of cheerfully-toned sailing materials and wired up to undulating fans, these pieces balloon and wilt into playfully sexual shapes in punchy jeweled hues. They're grin-inducing, undeniably feminine and worthy of proper courtship.
Holly Johnson Gallery (1411 Dragon St.) Five, Six, Seven, Eight by David Aylsworth -- If abstract shapes can be socially awkward, Aylsworth's angles probably have a Zoloft script stashed away somewhere. Nosed apart at curious directions, these jazzy frames are filled with pigments intriguing enough to make you want to get to know them better, even if they seem a bit stand-offish when you first make eye-contact.
Conduit (1626 Hi Line Dr.) Playing the Angles, by Ted Larson; Wild Things by Susan Barnett; Table Scrappin' Vol. 1.5 by Chuck and George -- In Conduit's newest show, and just in time for swimsuit season, we see a celebration of perfect form. With Larson's salvaged material sculptures, you'll find hard angles and shapes that make you quiver with flashbacks to trigonometry.
With Barnett we get the smooth but disrupted output of geometric equations, as told in two dimensions. To complicate matters further are trouble-makers Chuck and George doing whatever the hell they want in the Project Room. If you attended Conduit's last opening, you saw Chuck and George's Table Scrappin' Vol. 1, which featured both a miniature and walk-in diorama of the artists' actual residence. It was so popular that it's been carried over and revamped, so for 'Scrappin Vol. 1.5 you'll see new, visual home furnishings.
Galleri Urbane Dallas (2277 Monitor) You Arrive My Life Begins by Susan O' Malley -- No inanimate object since the billboard from L.A. Story has wanted to communicate with you as directly as Susan O' Malley's newest series of text-rich prints. Skirting the smalltalk, these phrases cut straight to pre-fated connection, stating things like "We Belong Together" and "All This Time It's You I've Been Waiting For." Want to repay the lip service? Go for it. O'Malley has set up a hotline so that viewers may dial in and share their reactions/hopes/dreams -- and don't worry, it's been designed for anonymity.
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Cris Worley (1415 Slocum Street, #104) Shadow Paintings by Ruben Nieto -- Hey, there are comic books in my modern art! University of Texas at Dallas PhD candidate Ruben Nieto brings the playful side of graphic novels to life in this show, which pulls pages from comics, deconstructs them using Photoshop, rearranges and positions them into abstraction, send 'em oversees to be affixed to canvases and then douses them up with various contemporary technical flourishes. The end result looks like something that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale edition) might hang in his den for inspiration.
Circuit 12 (1130 Dragon St., Suite 150) Regional Quarterly Volume 2 -- Concrete Jungle, guest curated by Justin Hunter Allen -- Part of Circuit 12's commitment to offering regionally-created art that falls in step with the gallery's own taste is this new exhibition by SCAB collective members Justin Hunter Allen, Joshua Von Ammon and Eli Walker. The trio will work together to reinterpret the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle as it relates to the passions and frustrations of the Dallas art scene, today.
East Dallas Oliver Francis Gallery (209 S. Peak St.) Four Solo Shows by Jeff Gibbons (6 to 10 p.m.) -- In last year's exhibition at the MAC, Humming Music and Grinding Teeth, Gibbons blended matter of many forms and points of decay: a curiously positioned ice block stared down rotting citrus, while childhood footage looped in a corner. In his 2012 installation at Oliver Francis Gallery, "Boylet Toilet," we encountered a whirling contraption that divided the space into chaos vs. clarity. Most recently Gibbons has reappeared (albeit anonymously) as one portion of the Apophenia Underground, the group bringing fleeting art into Deep Ellum's abandoned storefronts, thanks to free rent from real estate management company Deep Ellum 42. Tonight, however, he's Jeff Gibbons, served up four ways. See what Dallas' newest contender does with carte blanche, four solo shows and one gallery.
South Dallas ArtLoveMagic. Presents Underground, from 8 p.m. to midnight at South Side on Lamar Lofts (1409 S. Lamar St.) It's the biggest, most populist, event ALM orchestrates all year, and that's saying a lot, since this non-profit is known for its larger-than-life offerings. Dozens of visual artists create work onsite and many encourage interactivity with the viewer. Adding to the aesthetic mash-up, Underground brings live music and performance to the mix, filling the night with dancers, bands and spoken word poetry. Oh, and there's a bar. (You're welcome.) Tickets range from $20 to $30, but you'll want to shell the extra ten bones for VIP access.