Last year, Jerry Saltz bemoaned the death of the New York City gallery show. He was pointing to the emergence of an online art market that no longer required collectors to be present at opening night receptions. It deflated the communal conversations at such events, leaving him with fewer people to "blurt whatever I'm thinking about whatever we're looking at."
It is with much happiness that I can report variance in the current state of the visual art scene in Dallas. Certainly there are fewer galleries in our American art outpost, but opening receptions overflow with enthusiasts, patrons and artists. The spaces range from refurbished warehouses, repurposed homes, and remodeled storefronts, with gallerists slowly transforming Dallas into a citywide art bazaar. No neighborhood ignored; no artist unrepresented. At least, that's the direction it's going, which is why it's time you entered the scene. We've taken inventory of some of the best galleries to start your descent into the cavernous art world of Dallas.
To keep things balanced, there's a healthy mix of experimental and commercial. As you work your way through this list, you're sure to find new spaces along the way. When you do, we'd love for you stick your nose back into this blog and write a note with your newfound favorites.
Beefhaus Artist-run spaces are tricky. Programming can be inconsistent, so if you're not on the inside you might find an opening slip past you. But if you follow the collective Art Beef on Facebook, you'll submerge into a world of experimental art and offbeat events well worth your time and attention. It's unconventional and much of the art will leave you with that glorious WTF? feeling.
Circuit 12 Contemporary The taste of Gina and Dustin Orlando is wicked cool. Many of the artists they show seem interested in color or psychedelia; so if you're into that sort of thing, many of the gallery shows would be fun look at while you're tripping. A visit to Circuit 12 is sure to introduce you to new artists and bolster or challenge your artistic sensibilities.
Cohn Drennan Contemporary Cohn Drennan just moved into a new space on a shady street in Expo Park. It's a friendly art space that entering feels like stepping into the trendy loft in Brooklyn. If Cohn doesn't offer you a beer himself, you can be sure someone else will, which will allow you to linger and peruse the work of a local artist. The gallery has eclectic taste, often documenting the Dallas punk scene or offering distinct perspectives on sculpture.
Conduit Gallery Thirty years strong, this Design District space has made it a goal to connect veteran and brand new art lovers with new objects of affection. Gallerist Nancy Whitenack presents the creative output of both up-and-comers and mid-career artists, with a sharp eye for curation. Her interests vary in medium and style, so visitors find new things to love with every exhibit.
Galleri Urbane One of the better known galleries in the state of Texas, Galleri Urbane actually opened its doors in New Mexico in 1999. Then in 2004, it picked up and moved to Marfa and in 2009, set up shop in Dallas. Owner Ree Willaford keeps an eye on some of the best regional artists.
Kettle Art Gallery A lot of local artists have found a home, or at least a home base, in Frank Campagna's gallery. With a roster of 50+ artists it would be hard to describe his as a "curated" gallery, but it's friendly and a neighborhood staple and you're sure to find something you like or a local artist's career to follow.
Oliver Francis Gallery If you haven't heard this gallery's name, you must be new to the city or the art scene. The local arts media love boy genius Kevin Ruben Jacobs and the alternative perspectives he presents at his East Dallas space, OFG. We love his irreverence, his provocation of the art world, the initiative he took in opening up the space he thought Dallas needed. So we're certain we'll love or hate (and love that we hate) whatever he's got in store for the art world and OFG in the months to come.
Reading Room An artistic respite, the Reading Room hosts art events and related happenings, from talks to performance art to shows. It functions as a conversation piece in the cultural landscape, giving space to things like an annual book swap, while also curating the occasional show.
Red Arrow Contemporary In the Design District there aren't many spaces that have the freedom to explore more experimental art or have shows as diverse as Red Arrow Contemporary does. But sisters Elissa and Erin Stafford run a space without a roster and centered primarily around their own taste, which runs the gamut from performance art to painting to printmaking. Every trip to the gallery is an experience and one you'll be glad you had.
Zhulong Gallery Dragon Street's newest gallery is already earning a name for itself with strong interests in new media, updating the aesthetic of the street, which often trends toward painting. It's fresh, it's contemporary and much of the time, the work is unlike anything else you'll see during a day in the Design District.