Visual Art

ArtLoveMagic's "Underground" Party is in a Basement but Doesn't Live Up to the Name

Do-gooders and art promoters ArtLoveMagic held their annual art party in the basement of South Side on Lamar over the weekend. The heat and an overkill of art-centric activities conspired to kept the crowd modest, and maybe that's also why the attendees, their plastic cups of wine sloshing, were slow to plunk down cash for the available art.

But "Underground," as the party's known, has other, more perennial issues.

The event provides an opportunity for young artists to have their work shown to an audience much larger than many gallery openings. But it resembles an assembly line of "live" painters, with the artists cemented to their "space." Patrons walk in a circle around the basement parameter, with all artists given equal footing, blending into a homogenous talent pool.

That's not to say there wasn't true talent on display at Saturday's edition. But they were all lost in the flawed organization and an overabundance of pop-culture pastiche. At least half the booths displayed celebrity portraits, fairies or other fantasy/sci-fi looking females. (How many Day-Glo portraits of Heath Ledger's Joker does one need?) Few presenters at the show pushed the envelope, extended the city's artistic narrative or represented themselves, raw and soiled, through their art.

There were exceptions: the Davies brothers, Joonbug, Riley Holloway and Jeremy Biggers put themselves on exhibit with idiosyncratic styles and personalized pieces. But on the whole, by combining clothing, art, photobooths, live art and glassware booths, the event had a "mega-mall" vibe unworthy of the "underground" descriptor

As purveyors of opportunity and support, few do it better than ArtLoveMagic. But to pay $20 at the door -- or $30 for "VIP entry," which nets a goodie bag filled with flyers, comics and soap, three free drink coupons and a lounge area with a DJ -- doesn't compute when Circuit 12's Regional Quarterly, Oliver Francis' Jeff Gibbons exhibit, Chee$e = Milk's 4th State of Matter or Art Pena's R&D Project's concert featuring Sir Name & The Janes and George Quartz were all happening the same night, all for free.

From what I can tell, the main point of the event is to expose the common Dallasite to artists and musicians who live and work without the support of gallery residencies and mainstream market power. That makes up a sizeable section of the city's artists, so why not make it as easy as possible for them to be seen, and their work experienced?