100 Creatives

100 Dallas Creatives: No. 12 Gallerists Gina & Dustin Orlando, Boundary Pushers

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Gina and Dustin Orlando are two cool cats. A few years ago, these two gallerists opened up Circuit 12 Contemporary, which quickly became a go-to space in the Design District, and their programming roster continues to challenge the gallery norm. They've allowed artists to transform the white walls into wonderlands of conceptual art, or paint a mural inside, or even set up a small fashion boutique in the back. They've impressed us so much, we even picked them for 2014's Best Gallery in Dallas. They're keeping art lively and pushing the Dallas scene forward. And they're making it look fun.


Brief Overview of Background: D.O. I started off as a skateboarder and self taught artist who opened a small space in Miami. Showing my own work and the work of my friends. That space focused mainly on street artists and artists working in the skateboard industry. I've been in this business in some capacity since 2001.

G.O. I was born and raised in Dallas. My mom is a Dominican national who immigrated to NYC at 12 when Trujillo was overthrown, so naturally I spent a lot of time looking at art (not to mention feeling displaced), during the extended bouts I did in the city as a kid. At least I have a crash pad in NYC whenever I need. (*Artworld ESSENTIAL)

It all started when my parents began taking me to Drop in Art at the DMA around age 2. They sensed a very natural calling at a very young age with me. I was in my first private drawing and painting classes at 4, and took best of show in my first exhibit at 7. Art is my life. It's all I know. The only thing I've ever consistently been reassured of; even back then I knew inherently what I would do later as an adult. I attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which was a huge turning point in my life. I finally found a place where I wasn't the weird, quiet, removed-from-reality girl. I ended up with a solo show at the MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary) at 17, as well as an honorable mention in the Young Masters Exhibit at the DMA in 2005. Before departing Dallas I couldn't help but be extremely intrigued by this little gallery on Bryan St. called And/Or, and its owner, Paul Slocum. We majorly connected. My first gallery introduction was being his assistant and helping him out during the glory days that were And/Or.

I endured some serious tragic events in my life around that time, and I decided to leave for Boston. I was awarded a scholarship to The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where I showed a little bit, but never really took to the town. I moved to Miami post school to explore the art scene, and get a little closer to my Caribbean roots. I ended up assisting Jim Drain in his magical studio in the Design District and helping out around the Bas Fischer Invitational, making a lot of really great friends, colleagues, and meeting Dustin. He whisked me off to Hawaii for a year, we came back here to get married in 2011, 4 years, one kid, and a gallery later, here we are.

How would you describe Circuit 12's aesthetic? D.O. The gallery is an extension of our personal tastes. I like to consider it a mid/high end boutique gallery space run by approachable artists/creatives. The gallery shows a variety of process heavy works by artists we respect and admire. We try to straddle a line that merges current and sometimes conceptual exhibitions, with artists whose works we feel are important to collect and are easy to enjoy and live with outside of the gallery. The type of work we show and the way we curate our exhibits are based on our personal experiences and interests, I'm not really sure how to label it. G.O. Dustin and I had to merge visions when we decided to open a space here. Many compromises were made, and continue to be made, as we evolve over time. As I mentioned prior, my background was very much rooted in alternative spaces and contemporary art that always found a way to stand apart. We found a way to include some of our old friends in our new space, but I really wanted Circuit 12 to be a fresh start for us, and for Dallas. I knew what I had always wanted here, but was always missing. I didn't want to be another And/Or, though I miss it desperately. Or a Bas Fischer. Or anything for that matter. Just myself and our combined vison. Dustin found inspiration in the growth and dynamic of the art scene here, and I wanted to bridge a long standing gap.

You've continually pushed the envelope on what a commercial gallery can do, which is unique to Dallas, adding elements like fashion designers, or bringing a mural into the gallery. Why has it been important for you guys to experiment?

G.O.Honesty, I am a very restless person; I have a pretty short attention span and I get bored extremely easily. I feel compelled to keep my interest in what we do peaked just as much as I expect our audience does. Sometimes that might mean building new walls or showing "unsellable" artwork- whatever. If it heightens the intrinsic experience of the viewer, I will find a way to do it. I've never liked short cuts, or doing things the easy way. Nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. If I have a big white box to play around with and creative control, you're damn right things are gonna get shook. I love telling artists they can do whatever they want with the space, and I think they appreciate that respect to their practice. In turn, we get the same back from them. It's so easy to be the same in this world- so if I'm going to put my name on it, I can guarantee it will have been my best effort each time to stand alone.

D.O.Having the gallery gives us a platform to conceive creative projects from. It brings all kinds of people into our space. We've met a ton of creative people having this type of venue, ideas get discussed and if it feels right we try them out. It's important to have a strong network of supporters both in and out of the art scene. We're both into music and design so it only seemed natural to try and do some programming outside of our typical gallery showings from time to time. Plus, it fosters dialogues, give us new ideas/inspiration and allows us to see the point of view from creatives in different fields. Which I feel is important to progressing and evolving as a gallery or creative brand. It also brings new people to the space that may have had no reason to visit otherwise.

What are some other galleries in Dallas you like? D.O. Gallerie Urbane. Conduit. Public Trust. Cris Worley. OFG.xxx. ReGallery. And Now. Central Trak. Barry Whistler. Talley Dunn. Homeland Security. G.O. Ditto as Dustin

How do you balance a young family and a young gallery? D.O. It's tough but we have a good support base of family here. When we opened the gallery Gina was 8 months pregnant so we've gotten used to the responsibilities that come with raising our family and the juggle of running our gallery. We work all the time but when we get home we try and turn off work and enjoy the quality time as a family we are so fortunate to have. It's also motivation, because we're trying to support our family from the work we're doing in the gallery. G.O. Not easily! Like I said earlier, I usually don't end up doing things the easy way. Honestly, it takes a lot of planning and a lot of help from my amazing family My parents reside here in Dallas, but are business owners as well (Elegante Iron on Dragon St.), so we all work together to help each other out in every way possible. I am an only child, and all of Dustin's family lives out of state, so grandma and grandpa are about it. That's the same way I was brought up, so it's pretty natural to me. Dustin and I opened the gallery when I was 8 months pregnant, so yes, we may be slightly masochistic, but the rewards are so much better knowing how hard you worked to get where you're at. I want Luca to experience all the same joys in art as my parents introduced to me early on, so it's imperative to me he be involved in the process. Plus, Luca is a really cool kid- he doesn't need a lot of coaxing, and his respect for art, like mine, I believe is inherent. Most two-year-olds and galleries don't click, but ours does just fine.

What is a typical date night for the Orlandos like? D.O. Usually a date night means our son Luca is staying the night at grandmas so typically it's dinner. Wine or cocktails. Snuggling. Then maybe a movie or a First 48 marathon. Just spending time together. Then to bed. Sometimes we go to events or openings, just depends, we're usually pretty much hanging out around the house kid-free for an evening so, we just do things that don't require a lot of physical or mental exhaustion and do things that show and remind the other one how important they are. G.O. Not much different than before Luca or the gallery really. We just have slightly stricter time slots. After a long week, Dustin and I love to sit down at a nice restaurant in Trinity Groves or One Arts Plaza and have a unique dining experience. We venture out when we have time -- we love going to shows or a nice dinner party. Honestly, we keep to ourselves a lot though, I don't like compromising my artistic vision or watering it down in any way by being incited by the things around me. Before all my back problems we used to go out dancing, but that's really hard for me now. So dinner, maybe a movie, the occasional concert. I love spa retreats. Anything that we can do together, be creative, and still feel like ourselves I'm down with.

100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers 25. Rob 'Ain't No Creative Like A Bow-Tie-Wearing Creative' Shearer 24. Scholar of the Stage Susan Sargeant 23. Photographer of Record Justin Terveen 22. Music Man Jeffrey Liles 21. Keeper of the Safe Room Lauren Gray 20. Playwright Jonathan Norton, Man of Many Words 19. Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner 18. Gallerist Jordan Roth, the Art Scene Cheerleader 17. Artful Advocate Vicki Meek 16. Ballet Queen Katie Puder 15. Carlos Alejandro Guajardo-Molina, the Book Guy 14. Janeil Engelstad, an Artist with Purpose 13. Will Power, Playwright and Mentor