June 22, 2020

ALL SEEING

Two new artist’s perspectives join The Eye for the summer

It’s been seven years since Tony Tasset’s Eye was installed on the empty plot of land on Main Street across from The Joule. Dressed with green lawn, shrubbery, and stone planters, the lawn in front of the sculpture instantly became downtown’s most unique private event space. And—thanks to its larger-than-life scale and epic incongruity with the surrounding skyscrapers—The Eye became one of downtown’s most photographed landmarks.

Naturally, it also became a source of much speculation and rumor. An early bit of gossip started when people thought the site was originally intended as a parking lot, but the city nixed the industrial structure—saying it would become “an eyesore”—and The Eye was a giant response to that. (Totally untrue.) A masonic eye, the all-seeing eye of God, Big Brother… those seeking a hidden meaning behind The Eye may leave feeling empty handed. “Eye is one of those images that has taken on a number of meanings over the years—God and consciousness are just two of them,” says Tasset. “Ultimately it means whatever you want.”

In that spirit of open interpretation, The Eye can also be understood as a symbol of the transformation and progress we’ve witnessed over the past decade, thanks in great part to the long-term commitment Headington Companies—developer and proprietor of The Joule and several other more businesses on Main Street—has shown developing the block from a moribund strip of vacant buildings to the thriving center it is today.

The recent tagging of “Now U C us” on The Eye during the Dallas protests was a provocative pun, but Headington Cos.’ commitment to art and self-expression is, of course, at odds with its destruction or the manipulation of an artist’s intent. Investing in placemaking, Headington Cos. has always held public art at its core with artistic freedom and self-expression celebrated both internally and externally.

To further that commitment, Headington Companies has partnered with Gossypion Investments to use the high-visibility of The Eye (and other spots throughout downtown) as a platform to champion the perspectives of local artists. Gossy (for short) is a newly formed, Dallas-based arts company spearheaded by Darryl Ratcliff and Maya Crawford who—as both artists and organizers—have been active in promoting the Dallas art scene for years.

Up first: a showcase of two incredibly talented artists who used plywood removed from windows broken during the protests to create original works. The pieces join The Eye on Main Street—a fitting place of prominence for messages that command our attention now more than ever before.

Nigerian-born, Dallas-based artist Abi Salami is a self-taught artist with an MBA in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. Her artistic process is arithmetic—adding and subtracting until the imagery in her mind appears on her canvas. Salami’s work has featured in galleries and museums across the country, including locally at Women’s Museum, the African American Museum, and Craighead Green Gallery. Her work, Charon’s Token (2020) addresses the “survivor’s guilt, imposter syndrome, isolation and even depression” caused by tokenism within a workforce.

Making more of a literal statement, Molly Margaret Sydnor‘s work Implicit Bias (2020) is a call for us all to analyze ourselves for underlying prejudices we’re unaware of. The Dallas-based multidisciplinary fine artist earned a BFA in Fiber from the Maryland Institute College of Art. As a queer, woman of color, Sydnor creates interactive work through storytelling and the layering of media, ideas, and imagery of identity and the body. In 2019, Sydnor completed a residency at Dallas’s Sunset Studios, and will be an upcoming artist-in-residence at Burke Mercantile in LA.

The partnership with Gossy will include additional installations around the corner, as well as programming to come. We’re excited to see what lies ahead.