Summer is full of art to make any collector’s temperature rise.
It’s alllll about the female gaze RN—specifically two powerhouse photographers with two very different points of view, plus an immersive world of cartoon blooms. Add in works inspired by those wacky Victorian’s love of poisonous patterns, outsider art heroes, and an electric multi-media show, and you’ve got plenty to keep you occupied during the dog days of summer. —Kendall Morgan
“Chaos and Cosmos” by Kate Simon at Fort Works Art. Now through August 31.
Some people find themselves in the center of everything, effortlessly. Kate Simon is at the top of that list, but then again, she is effortlessly cool. Since starting her career, the photographer been part and party to some of the 20th century’s most significant cultural moments. Even if you don’t know her name, you’re no doubt familiar with her subjects: William Burroughs, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones, and Andy Warhol (to name a few).
Currently the focus of a one-woman retrospective “Chaos and Cosmos” at Fort Works Art, Simon’s ability to charm and capture is on full display in over 130+ images of some of the world’s most enduring and legendary personalities in art, literature, and music.
Inspired by her father (an amateur shutterbug) to pick up a camera, Simon dropped out of George Washington University and moved to London, where she worked at the Photographers’ Gallery on Great Newport Street. Getting up close and personal with the likes of Cecil Beaton and David Bailey helped spur her passion on, and tight friendships with some of the founding members of the punk moment didn’t hurt, either.
“(The people) who created punk were my best friends, and we were always together,” recalls Simon of her right place/right time status. “All they would talk about is ‘punk, punk, punk,’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, if these guys don’t stop talking about punk!’ But what came to pass was so significant.”
She found herself working at a weekly music mag, which led to shooting The Clash’s first album cover, which led to an introduction to Bob Marley, which led to her role as his official tour photographer. Deciding to ditch London for New York at the end of the ‘70s, Simon just as easily found herself in the mix with a job at Interview magazine and a co-hosting gig of the legendary editor Glenn O’Brien cable access show TV Party.
Throughout it all, her ability to connect with her subjects elevated both her career and her imagery.
“There’s something about me that is good for taking portraits because I make people feel comfortable and I have the best of intentions,” Simon says. “I don’t go for the cheap shot or cheap thrill—I’m going for something that will have a life of its own, something that’s really beautiful.”
A rare opportunity to take a deep dive into her work, “Chaos and Cosmos” is a can’t-miss show for pop culture fans all across the Metroplex.
“Low Lands” by Misty Keasler at The Public Trust. Now through June 22.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…at least some of the time. Photographer Misty Keasler brought more far more back from a trip to Sin City with her husband (Public Trust gallerist Brian Gibb) than she originally bargained.
When the duo planned to take a kid-free getaway, Keasler found out just before embarking that she was expecting the couple’s third child, which greatly curtailed her schedule of controlled revelry.
“Pregnancy for me is stone-cold sobriety, and you see the world in a different way,” she recalls. “I’d been to Vegas a handful of times before, and the appeal of it is they create this artifice that is so slick, and when you’re talking about the appeal of going to Vegas for a couple of nights, you buy into that artifice.”
This time, she noticed, “just how quickly that artifice falls off. We did a lot of people watching, which is best when you’re totally sober.”
Recognizing how the dissolution of the desert mirage happened just a few blocks from the strip, she began to capture the crumbling structures and struggling performers Vegas visitors aren’t supposed to see. Over the next four years, she got even closer to some of these local characters, dressing flamboyantly to shoot them in their natural environments so she’d blend in.
The indelible images she walked away with fill “Low Lands,” just the latest in Keasler’s amazing series examining what’s behind our modern world of illusions, from her 2017’s “Haunt” show of haunted house sets at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to her current work shooting trash collectors across the globe.
Although Keasler says, she’s “totally done” with her Vegas series, the late award-winning photographer Michael Wolf gave her a piece of advice she may adhere to in the future.
“He said, ‘When you work on a project, and you think you’re done, spend another year making work because that’s when it really gets interesting.’”
“Toxic” by Kendra Greene at The Reading Room. Now through June 22.
An essayist, printer, and crafter of artist’s books, Kendra Green searches for the spaces where art and literature align. Drawn to what she calls “ideological danger” in her work, she was sent an article by a friend about the long-forgotten book “Shadows From the Walls of Death,” a collection of samples of arsenic-laden wallpaper published in 1874 by the Illinois State Board of Health.
“The Medical Review found that 64% of wallpaper has arsenic (in the dye), and Americans were buying 57 million rolls of wallpaper at this point in time,” Greene says. “The head of the Board of Health commissioned one state printer to bind a book with leaves of arsenic-laced wallpaper to send to public libraries.”
With only four remaining copies of this toxic compilation in circulation, Greene managed to get her rubber-gloved hands on “Walls of Death,” and what she found inspired both an essay and a series of broadsheets shown at The Reading Room featuring a quote about the dangers of domestic perfection printed atop the colorful patterns.
“I fell in love with a passage from the (book’s) text and felt that the writing should go back on to the wall. It’s so alluring because it’s so Victorian, a little bit Gothic and very dramatic. The picture it paints of the ways we try to protect ourselves that make us more unsafe seems really relevant to the way we talk about women today.”
In case you want to learn more about the subject, Green will read from her essay at the space on June 22 at 4pm in the gallery.
“Dallas Medianale,” by various artists at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary. Now through July 14.
With its use of computer graphics, robotics, and virtual reality, “New Media” art can sometimes be a bit of an oxymoron, mainly because work can become technologically obsolete just a few years after its creation. Still, there’s no better genre to highlight a visionary outlook.
Conceived as an offshoot of the programming of the Video Association of Dallas, what was originally entitled “The Program” was launched by then-curators Charles Dee Mitchell and Carolyn Sorter. Moving to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in 2015, the Medianale (now curated exclusively by Mitchell) has honed its focus on international talent—from London-based artist Samson Kambalu’s work examining African diaspora artists (yet resembling the early films of Edison), to system-based LED light sculptures by Luke Murphy.
“One idea we’ve always had is to show work that otherwise wouldn’t be seen in this area,” says Mitchell. “Everybody always wants to find a theme, but what I look at is the resonance between the pieces: that they play well together and interact with each other and the space in an interesting way.”
This year’s programming organically comments on antique media, and the show offers as much photography and sculpture as it does video. On view through mid-July, the Medianale culminates in a special round of programming on July 17 and 18 at the Latino Cultural Center curated by Dallas VideoFest head Bart Weiss.
“Paint It Black,” by Ike E. Morgan, Ricky Bearghost and Taylor Rushing at the Webb Gallery. Now through July 21.
Waxahachie gallerists Bruce and Julie Webb have an explorer’s approach to curation—any follower of their Insta feed is treated to their global unearthing of the obscure, original, and often overlooked.
Recently celebrated on The Selby for their eclectic collection, the duo has gathered together three unique talents for their summer show. Washington native Taylor W. Rushing unveils a colorful update on tramp art —historically crafted of discarded wood by factory workers, farmers, and laborers—while Texan outsider artist Ike E. Morgan showcases vibrant paintings inspired by Presidential portraits.
However, the show gets its title from Native American Ricky Bearghost, who the Webbs were turned onto by the self-professed “World’s Most Adorable Art Critic” Daniel Rolnik. Bearghost, who works out of the Portland Art and Learning Studio for creative individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, uses traditional weaving techniques to create multi-layered works of beads and garbage that are both sculptural and whimsical, and he just happens to prefer to paint his fingernails black.
“(The show title) is more like a metaphor,” says Bruce Webb. “The combination just seemed like a good blend of different texture and media. It’s fun to mix different artists together and add in some of the anonymous older folk-art pieces we have at our space, too. It’s just kind of how we make it all work and try to have a little bit of something for everybody.”
“Seedling,” Natasha Bowdoin at Talley Dunn Gallery. June 15 through August 10.
To say photos don’t do Natasha Bowdoin’s fecund installations justice would be an understatement. Bowdoin’s “Seedling” at Talley Dunn Gallery is as transformative as her recent work at the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University, where the artist is an assistant professor of painting and drawing.
But this time, her large-scale cut paper and collage mix of flowers and vines were designed to make the viewer feel as though they’ve immersed themselves in a living Disney short.
Says Bowdoin, “It’s Willy Wonka more than nature documentary for sure. The colors are loud and aggressive, bold to the point of almost being a threat. I was thinking about how color in nature can be a harbinger of something dangerous or deadly. But the color in this work is as much indebted to thinking about poisonous color in nature as it is linked to the cartoon world. I love the transformative nature of cartoons and a lot of my work riffs off of that kind of exciting and exuberant Technicolor.”
Inspired by 19th century botanical illustrations, 1970s floral prints and the 1902 film “A Trip to the Moon” by cinematic pioneer Georges Méliès, “Seedling” was built from cutout blooms on movable carts akin to theatrical stage wagons, giving the work a brazen, kinetic quality that belies flowers typical status as a soft, feminine totem.
Says Bowdoin, “Flowers and women are not demure, static objects to be appreciated in display,” the artist muses. “They are fierce, sharp, wild, and mighty, and so I wanted my garden to embody that on some level.”