Cool work, (slightly) cooler temps—Dallas galleries are all in for Fall 2019
Identity is at the heart of what we’re excited about this autumn. Whether it’s establishing a unique viewpoint as a female artist, exploring what it means to be queer in the modern sense of the word, or harnessing our addiction to anxiety, there’s a lot to unpack in the art world. All this, plus the return of a beloved street art extravaganza, and we bet you’re gonna fall for what’s on view. —Kendall Morgan
Womb by Jennifer Steinkamp at Talley Dunn Gallery. Now through October 26.
In Jennifer Steinkamp’s skillful hands, technology and nature align to create mesmerizing video installations that are both soothing and slightly unsettling. In Womb at Talley Dunn Gallery, trees writhe in space, foliage transforms through a spectrum of color, and fruits whir and tumble to a soundtrack of wind sampled from the Wizard of Oz.
Owner Dunn first came in contact with the artist’s work over two decades ago at the Istanbul Biennial. She says the juxtaposition of the contemporary with the historic in Steinkamp’s pieces made for, “the most incredible piece of contemporary art in a historic setting I’ve ever seen. It was just phenomenal.”
“Since then, I’ve been a fan of hers and her ability. The way she works with architecture makes her a pioneer.”
The five site-specific installations in Womb are a treat for the eyes, and perfect for an afternoon of immersion in the (un)natural world.
Objetos Especificos by Lucia Hierro at Sean Horton (Presents). Now through October 19.
What we buy—and how we consume —is influenced by geography, income, and cultural mores—as anyone who has visited a New York bodega can attest. Artist Lucia Hierro explores how her Dominican American heritage aligns with shopping habits through quirky sculptures that owe as much to Claes Oldenburg and Donald Judd as they do to her childhood in Washington Heights.
Giant net bags burst with soft sculpture bottles and packages serve as a kind of 3D biography, while a mural called Anchoring refers to illegal immigrants moving across the border to establish themselves as citizens through an “anchor baby.”
Having already shown at New York’s Elizabeth Dee Gallery, San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora and Los Angeles’ Jeffrey Deitch, Hierro is a star on the rise. Her playful, pictorial works offer a somewhat lighthearted way to examine a problematic subject.
“She’s really the only artist of her generation who is dealing with these sorts of themes in a Pop Art way,” says gallery owner Sean Horton.
Michelle Rawlings at And Now. Now through November 2.
Dallas-based artist Michelle Rawlings draws from the same dreamy, post-feminist perspective as director Sofia Coppola. Both specialize in the portraits of contemplative femininity, exploring as Rawlings says, “how you own space in the world that’s not pressured.”
For her eight pieces currently on view at And Now gallery, she was loosely inspired by Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen—a subject that references the artist’s discovery of fine art in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as a child.
“She portrays a Nordic coldness, and also her lush fabrics reflect light,” says Rawlings of the designer’s ability to combine tropes and genres. “It’s a perfect amalgam of things I find irresistible. I like the idea that even though the paintings are from this specific fashion line…they read to the viewer as more strange and ambiguous, like old-fashioned girls in dresses at a boarding school. I like it because it’s covert and can potentially seem like a lot of other things.”
The Stink Eye by Martha Rich, Esther Pearl Watson, and Heather Sundquist Hall at Webb Gallery, Waxahachie. Now through November 24.
Titled after artist Martha Rich’s quirky thought bubbles, The Stink Eye is a fun and festive mash up of three iconoclastic female talents. At the show’s opening, patrons were snatching her funny faces and silly quotes (among them “Don’t Flip Your Wig,” “Oh Great More Opinions” and “Oops I Drank All the Wine”) off the wall and carting them home.
Rich, who recently moved from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, bases her word salads on random bits of verbiage she’s overheard on public transport. Larger canvases reference bad girls captured in 1960’s mugshots.
“It’s mainly about wild women,” she says of her candy-colored wooden cutouts. “It’s living life—we’re just bombarded by everything. Whoever has the art can arrange (the pieces) into a whole new story.”
Rich’s paintings pair perfectly with Esther Pearl Watson’s canvases of flying saucers and Heather Sundquist Hall’s dreamy, desolated landscapes. What the three have in common is their ability to allow the viewer to make up a narrative to go along with whatever the artists are portraying.
“I come from a comic book background, so I like the idea of imagery you automatically try to assemble,” says Watson. “I really love the collaboration with other people looking at your work and telling each other what they think the story is.”
Cosmic to Corporeal various artists at the MAC. Now through November 9.
Interdisciplinary artist Liss LaFleur is nothing if not ambitious. Balancing her practice with a gig as Assistant Professor of New Media Art at the University of North Texas and curatorial duties, she has pulled off a hat trick in her latest exhibition.
Seeking to assemble an intergenerational and intersectional gathering of artists working to redefine performance art in relation to the queer body, LaFleur sent out an open call for talent. And everyone from locally loved duo Chuck and George to the New York-based activist collective Fierce Pussy turned up.
“I started to think about the show when I moved back to Texas in 2015,” LaFleur explains. “There was a real lack of visibility in contemporary performance art that’s not theatrical or Marina Abramović-style, and a major disparity of what people are doing versus what’s being shown in major museums.”
LaFleur mixes installations, video performances, printed materials, and live performances from artists that both self-identified as queer or discussed queerness as a significant component of their work. The show is particularly prescient during a moment when Merriam-Webster finally recognized the non-gender-specific personal pronoun “they.”
LaFleur hopes Cosmic (which includes a performance by Le’Andra LeSeur October 12 at 6 AM and one by an array of artists October 26 at 6 PM) will allow viewers to engage by, “thinking about their own physicality and their own body.”
“I hope the works are reflective enough to ask questions of the viewer’s presence in the space, but also in this time period. With everything that’s happening in the wider world, I think presence and embodiment are two really important things. We can’t have visibility without embodiment.”
Prone Anxiety by Shawn Mayer at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. Now through November 16.
Feeling stressy lately? Then you’ve got something in common with Shawn Mayer, who has harnessed the angst of our overextended times in a new exhibit at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park.
Produced by gallerist Liliana Bloch, the appointment-only Prone Anxiety is the inaugural show in the Park’s New Media Space SP2. Mayer mixes up imagery of public spaces (because they make them feel uncomfortable) with three-dimensional works like a repurposed vintage motion print of a waterfall (a sly reference to Yelp reviews).
“We have a tendency to criticize everything nowadays—people are rating national parks, saying ‘This canyon isn’t really great. This waterfall isn’t as good as I thought it could be.’ The work was also created with the attempt to try and visualize my anxiety I’ve had over the last three years. A lot of these pieces were from that original genesis and what causes it and how you try to alleviate it.”
Lest you worry about the artist’s high anxiety, rest easy—he says he feels “a whole lot healthier” after he left Dallas to relocate to the Pacific Northwest.
Wild West Mural Fest by Various artists. Tour October 19 from 11 AM–5 PM. Exhibition ongoing.
The brainchild of local artist Will Heron, last year’s Wild West Mural Fest brought colorful works to walls all over West Dallas. Keeping the tradition going for a second year, Heron will unveil murals by a whole slew of new talent (plus returning favorites) October 12–19.
Heron originally curated the fest based on muralists he knew locally, plus a few talented out-of-towners. This go’ round, an open call resulted in over 75 applicants narrowed down to 12, including Panama City, Panama import SM Sanz and a collaboration between returning artist Drigo and students from the Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard School.
Pop by the Trinity Groves breezeway October 19 from 11 AM onwards to pick up a free map that’ll take you to the 12 new sites, as well as the open studios and art spaces featured in the annual Art Walk West. The murals themselves will live on donated buildings until they are developed—or hopefully touched up to become a more permanent fixture in the neighborhood.