A new monthly column by contributing arts writer, Kendall Morgan
With the country’s largest arts district in the center of downtown and scores of independent galleries in the Design District, Deep Ellum and beyond, Dallas offers seemingly endless exhibitions and art-appreciation opportunities.
To navigate it all, we tasked one of the city’s most plugged-in arts writers, Kendall Morgan, to roundup the highlights—the few essential shows not to be missed each month. Whether you’re a curious bystander or a serious collector, consider this your official guide. The eye has to travel, but where it stops is up to you.
“Parallel Universe,” by Lance Letscher at Conduit Gallery through February 13.
Hyper-colorized and super dense, Austin artist Lance Letscher’s collages are rich with information and imagery. Mining everything from junk shop-sourced board games to curated paper ephemera, he meticulously cuts each piece, layering until it has a three-dimensional quality. Each work tells a story, although Letscher says he never actually plans out the narrative until it is completed.
“When it’s time to name pieces, it’s easy because something comes out of somewhere to insert itself into the collage. It’s not as much for the conscious mind as it is from intuition and opportunism.”
Also on view: the artist’s metal collages sourced from old signs. Cut with shears and stapled together, they have a jewel-like quality that surprises and delights.
“Black Dolphin” by Brian Fridge, Pierre Krause, Michelle Rawlings and Jeff Zilm at AND NOW through February 10.
With “Black Dolphin,” ambitious gallerist James Cope juxtaposes work by three accomplished artists—Brian Fridge, Michelle Rawlings, and Jeff Zilm—with pieces by self-described “multimedia thing-maker” and newbie to his space, Pierre Krause.
Named after one of the most heinous prisons in Russia, the title implies dire and disturbing subject matter. Instead, the show forms light and airy “duets” between Fridge, Zilm, Rawlings, and Krause that occasionally echo an analog version of Tumblr. By riffing off one another’s experiences, they create an ongoing dialogue that invites the viewer to join in with their own interpretations.
“Masters of Some,” by various artists at Barry Whistler Gallery through February 17.
“Masters of Some” has its genesis in the idea that a good art professor’s guidance goes far beyond the classroom into generations of influential work.
“We started thinking about Josef Albers, who has a show about his work inspired by his visits to Mexico at the Guggenheim. You start thinking about him, what he taught, and what influence he had,” says Barry Whistler of the show’s curation. “It’s an opportunity to show some of the artists in my stable, and the broadness of their environment and audience.”
Using former Texas A&M professor Michael Miller and current University of Texas at Dallas professor John Pomara as ground zero, Whistler gathered together a chain of creativity on canvas, including works by Scott Barber, Luke Harnden, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Lawrence Lee, Kirsten Macy, Liz Trosper and Karl Umlauf. Ranging from the industrialist to the highly animated, “Masters of Some” could be considered a “greatest hits” of Texan talent.
“Deathbeds,” by Ann Wood at Kirk Hopper Fine Art through February 17.
When traditional feminine crafts like embroidery and scrapbooking meet masculine materials like hunting decoys and taxidermy forms, you get the work of Ann Wood. Raised by a flower-growing mom and rancher dad in California, Wood found her focus by elevating so-called “women’s work” in a style she calls “crafting gone crazy.”
“I have a thing that if you can’t get it a Michaels you don’t need it,” she says. “I like kitsch: things that are so tacky, they’re beautiful.”
A 13-foot Rapunzel-esque nest built out of doll hair, an Astroturf bear rug studded with blooms, and a working fireplace topped with a rose-studded mountain lion embrace the spot where nature and nurture collide.
“Day by Day” by Yuji Agematsu at The Power Station, January 27 through March 9.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so goes the practice of Japanese artist Yuji Agematsu. On view this month at The Power Station, “Day by Day” documents months of Agematsu’s collection of junk off the street. Placing random objects like gum, weeds, and feathers into cellophane cigarette packs, the resulting still lives comment on our throwaway culture as well as an obsessive need to preserve the everyday experience.
“It’s certainly a reflection of our society’s urge to consume, and this is the product of all that consumption,” says the Station’s artistic director Rob Teeters. “These are objects that are otherwise drained of their use value—their function is complete until Yuji comes along.”
Having curated a whole year’s worth of detritus into a calendar-like installation, the artist is also showing—for the first time—a series of photographs shot on Manhattan’s Bowery and Delancey Streets of other objects that caught his eye.
“It’s like the objects find him,” says Teeters. “They speak to him and beg to be documented. The work on the surface sounds like garbage, but somehow through the way he archives it, it elevates it to a spiritual plane.”