New Year, new art—there’s a whole lotta necessary exhibits on view
The work may vary from sculptural produce to amusing sound bites to a video installation of an immigrant’s journey, yet the idea of identity runs through all of these fascinating shows. Turns out, making 2019 a new year of self-examination, renewal, and reinvention is as easy as walking into your favorite Dallas gallery.—Kendall Morgan
“Tutti Frutti” by Liss LaFleur at Galleri Urbane. Now through February 16.
Liss LaFleur’s sculptures have a lush fecundity, a ripeness that belies their everyday materials. Crafted of glass filled with blush-hued liquid (they’ll eventually contain ballistic gelatin once collectors take them home) the works look girlish and juicy, but there are different themes afoot.
Indeed, all 22 of LaFleur’s “Tutti” fruits (including strawberries, pomegranate, and a banana) draw inspiration from a historical tendency to use fruit to feminize, criminalize, and sexualize the female body.
“I was thinking about the hilarious ways fruit is integrated into language—‘Popping the Cherry,’ ‘Cherry Bomb,’ or ‘Fruit Loops,’” the artist explains. “I got interested in looking at the semiotics of those statements. A lot of my works have a darker humor and satire, and are politically driven.”
After pitching her concept to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, the Denton-based artist had the opportunity to create the sculptures during a residency, measuring her body with silver calipers so each glass objet would correspond to a part of her anatomy.
During research, a footnote led LaFleur to the “Fruit Machine,” the Canadian government’s way to detect homosexuals and purge them from civil service. With the addition of works on canvas that reference rude slang and a video, Boi with a Fruit Basket, LaFleur’s show has a lot of layers to unpeel, no pun intended.
“Away Message” by various artists at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. Now through February 23.
One of the more clever approaches to an exhibition in recent years is Sweet Pass’ sonically adventurous “Away Message.” Created as a way for the outdoor sculpture park to still exhibit work during the winter, the show takes the form of an hour’s worth of sound bites by over 50 local and international artists.
Visitors simply pull up outside the locked gates at 402 Fabrication Street—day or night—and tune their dial into 96.1 to experience an aural adventure at what co-founder Trey Burns calls, “the best make-out spot in Dallas.”
“It’s sort of a weird idea,” admits Burns, who came up with the concept after viewing local Christmas light displays that included links to holiday songs.
“We wanted to do something during a time people might not want to go outside. We reached out to different artists and musicians and got 46 different sound pieces that respond to this notion of being away and absent. Some are more musically inclined, some are voicemails and sound essays. We want to work more with different kinds of media in 2019, as well as expanding the notion of sculpture.”
In case you can’t make it by in person, dial into the Park’s site to hear the show in its entirety from the spot of your choice.
“Born in a Beam of Light” by Rochelle Goldberg at The Power Station. Now through April 14.
Materiality is at the heart of the work by Canadian artist Rochelle Goldberg. Her arsenal of raw supplies (which in the past has included everything from crude oil and chia seeds to ceramic and steel) got a big boost when the legendary Milan-based Fonderia Artistica Battaglia awarded her a sculpture prize to work in bronze last year.
Installed this month at The Power Station, the result of that 2018 residency pairs limbless, body-less figures with earth, glass bowls, and trails of fiber optic lights. Through this unlikely mix, Goldberg takes the viewer on a journey that seems to mirror the stages of life—however obliquely.
“She’s really interested in mythological and biblical narratives that come through in the work,” says the Station’s artistic director Rob Teeters. “It’s never explicit, but there’s a lot of relationships to humanity as a whole and how a person interacts and engages with the world they live in.”
“Independence” by various artists at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary. Now through February 23.
One of the most beloved non-profit spaces in Dallas, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary pulled up roots from its original home to build a new spot in the Cedars three years ago. Although it was always a thrilling (and slightly dangerous) experience visiting the hole-ridden warehouse that served as its temporary digs, the permanent MAC at 1530 S. Ervay is finally here and worth the wait.
Kicking off with the all-female show “Independence,” the space will continue its tradition of highlighting Texas-based talent.
“(Moving) really helped us get back to our roots,” says executive director Rachel Rogerson. “The overarching concept of identity, social dominance and ecological impact vs. consumerism are the themes revolving around the work in ‘Independence.’ I wanted to have some strong local artists we had exhibited before, and with everything going on right now, including the ‘Me Too’ movement, women are responding to these themes.”
Being in the temporary space also “helped us break out of that white cube and reevaluate how we are engaging the art community,” says Rogerson, which bodes well for future shows. Next up on March 6 are a thought-provoking print series from Sandow Birk (featuring a panel-spanning clash of the political spectrum) and Al Farrow’s houses of the holy sculpted from gun parts.
“Marmalade” by Oshay Green, Shelby David Meier, and Paul Winker at And Now. Now through February 16.
Oshay Green, Shelby David Meier, and Paul Winker spend a lot of time together, both as residents at the artist-run Deadbolt Studios and—at least this month—in the environs of And Now Gallery. The three-man exhibit “Marmalade” is the perfect pared-down show for James Cope’s space—the gallerist has made his mark by staging exhibits that let the artwork breathe.
Though Green’s reclaimed wood Fence and Winker’s collaged Over the Top canvas are optically alluring, it is Meier’s Weighted Blankets that bring the viewer closer. What appears to be grubby moving blankets—an essential ingredient in every art handler’s tool kit—the concrete works cast with what seems to be smeared dust and glitter can’t help but invite a touch. Not that we’d condone that sort of behavior!
“When you do a lot of art handling, you see art blankets in spaces, but never during a show,” the artist says of his inspiration. “I think I’m interested in that kind of everyday mundane thing—not every day is going to be special, but there’s something special about every day. I want people to be more open and aware of the world around them and slow down and disconnect.”
“The Potential Wanderer,” by Francis Almendárez at The Reading Room. Now through March 2.
Caroline Elbaor has been a welcome addition to Dallas, both in her role on the curatorial team at the Dallas Contemporary and through her contribution to local galleries.
Bringing her eye for emerging talent to The Reading Room this month, she has guest curated a video installation by Houston-based artist Francis Almendárez that explores the “otherness” experienced by the present-day immigrant through the lens of German sociologist Georg Simmel’s essay “The Stranger.”
Comprised of three videos—one set in a Central American home, another in boat on the Caribbean sea, and a third in in an idealized cityscape—the show is a timely exploration of an outsider’s longing for a permanence he may never achieve. (All scenes are set to a soundtrack of the jazz classic “Caravan.”)
Friends since they both attended Goldsmiths at the University of London, Elbaor says the artist’s themes have been in place since the very beginning of his career. “Almendárez’s family is originally from the Honduras, so his work really plays into the idea of the contemporary immigrant. His position in the community is that he doesn’t belong, yet he imports qualities that wouldn’t exist otherwise. He’s not in the group, but he’s of the group.”
Now that it’s more difficult than ever to seek asylum in a country built on the backs of the disenfranchised, the show might be just the thing to spark dialogue between friends and family members on opposite sides of the political fence.