Everything’s coming up color and shape in Dallas’ best galleries
Dreamlike images, determined little cardboard houses, and two new spaces with Euro-centric focus programming are what’s currently in focus in the local scene. —Kendall Morgan
Leo Gabin at Sean Horton (presents). Now through March 31.
Despite a somewhat challenging fall (and winter) navigating the bylaws and byways of City Hall, former New York and Berlin gallerist Sean Horton has persevered by finally opening the doors to his Oak Cliff space on Jefferson Avenue.
Choosing the work of Leo Gabin (a trio of Belgian artists obsessed with American culture) for the big reveal, Horton plans on continuing to bring the international to the local with future programming.
Gabin’s elevation on the detritus of Americana—including plastic lawn chairs, clapboard homes, and pickup trucks—and use of found footage and recycled imagery felt like a good fit for Horton’s first show, says the gallerist.
“Their fascination with American culture and the images within their artwork are a surprising and unexpected reflection of the visual landscape of Texas, and specifically Oak Cliff,” Horton says.
“White Noise” by Emmanuel Van der Auwera at 214 Projects. Now through April 20.
The Dallas Art Fair is such an intrinsic part of the local scene’s success, it’s a bit surprising they haven’t had a more permanent location…until now. 214 Projects, a 2,500-square-foot gallery that’s part of Fair Chairman John Sughrue’s River Bend Development, finally opened its doors in March, with an anticipated mix of programming ranging from installations to performance.
Neighbors with And Now (who were smart enough to colonize this then-sleepy corner of the Design District) and the soon-to-be location of Erin Cluley Gallery 2.0, 214 will serve as a project space and creative incubator where Fair-featured international galleries can show some of their more thought-provoking work.
“We’ve been working on the idea for three or four years,” says the Fair’s director Kelly Cornell. “Once John had this development, and we decided to move our offices over here we were committed to redeveloping this area to be a creative community. We’re really excited to bring galleries in for more than a long weekend, and offer an opportunity to have a bigger presence in Dallas.”
Having already done a pop up last year with Brussels gallery Harlan Levey Projects, 214 is featuring the work of Belgian artist Emmanuel Van der Auwera from the Brussels gallery’s stable. Questioning our visual literacy through multimedia films and sculptures, Van der Auwera’s piece “Study for VideoSculpture XIV” was recently acquired for the Dallas Museum of Art’s permanent collection. His “intense installations” are an excellent intro to the type of edgy work Cornell and 214 hope to expose the city to in the near future.
“It’s a blank canvas,” says Cornell. “We’re operating in this grey space between a project space where the skies the limit, and a more commercial space, but everything we do at the Fair has a commercial spin to it. In that end, we are looking to sell the work and heavily program the space with strong international shows four times a year, and then curating some shows ourselves. They’ll always be activity at 214, but we want it to be a platform locally, as well.”
“50 Years” by Keith Carterat PDNB Gallery. Now through May 4.
Texan photographer Keith Carter has compared his use of black and white film to poetry. Influenced by the same Southern Gothic tradition that inspired writers Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, this so-called “transcendent realist” moves from documentary style imagery to magical realism in pictures that are always filtered through a dreamlike lens.
Celebrating a whopping half-century of image making—and his new monograph published by the University of Texas press—Carter’s show includes work from the very beginning of his career through more recent portraits, including one of a Cuban Santeria initiate. Whether it’s a boy balancing a sculpture of a bee on his lap, or the shadows of children playing with sheets hung out to dry, every picture possesses its own story.
“Keith’s work is rooted in the culture of Southeast Texas, but also in literature and some African mythology,” says gallery co-owner Missy Finger, who first showed Carter’s work 21 years ago.
“There are some cultural references to another era, like early 20th Century… (and) religion has been a part of his subject matter, more earlier than now. Maybe it is the mystery of religion/myth that you see in the work (that makes it so compelling).”
“Survival Politics” by Giovanni Valderas at Cydonia Gallery. Now through May 18.
Anyone who has spent time in Oak Cliff or West Dallas lately has no doubt observed how the neighborhood has been transformed from multigenerational low-income housing to pre-fab buildings and Soviet Bloc-style apartment buildings.
Wanting to bear witness to his city’s cultural and physical evolution, artist Giovanni Valderas created the 2017-2018 series “Casitas Triste,” site-specific crepe paper and cardboard houses that anthropomorphically portrayed a hangdog apathy or trepidation at their rapidly gentrifying surroundings.
“I was thinking about when we say, ‘affordable housing’ it’s this abstract concept. People don’t really know what it is. When you go to a community meeting and hear a single mother say she has to work 82 hours a week at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom, you see that development has these scorched earth tactics. I thought we needed to start a dialogue, but approach it from an empathetic nature and see if we can have a conversation through these small, sad-looking houses.”
Now Valderas is bringing his endearing little casas crafted from Home Depot boxes (plus images of his installations) to Cydonia Gallery at the Safe Room/Texas Theatre. With “Survival Politics,” the artist hopes to offer a more optimistic view of how advocacy and action can come through art. Once the show is done, the houses on display will be released back in the wild, but with a more hopeful nature.
“Some of them are determined to change things,” says Valderas, who has the same impulse himself—he’s running for Dallas City Council in District One. “Everyday people don’t have representation, so I decided to use the house as a symbol of our community. He’s no longer sad: he has a look of determination.”