Lots Happening on the Dallas Gallery Scene

Art season marked its start this weekend with new exhibitions at every gallery – or so it seemed given the number of shows – in the Dallas Design District.

Here is a sampling of artists’ work I’d recommend, starting with Holly Johnson Gallery (1411 Dragon Street).

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Holly opened the season with Electric Labyrinth: New Paintings by Tommy Fitzpatrick.

After years of being asked if I knew the artist with the same last name, I finally met him. He told me, with Gaelic pride, that our name was the only “Fitz” surname of Irish origin. All others are of Norman origin, such as Fitzgerald and Fitzsimmons.

We also talked about his work (see images below).

Black Rhombus | Mock-up | Diagonal Grid
17” x 13” | acrylic on canvas
Artist: Tommy Fitzpatrick (b. 1969)
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

“Grid Form” (2012)
25-1/2” x 19-1/2” | acrylic on canvas
Artist: Tommy Fitzpatrick (b. 1969)
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

The body of work in Electric Labyrinth was inspired by a trip to Tokyo where Fitzpatrick saw Prada Store, a glamorous seven-story glass structure built in the heart of Aoyama (Tokyo’s luxury retail district).  Designed by Herzog and de Meuron, the architects’ early blueprints, models and the actual building under construction provided a framework for many of the paintings in this show. According to the artist, “I wanted to continue my investigation into the language of architecture and the flatness of paint.”

A Grand Opening: Cris Worley opened her new space on 1415 Slocum Street. (Note: Walk to the end of the side alley to find the gallery entrance.)

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

You’ll enter a room full of the colorful, large paintings by Houston-based artist Howard Sherman in his show, List of Demands.

Howard was there, smiling and engaged with the crowd.

Back when he was a student, Howard drew cartoons for his college newspaper. He became a syndicated cartoonist, and then segued into the fine art world. He said he was thankful he found fine arts because he had grown tired of daily grind with cartooning deadlines.

His painting’s iconography, playful forms and marks are meant to be fun and humorous.

“If you don’t have a sense of humor about your work or life you are “up a creek without a paddle.” The soul of a cartoonist is still seen in each of his paintings and the smile that is usually on his face when I see him in a gallery crowd.

“Press Rewind on Fuck” (2012)
70” x 60” | acrylic and marker on canvas
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Paul Manes (b. 1948) grew up in Beaumont Texas. In 1983, he moved to New York City where he lives today and has a studio. His landscapes, like the one below, are heavily influenced by the swamp images from his Gulf Coast childhood.  With In the Heat of the Night (see image below), I saw mastery in his brush strokes, heavy application of paint and use of high contrast color values.  Manes’ work has been collected by major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, as well as Yoko Ono (very cool).

“In the Heat of the Night” (2008)
78” x 108” | oil on canvas
Artist: Paul Manes
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Inside Conduit Gallery (1626 Hi Line Drive), there are multiple well-curated shows, which is quite typical of Owner/ Director Nancy Whitenack and Assistant Director Danette Dufilho’s visual talents.

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

In the front gallery, you’ll be greeted by Mimi Kato‘s One Ordinary Day of an Ordinary Town (see image below). Her digital compositions are influenced by traditional Japanese art formats and her contemporary suburban childhood.  In an interview she said, “I play the role of each character, sew the costumes, create props and direct the narratives.” Theatrical performances, especially Japanese comedy theater Kyogen and the contemporary Butoh style, influence the poses and gestures of her characters.

Kato is an alumna of the prestigious Artist in Residence Program at The MacDowell Colony.

“One Ordinary Day of an Ordinary Town” (2010)
Archival Pigment Print | 7’ x 32’
Artist: Mimi Kato
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

And, in next gallery room are photographs by Texas Women’s University professor and artist, Susan Kae Grant.

Susan Kae Grant in her studio
(photo: James Bland | D Magazine)

Each piece in the exhibition titled, Theatrical Realms of the Whimsical & Tragic will make you stop, want to absorb all the details and ask, “What is happening?”

The work is a continuation of her shadow-based photographic series, Night Journey. For that show (which was also incredibly good), Grant used her interest in sleep research She actually had herself wired to study her brain activity in REM states. Dreams, fairy tales, myths and shadows are the subject matter for the sets and props she designs, stages and photographs.

Detail from “Theatrical Realms of the Whimsical & Tragic”
Artist: Susan Kae Grant
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Barry Whistler Gallery (2909 Canton Street) displays two rooms of Tom Orr’s large and smaller sculptures.

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Tom Orr (b. 1950), Dallas native with a BFA in Sculpture from Rhodes Island School of Design, works frequently in collaboration with his wife Frances Bagley to create art. Many are accessible to the public, e.g. DART Station, One Arts Plaza Lobby, DFW Airport, Belo Corporation building entrance and a Dallas Opera commission. For this show titled, Delicious Poison, the work continues his experiments with crimping, cutting and layering materials which cause the eye to move from ghost-like cast shadows to hard surfaces to vibrating color lights to shimmering “moire” wavy surfaces.

In 2011, Tom received the prestigious Pollack-Krasner Grant.

detail from “The Moon’s Invention”
Mixed Media | 52” x 35” x 23”
Artist: Tim Orr
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Galleri Urbane Dallas (2277 Monitor St.). The young and talented artist is Jessica Drenk. Her show is Aggregated: Ordinary Objects, Unusual Sculpture (see her work below).

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

detail from “Cerebral Mapping 2” (2012)
Cut books and wax | 122″ x 40″
Artist: Jessica Drenk
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

I first discovered Drenk when her work was exhibited at this year’s Dallas Art Fair where a friend purchased one of her “pencil “pieces – see image below – from the owners of Galleri Urbane. Drenk glues graphite pencils (the ordinary No. 2 yellow) together. With an electric sander, she shaves the shape which exposes streaks of grey on the outer skin and leaves the guts schoolyard yellow.

from “Implement Series”
Mixed media | 9.75” x 20” x 11”
Artist: Jessica Drenk
Private Dallas collection
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

For those who did gallery walk on Saturday night, who would you recommend – your favorite artist, gallery or piece of art?

On a totally unrelated note, congratulations to Serena. She won the US Open in three sets – 2-6, 6-2, 5-7.  It was a fantastic match all the way to the very last minute. Be back next Sunday with more on art.

Enjoy your week,


Shepard Fairey Paints the Town Red

Shepard Fairey, the urban artist who gained prominence with Obama’s 2008 Hope campaign poster, and a team of artists recently hit the streets of Dallas leaving his indelible mark – a series of murals. This Saturday, the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) organized a tour to view five finished Fairey murals. It was another fun CADD trip with a busload of art lovers.

Shepard Fairey Mural | Oak Cliff | 331 Singleton Blvd., near McPherson (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

A question that frequently crosses my mind is “How is this done?” Luckily, Brian Gibb, owner of Deep Ellum gallery The Public Trust, is a long time friend of Shepard Fairey, his fellow street artist. Brian talked with me about the general process and tipped me off to the locations where the murals were happening. I photographed the steps Fairey and his team took over several days to make these urban paintings. The image below is the finished painting at the Dallas Contemporary, followed by the step-by-step activities to make it happen.

Shepard Fairey Mural | Dallas Contemporary | 161 Glass Street, off Riverfront Blvd. | ( photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Step 1: Large rolls of paper with preprinted Xeroxed images of the final design were taped, with regular blue painter’s tape, to the wall after a base coat – in this case, black – completely dried.

Step 2: In the photo below, two artists razor cut the outlines to create a stencil.

Step 3: The stencil was then spray-painted with color. Here, the design instructions called for yellow.

Step 4: After the letters were painted and the paper removed, an artist hand paints any edges where crispness is needed. I noticed the brush was small which means this was a methodical, intense step.

That’s a wrap the Dallas Contemporary site.

So, onto another…

The retaining wall below is located at the historic Belmont Hotel. Step 1: Fairey began with a red underpainting.

The Belmont Hotel | Architect: Charles Dilbeck | Intersection of Fort Worth Avenue and Sylvan (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Step 2: The stencil pattern was a bold design requiring only two colors – black and white – to complete this modern concrete billboard.

Just up the hill, stop at the Belmont Bar terrace for a drink, bite and one of the best views of downtown Dallas.

Until next Sunday…

Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas throw an Unforgettable Dinner

This invitation arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago. CADD, an association of 14 Contemporary Art Dealers in Dallas, was trying an experiment – a mystery destination dinner with the place revealed only after a reservation was made – as a way to raise funds for scholarships and educational programs. It intrigued me, but I was distracted by other requests, and responded “Yes” much later, only after a gentle nudge from my friend, Laura Green, Director at Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden.

All over town the homes of Dallas art collectors, gallery owners and artists were open to us. We were assigned to one for the evening. My mystery destination was the home of art collector, Susan Reese – an excellent cook assisted by her daughter and son-in-law…who take family fly fishing trips where I can imagine, based on last night’s relaxed atmosphere, there is much lively conversation and a lot of laughter. The CADD co-host was Brian Gibb, owner of The Public Trust gallery in Deep Ellum. Yes, he still has his signature barbershop moustache and it suits him well.

The night was different and much fun. We ended at the MAC/ McKinney Avenue Contemporary for dessert and dancing to the beat of Watson Electric, with CADD member and gallery owner Barry Whistler working the drums.

Mystery Dinner at home of artist Rusty Scruby and Hampton Burwick. CADD host Cris Worley Fine Arts. (photo courtesy: CADD/ Cris Worley)

“Eat your Art out” was a sold out event. Next time, I will be among the first to reserve a place at the table – no hesitation on my end.

Until next Sunday…