One of the most exhilarating — and exhausting — weeks of the year is when the Dallas Art Fair comes to town. Since its inception, the event has grown exponentially, and the eighth edition features almost 100 exhibitors, including 33 international participants.
Opening with a preview gala Thursday, April 14, and continuing through Sunday, April 17, highly anticipated new galleries this year include Carbon 12 (Dubai), Honor Fraser (Los Angeles), Karma International (Zurich, Los Angeles), Leila Heller Gallery (New York), Páramo (Guadalajara), and Steve Turner (Los Angeles), among others.
Most significantly, this year the fair debuts “Student Sundays,” where all students with a valid ID can attend the fair for free. Former Dallas Museum of Art contemporary curator Suzanne Weaver moderates a panel on April 17, 1 pm, to discuss how to rework the MFA curriculum to best benefit the next generation of artists. Spearheaded by the fair’s Kelly Cornell, the initiative has been in the works since early October of last year.
Says Cornell, “I saw people posting things about how the Dallas Art Fair is great, but they can’t afford it or attend it. We’re trying to tie the theme of education through everything this year and trying to make it more cohesive. I want all the schools in North Texas to have access to this.”
Outside the fair’s Fashion Industry Gallery environs, there are plenty of exhibits, pop-up parties, and full-on happenings that deserve every fairgoer’s attention. Here are just a few to add to this week’s social calendar:
Little Pink House
There are installations, and then there are installations, and local artist Samantha McCurdy’s latest endeavor is most definitely in the latter category. McCurdy has transformed the home of creative consultants Dan and Joseph into a full-on artwork by painting it — light bulbs to moldings — in the rosiest of hues.
“I always like doing a monochromatic piece, and my work is very architectural anyway,” says McCurdy, who got the thumb’s up to create the work after a night of revelry. “I’ll be installing some of my snug paintings inside of the space, and we’ll have the work of Gina Garza on display.”
Located at 801 Sunset Ave. in Oak Cliff, the installation will be on view through the early summer. Fair visitors can pop by the pink abode by RSVP’ing at email@example.com.
Kicking things off in the official calendar is Karl Holmqvist’s “Tough Love,” opening Wednesday, April 13, 6 pm, at the Power Station and ongoing through June 17. Known for his facility in adopting language as a material for visual art, the Swedish talent is bringing two new large-scale sculptures (spelling out the exhibition’s title) and a short film, as well as debuting an artist’s book containing handwritten graffiti drawings.
At 7 pm, Holmqvist stages a performance of industrial band Throbbing Gristle’s “Discipline” with NYC-based electronic artist Stefan Tcherepnin, taking his particular style of communication to a sonically impactful level.
The masterminds behind Aurora, Dallas’ most epic citywide art event, are getting into the action this week with a “Spring Sounds” pop-up at Lee Harvey’s on April 13, 9 pm-2 am. Presented by Aurora along with “What is Cinema?” podcast founders Lee Escobedo and Patrick Patterson-Carroll, the night is less about viewing work and more about letting your hair down. DJ Blue the Misfit and Rat Rios perform. RSVP here.
One could argue beauty is a form of art, at least in the fashion world of the ’80s and ’90s. Celebrating the ’supes in grand style is 1814 Magazine’s “Age of the Supermodel” featuring photographs by Donna DeMari. Opening April 14, 6-9 pm, and continuing through April 17, at 750 N. Saint Paul St., the exhibition highlights previously unseen images of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer and all the other significant beauties of the day, snapped backstage at the era’s haute couture shows. Sponsored by Grange Hall and Quadrant Investment Properties, it should be the week’s perfect alignment of art and fashion.
Soluna Sneak Peek
Thanks to events like Aurora, the walls of the Arts District are being used to put on finery for special occasions. Acclaimed artist Barbara Kasten dresses up the façade of the Meyerson Symphony Center on April 14 with a site-specific installation of primary colors and forms. Unveiled at 10 pm, Sideways/Corner serves as a preview of sorts of May’s Soluna International Music and Arts Festival (running May 16 through June 5). Presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, this world premiere work begins as a single rotating cube, developing in complexity as it changes the reality of the site upon which it is projected.
The Hole Thing
For one night only on April 15, the Culture Hole (aka artists Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe) installs an underground project space just below the Power Station at 3816 Commerce St. The second in an ongoing series, this year’s “L’Attico” by artist Jesse Morgan Barnett blurs the boundaries between the object, its environment, and performance. Beginning at 10 pm, the two-hour event should be both intimate and engaging, giving viewers an insight into Barnett’s tragicomic sensibility.
Opening April 16, the Dallas Contemporary’s spring show highlights three ambitious solo exhibitions, including NYC-based Dan Colen’s most in-depth survey to date, the first solo U.S. museum show by Italian multimedia artist Paola Pivi, and the inaugural presentation of new work from minimalist designer turned fine artist Helmut Lang. Although their work seemingly differs wildly, one thing the three have in common is their unique use of materials.
Says senior curator Justine Ludwig, “Colen creates paintings using trash as substrate. Lang transforms sheepskin through the application of tar. Pivi takes on taxidermy forms, inflatables, and even a fighter jet. All these artists push the boundaries of technique and materiality.”
Part of the lively exhibition “Life is a Gasssss” at Erin Cluley Gallery, Brit artist Oliver Clegg’s vivid table sculpture is activated for a series of insider dinner parties held in a West Dallas warehouse during the duration of the fair. Formerly used for the annual Brooklyn Artists Ball, “Until the Cows Come Home” has a kinetic charm, with outer spinning seats of primary hues keeping the sitter’s social environment moving in the most engaging of ways.
Fairgoers can contact Cluley at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to view the work.
All Eyes on The Joule
One of the most highly anticipated parties is the surrealistically spectacular Eye Ball at The Joule, held this year on the evening of April 16. With a quote from Houdini, the heat sensory invitations crafted by Swoon the Studio are a clue into the theme, which plays with perception in the same way as the oversized ocular sculpture that gave the event its name.
University of North Texas graduate Shara Nova (previously Worden), the lead singer for My Brightest Diamond, performs in the shadow of the monumental Tony Tasset work.
Sometimes the best things happen after midnight, and this includes the opportunity to view a broad spectrum of talent at a notoriously nefarious hour. Held Saturday, April 16, “3 am Eternal” won’t even kick off until 10 pm, but that’s a good thing for gallerist/artist David Quadrini, Southwest artist Nick Stewart, and museum curator Suzanne Weaver.
Titled in homage to the British acid group KLF’s most successful song, “3 am” just “doesn’t make sense” to happen in the daytime, according to Stewart.
“We have so many friends that work in the fair, and we’re aware at the end of it, you’re overwhelmed by the white walls, so we wanted to do something that’s more for fun,” he explains. “It’s forever been this witching hour when spirituality and curses have more power. It’s when aliens visit and ghosts happen and stock markets crash.”
We hope none of these things happen, but at the very least attendees are guaranteed to see pieces by Judith Bernstein, Chivas Clem, Keith Edmier, Farrah Fawcett, Neckface, James Franco, Rachel T. Harris, K8 Hardy, SeMeN SPeRmS (sic), and Urban Zellweger, just to name a few.
In an homage to the witching hours in which it occurs, the space at 3901 Main St. will be painted black with a fog machine, all the better to conjure up the spirits of contemporary art.
Dallas Art Fair tickets are $500 for a Patron Pass, which includes an all-access pass to exhibition openings and exclusive events. General admission is $25/$20 for students and seniors or $50/$40 for a three-day pass. To get in free on Friday, use the code DAFProfessionalsDay2016 on the ticketing page.