Eye on the Prize

Joule Dallas hotel gets artsy with ocular installation guaranteed to stop traffic

Joule hotel gets artsy with traffic-stopping ocular installation

Eye by Tony Tasset at Joule hotel in Dallas
Tony Tasset's Eye, brought to downtown Dallas by Headington Companies in collaboration with the Nasher Sculpture Center. Photo courtesy of Headington Companies

Downtown Dallas gets a surrealistic twist with the unveiling of Eye, an iconic work by multimedia artist Tony Tasset currently being installed at 1607 Main St. across from The Joule hotel. The iris — based on Tasset’s own baby blues — arrives on Monday, August 26 and will be on display indefinitely.

Acquired by Headington Companies, developer of the hotel, Eye is inspired by such disparate provocateurs as Magritte, Dali, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. Originally commissioned as part of the Chicago Loop Alliance’s Art Loop program, Eye made its debut in the city’s Pritzker Park in 2010 before moving to Dallas with the collaboration of the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The 30-foot fiberglass, resin, oil paint and steel sculpture recalls old-school roadside signs, surrealistic totems and universal religious symbols at the same time, aligning the grandiose with the witty and the freaky to make a larger-than-life spectacle that, quite frankly, one can’t look away from.

The showcasing of such a major piece makes sense for a property that is devoted to art; The Joule is known for rotating significant acquisitions from artists both established (Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Phillips) and on the rise (Rainer Judd, Andrew Kuo).

The singular work marks the completion of The Joule’s major renovation and expansion, as well as Headington Companies’ dedication to contemporary art. Eye’s pretty peeper will remain a one-of-a-kind installation on the hotel’s temporary exhibition site, but there’s no denying it leaves the viewer with a longing for even more ambitious projects from Headington and The Joule.