In November, the art world has decided en masse to commemorate one of Dallas’ most significant historical events: the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Already the focus of the Dallas Museum of Art’s “Hotel Texas” exhibition earlier this year, Kennedy is also in the spotlight at the current “The Assassination of Present Kennedy and 13 Days + 13 Nights: The Cuban Missile Crisis” exhibit from Judy Jashinsky at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, as well as a series of shows throughout the month.
Viewers can investigate the cultural impact of the assassination at Gray Matters Gallery, take a look at some legendary photos from those fateful days at Barry Whistler, or explore an art and artisan commemoration of the Kennedy legacy at the Sixth Floor Museum store. Finally — for something completely different — James Cope has curated a mix of video from auteurs such as Larry Clark and Spike Jonze in an exhibition that showcases the dystopia of modern America.
“Video Days,” various artists, at SMU’s Pollock Gallery
Reception: November 1, 5-8 pm
Exhibition dates: November 1-December 13
They say the “American dream” is dead, and British curator James Cope would agree. Drawing on themes of social stereotypes, freedom, prosperity, opportunity and success, Cope has gathered work from some visual heavy hitters for “Video Days” at SMU.
With a name drawn from the original title of a legendary skateboard video from Spike Jonze, “Video Days” also includes work by Larry Clark (Kids), Florian Drexel, Nicolas Provost, Christopher Samuels and Ryan Wolfe. Cope will give attendees an insight into his inspiration for the show in a gallery talk November 13 at 7 pm.
“It’s about what it means to be young person in America today,” says Cope, a native of Brighton Beach. “There’s a thread running through it which is a subtle comment from me on the bourgeois society that was made up in the 1950s.
“When you watch a movie like Kids or anything Larry Clark or Harmony Korine has done, they’re commenting on this very real America. It’s not all the 1 percent.”
“Three Shots: Iconic Photographs From November 1963,” Bob Jackson, at Barry Whistler Gallery
Artist’s reception: November 2, 1-3 pm
Exhibition dates: November 1-30
On the spot during one of the most significant days of the 20th century, Dallas Times Herald staff photographer Bob Jackson was at Love Field when Kennedy first arrived in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Gallerist Barry Whistler has brought Jackson’s most impactful images to the walls of his Deep Ellum space, showing Kennedy’s arrival, as well as a motorcade moment and the iconic image of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby.
“We went to the effort of tracking down [Jackson] and pitching the idea to him,” Whistler says. “We’re trying to have a little different take on the anniversary.
“For so long I was struggling with what I can do, but we made the galleries dark in the back room and brought the lighting down. It’s an homage during the month of November.”
The 13-by-19-inch prints will be sold in an edition of 25 — a perfect opportunity to take home a bit of history — and Jackson will be on hand for an artist’s reception November 2.
Kettle Art, various artists, at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Opening: November 11, noon
Exhibition dates: Ongoing
Deep Ellum gallery Kettle Art opened its doors again in September after a four-month hiatus, and artist Frank Campagna’s labor of love continues to grow with an ongoing collaboration with the Sixth Floor Museum. Ironically, it was Campagna’s pitching of his 3 Nice Guys painting (picturing Kennedy, Oswald, LBJ and Jack Ruby) to the Sixth Floor’s curators that led to the pairing, even though the work was originally turned down.
“They asked me to contribute to their living memories video collection in January. During the course of talking about where I was when Kennedy got shot and when I had the Dead Kennedys playing at my art studio, I mentioned the piece I did. I brought it to them and got a rejection email!”
Kettle marketing director Paula Harris stepped in to the rescue, and now not only is 3 Nice Guys now for sale at the museum, but artists represented by Kettle will be taking over a permanent 300-square-foot enclave in the gift shop, selling art and crafts inspired by everything from the assassination to the culture of Dallas and Deep Ellum.
“The Artists Commission,” various artists, at Gray Matters Gallery
Artist’s reception: November 22, 7-9 pm
Exhibition dates: November 22-December 14
Finally, the legacy of the cultural side of the assassination has inspired a show curated by Dallas artist Sally Warren at Gray Matters Gallery. Nineteen Dallas-Fort Worth-based and nationally known artists are exhibiting pieces ranging from traditional paintings to a sound performance of artists reciting everything Oswald said in his statement to the police.
“Everything the city was doing was dignified and superficial without looking at any of the things we’ve learned in the last five decades,” Warren says. “This show is really more about celebrity and commodity and identity.
“Artists look at the underlying things, and the idea is to reflect on what Dallas is now, what Texas is now and find some meaning in this 50-year-old event.”