Under the eye
Dallas Art Fair finale channels UK at colorful Eye Ball garden party
What: Eye Ball 2019
Where: The lawn under the Eye sculpture at the Joule
The 411: The sixth annual finale of Dallas Art Fair became a daytime event rather than a nighttime affair when nasty spring weather pushed it down a day, to Sunday, April 14.
The move proved to be a unexpected stroke of luck, the organizers concluded, as the outdoor lawn featuring Tony Tasset’s 30-foot sculpture Eye was transformed into a sunny, posh British garden party, complete with a curving boxwood hedge maze that revealed surprises like hidden doors, tucked away spaces, and surreal characters.
Nearly 700 attendees were greeted by an ominous man in a bowler hat and Magritte-inspired cane, and a cheeky gift: a custom teacup “necklace” from Dallas-based Vulgar Teacups with a towering model pouring mimosas, the party’s signature tipsy tea.
This year’s tone of irreverence and irony became abundantly clear as guests entered past the phrase “Get Lost.” They traveled through custom-built hedge mazes that challenged the idea of perception and space. Once inside the maze, guests were treated to several surprises, including a tiny experiential room with playful shag textures, neon lights, and cherry scratch-and-sniff wallpaper.
An iconic red phone booth allowed guests to ring a light-up phone hidden within the maze. (When the phone flashed, any nearby guest in the maze could pick up and speak to the stranger on the other end.)
Also playing with perception was the Ames room photo-op, which created the optical illusion that people standing in the room appeared to be of dramatically different sizes.
Celebrated local acts took to the stage throughout the day, including singer-songwriters Sarah Jaffe and Kirk Thurmond, '80s yacht-rock tribute band The Rich Girls, and former American Idol contestant Tippy Balady. All-vinyl DJs from The Good Taste Collective kept the party going in between sets.
Guests dined on whimsical bites that ranged from blue-and-white dipped strawberries to Technicolor-rainbow layer cake to playful lemon trifles in push-pop form, all catered by The Joule.
“As an outdoor event, the idea of a garden party has always been a natural place to go, and the space practically begs for a maze,” says Jeny Bania, Headington Companies vice president of PR and brand marketing, in a release. “We try to do the unexpected each year by playing with perception. The Eye sculpture is always there reminding me to challenge how we see things — through scale, illusions, and surprising reveals, and even the on-theme UK weather."
Who:Tim O'Heir, Rob Bradford, Caitlin Ripp, Erin Waks, Chance Weick, Edwardo Flores, Lydia Garcia, Brandon Hartin, Chuck Steelman, Scott Kehn, Eneida Hatch, Jay Sims, Amy Van Cleave, Francisco Rizo, Jenna Owens, Jennifer McGill, Annabel McGill, Logan McGill, Jonathan Merla, Michelle Padgett, Tracy Hayes, Van Hayes, Kendall Thomas, Amber Arnold, Kevin Howard, Jessica Roberts, Daniel Perez, Nerissa Von Helpenstill, Dustin Holcomb, Stephanie Seay, Carlos Alonso-Parada, Nolan Kiser, Bela Cooley, Stephany Bradford, Anna Jordan, Angus Glover Wilson, and Esther Park.