Your Show of Shows
These are the 4 best Dallas art gallery exhibitions this month
It takes every faction of a local scene — buyers, gallerists, and artists — to keep things moving and thriving. This month, we have a golden opportunity to bid on a piece from a world-class collection, glimpse how masterworks have made their influence in Dallas spaces, and view an ambitious performative series from a local young gun.
“ENDLESS/NAMELESS,” Arthur Peña,at the Reading Room
Performances: June 18 and 25 at 8 pm
Painter, educator, and former Ware:Wolf:Haus director Arthur Peña always has a lot of balls in the air, but this month, he’s more ambitious than ever. In addition to running Vice Palace, his noise-rock pop-up venue and music label, this multihyphenate talent is adding composer to his résumé with “Endless/Nameless,” a three-Saturday series of musical performances inspired by an artist’s statement he once wrote for his solo show at the Latino Cultural Center.
Based on “the human condition,” Peña first sketched out a musical scene that was performed last year at Chalet Dallas at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Reading Room founder Karen Weiner was impressed enough to give Peña the chance to tell a fuller story, this time with the help of many of the city’s bright young things.
“Everybody involved in this project said, ‘Hey, I want to work with you,’” says Peña. “Certain people have that empathy for others, but some people carry around that ennui more than others. I’ve had conversations with people who have gone through things I’ve gone through emotionally, and it’s almost this cathartic connection.”
Exploring the notions of beauty and loss through experimental storytelling and song, the performances will feature different musicians and collaborators each night. The series kicked off on June 11 with Ariel Saldivar, Drew Chapa, Dennis Congdon, Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi, Lord Byron, and Michael Morris performing to an original score by Poppy Xander. Other players include George Quartz and Samantha Rios, who will share the audience’s attention with projected films and musical interludes.
“It’s a dreamscape, but it’s all happening live, like Saturday Night Live,” says Peña. “The performers will come out and talk and sing a cappella, but they don’t know what the musical interludes are going to do. We’ll all have a part of it, and it’ll build itself in front of us.”
“The 13 Most Beautiful,” various artists,at Cydonia Gallery
Reception: June 18, 6-8 pm
Exhibition dates: June 18-July 30
Was there ever an artist that predicted our navel-gazing society with such prescience as Andy Warhol? Every mirror-gazing selfie or Instagrammed meal in 2016 owes quite a debt to the master of mutable identity’s work in the silver ’60s.
Cydonia Gallery continues Warhol’s tradition in its 13th exhibition, “The Thirteen Most Beautiful…,” with beauty as the main medium in works of photography and sculpture. The highlight, of course, is likely to be Conrad Ventur’s video recordings updating Warhol’s iconic films of the Factory’s most famous denizens, among them actor Taylor Mead, actress Mary Woronov, artist Bibbe Hansen, model Ivy Nicholson, filmmaker Jonas Mekas, actress Sally Kirkland, and artist Ultra Violet.
Shot with the same harsh lighting in an ongoing four-minute video of each subject’s almost motionless face, the results are a haunting coda to America’s most bohemian generation.
Says Ventur, who first researched the screen tests at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Whitney Museum in New York, “Interest in this piece has sometimes emphasized celebrity, though it’s also about time, portraiture, originality, and so much more … . The subject’s concerns were put at the forefront of the project: Though the target for each sitting would be an emulation of their mid-’60s performance, it was perfectly fine to try something different with respect to their limitations and own ideas. Together, we took the screen tests for a ride.”
One of the most memorable shows in local history, the Dallas Museum of Art’s “Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots” continues to have a deep impact in our city. Director/curator Joan Davidow of the nonprofit Site 131 was so inspired by the exhibition, she couldn’t help but look at the work of younger artists through Pollock’s monochromatic lens.
“The show was very impactful for me. The whole concept of using black paint made me think what [artists] were doing today with that conceit,” she explains. “I started paying attention and saw James Buss’s pourings mixed in plaster and said, ‘I’ll take that, to start.’”
From outsider artist Beverly Baker, who creates strictly with ballpoint pen and colored pencil, to young Bavarian artist Maximilian Prüfer, who uses his own “Naturantypie” method to record the trace of raindrops, she gathered together an “interesting cross-section” of talent from Texas and beyond — artists finding liberty in the most limited of palettes.
“The approach wasn’t essential to me, but the result was essential,” says Davidow “That there was some freedom there that was maybe as free as what Pollock was doing.”
Big Bang Art Auction from the legendary collection of Sonny Burt and Robert Butler, at Talley Dunn
Preview dates: Through June 24
Live Auction: June 25, 10 am doors, auction begins at 5 pm
Partners in life and in art for 45 years, designer Sonny Burt and architect Robert Butler became local legends for their patronage. Avid collectors in a pre-internet time when looking for work meant going to every gallery and museum opening, they gathered a world-class grouping of pieces from the likes of Christo, Alexander Calder, and Julian Schnabel. When the duo passed away (Butler in 2007, Burt in late 2013), some key works were dispersed to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, and the Tyler Museum of Art, but the bulk of the collection was held by estate representative Talley Dunn.
“It was their wish for us to sell the collection. We featured a few pieces in the Dallas Art Fair in 2014, in an exhibition, but this is really the rest of their work," says gallery director Beth Taylor. “There are a lot of terrific little gems. They had a really good sense of humor, so some works would have visual jokes or puns, or some would be sexual in nature. They bought really great artwork, but they bought what they liked.”
Today’s collectors can peruse the works until the day of the live silent auction on June 25. Since many have no reserve, there is always the possibility of bringing home a Jenny Holzer or Trenton Doyle Hancock for far less than face value. Winners can also feel good about their spoils — the auction benefits the Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, bringing the proceeds full circle to inspire the next generation of local talent.