Your Show of Shows

4 significant Dallas exhibits and a new artistic outlet to explore in May

4 Dallas exhibits and a new artistic outlet to explore in May

Halley Fowler
Pink Squares by Haley Fowler at Open Space. Photo courtesy of Open Space
Mike Carney
Still (Real) LYF 38 by Mike Carney at Erin Cluley Gallery. Photo courtesy of Erin Cluley Gallery
 Marion Wesson
An installation by Marion Wesson at Galleri Urbane. Photo courtesy of Galleri Urbane
Giovanni Valderas
A work from Jorge Alegria at Kirk Hopper Fine Art. Photo courtesy of Kirk Hopper Fine Art
Josh Tonsfeldt
Josh Tonsfeldt at And Now. Photo courtesy of And Now
Halley Fowler
Mike Carney
 Marion Wesson
Giovanni Valderas
Josh Tonsfeldt

Change is good, and the art world is no exception to the rule. Along with the relocation of one of Dallas’ most ambitious spaces, this month one can explore a new spot devoted to the local community’s needs, view drawings based on a personal view of the divine, examine a Minneapolis artist’s textural slight of hand, and explore a deeply personal examination of oppression from a California artist. 

“Looking to See the Thing,” Mike Carney at Erin Cluley Gallery 
Opening reception:
May 13, 6-8 pm
Exhibition dates: May 13-June 17

In the sweet spot between a painting and an object lies the work of Mike Carney. Discovered by Erin Cluley, the Minneapolis-based artist will share his clever canvases and sculptures in his first solo show this Saturday. 

“The first pieces he did that I saw had these exposed stretchers that caught my eye,” Cluley says of her reaction to Carney. “I liked the craft he was inserting into woodworking, because there’s these connotations with craft that are negative, but he’s doing such a clever, interesting thing with it.” 

Carney’s classical subjects such as plants, vases, or bowls of fruits are given a three dimensionality by the artist scrunching the fabric before adding layers of spray paint. One work, Still (Real) LYF 38, draws from a classic piece by American artist Severin Roesen that hangs in the Dallas Museum of Art — a painting Carney has never actually seen in person. 

Carney’s canvases prove there’s more than meets the eye, and he hopes the viewers will challenge themselves to think beyond the white walls on which they hang. 

“The title of the show is this idea of coming in and experiencing the work to see the totality, and the traditional subjects are an entry place. The hope is that instead of being a breeze-through process, it’s a slowing down. That’s where I find myself existing within the culture of immediacy.”

“Cluster Fall,” Marion Wesson at Galleri Urbane
Opening reception: May 13, 6-8:30 pm
Exhibition dates: May 13-June 17

Los Angeles-based artist Marion Wesson’s installations of brightly upholstered chairs and complementary canvases resemble nothing so much as domestic tableaus. Their inspiration, however, is much darker. 

Based on the things she went through in the aftermath of a tumultuous relationship, the shapes she captures (including a hand grabbing a wrist and a woman curved in a fetal position), are totems of domestic violence transformed into pretty patterns. 

Through her own personal trials, Wesson came in contact with other women who share similar histories, and she collaborated with them on the prints that ultimately inspired her paintings. In a time when the rights of women are being slowly eroded, Wesson’s bravery in sharing the difficult but sometimes positive changes that come from escaping oppression is an essential act.

“Supernova,” Jorge Alegria at Kirk Hopper Fine Art
Opening reception:
May 13, 6-8 pm
Exhibition dates: May 13-June 24

The idea of the divine drives the delicate drawings of Corpus Christi native Jorge Alegria. A building on the fictional narrative of his former series of work, Heaven: The War of the Angels, this new set of graphite on paper works possess a ghostly seductiveness that moves beyond their simple materials.

The artist isn’t literally illustrating his idea of the great beyond. Says Alegria, “Heaven takes place in far off worlds and times throughout the cosmos, the heavens. Since I'm depicting the transcendent or the supernatural, which is within my narrative, some of the reductive imagery or abstraction lends itself to the mystery and the unknown of perceptions or places we have never seen. My images are simply based on imagination and experiences.” 

Josh Tonsfeldt at And Now
Exhibition dates: Now through May 27

Gallerist James Cope has kept the recent relocation of And Now relatively under wraps, but art world insiders have already flocked to his new and improved space in the Design District. 

Cope says he was considering moving when the Cedars bungalow that originally housed the 3-year-old gallery came up for sale, but a fortuitous series of events led him to his new(ish) digs at 2025 Irving Blvd. 

“I call it phase two in my grand world domination plan,” he jokes of the space, which is tucked away inside an unassuming shopping enclave. “I’ve been looking for the past six months but assumed everything in the Design District was out of my price range and started talking to (developer) John Sughrue, and he said, ‘It just so happens we’ve acquired this new complex, and are looking for people like you. He made me an offer I really couldn’t refuse to take the gallery up a notch and gain a greater awareness.” 

Launching last month with Technicolor paintings from Marfa artist Dustin Pevey, Cope’s current show is the work of Josh Tonsfeldt, whose installation might trick the less sophisticated viewer into thinking it’s just the detritus of And Now’s recent unpacking. 

“I like the fact that [his work] is essentially a bunch of junk in the gallery, and I like the idea of the show questioning the viewer or challenging the viewer. It’s essentially a bunch of junk in the space, with a few art objects he’s made, and the viewer really has to engage to try and interpret what is art and what isn’t.”

Ambitious programming remains Cope’s forte — next up is a June group show curated by his artist Noah Barker, and it includes an alum from the Whitney Biennial. Although Cope says most of his collectors reside in places like London, Paris, Brussels, and New York, he’d love to have more pieces remain in local collections, an ambition his well-placed new space should help achieve. 

“I’d rather see the work stay here,” he says. “I want Dallas to have the riches.”

“Pleased to Meet You,” various artists at Open Space, Beat Rice Studios, 203 W. Comstock St.
Opening reception: May 20, 5-8 pm
​Exhibition dates: May 20-June 20

In a city of open warehouses and unfinished industrial buildings, it is slightly shocking that affordable artist studios aren’t more prevalent. This makes the introduction of Open Space, housed in Beat Rice Studios near Trinity Groves, a welcome addition to the local scene. 

Founded by artist Hilary Donnelly, Beat Rice currently provides a home for artists Jennifer Ayyad, Hilary Donnelly, Erika Jaeggli, Ricardo Salas, and Keer Tanchack. Donnelly wanted to add a gallery space to the mix, but wasn’t sure the best way to go about it. 

Enter art consultant Caroline Finlay Belanger, who worked with Cris Worley at PanAmerican Art Projects. After meeting Donnelly, it became clear the duo could team their talents to both showcase what’s being created in the studios, as well as bring in other underrepresented artists. 

“It’s a different way of doing things, and we’re not sure what shape it’s taking yet,” says Belanger. “The best thing I can relate it to is a kunsthaus in Germany, with studios and exhibition spaces that all coexist together. 

Belanger put out an open call along with Dallas-based art historian, educator, and writer Nancy Cohen Israel, ultimately culling 50 applicants into the final number of 28 artists they felt represented a cohesive vision. 

With sculpture, photos, painting, installations, and glasswork, the inaugural show “Pleased to Meet You” will have a little something for everyone. Belanger hopes to mount new work four times a year.

“We want to do some studio visits and get out there and see who is really capable of putting out something new and interesting. A lot of these young artists haven’t had a solo show, except in a school setting, and this is a way for them to do that in a commercial way and get feedback from someone in the business.”