Your Show of Shows

These are the 4 top gallery shows in Dallas and Fort Worth for August

These are the 4 top gallery shows in Dallas and Fort Worth for August

Ben Willis
A candy-colored work of resin and acrylic by Ben Willis at Fort Works Art. Photo courtesy of Fort Works Art
Carmen Menza
Plexi fantastic from Carmen Menza at Circuit 12 Contemporary. Photo courtesy of Circuit 12 Contemporary
Graham Caldwell
Graham Caldwell marries glass and steel in his eye-engaging pieces at Circuit 12 Contemporary. Photo courtesy of Circuit 12 Contemporary
James Lassen
A work from James Lassen, who will be selling his pieces at the Art Tooth event. Photo courtesy of Art Tooth
 Julia Zinnbauer
A work by Julia Zinnbauer in CentralTrak’s “A Hard Place” examines Brutalist architecture. Photo courtesy CentralTrak at 500X Gallery
ACTunited, shown putting on a public art piece, will be  participating in Art Tooth’s “These Are My Friends” event.  Photo courtesy of Art Tooth
Ben Willis
Carmen Menza
Graham Caldwell
James Lassen
 Julia Zinnbauer

A delicious mix of sugary canvases and shimmery sculptures, August’s gallery essentials include pieces that play with image and light, an anniversary for an important Fort Worth collective, and a look at the importance of late-20th century architecture.

“Candy Man” by Ben Willis and various artists at Fort Works Art
Exhibition dates: August 5-September 9
Reception: August 5, 6-9 pm
Closing reception: September 8, 6-9 pm

Conceptualized with a nod to the classic childhood game Candy Land, the hyper-colored and family-friendly canvases in “Candy Man” are a sweet treat for the senses.

“Candy has been something I’ve been interested in my whole life,” says the Arizona-based artist Ben Willis. “I really wanted to create a show that was fun for everybody, something anyone can respond to. A lot of shows I’ve seen recently have had a darker feel to them, making you think about where the world is. I wanted something that was fun, a candy land of art.”

Downstairs, Willis’ layered wood panels —which are adorned with geometric patterns of resin, acrylic paint, flocking, and automotive glitter — may inspire viewers to touch or lick the art (you can possibly do the former, but should refrain from the latter). Upstairs, works by the likes of Derick Smith, Adam Hillman, Sean Augustine March, Sean Newport, Rachel Goodwin, and Kristina Drake carry the theme forward in the accompanying exhibit “Candy Castle.”

Carved ceramic busts reveal a rainbow of underlayers by Christina West and “look like jawbreakers,” and Dan Lam’s ice cream-esque sculptures resembling ice cream can be poked and prodded until they bounce.

With walls painted by Will Heron, Drigo, and Brennen Bechtol, the entire effect will be as close as one can get to visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory — without the calories.

Glimpsed Through Liquid” by Graham Caldwell and “Shed Some Light” by Carmen at Circuit 12 Contemporary
Exhibition dates: August 5-October 7
Reception: August 5, 6-9 pm; September 21, 5:30-7:30 pm

If your favorite color is "shiny," the work of Graham Caldwell should be on your must-see list. The subject of a one-man show at Circuit 12, the Brooklyn-based artist’s works may recall some of the pieces of Doug Aitken in his current retrospective at the Modern in Fort Worth, without the added layer of text.

Inspired by the vitreous humor (the largest part of the eye), his wall and pedestal sculptures play with geometric abstraction, iridescence, and the marriage of strong and delicate materials.

Says gallery co-owner Dustin Orlando, who’s been working with Caldwell since Circuit 12 made its 2012 debut, “A lot of what he does is work with two materials — glass and steel — that probably shouldn’t work together. It’s pairing something dense and fragile together, which I thought was interesting, and the polychromatic formations are something I gravitated towards heavily.”

Because Caldwell earns a great deal of commission work (most notably for American embassies across the globe), this is a rare opportunity to see multiple pieces in the same place. Engaging in their shadow casting properties and occasional disco-ball allure, his distorted surfaces bubble up from wire frames, crack into mirrored pieces, or suspend inside iridescent cubes.

Equally enticing is the complementary work of local interdisciplinary artist Carmen Menza, who takes over the project space with layered acrylic cubes lit from within. Reflective or illuminated, both Caldwell and Menza ask the viewer to engage with their work from every angle, stimulating their own vitreous humors as they move about the space.

“These Are My Friends” by Art Tooth at Shipping and Receiving
Reception: August 12, 5 pm-2 am

Formed by members of the Fort Worth art collectives Bobby on Drums and The Exhibitionists, the splinter group Art Tooth has done a lot in its first year of life. To celebrate, the teeth in question are bringing a who’s who of Fort Worth indie arts organizations together under one roof at an event inspired by the likes of the Dallas Art Fair, only on a smaller, more intimate scale.

“We’ve been collaborating with a lot of different galleries, so we wanted this to be a collaboration with all the different art collectives,” says Art Tooth’s communications director Shasta Haubrich. “We all understand success in the community is based on everyone supporting each other. We all go to each other’s shows and represent different parts of the scene, but we’re all friends. We get together because we want to see each other.”

On site will be ACTunited, who provides education initiatives for communities throughout the city; the Dying Photo Club, who promote street photography; the Fort Worth Zine Fest, repping the alt scene; Latino Hustle, who connect local Latin artists and audiences throughout the state; and Neighborhood Cult Productions, a mostly female experiential gallery with interactive art and music programming.

Each collective will have a booth featuring pieces at a range of prices, and DJs Continga, Dilal, Soy_Capaz and WIZARDVISION join performers Signals, Alibis, Programme, Vodeo and VVOES to add an innovative soundtrack to the mix. Tickets are $8 in advance, $12 the day of show, but remember: your entry fee goes to helping the collective fulfill more events in the coming year.

A Hard Place” by various artists by CentralTrak at 500X Gallery
Exhibition dates: August 19-September 24
Reception: August 19, 7-10 pm

Having recently lost its permanent space in Expo Park, the University of Texas at Dallas’ 10-year-old artist residency CentralTrak is in a state of flux. However, the artists involved with this essential program continue to innovate, whatever their environs.

Without their Exposition Avenue space available for the upcoming international exhibition “A Hard Place,” the show simply moved on a block or two down the road to 500X Gallery. And a good thing, too — this examination of Brutalist architecture curated by Irish artist (and former Dallas resident) Gary Farrelly and gallerist (of Berlin’s Laura Mars Gallery) Gundula Schmitz is perfectly timed.

What better moment to examine the post-World War II Utopian dream of society than at a time when Dallas is popping up all over with a plethora of so-called Soviet-style apartments?

“The architecture that emerged in the '50s, '60s and '70s is hyper-Utopian,” says Farrelly, who has participated in a slate of shows across Europe in the last few years examining the theme.

“What was supposed to be a game-changer in society has fallen into mass disfavor with the public, which is saying the future itself has fallen into disfavor to the public. I was talking to Gundula last year about curating this show, and we were thinking, 'why don’t we do it where the conversation is completely different?'

“You had the same architecture as Europe on a larger scale, but the politics were totally different. In Europe, it was the construction of community and a social model; in the U.S. it stood for rugged individualism. You can go to Belgrade and Brussels, and they were building a social Utopia. In Dallas, it represents a triumph over the tyranny of nature.”

Featuring work from a collective of European and American artists, as well as pieces from two architectural firms, “A Hard Place” includes everything from Farrelly’s hand-stitched postcards commemorating municipal buildings to a film from Julia Zinnbauer shot in a Brutalist brothel. Sure to spark a conversation about the evolution of our city, “A Hard Place” is essential viewing.

“For me, when you talk about buildings, you’re not just talking about buildings,” asserts Farrelly. “I hope in some fraction of a sense, this is communicated by the show.”