Street Life

Downtown Dallas' Museum of Street Culture opens with groundbreaking show

Dallas' Museum of Street Culture opens with groundbreaking show

Mary Ellen Mark
Erin Blackwell Charles, aka "Tiny," by Mary Ellen Mark. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

The official launch date is near for the Museum of Street Culture, the groundbreaking project opening at Encore Park in downtown Dallas: October 1. Founded by Dallas writer-filmmaker Alan Govenar, the museum will feature programming on street life, beginning with a massive exhibition by street journalist Mary Ellen Mark.

The Museum is part of Encore Park, the complex at the historic Warner Brothers building at 508 Park, which includes the revival of historic properties and social services for the at-risk and homeless with art, culture, and music.

The exhibition is entitled "Looking for Home: A Yearlong Focus on the Work of Mary Ellen Mark." The installation will exist both outside on the street and inside some of the spaces the museum calls home, including The Stewpot and Encore Park’s 508 Park, 508 Amphitheater, and Community Garden.

It is the first time the Mary Ellen Mark Foundation has granted permission for an exhibition of this magnitude.

"The Museum of Street Culture selected the work of internationally acclaimed photographer Mary Ellen Mark as its opening exhibition because it demonstrates artistic excellence and explores social issues crucial to the expansion of services offered by The Stewpot, and the revitalization of Encore Park and the surrounding neighborhood," says Govenar in a release.

In 1983, Mark and reporter Cheryl McCall published an article in Life magazine on runaway children in Seattle. Later that year, Mark and McCall produced the documentary film Streetwise with Mark's husband, director Martin Bell; it was nominated for an Academy Award.

Mark and Bell returned often to Seattle, and maintained active contact with Erin Blackwell Charles, aka "Tiny," documenting her life on and off the streets from 1983-2014, from the time she was 13 years old, and the obstacles she sought to overcome.

Mark died of cancer in 2015.

The exhibit will include a range of programming options including screenings of Streetwise and Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell; a public dialogue series; free public learning resources developed to raise awareness of and sensitivity to circumstances surrounding homelessness; a paid docent program for Stewpot clients; and three art exhibitions of works by youth participating in The Stewpot’s Children, Youth and Family programs, and adults participating in The Stewpot’s Art Program.

The grand opening is free and open to the public, and will be held throughout Encore Park from 11 am-4:30 pm with performers, a concert, free lunch at The Stewpot, and an appearance by filmmaker Martin Bell.

From October 2, 2017, to September 30, 2018, the photographic exhibition of Mark's work will be updated quarterly to reveal the four distinct periods of Tiny’s life. The work will be outdoors as well as on view inside The Stewpot from 12 noon to 1 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or by appointment by emailing Docent-led tours will be available.

The schedule is as follows:

  • October 2, 2017 — Streetwise: Tiny and Runaway Children in Seattle (1983)
  • January 27, 2018 — Tiny and Her Children (1985-1999)
  • April 14, 2018 — Tiny's Family Life (2003-2005)
  • June 16, 2018 — Tiny Revisited (2014)

Other exhibits coming in 2018 include kids' events and a multimedia group exhibition featuring works by The Stewpot artists where 90 percent of the sale of each work returns to the artist and 10 percent goes to purchasing art supplies needed for future projects.