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Close out December with these 5 top exhibitions at Dallas-Fort Worth galleries

Close out December with these 5 top exhibitions at DFW galleries

Sam Swihart
Hot Mess by Sam Swihart at Fort Worth's Gallery 414. Photo courtesy of Gallery 414
Hobbes Vincent
The Horse by Hobbes Vincent at Jen Maudlin Gallery. Photo courtesy of Jen Maudlin Gallery
Sibby Beauchamp
A work by Sibby Beauchamp from Chivas Clem's new Paris, Texas, space The Fifth International. Photo courtesy of The Fifth International
Stanley Light
A collection of high and low treasures from Stanley Light’s “Great Minds and Psychic Weirdos” show at Erin Cluley Gallery. Photo by Kevin Todora
Richardo Paniagua
When M.C. Escher and Yayoi Kusama Make a Baby by Richardo Paniagua at Bivins Gallery. Photo courtesy of Bivins Gallery
Sam Swihart
Hobbes Vincent
Sibby Beauchamp
Stanley Light
Richardo Paniagua

A salon-style showing of a local collector’s greatest treasures, sculptural works that suspend (literally and imaginatively), fun-loving figurative works, plus a young gun’s breakout show make December in galleries both merry and bright. Art fans should also plan to take a road trip a couple of hours east for an imaginative new space conceived by a Paris, Texas-based artist and curator.

“Great Minds & Psychic Weirdos,” Stanley Light, at Erin Cluley Gallery
Exhibition dates: Through January 6, 2018

There are collectors, and then there are collectors, and art patron Stanley Light belongs to the latter category. The former owner of the beloved Light + Sie Gallery, Light has combed auction houses and thrift shops with equal enthusiasm for over four decades, shopping nearly every day in search of a hidden treasure.

Light’s longtime friend, gallerist Erin Cluley, was familiar with his various accumulations when she suggested he cull some favorites for a salon-style ode to the collector’s eye.

Called “Great Minds and Psychic Weirdos,” the show of over 150 pieces runs the gamut from high to low. You’ll find needlepoint bouquets, an Outsider Art portrait of basketball player Dirk Nowitzki, wig heads, and a piece of the Berlin Wall. You’ll also find works by the likes of Louis Bourgeois, David LaChapelle, and Ford Ruthling. Most items are incredibly affordable, but if the price tag hits five digits, it’s probably because (as Light says),“I’m not really willing to part with it.”

His enthusiasm for the hunt lies firmly in the tradition of fellow artsy collectors Alexander Girard and Andy Warhol, although Light feels the latter “was more focused ... this is just everything.” “I feel very similar to Andy Warhol, even though I don’t have cookie jars,” he explains. “I like to have a time capsule. I feel like I’m saving things (from being thrown away).”

“At the Circus,” Hobbes Vincent, at Jen Mauldin Gallery
Exhibition dates: Through January 20, 2018

Whimsical and weird, the surrealist sculptures of local artist Hobbes Vincent could be considered a tongue-in-cheek commentary on industrialization’s destruction of the natural world.

A former Fairmont Hotel artist-in-residence, Vincent got his start with an internship at Reel FX studios, and his Imagineer hat remains firmly in place in the works shown in “At the Circus,” including the 14-foot-tall centerpiece of a horse suspended from the ceiling. Vincent says he chose the show’s title because of its nature as a thing of the past.

“All the circuses are gone now, which is a good thing in some ways, but it’s also not. The very last full-on circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey) closed this year. I’ve got two sons that are 4 and 1, and I thought, they’re never going to go to the circus; this will just be something old people talk about.”

Mixing bronze with epoxy and Plaster of Paris, the animals in big top are ambitious in both construction and meaning.

“I have friends that work in plaster and epoxy and friends at the foundry, but there’s no crossover (in mediums),” he says. “I thought crossing over would let you make a lot of shapes you couldn’t normally make. I was also fascinated with mixing styles in this one insane piece. I don’t actually know how it comes together — I do have a plan when I start something, but I never stick to the plan.”

“Thomas Lachago/David Housepelle: Civilization and Its Malcontents,” Sibby Beauchamp, at The Fifth International, 118 1st Street SW, Paris, Texas
Exhibition dates: Through January 1, 2018

In its first late-‘90s iteration in New York City, Chivas Clem’s The Fifth International gallery showcased art stars such as Jonathan Horowitz, Rob Pruitt, and McDermott and McGough. Its ambitious programming continues in the 21st century in a more unlikely venue, a circa-1910 building in Paris, Texas.

Native Texan Clem returned home five years ago, and, although he still keeps one foot in the Big Apple, he loves the wide-open spaces and pioneer spirit of his hometown.

“I decided rather than traveling to New York (to curate something), I’d create my own art culture," he says. "I found this artist, quite by chance, happened to be from Texas, and the work was up my alley. It references the world of glamour and power and fashion and commerce, and I though it would be intriguing to show it in Paris, Texas, which is a deeply unglamorous place.”

Creating “Frankenstein voodoo dolls” that suture together the work of pop culture photographer David LaChapelle and vanguard sculptor Thomas Lachago, Beauchamp’s collages are a Swiftian take on the art world.

Although Clem is “an artist first and foremost,” he hopes this will be the beginning of a series of seasonal shows intriguing enough to inspire visitors to make the journey from Dallas or Fort Worth.

“People will drive 10 hours to get to Marfa, why can’t they drive two hours to get to Paris? There are unlimited possibilities for space; it’s rural East Texas. All I need is a Rolodex and good ideas.”

Adventurous art lovers can see the show by appointment by contacting

“Unplugged,” Rachel Black, Jamie Damon, Kate Stipp, Sam Swihart, at Gallery 414, Fort Worth
Exhibition dates: Through January 7, 2018

The intimate and innovative Gallery 414 has been bringing its non-commercial vision to Fort Worth since 1995. This season, the space has fun with figuratism with works that play with the subjects of beauty, celebrity, and family life, subject matters that director John Hartley considers perfectly timed.

Painter Rachel Black captures the awkwardness of family potlucks, birthday parties, and school plays in her large-scale paintings, while Kate Stipp’s pensive portraits adorn themselves with totems of femininity. In works like “Hot Mess,” Sam Swihart portrays his subjects going to great lengths to achieve their ideal of beauty, while Jamie Damon’s charcoal drawings feature celebrities like Bill Murray clad in gas masks — a not-so-subtle nod to a possible apocalypse.

The end of the world aside, Hartley says, "with the dysfunctional world we live in, it's nice to see images that relate to the everyday experience. I selected this group of artists because they are young, talented and I find the content of their work provocative."

“Miracles, Prophesies, and Revelations,” Ricardo Paniagua at Bivins Gallery
Exhibition dates: Through January 20, 2018

Perhaps most well-known for his oh-so-Instagrammable mural in the West Village and equally colorful Uptown crosswalk, painter Ricardo Paniagua is ubiquitous enough in the local scene that it’s surprising he’s never had gallery representation.

That changed when he met Bivins Gallery owners Karen and Michael Bivins. Paniagua found their philosophy — and their roster — much more in line with the plans he had for his career than other Dallas institutions.

“(The owners) had a gallery in San Francisco and Beverly Hills and they’ve been in the business for 25 years,” he says of the Bivins, who opened their Dallas gallery earlier this year in the Crescent Court.

“They seemed to have connections to help artists grow out of Texas, which is always what I wanted. I was checking their roster, and their artists are in permanent collections of the Guggenheim and MOMA, and they all trust them with their career.”

Drawing on both new work and “stuff that’s ancient that I didn’t show because I didn’t have the right walls,” “Miracles” mixes creative processes and styles, including Paniagua’s instantly recognizable geometric sculptures.

Self-taught and a self-professed outsider to the sometimes insular scene for the past 12 years, the artist has nonetheless persisted in his vision — a quest that has paid off with the murals, his new gallery, and a brand new studio space that will allow him to make even larger and more ambitious work.

“I’ve upgraded my studio, I’ve got a great gallery, and all these great things are happening for no reason at all. I just worked my ass off and stayed true to art as a servant, and I think maybe the art gods are smiling on me now.”