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D-Art's Summer Show


The Summer Show — works by members of the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art with works selected by visiting curator Dana Fris-Hanset for possible exhibition in the Hall Walls solo series at DCCD through August 14

Dana Fris-Hanset & Joan Davidow announce Hall
Wall Showing winners from on a short pedestal

Last year's Membership Show was beautiful. Made me want to be a member of D-Art again. Although I had to wonder what they did with all the less-than art these shows usually dredge up.

This time around, with my MAC membership expired six months ago, and always with an eye (the left one) out for something new and/or interesting — and especially hoping for further exhibition possibilities, I chose the DCCA.

I "entered" this show, wondering if there would be some sort of jurying.

Juror (detail)

I dreaded being trapped in yet another D-Art Membership Show, yet was intrigued by the possibility of winning a Hallworks solo there — MAC shows offer no such potential, although they have been featuring more local shows lately, although perhaps due to budget restaints.

The DCCA Member show's notices simply stated that "Dana Fris-Hanset, Executive Director, Austin Museum of Art will select five artists for 2005 Hallworks solo shows."

I have to admit it, I also joined to shock my readers, perhaps help them rethink the possibilities of this up and coming (after 25+ years) art center.

I'm not as opposed to D-Art as I used to think I was, but I understand its unpopularity in some quarters, for frankly good reasons.

Some frankly good reasons

However, because it is led by a single dreamer/schemer (the inimitable Joan Davidow), I think the place has a chance of becoming amazing, even if it steps on some tender toes along the way.

If this member show had been anything like the last one, I wanted to be in it. If not, it'd all be a big mistake ...

Terry Hays - Swimming with the Alligators, 2004
acrylic on wood

Easily the crowd favorite, furious with tiny, detailed obsesso-compulsive daubs, more people I spoke with cited this as their favorite than any other.


So it was a big mistake.

Oh, I'm glad I participated and that I made it to the pomp and circumstance reception with the juror, with whom I differed on almost every selection — although it was nice that several of his winners were young artists.

'Twere truly fine, too, to visit with him each winning piece as he explained the whys and wherefores of his choices.

Whatever happened last year to get only the better works of art in the Members show, was not allowed to happen again this year.

Last year's show was elegant and serene and some sort of exquisite and would have been an honor to be in. I had an especially strong piece this time, and I was confident I could have made the cut.

But there was no cutting.

This year's open membership event was just the sort of exhibition an intelligent, quality-minded art center director would prefer to avoid while they worked toward making a high quality, regional art center out of a sow's ear.


John Breazeal - The Garden, 2004 - paint, shrink wrap

The juror joked about the possibilities of
this winner's solo Hall Wall floor show.


This show includes a lot of dreck. And, in the long tradition of D-Art Member Shows, a lot of the dreck is dreadful. Not the sort of work serious artists wish to be placed next to.

My dreck is almost certainly not everybody else's dreck. In fact, I expect my choices will always be minority reports.

Scattered among the pieces in this show was work that was lovely, strong, forceful, exciting, joyous, philosophical, thoughtful, startling, intriguing, envelope-pushing, amazing, etc.

Christian Clark - Untitled, 2004 - polymer clay

Almost life sized, this small piece was easy
to miss in the mellange of the member show.

Precisely because there's no filtering, this show and maybe The Open Show at 500X are the best annual local opportunities to find new talent — despite the shows that call themselves that.

I still miss the real Critic's Choice show. Having some bonafide critic select work for a solo showing in the back hall based on a single entry is nothing like the fun of being selected on the basis of three entries (almost a body of work) for a much higher overall quality regional exhibition.

In this uncompetitive show, photography shone well along the inside front wall. I appreciated my own piece's placement. And Joan even complemented it, which made me think I had a chance.


Margaret Ratelle - Still Standing, 2004 - Spit Bite Etching

After two complete walks through the crowded exhibition, this was the first piece that stood out in my mind. I think I've seen it — and admired it — before. It was placed near the front door, so I'm not the only one who likes it. Simple, direct, textural, lovely.


But I didn't.

Neither did any of the pieces I took note. It was difficult to find anything in the clutter. My usual fast marching up and down a gallery's walls till I find something to catch my eye and stop my tracks method did not work with this much uh... variety.

If there's anything this show is known for, it's the full spectrum of quality and style and media and everything else.

Members of The MAC tend to gather a more cohesive and higher overall quality show in their annual exhibitions. But The Other Contemporary's member show does not include as many exciting new and different work as this one.

Somehow inherent in the anybody, anything, anyhow, theme-free openness, is the potential for knock-em-dead new art and forms.


Catherine Siri Nugent - Carbonated Corset,
2004 - handcut diet soda bottles (detail)

Cited by one of the Hall Wall winners as the best use of materials,
and a piece that makes one think about our plastic socieity of
no-cal, non nutritional value consumerism, this woven plastic
piece almost out obsessives the alligator totem.



Post Show Comments

In mid-August, after the show came down, when I went to pick up my work, I was surprised to find no one there except two guys installing something in one of the galleries. They gave me no attention.

The big gate I'd never noticed before was down, blocking my way into the main hall to the galleries, so I went around the back hall.

No one anywhere. No one watching over the piled up art. No one checking off picked up art. No one to say hello to or talk about other opportunities at the group I'd just rejoined after a long time away.

I picked up my piece — in the A-B file, not the C file where I'd expect a Compton — and left, encountering no one through the entire let-down experience. Kinda bewildering for a new member of a community organization.

It's as if no one really wanted me or my art there, at all.

It's not a show one would want to steal anything from, but if one had wanted to, it would have been simplicity itself.


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