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An Archivist's History of D-Art

© 2001 by JR Compton

DARts Editor Named D-Art Archivist

Not so strange, I suppose. Any journalist is, after all, a short-term historian. Longer terms are more difficult to delineate — too many facts to string together, a longer line, etc. But it's an odd job description, this "archivist." However, thanks to my fascination with The Recent History of Dallas Art, I was for several months in the spring of 2001, the semi-official DVAC ( Dallas Visual Arts Center ) Archivist. This volunteer position seemed an especially good idea, because DVAC is painfully ignorant of its own history, and its recent press releases and public invitations are full of historic revisionisms that go back almost to its beginning.

I kept it up for a couple of months as I discovered more and more salient but forgotten facts about the institution's early and late history. Now former DVAC Volunteer Coordinator Barbara West asked me to do it, so I did. Then, after I began recording the history on these pages, DVAC Director Joan Davidow asked me to concentrate on the archiving. I told her I considered the history I was writing my payment for trudging through all the turgid text.

I'd been watching old, black & white detective and noir movies as I perused the materials left behind at D-Art. I was feeling and thinking like a detective. In that fervor I created the entirely too complex subindex of related and mostly recently written stories on this topic. But return here every week or so, and I'll list my recent discoveries as I search and research further into this ongoing story.


Then, over the following weeks, the boxes of documents were removed from the tables I was afforded to do the task. They'd say I could use them later. I'd come back later, and the tables would be in yet some other use. Worse, I was never granted access to all the necessary papers promised, so I could gain an overall understanding of the relative importance of what was in "my" boxes. After awhile I just gave up. Then Barbara West got fired, and the joy of visiting DVAC evaporated.

At about that same time, I noticed that the hit counters on these, often dry and uncompleted pages only advanced when I visited to search my latest additions for typos and grammar faux pax. Nobody else seemed interested in the ongoing history, so I just stopped hassling with it. I mean, why bother?


Editorial comments are gray:  

JR's Notes in Chrono — if not entirely logical — Order

The Artists Coalition of Texas was formed in 1977. Its goals were to be a clearing house for Texas artists, to be an advocate for artists, and to have a visual arts center in Dallas.

An oft-cited seminal influence on the development of an art center for Dallas is the Carr-Lynch Report, "A Strategy for the Arts in Dallas." I'll probably reproduce it in toto on one of these linked pages. But for now, a paragraph will help:

The driving purpose of any public intervention in the affairs of the cultural institutions of the city is not to build memorable buildings, employ artists, entertain visitors, or support real estate development, reasonable as these things may be. The purpose is to bring the arts into the lives of the people of Dallas, in an immediate and personal way, in the course of every day life.

D-Art has engaged heavily into each of the caveats — especially in the extension of the Meadows Foundation's so-called Wilson Project (where Dr. Wilson never resided) real estate restoration development surrounding and supporting the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue, which the Foundation did not own. But how well it has met that last, great purpose is intriguing to note. I'm afraid it has sunk way too much money into real estate during all the stages of its development, and D-Art has put not nearly enough energy into bringing art into the personal, every day lives of Dallas' people, most of whom have never heard of it.

An Internal Revenue Service letter to D'Art A Visual Arts Center for Dallas dated June 25, 1982 states that:

Our records show that D'Art A Visual Arts Center for Dallas is excempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. This excemption was granted January 1978 and remains in full force and effect.

Which indicates that ACT got their 501(c)(3) status on that date, then later passed it on to D-ART. This implies that ACT was actually founded in 1977.

According to a letter provided by former ACT boardmember and Membership Vice President, at meetings with ACT on May 16 and June 16, 1980, Mary Wachowiak-Ward presented her dreams for a visual art center for Dallas artists. She was named Project Director at that first meeting.

According to a hand-written spreadsheet on yellow legal pad paper titled "D'ART DONATIONS 8 / 25 / 80 - 3/ 18 / 81," a notation on the fourth page of which, cites in a "Survey of Visual Artists Needs 1977," that

 Would Rent Space


  Interested in Gallery Space


 Interested in Meeting Space


 Interest in Resource Facilities



September 1, 1980 is repeated as the beginning of "D-ART, a Visual Art Center for Dallas." In All The President's Men, The Washington Post required three independent sources for each fact — or as performance group Victor Dada used to sing, "The truth is three out of three."

I've seen three references for this date, and at least two for March 1, 1980. The March 1 date is suspect, since Mary Ward did not even present the idea to the ACT board until May of that year. Probably it marks the beginning of ACT's fiscal year.

In a letter dated September 15, 1980 and typed on Visual Arts Center Project stationary with Mary Wachowiak-Ward, Project Coordinator / 4122 Hall Street, Dallas, Texas 75219 and a phone number printed as part of the letterhead, she wrote: Press Release - For Immediate Release: 9 / 15 / 80:

Five Hundred Exposition Gallery at 500 Exposition Avenue will host a reception for the Visual Arts Center Project on Friday, Septtember 26 [1980] at 7:00 p. m.

Dedicated to the development of local, contemporary art, the Visual Arts Center Project is a community based movement which evolved out of a need for an alternative space for artists. The Visual Arts Center Project established it goals during the course of three publicly held meetings in May and June of 1980. The concepts of the Project reflect the input of over one hundred local artists, professionals, and community members who have committed themselves to supporting a Planning Study which will outline the options for implementing a Visual arts Center in Dallas.

A dynamic and innovative approach to developing the arts community, the Project is artist-initiated and artist-directed. The Project is concerend withfive needs: studio / work spaces; exhibition and gallery facilites; meeting and conference rooms; educational programs; and a central clearinghouse for information, servicing the contemporary artist and the community.


In a single-page document comprising a Financial Statement dated November 22, 1980, a "Dallas Visual Arts Center Project," listed at 500 Exposition, indicates $378.66 "total cash resources" after a September 1, 1980 balance of $876.13, Total Revenue, Resources & Support of $1,162.24 and Total Disbursements of $783.58. At the bottom, "NOTE: Unfurnished office space ( rent waived ) has been given D'ART." That page is signed by Grace E. Johnson, Treasurer.

Typewritten on plain paper — no letterhead — headed with D'ART—A Visual Arts Center for Dallas, 500A Exposition, Dallas, Texas 75226, and dated December 8, 1980, under the title D'ART Fact Sheet / Prepared by Mary Ward:

 Location: In Dallas' historic Warehouse area at 703 McKinney at Houston, Just north of Woodall Rogers and the West Ednd Historic District. A former brewery / warehouse bordered on the north by Woodall Rogers freeway and on the west by Stemmons Freeway. Access is available to all of Dallas.

The D'ART project is open to membership / participation / support by all artists living and working in the North Texas area. Most porfessional organizations in Dallas are aware of and support the concept of a centralized visual arts center.

Several arts-related professionals (graphic artists, photographers carchitects, space planners, etc.) have expressed an intent to occupy space, providing an interesting mix of artists in an exciting setting.

 Tentative Opening Date: January, 1982.
Funding: Pending from state and federal sources, as well as from local corporate and foundation resources.
Square footage: 128,000 square feet
Total projected exhibition space: 13,250 sq. ft. Total projected studio space: 58,570 sq. ft.
 Public Services:

Educational facilities developed with the artist/master "in residence" concept in mind, which provides local access to different levels of experimentation, accomplishment, and expertise in the arts.

Auditorium/ conference/ theatre space which can serve multiple local needs and provide an income for the Art Center. Gift shop to provide artists with a loca consistent market for their work and to provide the concsumer with an alternative to traditional gift items. the gift shop will provide income for the arts center.

 Restaurant: To take advantage of the dynamic view of the downtown Dallas skyline, a restaurant will be designed on the magnificent roof-top of the Arts center.
 Day Care Center: With working artist parents and visiting patrons' children in mind, the arts center plans to attract funding for a day care center.
 Who and What
 We Are:

D'ART—A Visual Arts Center for Dallas developed as the demand from local artists for work and exhibition space increased. D'ART is a non-profit, incorporated arts organization which serves to create a total visual arts center based on local needs. D'ART is composed of 10 board members and is actively seeking additional corporate/ business/ professional members of Dallas' community to complete the board roster.

As funding is granted, D'ART;s financial arrangements will be handled by the Dallas community Trust Fund. Th Director of the Project is Mary W. Ward. D'Art's president is Judy SSmith Hearst, an accomplished artist and businesswoman.

Dallas, as a financial mecca, has established its energetic and imaginative potential as an arts center for the Southwest. D"ART (sic) seeks to provide a matrix based on comparable centers in the US while addressing local needs.

 What Is Needed:  Letters or cards of support addressed to: D'ART, 500A Expositioon at Willow, Dallas, Texas 75226, [ phone number deleted ]. donations of goods and services are welome and tax-deductible. Financial and marketing expertise is also appreciated.
 Specific D'ART
Opening the Visual Arts Center in January '82 for studio, exhibition space and classes.

For more information, please contact Grace McKay, our new Asst. Director, at [ phone number ] or come by our new office at the 500 Exposition gallery, Rm 175.

noted area guitarist and vocalist, and a dance perfromance by Dancers Unlimited will be on hand to entertain throughout the evening.

Members of the press are invited to join us for the festivities and to take a tour of this exciting arts facility. See you there!


Attached to the above, three-page document is one additional page, a form for name, address, and phone lines and two columns of boxes to complete the statement "I shall assist a Visual Art Center for Dallas in the category indicated:" from $15 Artist to $1,000 Corporate. The address the form was to be mailed to: D'ART, A Visual Art Center for Dallas, 4122 Hall St., Dallas, Tex. 75219.

However, on another single-page document, apparently prepared on February 28, 1981 — with the address also cited as "500 A Exposition Avenue, Dallas, TX 75226," a beginning Fund balance of $1,033.24 was cited for March 1, 1980. After expenses of $10,605 and Revenue and Other Support totalling $21,963.29, "Deduct Assets ( furniture and equipment )" of $1,404.59, the Fund balance February 28, 1981 is $314.59.

According to former D-ART board member Norman Kary, an announcement appeared in "the newspaper" (Which? Dallas had two major, daily newspapers then.) inviting interested persons to meet at Judy Smith-Hearst's house in the area then called Near North Dallas ( now called State-Thomas ) to discuss the possibilities of an arts center for Dallas artists.


Another document, titled "A 12-Month Statement of Support and Expenditures ( March 1, 1980 thru February 28, 1981 )" lists the address as 500 A Exposition Avenue. In it, Total Revenue and Support is $21,963.29 and the Fund blance February 28, 1981 is $314.59

In a strongly cursive hand that would become familiar ( which I now believe to be that of Judy Smith Hearst ), another document, dated 9/1/80 - 8/31/81, is titled, "Our Income Statement for last year." Its total for income and support is $71,057.79 and its expense is $67,151,82.

In the horizontal document below, under the heading, D'Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas," dated 9/1/80 - 8/31/81, is a Grant from the City Arts Program for a consultation fee for Mary Ward, totaling $4,900, the second largest salary expense on that form.

A document whose printed title is D'ART A Visual Arts Center for Dallas / Budget 9/81 - 8/82 as of September 1, 1981" lists a "total budgeted income" and "total budgeted expenditure" of $181,400. In red ballpoint and strongly cursive handwriting, the page is labeled, "Our New Approved Proposed Budget."  

On D-ART stationary with the dark D logo, giving 2917 Swiss Avenue as the address and suggesting the recipient contact "Mary Ward or Judy S. Hearst," is a press release:

D'ART, A Visual Arts Center, cordially invites you to attend a ceremony and art auction celebrating the grand opening of the art center, Thursday November 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at the center location, 2917 Swiss Avenue.

Mayor Jack Evans will open the ribbon cutting cremony at 6:15 PM.

The purpose of the event is to raise money and pledges for the operating budget of D'ART, a non-profit organization and Dallas' FIRST Visual Arts Center, providing serious artists and arts organizations with a place to work, exhibit, educate and meet in a renovated facorty space with 20,000 square feet.

The auction will showcase a broad range of art works representing area artists who support D'ART. Donations of art work for the auction are now being accepted at the D'ART location and are greatly appreciated.

Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will go toward keeping D'ART's doors open. Wine and cheese will be provided and a cash bar will be open for the evening. A chamber music group from SMU, Bud Johnson, noted area guitarist and vocalist, and a dance performance by Dancers Unlimited will be on hand to entertain throughout the evening.

Members of the press are invited to join us for the festivities and to take a tour of this exciting arts facility. See you there!

In a list of "Expenses from November 20 through December 4 [1981 ] is the notation "Salary: Mary Ward $500.00" Below the list is typed, "If we spend no more money this month - and our bills are no higher than these, we will have enough money to last until Feb. 2, 1982." It is signed in ink, "From: Patricia To: Mary & Judy"

In a Balance Sheet dated November 30, 1981, Total Assets and Liabilities and Fund Balances are listed as $27,903.32


Letters of Support Included in the Back of a Black Plastic, Spiral-bound,
Undated green "D-ART GENERAL SUPPORT book
(The most recent date in the book is September, 1981. )

 September 28, 1981 Mrs. Patricia Meadows DMA Director
Harry S. Parker III
 December 14, 1981 Judy Smith Hearst Dallas Mayor
Jack W. Evans
 December 16, 1981 Mary W. Ward Developer
Tramell S. Crow
 December 21, 1981 Ms. Mary Wachowiak-Ward
Executive Director
Curtis W. Meadows, Jr., on
Meadows Foundation letterhead
 January 15, 1982 Mary Wachowiak-Ward City Arts Program Coordinator
Richard E. Huff
 March 10, 1982 Judy Smith Hearst, President
Curtis W. Meadows, Jr.

 Letters of Support Included in an unlabeled manilla folder

 January 12, 1981 Ms. Mary Ward Ellen Soderquist
 June 11, 1981 To whom it may concern Ann Stautberg, Artist
F. X. Tollbert 2, Artist
 December 21, 1981 Ms. Mary Wachowiak-Ward
Executive Director
Curtis W. Meadows, Jr., on
Meadows Foundation letterhead

It should be noted that the two letters from Curtis W. Meadows, Jr. contain identical messages (The text is the same.). All markings and almost all spacings are identical, except that the copy (!) bound in the green folder, which was distributed to members and potential funders, is addressed to "Ms. Judy Smith-Hearst, President" (all on one line and with a comma between her name and position). It bears the date March 10, 1982 (a Wednesday). This copy is slightly more dense overall, and there is one line less vertical space below the date.

The original is addressed to Ms. Mary Wachowiak-Ward, Executive Director (on two, separate lines, no comma) and is dated 79 days earlier, on December 21, 1981 (the Monday before Christmas). The earlier letter's last paragraph is justified slightly differently than the copy. Its first line contains one fewer word, and subsequent lines are separated differently. The letter addressed to Ms. Ward was not distributed to members and funders.

Curtis W. Meadows, Jr. is married to Patricia B. Meadows.

Apparently, after Mary Ward was summarily removed from office, her previous existence was written out of D-ART History. Many subsequent, early D-ART documents reflect the historic revision that she never existed, and even if she did, she was not the originator of the D-ART concept, and even if she did, she wasn't the organization's first director. And even if she was, she wasn't very important in the grand scheme of things.

The two letters are reproduced on the Letter(s) of Recommendation page.

On January 31, 1982 Mary Ward is listed as having been paid $1,000 as a D-Art staffer.


A two-page, untitled, horizontal letter-sized document with three columns of text, which was apparently created on or after February 26, 1982, manifests a terse history of the transition between The Artists Coalition of Texas and D-Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas. At the top of each page income and expense figures are listed. At the bottom is an unsigned, personable, short history of the two organizations.

I am calling this The Horizontal Fund-Seeking Document.

To wit:

The Artists Coalition of Texas was formed in 1977. Its goals were to be a clearing house for Texas artists, to be an advocate for artists, and to have a visual arts center in Dallas.

It was successful in that it was the first coming together of area artists in a common goal. It made the Dallas community aware of the lack of city support for local artists.

It worked for several changes in the law about artists' rights. Because the artists wanted a visual arts center that they could use, and because that was the most difficult goal to obtain, both the leadership and the artists grew weary.

The problem of getting an arts center was twofold. It was a financial problem — raising the money to purchase or having a building donated. Neither were immediately available.

The Directors changed, but the dream lived on. Fortunately, not everyone tired (sic) at the same time to kill it entirely.

The second problem was the factions in the art community itself. Should there be private studio space? If so, who would be chosen to use them?

Was the art center to focus on the experimental art or traditional art? Could they ever exist together in harmony? Who would finance the center? The artists? The Dallas community? Thorough grants? Through taxes? Rent? Membership?

Too many questions. Too many answers. It looked as if the dream would die.

The next page of The Horizontal Fund-Seeking Document continued in three additional columns, only the numbers are income and expenses for D'Art (September 1, 1980 through August 31, 1981 ) and D-Art  ( September 1, 1981 through February 26, 1982 in underlined subhead paragraphs at the top of the horizontal page.)

At the bottom, D'Art history begins where ACT's history stopped: In September 1980, The Artists Coalition of Texas voted for a name change to D'Art, A Visual Arts Center for Dallas. Under new leadership, the quest for a center continued. Several sites were explored. All had drawbacks.

In August 1981, a facility was found at 2917 Swiss Avenue. It was a warehouse in need of repair and for rent @ $2.00 per sq. ft. With the help of volunteers and donated materials, donated services, and cash support, the facility is being converted into the actualization of the arts center so long hoped for.

"It is for this long-awaited center that funding is requested," concludes The Horizontal Fund-Seeking Document.

The early history of D-Art was inextricably tied to a building that was already seriously deteriorating so badly that it would eventually have to be destroyed. Rent on the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue was $2,000 a month — although the 1985 Budget Analysis cites a Rent Expense total of $48,000 ( $4,000 a month ). The Meadows kept trying to buy it outright, but the owner, Lillian Davis, and later the Lillian S. Davis Trust, would only lease it — first for three years, later on a ten year basis.

D-Art seemed to be grasping at straws when it stated that:

"2917 Swiss Avenue... is an ideal location for an emerging art center due to its proximity to the developing downtown Dallas Arts District, Arts Magnet High School, the new Fox and Jacobs Bryan Street townhouse development and the Wilson Block Historiacal Restoration Project."


The back cover story on the Winter 1982 issue of Texas Arts Revue. Note Wayne Amerine's Shiek at bottom right. Perhaps another Wayne Amerine piece called "Pegasus" sold for $400, was donated by D-Art to its Oral Auction. Duck, another Amerine piece, was donated by Patricia Meadows. It sold for $200.

The first D-Art art show was mis- identified as the "Red Flying Horse Show" on an early list of D-Art events. The names confused everyone. No mention that it was actually organized by Robert Trammell and Allison Kraft and called the "Red Horse Flying Show." The original, "Flying Red Horse Show" was at City Hall.

In the spring of 1982 D-Art announced that within one year D-Art would be self-sufficient...

"D-ART is requesting funds to assist in the general support of the project and organization. The duration of support would be for one year, which would give D-Art the time necessary to establish a financial support base in the community."

The second D-Art event was Businessmen / Businesswomen in the Arts in June 1982 . Then came writer Dave Marguis' I Am A Teacher series.


According to a story © 1982 by Julia Frazier in Texas Arts Revue #9 in Summer / Fall 1982:

"The building, at 2917 Swiss Avenue, has all the atmosphere of a federally subsidized clinic..." and "Dallas artists involved with The Red Horse Flying Show, ( January 4-30, 1982 ), said they found D-Art painfully unsupportive, uncooperative and unprofessional... "in the end it seemed like they were just women who wanted to hang out with artists," said one contributor.

Among the myriad problems encountered by Pegasus organizers Alison Kraft and Robert Trammell, an uninsured wooden sculpture by Wayne Amerine was damaged by an animated visitor. D-Art had taken out insurance on the show, but it expired before the show was opened. D-Art is taking no responsibility for damages beyond offering the artist $500 for a work valued at $2,500, Kraft said."

Read the Texas Arts Revue interview with Mary Ward published shortly after the incident.

According to my phone interview with former D-Art Advisory Committee and later Board-member, artist (and my friend ) Norman Kary on August 11, 2001 (the day DVAC celebrated its "20th Anniversary" at least 11.5 months late):

Although Amerine threatened to sue D-Art after his Pegasus piece was broken at the opening of the Red Horse Flying Show, he did not. However, the threat of a suit against the still-shaky fledgling organization cost Mary Ward her employment.

"Like a baby getting on its feet fo the first time, anything could knock it over. It was not something the board thought a responsible director should have done. They didn't even know where the next month's rent was coming from."

"Patricia Meadows kinda just became the director, while Mary Ward was eased out of her position," Kary said. "They felt Mary was not to be trusted."

On a typewritten document titled, "D-ART Corporate / Individual Contributions" dated July, 1982 - April, 1983, under "Contributions / Grants:

 Meadows Foundation ( Matching ) -


 Mr. Robert Taylor of Republic
 Bank Dallas - East


 Artists and Craftsmen Associated


 November, 1982
 Fund Raising Art Auction
 ( Art Auction and Ticket Sales )


Among other topics mentioned in the minutes of the D-Art board of Directors called meeting, Wednesday, April 6, 1983 at 2917 Swiss Avenue:

"A Right to Purchase option agreement between D-Art and Interfirst Bank Trust Department was discusssed. John Latta moved that the Board accept bob Stoller's version of the agreement. Judy Hearst seconded. Bob Stoller will write up he agreement that will be presented to Interfirst."

From a black plastic, spiral bound, mostly typed Report to Funders and Members, published by Patricia Meadows in 1983, we learn:  

In the Report to Funders and Members, on a page titled "Statement of Needs": "As of June 1983, D-art received the right of first refusal to purchase the building. Currently, the building is not for sale and is held in trust by Interfirst Bank Dallas. Should the bank place the building on the market, D-Art has initiated a building purchase fund. This fund is separate from the operating account. While the focus of D-Art is on the artists and not "bricks and mortar," facility improvement and eventual purchase is necessary to insure the program efforts.


"D-Art's second birthday party on July 21, 1983." Odd for an organization incepted in September 1980. They must be talking about the space, now razed, hardly worth celebrating their 20th anniversary now, after their first 21 years.


Proclaimed "D-Art's First Birthday," this photo was actually taken to celebrate D-Art's first full year of using the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue. That dilapidated firetrap has since been leveled. The new building is a block closer to downtown, also on Swiss.

It's particularly cruel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that old, original building now that it no longer exists. Note the cutesy frame around the photograph and the lack of the below facade.

"During D-Art's second year (actually their third year as an organization, 1983-84)... The two most significant projects... were the building of an auditorium in the back space and the exterior renovation via a Victorian facade," Patricia Meadows said in the Report to Funders and Members

What an awful first step. Truly cringe-worthy crap on the outside wall that many serious artists deplored and nearly all of us made fun of. It was as if D-Art was so proud of its utter lack of taste that it needed to proclaim it to the world.

According to Norman Kary, the Victorian facade was supposed to blend the rather plain, former pill factory building into the neighborhood of Victorian houses along Swiss Avenue that the Meadows Foundation was buying and renovating.

The Report to Funders and Members continues, "The first organizations to rent space in the first building on Swiss Avenue "were Artists & Craftsmen and the Southwest Watercolor Society." Patricia Meadows was president of the former in 1981-82, and although both groups' money helped the always struggling D-Art maintain its base of operations — for awhile — the latter group's sway — some say 'stranglehold' on the new organization kept many serious artists from joining.

Extensive use of passive voice in a section supposedly explaining the origin of D-Art, shows a careful avoidance of responsibility and any mention of Mary Wachowiak-Ward. It sounds sneaky.

The typed matter continues, "the walls are pegboard — good for the easy display of art, but also sound absorbing as well."

This is malarky — artists hated those stupid, ugly pegboard walls — just as of her talking about how the new theatre in D-art's 'back half 'was "suitable for meetings, art exhibitions, video, theatre, dance, receptions and seminars."

Artists and Craftsmen paid D-Art $4,000 a month. Southwestern Watercolor - $2,000. Dallas TFAA (Texas Fine Arts Association) - $950, according to The Horizontal Fund-Seeking Document.

According to four, diverse documents reporting from the D-Art Visual Art Center / Benefit Gala - "La Rive Gauche", January 24 & 26, 1986, D-Art spent $41,555 on such items as: Casino, Fortune Tellers, Food, Liquor, Carparkers, Security, Printing, Postage and Artists' Commissions to net $51,439, a 56% of Gross Income, down 39% from the similar 1986 event.

On May 21, 1986 D-Art Board President John Latta entered into a legal Option Agreement, to be effective July 1, 1987, with the building at 2917 Swiss Avenue's owner, the Lillian S. Davis Trust, whereby, if Davis ever intended to sell the property, D-Art would have the first option to purchase it outright, supposedly using Meadows Foundation money, since D-Art probably could not have afforded such a lump sum.


According to a dire, three-page letter to D-Art members dated July 1988, and signed by D-Art Board President S.P. ( Bud ) Mandell and Board Member Patricia B. Meadows — and hereafter referred to as The Dire Letter,

Too many rumors are flying around about D-Art's financial crisis and plans for the future. You need to have the straight information — not rumors — in order to help us plan for the future — if there is to be a future.

D-Art began in 1980 when a group of artists and art enthusiasts formed a small but determined Board of Directors to develop a Visual Art Center for Dallas. In 1981 a warehouse facility was leased to house the activities of the Dalls visual artists. For the past seven years, the Center has progressed, renovated, planned programs, and has been true to its stated purpose in the By-Laws: "To spotlight and encourage the visual artists of Dallas."

.... The fact is, the Board of Directors has raised in excess of one million dollars during the past seven years to operate the Center. Last year alone, the budget was nearly $300,000.... Funding from past donors was down or non-existant. The fact is. D-Art is out of money... Past major donors are in financial trouble...

Then the real whining begins.

Some members have not renewed their memberships. Many artists use D-Art and have never joined. We need 4,000 members. We have 500 members... some art groups have been booking activities at other locations. D-Art needs to be fully booked with PAYING USERS... Some art groups were "hosted" by D-Art to encourage their participation. That "hosting" cost D-Art money. And the groups didnot join on a paying basis after the free ride. ....The last two fundraising parties, for a variety of reasonds, did not make as much money as planned.


The changes to survive are as follows: Vicki Meek, our Executive Director, was laid off... Sherry Mick and Karen Thompson are going to run the Center this fall. Our janitor... will be at D-Art only one day a week instead of three days a week.... Our police officers will no longer be booked for regular duty...

Program Changes: No new programs will be planned for the fall season.All programs that were on the schedule will proceed as planned. The Critic's Choice has been underwritten so that D-Art can use the artist entry fees to pay the light bill. All meetings and exhibitions will go on as planned this fall.

... In July, the Board voted to close the Center on December 1 [ 1988 ] to get out from under the burden of operating a facility and program while the future of D-Art is being decided... December 1 is the closing date because that is when the money runs out again.

Seeking 4,000 members seems somewhere between naive and absurd.


Some Pertinent Questions
Like everything else on this page,
these questions keep changing
and multiplying.

Was ACT formed in 1978 or 1979?

Was D-ART created on March 1, 1980 or September 1, 1980?

Who were the board members of ACT when it changed its name to D-Art?

When was Mary Ward named to direct the art center project?

Who attended the two meetings to discuss Mary's ideas?

When did Patricia Meadows arrive at D-Art? How did she get involved?

What part did Judy Hearst-Smith play? When did she first get involved?

What transpired at the first public meeting at Judy Smith Hearst's house?

Why was Mary Ward fired after such a relatively minor indescretion?

Why was all mention of Mary Ward deleted from official history of D-Art?

Why would a busy executive of a major D-Art funder send an essentially identical letter of recommendation to two different people 79 days apart?

Why did Patricia Meadows publicly announce at least twice that she was the founder of D-art?

Exactly when in the late 80s did D-Art blink out of existence for awhile?

When and how did it come back? How long were they gone? How did they come back?


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The Art Calendar


All Contents © 2001 by J R Compton All Rights Reserved. Commercial use or redistribution in any form, printed or electronic, is prohibited.

since October 19 2006. Five years later, when this page was updated to new DARts style.