News and Features

Thursday Roundup

ALL THOSE POP-UPS ADD UP. On Front Row, Peter Simek argues that because Deep Ellum 42, the real estate firm that now owns a bunch of storefronts there, decided to open its spaces to quickie curatorial projects, the area has become something of a hotbed of promising arts activity.

The opening of the storefronts (and the smart curators tapped by artist Jeff Gibbons and Justin Ginsberg, who organizes the exhibitions) indicates a growing appreciation for the confluence of art and commerce. There is a tension there, though. These spaces allow artists and curators to stretch their legs a bit, but they also provide a real estate developer free marketing and brand development. Is it an equitable exchange? … For now, perhaps artists do best by just seizing the opportunity, which is beneficial to both parties. It’s a cooperation, however loose.

ON THE OTHER HAND. Several weeks ago, I moderated a panel about local art criticism for CentralTrak, part of an ongoing series of such, and was happily surprised that a) so many people showed up, they were standing in the back  and b) much of the talk was engaging, thoughtful and distinctly non-whiny. But perhaps I should have encouraged more air-clearing and chair-throwing. Curator-critic Christina Rees attended the following CentralTrak talk, Not Waiting for Permission, the second annual panel discussion on the state of the emerging arts in Dallas. Writing it up for Glasstire, Rees pits her hunger for productive change in a cage match against her (understandable) been-there-and-watched-it-die weariness.

Like skipping a rock across the surface of a vast lake: so many problems. [Moderator and  Green Bandana Group member Daryll] Ratcliff was well prepared and his questions were solid, and he was pretty dogged at asking for actual solutions, but he had a million topics on his sheet….. Studio space shortage, funding, community diversity, media attention; each panelist, no matter how thoughtful their response, was quickly herded on to the next topic. I think this is as much an indication of just how overwhelming the problems feel for this new generation. And this was a two-hour panel.

But this has always been the case.

SO TALK TO THE CRITIC! (SAFELY, AT A DISTANCE). Tuesday, online readers got to ask the DMN‘s new architecture critic Mark Lamster questions, Reddit-fashion, for an hour. Among the productive and/or  tiresome queries (which one’s better, Houston or Dallas?) was this pleasant sidetrack: What onscreen architecture does he like? His affection for the gargantuan tastes of super villains will surely find an outlet in Texas:

I’m a sucker for the pop modern James Bond sets created by the wonderful British designer Ken Adam—the lair of Dr. No, the volcano headquarters in You Only Live Twice, the floating base in the Spy Who Loved Me. But beyond those fantasies, I’d say my “favorite” architecture movies are the great comedies Mon Oncle and Playtime, in which the French director Jacques Tati wrestles with the arrival of modernism in architecture and life. As for tv, I’m a big fan of Parks & Recreation; a network sitcom on urban parks/planning. Gotta love that.

Suggestion: Watch (or re-watch)  The Thin Blue Line, Erroll Morris’ brilliant documentary about the shooting of a Dallas policeman and the railroading of an innocent man. Seldom has a city’s architecture played such an ominous, atmospheric role in a film.

  • Betsy Lewis

    I always thought visual art critics were supposed to be reviewing actual art exhibitions. Now I know.

  • JeromeWeeks

    That’s a very narrow view of what a critic does, don’t you think? We should never comment on the art in general and its local manifestation — ‘the scene’? We never pass judgment on its future and its traditions, its hopes and dreams, its prospects for a GED degree or a date to the prom? Ever?

    In any event, Peter’s article does, in fact, cast his critic’s eye on one, specific Deep Ellum exhibition, Loose Cooperation, as an encouraging example of what he’s talking about – hence, his final line.