What has been lost in the Dallas art scene?

People are often talking about the vibrant scene in Dallas and DFW area. There are dozens of galleries having regular shows. You can almost count on at least one opening on every weekend. All four major museums in Dallas, plus three in Fort Worth, are mounting stunning exhibitions.

The Opening of Delahaunty Gallery
The Opening of Delahaunty Gallery

However, in this project, we look for improvement and self-criticism from the art community. Often, we found their perspectives unique.

Murray Smither has worked as a gallery owner since as early as the 1960’s. He not only gave some the earliest shows to Oak Cliff Four but also discovered many self-taught artists such as Clyde Connell and Frank Jones.

Here is what he said about Dallas museum scene:

As I said, museums like the Contemporary Museum in Houston and the one in Fort Worth and so forth, they were very important to the early gallery scene because they not only showed some of the same artists that we were showing, but they helped nurture collectors, and helped push them toward the galleries to support us. Right now, I don’t see the museum as affecting the artists as much as they used to.

Bob Nunn, who has been painting in the same artist studio building for the last 25 years, also gave us his input about what has been lost in Dallas art scene:

The art scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s was probably not as frantic in that you could go to a gallery show and: meet friends, see wonderful art, meet the artist, go out for dinner afterwards and discuss what you’d seen. Today, I don’t go out as much as I did, but it seems like so many of the shows are so full of people that are having such a good time and visiting and talking about everything except the art that’s there. There seems to be a whole lot of socializing involved, particularly with the younger groups that are coming in.

Through this project, we are able to document the dynamic social changes that are often overlooked in a younger generation. The interviews and visits are changing our own views about the very definition of contemporary art and how it relates to individual persons. Your contribution will help enrich others by preserving insights and memories into public domains.

Visit our kickstarter campaign if you agree it is an important project and want to know about it.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.