dallas art fair is art basel miami's cooler cousin
Here's what to catch during the art world's emerging must-see fair — which opens today — from Helmut Lang sculptures to a Carly Simon-tracked disco installation.
Oliver Clegg, Untitled #1
Amid the chaos of Art Basel, The Armory, Frieze and their myriad spinoffs is an unexpected art fair to watch: The Dallas Art Fair. There's no arguing against the appeal of the art calendar's major institutions, but as they become more and more swollen and their main focus increasingly distracted by a who's who of fashion — not to mention that moment during Art Basel Miami Beach last year when people were unable to differentiate between performance art and an actual stabbing — the more modest art community of Dallas is a welcome reprieve.
Now in its eighth year, the fair boasts some of the world's best contemporary galleries: New York's Marlborough Chelsea (run by Leo Fitzpatrick) and Robert Miller Gallery (featuring work by Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith), Berlin's Tim Van Laere (showing Ed Templeton and Franz West), and Paris's Galerie Perrotin (Takashi Murakami and Daniel Arsham). And outside of the booths, the week has plenty more to offer. Here's a rundown of some of the best extracurricular activities.
1. Dan Colen's Oil Painting and Helmut Lang's Burry at the Dallas Contemporary
Oil Painting is a presentation of Dan Colen's more iconic artwork alongside never-before-seen source material, preliminary drawings, studies, and experimental paintings dating back to when he first graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 all the way up to his most recent work. The installation offers unprecedented insight into the process of one of the most celebrated contemporary artists today.
Also showing at the Dallas Contemporary is a new collection of artwork by the great fashion-designer-turned-sculptor Helmut Lang, which marries his two passions. Burry features a series of sculptures created by fundamentally manipulating and hardening large rectangles of sheepskin until their innate warmth and soft nature yield to a formidable strength and heft.
2. Karl Holmqvist at the Power Station
Five-year-old non-profit gallery space the Power Station is a unique outpost for artists from around the world to set up shop. Converted from a 1920s Dallas Power and Light building, the four-story raw space was opened with the goal of shaking Dallas out of its cultural boredom. This year, experimental text-driven artist Karl Holmqvist's site-specific exhibition Tuff Love (consisting of two large-scale steel sculptures, a short film, a live performance, and an artist's book) ensures that goal will be met. The promise of delicious, homemade, and complimentary tamales served by a sweet old Texan lady out back won't hurt the cause either.
3. 3 a m eternal group show
Eclectic Californian artist Nick Stewart, gallerist David Quadrini, and veteran museum curator Suzanna Weaver assembled the diverse work of 33 artists of varying ages including Judith Bernstein, Farrah Fawcett, Neckface, Peter Sutherland, and Lucien Smith for this year's experimental show. Inspired by a KLF song of the same name as well as by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's 1975 psychedelic science-fiction trilogy "The Illuminatus!," 3 a m eternal aims to create a similarly subversive and erotic vibe. (Think Aleister Crowley meets Kenneth Anger.) Opening at 10pm, the exhibition doubles as an epic dance party.
4. Oliver Clegg's Life is Gasssss at Erin Cluley Gallery
This show is the Brooklyn-based artist's first US solo exhibition, offering an elaborate demonstration of his work. A ten-piece oil-on-canvas series depicting the faces of 20th-century pop icons on deflated Mylar balloons is accompanied by a large carrot sculpture and a mirror with the show's title crawling continuously across it in lights. In a space close by, there's an illuminated disco ball which projects the word "me" onto the four surrounding walls while Carly Simon sings "You're So Vain" on loop. To top off the exhibition, Clegg is hosting a series of dinners in an old ice cream factory down the street, where guests sit along both sides of two donut-shaped tables, which rotate every 20 minutes. As Clegg explains, the setup "satisfies our distracted generation's need for constant updating and change while requiring diners to engage in the non-digital activity of face-to-face human interaction."
5. MTV RE:DEFINE
The fifth annual auction and gala co-hosted by MTV's Staying Alive Foundation and the Dallas Contemporary, at The Goss-Michael (as in George Michael) Foundation, is being curated by the master of the craft, Neville Wakefield. Proceeds from pieces by artists like Petra Cortright, Mark Flood, Juergen Teller, and Bruce Weber will go towards projects that aim to educate youth in the arts as well as to raise HIV awareness around the world.
Text Paige Silveria
Images courtesy the artists