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CHANGE FOR THE ARTS IN 2016
by Todd Camplin
Zhulong Gallery on the other hand was a huge tragedy to close. I thought this was the gallery
the said what Dallas is, and aspires to be as a city. The program was tech savvy, rooted in
Modernist clean aesthetics, strong on content, form, and design. I felt that if with enough
time, the gallery would have become a driver of taste. But this was short lived and now we
are only left with memories of show like: Azuma Makoto who brought us the tree that traveled
the world and the edge of space, the fictional landscapes of Jeremy Couillard, and the
sublime images of Anne Katrine Senstad. I have seen several galleries have 3D printed art,
but nothing like Matthew Plummer-Fernandez’s objects. Zhulong Gallery was strong in their
use of video art and really pushed works that played with new technologies. I felt like this
was a gallery where artists that are interested in the new media field could shine.

Unfortunately, this is not the first gallery to disappear with the goal of being tech heavy. You
might remember years ago the And Or Gallery. They also attempted this model, but moved
on to new challenges. Not to say that a gallery with this kind of mission can’t work, it just
has to have all the stars align, I suppose.

For a moment I thought WASS Gallery was gone too, but they have renamed the space
Level Gallery. Possibly this rebranding is a way for the gallery to show the public they have
a new mission in mind for their space. They state that the gallery wants to show socially and
politically engaging work. Opening up with oil and gas as a theme already touches on
a hot button topic. Maybe Level Gallery will look more like Houston’s Station Museum of
Contemporary Art, which would mean a great deal of controversy could be brewing.

I must mention the passing of June Mattingly. She was a fixture in the gallery scene and
she was big on supporting Texas artists. She was also a contributing arts writer to
ModernDallas.net with her articles’ byline titled Special “Eye” to Watch. I read an
archived article about a September openings back in 2010 and it brought me back
to all those places. I had seen 6 out of the 7 shows she mentioned. She had me kicking
myself for having missed the one.  When she left ModernDallas.net to compile her book
on Texas contemporary artists, I took the job as arts writer. Thanks June for creating
opportunities for artists.
Shiki 1 x Space, 2014, photographic print. Photo courtesy the artist and Zhulong Gallery
2016 has had a rocky start this year with a few member of the art community passing and
closings of some galleries. I mentioned before that Re-Gallery closed, but Zhulong Gallery
and Lab Art have shuttered their doors.

To be honest, I was never really impressed with Lab Art. So little street based artists interest
me. It seems like a type of art that few taggers are willing to, stretch the limits in style and
form, so you end up with a great deal of sameness and mediocrity. After  the first few times
I ventured into the space, I was pretty much left unimpressed and then I just stopped going.
There is only so much street level rehash Pop art one can take before it gets drab and boring.