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|CHARTING THE FUTURE OF DALLAS GALLERIES
by Todd Camplin
The Dallas Museum of Art is hosting a glimpse into the past Dallas art scene through the exhibition,
DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present. But, what about the future of this ever
expanding art scene. Right now, the commercial side looks bright, but I can see a possible
shuffling of galleries again as areas develop outward toward the center of downtown.
I have read about this trend in other cities and we have even observed it here in Dallas, around
McKinney Avenue. Artists seek out large and inexpensive spaces to work. The galleries come into
the space because of cheaper rent. Then restaurants, bars, and apartments begin to follow. High
rises and shopping move in to price out the trend setters. This looks to be fate of Dragon Street
and the surrounding design district. Why do I see this impending doom? Several factors are
making the riverfront property very desirable. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge for one has peeked
interest of developers. The Trinity River Corridor Project will likely spark growth. And redevelopment
of several spaces into high end residential property has already begun to take root. So, when will
this happen and where will the new gallery scene go?
Unless the rent is somehow kept down, I see about no more than five more years lifespan for the
gallery concentration in the Design District. And I don’t think you will have a large migration back
to Deep Ellum, but maybe around the Expo and Fair Park. After all CentralTrak and 500X act as a
cornerstone for that area. But as was said on KERA the other day on the show Think, the line
s between these neighborhoods are a bit fuzzy.
Maybe if the city of Dallas wanted to further expand their Arts District, they could create a
commercial art gallery complex that would attract local and world buyers. People that go
to art museums and see shows are more likely to buy art or go to openings. I remember visiting
Boston and I found myself in a nice size complex that houses many of the contemporary art
galleries. This convenience also helped the galleries concentrate their mutual efforts to reach
the public. Think about it, a show ends at the Wyly Theater, you see that several gallery
openings are happening. You naturally are curious and wander over to see the shows.
If you want to create further foot traffic, a commercial gallery complex would make people
stay in the downtown area and in the Arts District.
Alternatively, the Wass Gallery could be the new vanguard to usher in a new migration, much
like the Conduit Gallery did for the design district. Or even further north of Exposition Street,
like the Oliver Francis Gallery. The thing is, unless a collective effort is made to concentrate
these spaces, the movement of commercial gallery spaces is so organic that it only becomes
a guessing game where the next hot scene will pop up. However, one thing's for sure,
wherever the concentration of artists and galleries moves, development seems to follow.