by Todd Camplin
Ok, I'm done with the Dallas Contemporary. I am not even going to waste my time
visiting the space, at least not until a new direction or director comes along. The
gallery has become a celebration of the self-absorbed, surface deep picture and
object makers. I am tired of seeing an endless parade of over-produced glossy
fashion photos, sculptures that hold about as much content as a one liner joke,
and the constant half-baked spectacles that make the Dallas Contemporary
more like a dance club than a space for exhibiting art. Instead of membership,
you can join "The Club." Why don't they pipe in some (Rave Revival), throw in a
few disco balls and make the final transition to Club DC.
I understand that a Contemporary space must take risks and challenge the
community with new and fresh ideas, but there is nothing new or fresh about
glitter paintings with cartoon panda bears.
The re-re-re-packed Warhol art of Rob Pruitt was just a plain ghastly gaudy kitsch
show back in March. Jason Brooks' photos of tattooed individuals was no more
challenging than the tattoo magazines I flip through at Barnes & Nobel.
Jennifer Rubell’s “Nutcrackers” show was laughable and trivialized the very
things Rubell claimed to protest against. Their attempt to be clever and
get a lot of press with their onetime only Dallas Biennale was just plain
And I think the title of Ezra Petronio’s show, “Bold & Beautiful,” which you add
the word “the” in front of, and get the title of a soap opera; pretty much
sums up the level of content and meaning of most shows at the Contemporary.
I get the impression that the Dallas Contemporary has the philosophy that art is
purely a fashion statement, rather than something with inherent value and substance.
Fittingly enough, fashion has completely taken over the space with the shows
K8 Hardy and Inez & Vinoodh. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good fashion
photography show now and then. The Dallas Museum of Art show of Jean
Paul Gaultier was wonderfully fun. But should the DMA feature a fashion show
every other month? Maybe if Peter Doroshenko was director.
I must say there have been a few shows at the Contemporary I thought had some
merit. Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus no. 4 is a true aesthetic experience. You are left
with wonder and awe from this truly delicate and beautiful installation. I enjoyed
David Willburn’s sewn pieces. It was pretty cool to have Shepard Fairey visit. I guess
if something worth seeing comes along, I might have to break my own rule, but
in general I think everyone’s time would be better spent visiting the local gallery
scene or the McKinney Avenue Contemporary.
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