Show of Shows
6 essential gallery shows in Fort Worth and Dallas this month
September's most intriguing gallery exhibitions range from photographs with historical provenance to childlike works collected by cultural heavy hitters. Add in a dreamy meditation of the concept of home, and you’ve got an artful to-do list.
“Adrift,” by Hillary Dohoney at Fort Works Art
Exhibition dates: September 13-October 28
Reception: September 15, 6 pm
Stuck in the middle of North Texas, we couldn’t be more landlocked if we tried. Which is why the immersive exhibition “Adrift,” opening this week at Fort Works Art, is a welcome bubble of tranquility in an arid prairie.
The local first solo exhibition of North Texas artist Hillary Dohoney, the show mixes lifelike seascapes with an immersive 12-foot installation that offers a panoramic view of the calming waters. Inspired by the real-life tales of political refugees, Dohoney has layered their most cherished possessions into her calming canvases, giving the work a depth deeper than the seemingly deep blue sea.
To elevate “Adrift,” musician Sam Lao will perform on the roof of the gallery on opening night.
“Backhold Backfire,” by Esther Pearl Watson at Webb Gallery
Exhibition dates: September 17-December 17
Reception: September 17, 4-7 pm
Cartoony and occasionally cathartic, the narrative works of Texas artist Esther Pearl Watson have drawn the admiration of collectors Matt Groening (The Simpsons), David Byrne and Cindy Sherman.
A longtime friend and associate of Webb Gallery owners Julie and Bruce Lee Webb, Watson is returning to the Waxahachie space on September 17 with one of her largest shows yet. Just a year after Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum gave her the opportunity to create a huge piece for their atrium (on display in this show), “Backhold Backfire” is the perfect chance to immerse yourself in Watson’s wacky world of Quik-E-Marts, rodeos and flying saucers. Although her subject matter may skew to the twee, Watson’s pure aesthetic (she also works as a noted cartoonist) give even her most whimsical paintings a deeper meaning.
“Esther's artwork is real-life narrative of a seemingly unreal reality, which she presents in a beautifully direct and competent contemporary style,” says Julie Webb of the painter’s appeal. “That is her to a ‘T.’ She is a lovely person who deals with her quirky life in an elegant way.”
“Bonnie and Clyde: The End” at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery
Exhibition dates: Now-November 11
More than 80 years on, the fascination with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow is stronger than ever. The outlaw duo pop up in pop culture every decade or so, representing the archetype of the bad girl and badder boy in film, song, and fashion.
Count Photographs Do Not Bend director Burt Finger among the intrigued — nine images from his personal collection highlight the aftermath of the two-year manhunt for the duo, with an additional image of the notorious couple in a passionate embrace.
“Given that Burt is an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, we have more people offering works from a wide range of subject matter, and this group of historic photographs might have crossed our path because of the show,” says the gallery’s Missy Finger of the pictures’ provenance. “The reason we were so intrigued with this set of photographs was … to this day, Bonnie and Clyde are a legendary couple in our folklore.
“Even though they were bank robbers and killers, they were embraced by many. At the time, banks were the enemies. They not only robbed the ‘enemies,' but also added a gangster romance to the picture, as in pulp fiction. They are not necessarily legendary ‘heroes,’ but they represent an era of the worst of criminals in the 1930s, who became a sort of entertainment element of the time.”
In 2017, they’d no doubt be front and center on TMZ. In addition to the criminal couple, the gallery also is showing vintage and modern images of the wild west by the likes of Bank Langmore, John Stryker and Chris Regas in an exhibit called “Cowboys, Cowgirls, And Some Indians.”
“40 Acres…Gumbo Ya-Ya” by Letitia Huckaby at Liliana Bloch Gallery
Exhibition dates: Now-October 7
The legacy of the agrarian South is a hot button topic, making Letitia Huckaby’s “40 Acres…Gumbo Ya-Ya,” a lovely collective of Southern landscapes and homesteads framed in vintage embroidery hoops, especially timely.
Named after a combination of General Sherman’s promise of land to enslaved African-American farmers and a colloquial term that means “everybody talk at once,” the images of broken-down shacks, cluttered yards and stagnant ponds belie the dreams of a once Utopian environment.
“What I love about this work is (Letitia) is unafraid,” says Bloch, who has worked with the artist since meeting her at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in 2009. “It’s her most political work to date. This has to be a celebration for the freedom of speech we still have, and how lucky we are with the artists we have here documenting this journey.”
“Cleaver” by Cassandra Emswiler Burd and Lucia Simek at BEEFHAU
Exhibition dates: Now-September 30
Friends and cubicle mates since fall 2014, artists Cassandra Emswiler Burd and Lucia Simek found themselves always talking about their practices and work as wordsmiths at the Nasher Sculpture Center (Lucia serves manager of communications and international programs, and Cassandra as social media and public relations director). Because Cassandra is leaving later this fall to have a baby, the duo decided to partner for a thoughtful show at BEEFHAUS.
“Cleaver” (so-called because of the root word’s meaning of proximity or departure) balances the hard and the soft, with Cassandra’s lighter-than-air silkscreens and needlepoint canvases that form a portrait of her family juxtaposed with Lucia’s burnished text work behind glass and marble beehive reminiscent of a mausoleum or Soviet ministry perched on the legs of architect Eileen Gray’s Transat chair.
“The whole show for me is about communication and the ways our senses fail us or save us,” says Lucia. “So the beehive piece came out of an interest in social structures and the ideas of professionalism — (I was) just thinking of bees as these diligent, female workers, these incredibly complicated but clear communicators, and how that might correspond to my tasks at work in PR and my own personal relationship and fascination with language.”
Although both artists agree the show isn’t specifically a collaboration, their mutual passion for language, art, and commitment to beauty makes the work all of a piece.
“This show … allows our work to share space in the same way that our ideas and feelings about family, art, and identity have shared space during my time working with her at our Nasher day jobs," Cassandra says. "We have both experienced a lot of personal transformations over the past few years, and when Alison Starr invited us to show our work at BEEFHAUS last year, it immediately felt right.”
“September 14, 2017,” by Nan Coulter at Goss-Michael Foundation
Exhibition dates: September 14-October 20
Reception: September 14, 5:30-7:30 pm
For her first Dallas solo show, longtime photojournalist Nan Coulter has culled some of her most intriguing images from the past three decades for “September 14, 2017” at the Goss-Michael Foundation. Coulter’s work isn’t exactly a retrospective, but more of a look at how we view photography.
“The entire theme is looking at this body of work in the now,” says the institution’s P.J. Heil. “The significance is every time you look at a piece of work, whether it’s a photo or a painting, your mindset is completely different from one day to the next, the same as when you read a book and then pick it up again 20 years later. A lot of people think photography is capturing an authentic moment, while Nan is trying to illustrate that the meaning is completely inauthentic.”
Adds the artist, “The reason I titled the show that date is, if I did it a month or a day earlier or later it would be a different show. I’m pulling together things from different times to address my thoughts about right now. We’re in a very fragile and uncertain time right now, and I’m addressing photography itself. I’m also very interested in how we look at something and how we’re the interpreters.”
As illustrated by an image Coulter captured of a reproduction of a painting in Venice (the original long since ripped out and sent on to the Louvre), the “copy of a copy of a copy” is a very meta example of how nothing is completely as it seems, only as it may appear to a viewer on September 14, 2017.