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Art&Seek on Think TV: Dallas Contemporary


by Jerome Weeks 10 Jan 2010

Dallas Contemporary was going to launch its ambitious new home this past weekend with a gala opening but it got delayed. We talk to director Joan Davidow about why, about that premiere show, about why she chose this sprawling new space near the Design District and about how it will shape the Contemporary’s future directions.

CTA TBD

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Dallas Contemporary was going to launch its ambitious new warehouse-home this past weekend with a gala opening but it got delayed. We talk to director Joan Davidow about why, about that premiere show, about why she chose this sprawling new space near the Design District and about how it will shape the Contemporary’s future directions.

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  • Some of the more important historical “facts” Joan Davidow cited during her interview are not true.

    D-ART did not come into existence until late 1981, although the name-changing organization has claimed several founders and several inception dates over the years.

    Mary Wachowiak-Ward organized a meeting on May 12, 1980 to present her dream of an art center for Dallas to an organization named Artists Coalition of Texas.

    Meadows may have attended one of Ward’s early organizational meetings, since she was president of a local watercolor group, but she certainly was not a founder, the founder or a co-founder of D-Art.

    The center’s early exhibitions netted the real founder scary insurance woes (She said artwork in the shows were insured. They weren’t. One expensive art piece got broken. Money had to be raised to cover the damage. The founder was fired.)

    Patricia Meadows took over, grew the center in the hearts and minds of Dallas art and crafts organizations and did a good enough job to put the organization into serious financial woes of her own. D-Art closed down for a few years, and another Dallas art center organization, DARE, was founded, and later became The McKinney Avenue Contemporary.

    Then D-Art came back. Meanwhile, Patricia Meadows began to claim in public that she had founded D-Art. I heard her say that at least three times.

    Each time, I stood up, told her, ‘no you did not,’ and she promised not to say that again, although when she issues press releases, that lie is often included.

    Doesn’t it seem odd that a local arts organization would rather be founded (even retroactively) by a nice, rich lady than a dreamer with great ideas?

    More information, including links to much more factual history of D-Art and The Contemp is available from “Revisionist D-Art History Just Won’t Go Away” at http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/ArtSpaces/D-Art/MaryWardnotJudyS.shtml

  • Thanks for writing. I was aware of Mary Ward’s involvement in D-Art’s inception — I’ve read your posts — but when Joan referred to Patricia Meadows as “co-founder” instead of “founder,” I hadn’t encountered that title before being applied to Meadows and didn’t feel well-versed enough in organization history to parse the differences at length.

  • I erred. According to Patricia Meadows’ own resume in 1982, she was President of Artists and Craftsmen of Dallas for four years through 1982, not the ‘watercolor group’ as I misstated.

    According to ACT Member Mailing Lists from 1978-1981, Patricia Meadows was not a member. Nor did she participate in ACT activities except perhaps one of two public meetings at which sign-in sheets were not passed around.

    My historical document-based ACT-D-ART timeline is now online at http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/ArtSpaces/Contemp/ACT-D-art/ACT-Timeline.html