Talented artists are a rare breed, so it’s fascinating when two of them flock together and couple up. James Cope, 32, is the Associate Curator at the Goss-Michael Foundation and Cassie Edmondson, 30, teaches drawing and photography at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. He’s British and she’s a Texas gal from Plano. Both are on the same wavelength when it comes to their artistic tastes, except when it comes to television. Art&Seek’s David Ninh quizzed the couple recently about their likes and dislikes:
Art&Seek: How did you guys meet?
Cassie Edmondson: We met at Meridian Room on New Year’s Eve 2004-2005.
James Cope: Erick Swenson, one of the best artists to come out of Dallas – he does these amazing sculptures of deer and monkeys, and his work is in the Fort Worth Modern – used to live above Meridian Room and he used to throw crazy New Year’s Eve parties. I went into Meridian Room to get a drink, saw Cassie and she stared me down, so I had to go talk to her. So I said, “Hey I’m going to this party, do you want to come.”
[Cassie motions reeling him in.]
C.E.: We went on a date bender after that – the movies, watched the entire first season of the British Office together, went grocery shopping, went to IHOP…
A&S: What is your artistic relationship like? Do you critique each other’s work? Collaborate?
C.E.: We bounce ideas off of each other. I want to start curating shows, so I’ll ask him for advice on what types of venues to look at. I also go over anything that he writes.
J.C.: I have to put together complex proposals when I curate shows. I don’t really think about spelling or grammar.
C.E.: I love to find misspellings.
J.C.: Before I go to get it bound, I always give it to Cassie so she can do the once over to find spelling and grammatical mistakes.
C.E.: We collaborate a lot. He has curated and juried two of my student photo shows. We had one at The MAC, and he chose the placements for first, second and third. Sometimes my kids and I will pop into the Foundation, and he will give a talk and tour the exhibits.
A&S: What other local artists are on your radars?
J.C.: Definitely Eric Swenson. He was in the Whitney Biennial a few years ago, and his work has been in shows in Australia, Switzerland. Paul Slocum, who recently closed And/Or Gallery and is unfortunately moving to New York. I am really into digital and new media work, and what he’s doing is really interesting because there aren’t a lot of people doing it. I think what he’s doing will be seriously missed when he goes. He’s one of the artists featured in a group exhibition I am curating at the MAC. The show is titled, “Blueprint,” and it opens next week.
C.E.: I think Misty Keasler does some amazing photos on spaces in other countries, and she’s always willing to drop in and mentor my students. I think Brian Gibb with Art Prostitute and Public Trust is the hardest working dealer in Dallas.
A&S: Do you feel Dallas gets a bad rap sometimes? As artists who are living here, how do you respond to criticism that the local art scene may not be on the same level as New York or abroad?
C.E.: I think Dallas is working really hard on developing the Arts District and getting it completed. And it’s excited that Booker T. will be a part of it. We are going to be the third coast by the time it’s all done.
J.C.: There are major galleries in New York and London that I do business with, and a lot of dealers will come to Dallas three to four times a year because there’s a lot of money here. There are also a lot of artists in Dallas, Houston and Austin that have representation in New York, L.A. and London and decide to live here in Texas. I tell Dallas artists who want to move to New York that their chances of getting noticed and getting a show in the city are better when they establish themselves here. Dealers are starting to look outside of New York and London. I am a big ambassador of Dallas. I choose to live here for a reason. There is just so much potential here. With the Internet and globalization, you don’t have to live in a huge city to get noticed. I’m on the phone with London every day.
A&S: What do you guys do in your spare time that’s not art related? Do you guys watch any guilty pleasure bad reality television?
[James laughs and points at Cassie.]
C.E.: Why are you pointing at me like you’re so high cultured and I’m just white trash!
J.C.: I play chess.
C.E.: We have a group of friends that get together for a bi-monthly supper club, including KERA’s Jeff Whittington, Brian Gibb, Misty Keasler and others. We grill, play the Wii, play Swedish games, UNO, just spaz out.
J.C.: I recently discovered Facebook, and I’m obsessed with it.
C.E.: I play soccer, and we watch a lot of soccer matches on television.
J.C.: Yeah, but you also watch Days of our Lives!
C.E.: It’s true, since I was 15.
J.C.: I hate it. I have to leave and go in the other room when she’s watching it. It’s awful.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.